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“Is it Okay to Lie?”



Pre-Listening Question

Are there times when bending the facts and the truth is acceptable? Explain.

Vocabulary and Expressions

Here are some words and expressions that appear in the video:

spoiler (noun): information about a story or event that tells you what will happen, but it will spoil the surprise
– This news story contains spoilers about the new Spiderman movie, so you might not read the information if you want to keep the movie a surprise.

situational (adjective): depending on the situation or specific circumstances 
– How did you celebrate your sweet sixteen last week?

go bananas (idiom): become excited or angry
– The fans went bananas when their team won the championship.
– Don’t tell dad just yet that you ran over the mailbox with the car. He’ll go bananas when he finds out.

deceptive (adjective): misleading
– This news story is somewhat deceptive because it doesn’t present all of the facts correctly.

hold off (verb): postpone an action
– Let’s hold off telling the kids about our summer plans until we are sure we can arrange everything.

be furious (adjective): very angry
– My sister was furious when she found out that her husband had lied about his spending habits.

get off track (verb): get off the present subject
– Teacher: All of these future plans are interesting, but let’s not get off track from the current topic of improving student motivation.

sucker (noun): slang for any person or thing
– I can’t believe you bought this old car. This sucker won’t last one month, for sure.

get caught flat footed (idiom): not ready or unprepared
– The company president got caught flat-footed during the meaning when employees exposed his plans to fire 50 employees.

Listening Comprehension Questions

Now, watch the interview and answer the comprehension questions. You can also turn on the automatically-generated captions for the video once you start it.


Randall: In this video, let’s talk about this kind of delicate topic. Is it okay to lie? And let me set up a story here to begin with. I know when you two were growing up, uh, there was a time where we pretended that Santa Claus existed. For anyone that is watching that still believes you might want to mute this, turn this off. I don’t want to have any spoilers or ruin your day. I think we’re clear now. And, uh, there was a time, there was a time when I told you that Santa Claus existed. Uh, and I know there are other stories of how you found out that he didn’t. But are there times when telling a lie is okay? Yes or no, Emily?

Emily: I think it’s super situational. Uh, for example, my son is terrified of monsters, and he has this kind of spooky closet that in his room that really makes him nervous at nighttime. And so we have monster detectors in our house, and that’s a lie. We absolutely don’t. They’re little things that you put into the outlet that are supposed to make bugs go away. But he thinks that they’re detecting monsters.

Aubrey: I think I built something similar.

Randall: And does it work?

Emily: You did do something similar. That’s where I got the idea was the monster detector you had for us when we were little.

Randall: Aubrey, what did you do?

Aubrey: Oh, yeah. We have that super creepy mirror at the bottom of the stairs, you know, at the hall, at the bottom.

Emily: It was terrifying.

Aubrey: And I would put, I put a “Monster Blocker 2000” at, to stop monsters from coming through the, the mirror.

Randall: And did that help? Emily did,

Emily: Yes.

Randall: Okay.

Emily: For everybody listening, Aubrey’s six years older than me and nine years older than the youngest.

Randall: Okay, so a monster blocker

Aubrey: 2000

Randall: you say, working at home. Uh, Aubrey any thoughts on that?

Aubrey: Well, I have a follow-up question. Have you tried monster repellent spray?

Emily: No, no, because I don’t want to be spraying crap all over my house every day.

Aubrey: But, like just like a mist that like, has like, an essential oil in it. So it just smells like something. But it doesn’t do anything.

Emily: No, because, ah . . . Odin would go bananas with it and he’d be spraying everything.

Aubrey: That’s fair.

Randall: All right. So monster spray. Monster detector. Aubrey, any thoughts on that?

Aubrey: Um, on monsters or on lying.

Randall: Just on lying.

Aubrey: Um, yeah, I guess again, it was, it would be super situational. I try not to lie in my everyday life, but I’ve definitely lied to, like, customers in my customer service days before.

Randall: What do you mean, lie? I mean, I’m sure you weren’t intending to be extremely deceptive or dishonest, but what do you mean by lying?

Aubrey: Well, like when I worked at Pizza Hut, um, if I was by myself and someone asked for an anchovy pizza, I’d lie and say we were out ’cause I didn’t want to touch the anchovies ’cause they’re gross.

Randall: For those that don’t know what anchovies are, explain them.

Aubrey: They’re little gross fishies in a can.

Randall: Okay. Okay. And was it because you didn’t want to have to, you know, deal with the little fish?

Aubrey: And it makes the whole store stink.

Randall: All right. Well, let’s talk about some other situations. Emily and Aubrey, you both mentioned it’s super situational. Imagine, for example, that you’re with a let’s just say a new friend. Uh, you’ve met the person. Maybe it’s someone from work, but you don’t know him really well. You go out to eat and then you notice they have broccoli in their teeth. Would you, would you open up and say, hey, you have broccoli in your teeth? Or what would you say in that particular case?

Aubrey: I was going to say, not saying anything isn’t really a lie.

Emily: Yeah, exactly. That’s what I’m thinking.

Randall: No, it’s not a lie.

Aubrey: I mean, I would definitely. Say something, but it’s not a lie to not say anything.

Randall: Well, what if they say, do I look okay?

Aubrey: Well, then. Then it would be a lie.

Emily: Yeah. Then I might say you have a little something right there, but otherwise, you look great.

Randall: Okay, uh, what about, for example, you’re going out with a best friend, and they ask you, do I smell okay? You know, maybe for whatever reason, they think they have bad body odor and you notice it. Would you say something?

Aubrey: If they asked me like that?

Emily: Yeah, if they asked me, I’m like, Oh, dude, you stink.

Aubrey: I think I might be a little bit more diplomatic.

Emily: Would you be more diplomatic?

Aubrey: I’ve learned how to be diplomatic. Okay. I’ve grown as a person.

Randall: Okay. Uh, can you think of any other situations where it is situational? Um, for example, let me ask you, and I’m just gonna be very open, very honest. I realize as your dad, I’m dying of cancer.

Aubrey: Mhm.

Emily: Mhm.

Randall: And, you know, I went to the hospital or went to the doctor recently and I’m really thinking I really want to protect my girls from knowing about this. And so I’m just going to hold off telling you the truth. You ask Dad, are you okay? And I say, Yeah, there’s still, you know, there’s still some uncertainty of how I’m doing. We’re just going to go through some more tests. And I said it that way.

Aubrey: I’d be really mad.

Randall: But I realized I realized that the doctor says I have six months to live.

Emily: Uh, I’d be furious.

Aubrey: I’d be so mad.

Emily: Yeah.

Randall: Okay, but what if I said I was just trying to protect you?

Emily: Yeah, but now we have less time to process with those emotions and less time to spend with you. Like that doesn’t protect anybody.

Randall: Okay? And I know that you’ve got to.

Aubrey: Plus I’ve got to figure out how to distribute your assets.

Emily: Why are you in charge of his estate?

Aubrey: I’m the oldest. Okay? And I have an accounting degree.

Emily: Yeah, but supposedly I have my life all put together.

Aubrey: Yeah, well, I’m getting it put together. And again, uh, let me reference my accounting degree.

Randall: Okay, Okay. Let’s not get off track. Let’s, let me give you one more situation again. Is it okay to lie? You have a child or a friend, a niece, a nephew, or whatever, and their favorite, uh, goldfish buddy has died.

Emily: Oh, replace that sucker. Don’t tell them.

Aubrey: Oh, I’m gonna tell them.

Randall: Tell them yes or no. Wait, wait.

Emily: No, I don’t want to deal with the hysterics before they come home from school. Put a new goldfish in there, and you’re going to say

Aubrey: No! They need to learn about death and learn death acceptance. So not to throw up all, like, terrified of death because it’s such a taboo.

Emily: Yeah. No, I’m not saying this is like a cat. I’m saying, like, if it’s a stupid fish. Yeah, I’m just replacing that sucker.

Aubrey: Let’s get rid of all the fish altogether. Fish are gross.

Randall: All right. Well, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts on lying. And I think you just mentioned it’s very situational. And I think one of the hardest parts is even if you prepare yourself for that particular moment, that something’s coming up and you get caught flat-footed, you’re really not weren’t expecting the question. I don’t know how things would really unfold in different situations. So thank you.

Aubrey: Sorry, I’d probably tell your kid the fish was dead.

Randall: All right. Well, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts on this topic. And I think we better end.

Conversation Questions

How would you respond in each of these situations? Would you lie or bend the truth, and if so, what would you say?

  1. Your child wants to know if Santa Claus is real.
  2. You invite your friend to come over to watch a movie with about 20 friends, but you are secretly planning a birthday party. He asks you if anyone else is going to be there.
  3. A child is in a terrible car accident, and both parents died in the tragic incident. The child asks to see her parents. You wonder whether you should wait to say anything until the child has recovered after a few days.
  4. A stranger asks to use your phone while you are at a bus stop. The woman says that she needs to call a friend, but you feel uncomfortable lending your phone. 
  5. A co-worker asks how you are doing, but you don’t want to discuss that you are having marital problems. 
  6. You have been invited for dinner an your new neighbor’s house, and the meat is very dry and tastes too salty. Your host asks you how you like the food.
  7. You receive a very ugly sweater from your grandmother who spend a month knitting it. She asks you how you like it.

Critical Thinking Skills

Think about these questions to develop your thinking skills.

  1. What factors, values, experiences, or beliefs affect your choices in the situations above?
  2. Have your opinions on such matters evolved over time? Why or why not?
  3. Can be honesty be relative in some cases?
  4. In what ways do your opinions differ from those of your family and friends? If they do, how do you navigate “hot” topics when they arise?

Related Language Activities on Randall’s Web Site

The following activities deal with the topic of honesty and can encourage additional discussion on the topic.

Try More Free Listening at