Learn why people trust wikiHow
How to Deal With People Who Exaggerate
Controlling Your ReactionConfronting the Problem DirectlyMaintaining your BoundariesAsk a QuestionRelated ArticlesReferences
This article was co-authored by Tasha Rube, LMSW. Tasha Rube is a Licensed Social Worker based in Kansas City, Kansas. Tasha is affiliated with the Dwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kansas. She received her Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Missouri in 2014.
There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
Your friend telling you their grand weekend adventures. Your father-in-law talking about the giant catch he made while fishing last summer. Your sister telling your family about her new, wealthy, incredibly handsome boyfriend. Everyone exaggerates sometimes but there are those who do it more than others. Exaggeration or elaboration of stories happens to different lengths and for different reasons. If you have someone in your life who tends to tell tall tales, here's how you might cope with them.
Part 1Controlling Your Reaction
Grin and bear it. Realize that their exaggerated stories say more about them and how you react says more about you. They may exaggerate or enhance their stories for many different reasons. It may be an expression of a desire or a goal, jealousy, or because they want others to like them.  For this reason, you may choose to “grin and bear it,” keeping in mind that the strain of exaggeration is usually greater on the person doing the overstating. 
2Distract them. It is possible the they are experiencing some anxiety or looking to fill an awkward silence. Ask them questions about themselves or start a conversation about something you have in common to help them feel more at ease.  Try some of the below conversation tips.
- “What do you do for a living?”
- “Didn't I hear you just started a new job? How is that going?”
- “I've been looking for a good movie or TV show to watch, do you have any recommendations?”
- “A friend is coming in to town next weekend, where should I take them?”
- Excuse yourself to go the bathroom and start a new conversation when you get back.
Walk away. Don't get drawn into the drama that it creates for you or for others. They may crave the feeling of attention they get from telling their stories. In this way, your reaction may be just what is keeping them telling exaggerated stories.  By controlling your reactions or walking away you are making it less beneficial for them to come to you with their crisis or stories. Politely excuse yourself and pursue a conversation that is less frustrating for you.
4Face it with humor. Another way to change your reaction is to approach it with a sense of humor. The main thing to remember here is to try and stay respectful. If it seems that you are making fun of them, it could result in unintentional bullying. You can add humor into the conversation by:
- Adding in other exaggerated points to the story in a playful manner.
- Showing an over-the-top response to their story.
- A common and unoffensive approach is to joking way to demand proof in the form of pictures, usually with the phrase, “pictures or it didn't happen.”
Avoid them. While this is not always the best option, it is something that you can do if you find you cannot tolerate the exaggeration. Sometimes, despite trying, it is just not possible to get along with some people. In this case it is best to avoid them if possible.
Part 2Confronting the Problem Directly
1Focus on the details. It may be difficult while listening to an exaggerated story to stop yourself from getting upset and overwhelmed. After all, it can be frustrating when you feel like you are being lied to. One way to deal with this is as they are telling a story you think is exaggerated, pay close attention to the details of what they are saying.  Review their story like you are a detective interviewing a suspect on a case. Look for the specifics, the type of exaggeration, sudden changes in details, or contradictions in their stories.  The benefits to approaching the story this way are:
- You will have something else to focus on during the conversation which could reduce your frustration.
- It may help you gather information to bring up when speaking to them about the tendency to exaggerate later.
- It may help them realize that you are paying close attention and deter them from further embellishments.
Find common ground. One way to confront the problem directly is to build from common ground, especially if you do not know them very well. Find a common interest and shift the conversation away from their story to something more rooted in reality. As you continue to talk, hopefully you'll find more topics of common interest to discuss. If you are struggling, start with talking about a mutual friend, or something simple such as what movies they like.
3Challenge the reasons behind the exaggerations. You may find it difficult to look past the stories they are telling, or the feelings you have about their exaggerations. Keep in mind that there are probably emotional reasons why they feel the need to embellish their stories. They may exaggerate because they are looking for attention, they want to appear interesting, or they need others like them. Challenge the reasons behind the exaggeration by showing you already find them interesting and you already like them without their inflated stories.  It can take several tries to challenge someone's expectations of others, but hang in there, it will be worth it.
- Ask them questions about their lives that you are genuinely interested in, and show your interest.
- Come straight out and tell them, “I think you are a really interesting person, because...”
4Talk to them bluntly. You should consider this step and your relationship with the other person carefully before proceeding. Ideally this would work best with someone you are close to and know well, as they are likely to respond better to an honest discussion. If it is someone you don't know well, you may be better off controlling or changing your reaction. Controlling and changing your reaction will help until you know them well enough to have an honest, direct conversation. With someone close to you, talk about how it makes you feel and why they may be doing it.  Some ways to begin could include:
- “Listen, I want to have a real one-on-one conversation with you about something that may be difficult, but has really been bothering me.”
- “The stories you have been telling lately, they seem to be getting more and more extreme. What's going on?”
- “You know I really like you, right? I feel like lately you're coming up with these crazy stories to impress someone. You don't need to, you're awesome just the way you are!”
- “So I was listening to you tell that story earlier, and I couldn't help but notice some things didn't add up.” Mention any inconsistencies in their story you discovered.
Challenge them during the conversation. While they are talking with you, when you suspect that they are telling you something too unbelievable to be true, try politely bringing it to their attention. Ask them for more details, or ask them if what they are saying really happened. Be very careful with this step, because it could easily cause the other person to become defensive, especially if they are challenged in front of others.
Part 3Maintaining your Boundaries
1Set up personal boundaries. If it is really something that gets under your skin, consider your time around them.  If you do not want to avoid them altogether then maybe limit the time you spend with them or change what you are doing together.
- Go to activities where there are fewer opportunities for telling stories, like the movies.
- Limit the time you spend with them to a certain amount such as 15 minutes or 30 minutes.
- Learn to say no, if they ask you spend time with them alone.
- Limit spending time with them to spending time in groups.
Don't compete. Sometimes the temptation to “one-up” them with an even better story or an even bigger exaggeration is great. Most people are naturally competitive, but try not to fall into that trap.  By competing with them you will only become the person you were trying to deal with in the first place. In addition to making you something you do not want to be, it won't actually solve the problem either. Instead try some other tactics to work towards a better outcome for the both of you.
3Show empathy. Clearly, there is something going on within them where they have to tell tall tales to feel better about themselves. Try to understand their unhappiness and show them kindness in the form of short phrases of acknowledgment. Your kindness may comfort them, allowing them to be more themselves. Give small remarks when they are finished that are not untruthful but are also not overly reactive, such as: #* “I can't believe that happened to you.”
- “That's such an interesting story.”
- “Really? Wow.”
- “That's unbelievable.”
Consider your audience. Really think about it and try and choose what you think would be most effective for you in that conversation and in similar situations. Everyone is different and engages in this behavior for different reasons. If it is perhaps someone you would not expect to embellish stories, re-evaluate your perspective and consider they may be telling the truth. If it is someone who does this all the time and has for quite awhile, you may choose to avoid spending time with them. Or if it is a friend who just started exaggerating their stories, having a serious talk with them about it may make them feel like someone is really noticing what they are going through.
- Be careful about assuming someone is exaggerating. It may seem unbelievable to you, but reserve judgement until you know more to avoid hurting their feelings, embarrassing them, and causing tension between you.
- How did big brands start
- Which president started the Common Core
- What are island nations
- What different types of scholarships are there
- What are the best travel accessories 1
- Why are there no uniforms in college
- What does amp mean in website URLs
- Will Jio beat Airtel
- Why does Upwork keep rejecting my profile
- How do you learn something by yourself
- Can cats get sick from eating lizards
- What is the Cashgate Scandal in Malawi
- What are the types of fumigation processes
- How does an idli look like
- Can wind speed be zero
- What decision changed your life?no_redirect=1
- What are the achievements of America