Note: the blue italics indicates the teacher, in black other participants.

Bad faith

What to do when one has to deal with someone who expresses bad faith (in the sense of intentional deceit)?

I see two cases: one case involves someone with whom we are not really emotionally or functionally involved with. The other case is with someone we may be close to or have an ongoing relationship with. In both cases, the first thing to do is to accept and welcome the necessary suffering. When we realize that someone is expressing bad faith, we can play with its meaning or to pretend (to agree with/to understand it) then try to change the subject, entertain his attention, not to be pulled into a lousy discussion. And to do this all discreetly as to not arouse resistance or conflict. In the other case where we are involved with the person, after welcoming the necessary suffering, one can also use the same strategy when possible. Depending on the person and/or the circumstances, we can try to propose another vision of things, and see if she can question her own deceit, or see things differently. Better to go smoothly with a language from the heart, and see what this arouses. Stay aware that we will be dealing with a buffer that the person has put in place to avoid the pain and not see her contradictions, or to justify his procrastination. All this, I would say, is about people who are in bad faith, in “good faith,” because they must believe their own lies to keep a balance without feeling pain. For people who are in bad faith consciously, we are dealing with people who want to manipulate others either for power games, for money or domination, or to hurt someone or her reputation. Here I would do the minimum not to arouse resistances, and I will find an excuse to leave quickly.
The hard part of course is when we cannot leave, if the person lives with us, belongs to the family or is a coworker, you can of course apply all these strategies (not a complete list) but sometimes, if we don’t have a choice, we have to go into the conflict, and show him what his behavior induces, then burn the bridges or to make the necessary distance if it is not possible to resolve the problem. The goal in all cases is to stay “clean”.

Accept, and according to the context, in dealing with the person, there is a choice to either: “act as if” I’m ok with it, stay silent, leave. The other option, on the contrary, is to show to the other than I am not fooled the moment they try to deceive me or when I have the opportunity to tell them as much.

I don’t have an example in mind but generally I tend to adopt the thought: “Oh the poor dear, he has no choice but to activate the mode: “bad faith” and I let it go. I now know that the intent of this attitude is to prevent a potential clash between the two of us. I now know how to welcome a conflict (with the suffering that may come with.) But when I know well the person who practices bad faith, or I ask ironically to the person to repeat it, or I repeat it myself in an ironic tone, etc. Or I freeze and remain silent, looking straight into the eyes, etc. and this unlocks the stuff, i.e. this engages them on another level.

In any case, I agree with what was said, we must ourselves stay clean and not be identified, otherwise nothing is possible. Then the answer may depend on the particular context and the level of awareness of the other and the impact of this bad faith. But in general, humor is the best answer. When it is someone close to you, who also practices inner work, we can easily name it. We can also use the paradoxical effect by exaggerating the line.

As was said, the first thing is to welcome the shock; for me, amazement, helplessness, acute and painful sense of separation. (As if, we no longer belonged to the same human species.) But of course, I speak here of a “real” bad faith cynic who denies the facts. It’s better to just wipe out somebody like that. It has been a long time since this has happened to me. I used to react with indignation, anger, (negative expressed emotion), and it found that was a dead end. Today I find that unconditional welcoming of necessary suffering presents the right attitude. As for the other sort of bad faith, without bad intent behind it, I think that humor, like someone said, is a good answer. I think humor because it acknowledges the fact that we can all have our moments of “bad faith” and that… we can help each other, to flush out this “game”.

100% ok with the fact of “stay clean,” implying the welcoming of the necessary suffering, despite the shock that it sometimes generates. It also occurs to me to mention the importance of “neither expressing, nor repressing” anger. Remain detached emotionally from the event. And depending on the context, act. I don’t know if a response is generalizable. If the context requires it, you may have to confront the other with his bad faith, and perhaps enter righteous anger. Other times, it will require you to just go away. Anyway, ensure that you keep yourself detached; for example, let go of the desire to make the other person recognize his bad faith, and mostly to not defend anything. Stay clean, in humility.

Either use humor to defuse the situation that could potentially evolve towards conflict, or remain in silence and “absorb” the bad faith of the other. Most of the time bad faith is created by a buffer. In all cases, remain detached.

I believe that if one is present to oneself, in body consciousness, we must let the natural response, corresponding to the situation and the person with whom we interact, express themselves and take our responsibility about that response. Depending on the situation, we may find ourselves passing through necessary suffering, helplessness, “healthy” anger, absolute neutrality. It happened to me, last week at my job. In the middle of a discussion, my coworker became suddenly bad-tempered when I pointed out his bad faith. Then, one hour later, the guy came to apologize, justifying his rage because of a previous argument in which he accused me of acting in bad faith. I pretended to acquiesce because it allowed him to “save face” and close the incident. And the second thing that this experience brought me, was to recognize through the other, MY OWN bad faith! The times that I have expressed bad faith in the past, but also the ways in which I could potentially use bad faith to avoid necessary suffering some time down the line. Now I know, in my case, that the risk of acting in bad faith will come back sooner or later: as in alcoholics anonymous, I’m not definitively cured. It will depend on my ability to welcome the N.S. and my ability to stay rooted even more in body awareness.

In bad faith, the other person asserts a lie to both himself and to you. So, depending on the context, the person, and the nature of your relationship: we may feel a flaw when the personal lie is expressed and we could take a risk by pointing a finger at the deceit. One can be surprised when it’s pointed out with the heart… and then the ball is in his court. To confront the necessary suffering avoided can be too difficult for them. They may see no other option except to pirouette to make an escape. Staying clean: it’s not always necessary to absorb the unnecessary suffering created by bad faith. Sometimes it just comes down to remembering simple compassion for human nature. Which brings us back to the acceptance of his helplessness and “what is.”

Since I work in a jail I deal everyday with people that try to intentionally deceive me. And sometimes the prisoners try to deceive me too. Ha! With intentional deceit, once I realize what it is, there is a quick flash of helplessness and then I say, “Oh well.” From there you can confront them with their bullshit or minimize interactions with that person. It also depends on where the bad faith comes from. It’s possible that they act from bad faith because they are hiding some shame. In a situation like that I might respond with compassion or try to make a joke to lighten the situation. In a situation where somebody was trying to deceive me for his benefit knowing that the results could be a detriment to me might result in a serious confrontation.

What is the definition of bad faith (in the sense of intentional deceit)?

To want to impose a false view of the facts to avoid a punishment. Either to justify himself and continue to have a functional ego (to not challenge a self-image that one has built for oneself and the others to admire) or not to question his judgments or beliefs. Bad faith often is a last resort as a default mechanism when the buffer in place might collapse under the weight of a truth that is told or the questioning of his behavior. It can also be a weapon of attack for his own benefit, in this sense it is similar to a scam.

Bad faith is clearly a mechanism of the identity to add on our list. Its function is to deceive, to make a fake a reality that is more acceptable to his ego. It seems to express itself in two ways: The first one is relates to oneself, when one is in “sincere” bad faith, as someone remarked with humor. It is a belief to which one agrees with, which is used as a “buffering” shield against reality. Maybe to avoid humiliation for example, or some other type of suffering. It seems to me that it is the last line of defense to prevent identity from seeing its own pathetic nature…. The second is related to others. It would be an instrument for manipulating, influencing the behavior or the interpretation of a situation given, so that other people will see you in a favorable light. A bit like trying to inoculate a lie in the other. For example, to deceive so that others may see you as more knowledgeable than them, a greater authority, more powerful, more wealthy, etc.

I just found a definition of bad faith that I find interesting. In this definition, it explains how buffers relate to identity mechanisms. According to this text, there is no discussion possible with a person in bad faith. Bad faith is like a barrier that others implement to avoid necessary suffering. The more you try to counter it, the more the barrier is reinforced… Humor may be appropriate according to the circumstances. But in our work, it is absolutely necessary to denounce the bad faith when it appears, humor, direct attack, whatever.

I tend to define bad faith as faith wrongly placed, coupled with an alienation of common sense. I also see the foundation of a belief and a refusal to admit the simplicity of reality. (The denial is motivated by personal interest/identity).

Bad faith, for me, supposes the consciousness of lies… This is why, dialogue is impossible, and should not be attempted with someone who wants to stay in bad faith as a defense system. We can do nothing for them. The helplessness, and all negative emotions it can arouse in us, this is our personal work

The conscious personal lie. The fact of trying to hide the consciousness of the thing, means it is conscious. On the other hand, to lie to the other person, knowing that we lie, seen even as part of a strategy of manipulation, is not necessarily bad faith, even though it can appear that way.

I fell by chance on an article on the bad faith with interesting aspects:
Among others: “The bad faith is maybe even the only way not to admit the obvious fact without sinking for all that into the pathology. It consists in refusing what cannot be refused, in a kind of ultimate recourse against the inconvenience imposed by the reality, the will setting its stubbornness against the stubbornness of the facts.”
Bad faith in any relationship is utterly destructive. People who use bad faith are to be avoided, they are a nuisance and are disreputable. Bad faith is lack of external consideration (sometimes mixed with lying, manipulating, taking revenge and even hating). Using it means going deeply astray by creating utter separation.
Bad faith does not mean that the person who uses it isn’t “clean” in many other sides of her personality.

For years I knew my wife was into bad faith, but there was a block in fully comprehending that fact. I just could not comprehend the fact that someone would deceive themselves so completely. That lack of accepting her bad faith created in me some hope that if I acted as an example of sincerity in the face of her bad faith, she’d see the error of her ways. Ha! That’s like offering a crook access to your bank account to show him that you are not going to steal from him. And then once he’s stole your money, being surprised that he didn’t respect the gesture of good faith.