Sage advice

Sage advice

<p>Ziyad Marar does not want to encourage people to become more deceptive. Neither does Marar, the publishing director and m.d. of Sage, necessarily want to teach people how to spot others&#39; lies. His new book <em>Deception</em> (Acumen Publishing, &pound;9.99, pb, September), is not a how-to guide to the subject, though he has had a request from a men&#39;s magazine to write an article along these lines.</p><p>&quot;When people talk about deception, they tend to really over-simplify the situation by talking about people who are honest and dishonest,&quot; he says. &quot;What I am interested in is how much more complicated we are than we like to appear to be.&quot;</p><p>For this very reason, Marar is keen to steer clear of the term &quot;self-help&quot;. &quot;It&#39;s not DIY, full of handy take-home messages. I don&#39;t think self-help works&mdash;if it did, there wouldn&#39;t be so many of&nbsp; [those books] around.&quot; </p><p>He believes there is a hypocrisy in the language used about honesty. He says: &quot;I&#39;d like people to be more honest about how dishonest we inevitably are. Let&#39;s recognise there are different breeds of dishonesty. There are some that are malign and self-serving and exploitative, but there are plenty that are benign, well-intentioned and ethically necessary. A complicated intermix of these things is the inevitable part of human interaction. People who think they&#39;re honest as the day is long are simply perpetuating another deception.&quot;<br /><br />The foundation of Marar&#39;s book&mdash;four years in the making&mdash;was his day job at Sage, where he has worked his entire publishing career. Being at the company since 1989, Marar has seen it grow from just 30 members of staff to 300 in its London head office alone. The academic publisher&#39;s strength is the social sciences, which has offered Marar &quot;a very rich mix of lenses on human behaviour in society&quot;, and ultimately the source of inspiration.</p><p>Starting out as a broader project on the &quot;complexities and ambiguities of modern identity&quot;, Marar drew on the academic material he had read at work, as well as his educational background in psychology and philosophy. &quot;After four years of writing, it turned into a book about deception in the last six months,&quot; says Marar.</p><p><em>Deception</em> is his second book&mdash;<em>The Happiness Paradox</em> was published by Reaktion in 2003&mdash;yet despite his time in pubishing, Marar says he was &quot;surprisingly na&iuml;ve&quot; when it came to writing both books. &quot;I did them very much from the author&#39;s perspective, in terms of needing to get it off my chest.&quot;</p><p>Although <em>Deception</em> touches on how we deceive others, the core of the book sets about examining self-deception, illustrated through literary and pop culture examples as much as case studies. Quotations from Shakespeare and Ricky Gervais&#39; &quot;The Office&quot; character David Brent may not seem to have much in common, but, for Marar, both reveal the little lies we tell ourselves and each other.<br />&quot;A lot of people cling onto the idea of shining truth,&quot; he says. &quot;I understand why, in the everyday sense, we must try to be as honest as we can be, but to con yourself into believing that is possible is to actually step out of the realm of the human into the superhuman.&quot;</p><p>By recognising certain character traits, and understanding why we act, Marar believes people can develop &quot;a more adult way of looking at human interaction&quot;&nbsp; and can take responsibility for their actions.&nbsp; </p><p>&quot;It is polite to deny the choices we make,&quot; he argues. &quot;When people say &#39;we drifted apart&#39; they are actually drawing a polite veil over the quiet moments when the decisions were made. If they spot that, they can take responsibility for the choices they make in future.&quot;</p>