Whether you are interviewing a job candidate, having conversation during a dinner date, or working with team members on a project at work, the chances of you being lied to are reasonably high. Research indicates we are lied to 200 times per day. That’s a lie every 5 minutes. While most of the lies encountered will not materially affect your decision-making, 10 per day likely would. There are many reasons people misrepresent the truth, but how do we spot these instances when they occur? You can dramatically increase your ability to spot a liar if you know what to look for – and the great news is you already know how to do it.
The Key to Detecting a Lie
80% of communication is non-verbal with 65% of that delivered through body language. Words only make up 7% of how we communicate, therefore the key to detecting deception is in watching for signs in body language. If you’ve attended any of my programs where I taught you how to set clear and specific expectations, you’ll be even better equipped to detect behaviors that may be signs of deception. For those who haven’t, no worries. The tips I provide are based on proven research on body language as well as principles of effective communication my consulting firm teaches to thousands of people around the world. With practice, you will dramatically increase your lie detection ability.
The 7 Basic Human Emotions
No matter where you go in the world, all people will display these 7 emotions:
Fear, Sadness, Disgust, Happiness, Contempt, Surprise, and Anger.
All but one of the seven emotions is displayed asymmetrically (evenly across the face). Contempt is the only one that is typically displayed on one side of the face (as in a crooked smile). Think of the expressions you see when someone displays one of these emotions. The pictures you have in your mind will serve as a basis from which to begin enhancing your observations.
Establishing a Baseline is the Key to Detecting Deception
In order to detect a lie, you must have a good feel for the person’s normal patterns of behavior. Most people already do this naturally but don’t realize it. They just don’t do it consistently well. In fact, it’s been proven that people may not even notice when a person they are talking to is switched as is shown in this rather amusing hidden camera video. According to Pamela Meyer, author of Lie Spotting – Proven Techniques to Detect Deception, there are 5 behaviors you should pay close attention to:
- Laugh – What does their laugh sound like?
- Voice – how fast do they speak, how loud is their speech?
- Posture – What is their normal posture?
- Gestures – how often do they use their hands, fidget, play with items in their hands, cross / uncross their feet?
- Reactions – how does their face and posture change when their emotions change?
The beauty of baselining someone’s behavior is it doesn’t require you to change a thing about how you have a conversation. All you need to do is pay closer attention for what Janine Driver calls probing points.
Look for Clues of Deception – Watch for Probing Points
Emotions are intricately linked to our communication, so much so that they are nearly inseparable. Sit on your hands and try describing your office environment at work. You will find it difficult to not use your arms and hands during the description. By observing a person’s normal patterns of behavior during conversations, when you see someone change from their norm, that moment represents a probing point – and you should seek to gain a better understanding of the change.
The key to detecting deception is not to focus on just one clue. You need to look for a cluster of verbal and non-verbal clues in order to enhance your ability to truly detect when a lie is being told.
Now you’re ready to start watching for some of my favorite signs of potential deception, which I will share in part II of this blog article series, to be released on Friday, March 9.
If lies are destroying trust in your organization or if you want more strategies for detecting lies in your professional and personal relationships, email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org.