Spot the Lie, Analyze Vs Speculate
- A person lies about 10X a day, how too spot them?
It is difficult, if not impossible, to tell if a person is lying just by looking at them. This would be speculation.
Instead, former CIA Agent Susan Carnicero notes the importance of analyzing the situation. “What I want to look at is how a person is reacting to things,” she says, using the example of someone sitting with their arms folded, a “global behavior.” While this might at first appear to be a closed-off or deceptive posture, there are many reasons why someone might sit in this way, from being cold to just being a habit.
“We give way too much weight to global behaviors,” Ms. Carnicero says. “We want to do away with that.
That is speculation.” To pick out what is relevant and what is not, 1st identify the stimulus, the questions you are asking, and then focus on the behaviors that are directly associated with the person’s response.
Timing is Key here, a major Red Flag is a deceptive behavior that occurs within the 1st 5 secs after the question is asked.
“If they do not show me a deceptive behavior within 5 seconds, they’re not lying to me,” she says, adding that paying attention to clusters is another Key. “I want to see at least 2 or more behaviors [during their response] for that to be a deceptive answer.”
In some cases, the 1st deceptive behavior may occur before you have even finished asking the question, and this is a Red Flag too, but remember that the 1st one should occur within the 1st 5 seconds, and there should be 2 or more in total to signal a lie.
Many people are taught that lying is wrong and to try to look for the good in people. But when trying to spot a liar, it’s important to ignore truthful behavior, which will only add to your bias and contribute to what Ms. Carnicero describes as the “Halo Effect.”
“Deceptive people can give us truthful answers,” she says, and will try to manipulate you to believe them.
In many cases, they may give you more information than you asked for in an attempt to make you think they’re a good person.
According to Ms. Carnicero: “The people that we know are already out to manage our perceptions … go way beyond what we’re asking for … the purpose of that again is to convince us that they’re good people, and what happens if I’m a novice is that I start to think that’s a good person. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy … and I’m going to start to think that that person’s good, and I’m going to miss the bad.”
So make a point to ignore truthful behavior, instead focusing on deceptive ones.
Meanwhile, recognize tactics of evasiveness, which are major clues that a person is not being candid, they are:
- Failure to provide information asked for, does the person go on at length but not answer the question you asked?
- Failure to deny, “The most important thing to the honest person is giving you that answer, denying if they did not do something. The truth is their biggest ally,” Ms. Carnicero says.
- Use of exclusionary qualifiers, such as saying “for the most part,” “fundamentally” or “not really.” These beg for a follow-up question to reveal what the person is leaving out.
A person’s nonverbal cues are also important to hone in on when evaluating whether or not they’re lying. Ms. Carnicero recommends paying attention to the following nonverbal cues, as follows:
•Behavioral pause: If you ask a person a vague question, such as what were you doing on this date years ago, it is reasonable to expect a pause before they respond. But if you ask, did you rob a bank 10 years ago to this day, they should respond immediately. In the latter case, a delay is a sign of lying.
•Verbal/nonverbal disconnect: If a person nods their head while saying No, or shakes their head “No” while saying Yes, this disconnect is considered a deceptive behavior, that is except in certain cultures in which nodding does not mean Yes.
•Anchor point movements: Another sign of a lie is movement in an “anchor point,” such as feet on the floor, arms on a desk or even a dangling foot if a person’s legs are crossed.
•Grooming gestures: Straightening a tie or other piece of clothing, fixing hair, adjusting glasses or fiddling with shirt cuffs can be subconscious ways that people try to quell their anxiety and are often a sign of a lie. Clearing of the throat or swallowing prior to answering are also considered indicators of deceptiveness.
•Hand-to-face movements: If a person put their hand to their mouth, licks their lips, pulls on their ear or otherwise touches their face or head, it’s another deceptive behavior.
Note: “The reason goes back to simple high school science. You have asked a question, and the question creates a spike in anxiety because a truthful response would be incriminating. That, in turn, triggers the autonomic nervous system to go to work to dissipate the anxiety, draining blood from the surfaces of the face, the ears, and the extremities, which can create a sensation of cold or itchiness. Without the person even realizing it, his hands are drawn to those areas, or there’s a wringing or rubbing of the hands.”
While it is not always easy to determine when you’re being lied to, following Ms. Carnicero’s guidelines can help.
You can find more details, including many anecdotes that show the guidelines in action, in Ms. Carnicero’s book “Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception.”
Being able to decipher the truth can be life changing when it comes to your professional and personal life, and you can even use it to save yourself money and avoid getting ripped off.
As for lying, if you’re on the giving rather than the receiving end, it’s worth noting that adopting an “honesty is the best policy” approach is not only good for those around you but also for yourself.
People who told only the truth for 5 weeks had an average of 7 fewer symptoms, such as sore throats, headaches, nausea and mental tension, than the control group, with researchers suggesting that lying may cause stress that dampens the immune system.
Many people lie without thinking about it, which means, in order to protect your health, and your reputation one must recognize that it is happening, and change it, before those around you recognize it before you do.
Have a terrific weekend.