It’s a terrible subject, I know, but it is a reality to be reckoned with in our daily business and social lives. In business we may meet a dishonest sales person, a customer trying to cheat their way to a complimentary item, the manipulative opposing team member in negotiations. In our daily life, think blind date, “friendly” neighbour, and some teenagers.
Lie detection is not an exact science, or else our courts would have a much swifter and more accurate delivery system of justice. However, there are some clues that we can pay attention to, and keep a mental file on certain people and their behaviours. Observation is the key here, but don’t jump to conclusions based on one gesture or comment! Look for synchronicity, or lack thereof.
If we follow the 3V Communications philosophy, we should look at 3 areas: verbal, vocal, and visual cues.
Stammering e.g. Uh…ah…uhmm…well…
Illogical order of a story, with “forgotten” details
Start and stop stories
Too many “neat” details that you didn’t ask for
Sounds too well prepared or rehearsed
Hesitating, shaky voice
Inconsistent pitch. Sharp rises in tone
Fast speed, then long pauses
Unemotional. Could be rehearsed
Face – blushing, or flushing
Nose – touching or rubbing the side (i.e. not a natural scratch)
Hands – closed palms, or hiding palms or entire hands under the table or in pockets. (Note: open hands have traditionally meant “no weapons”, open communication, friendliness, trust)
Eyes – lack of eye contact, or darting glances back and forth, or looking up and to the right, which can mean “visually constructing something”
Mouth – weird smile, especially with closed lips. Showing teeth usually is more genuine. Closed lips are a sign of a forced smile. Also hiding or covering the mouth is a non-verbal cue of “covering” the lie
An awkward laugh is also a sign of embarrassment, nervousness or deceit
The lesson here is to pay attention to people you meet and do business with, and try to make yourself observe more each day. Look for synchronicity between the 3Vs and the chances are higher that you will find the truth, in any situation. But remember, these things by themselves are not “smoking guns”. Follow up as you see fit, but keep your cool, in case you are wrong! Good luck detective!