On a + note

How to spot a liar… not that you need to know, but…

Posted in on a + note by flickfancy on June 16, 2014

kitty#24Unfortunately deception is universal. Statistically people on average lie twice a day, from the little white lie about eating the cake in the staffroom to the full blown, high stakes deception of a career criminal. There is also significant research indicating that lying is on the rise, from lying in advertisement, to the escalation of corporate lying, to the rise in reported cheating on university exams. There are a wide variety and level of deceptions but universally, lying is increasing and is measured by the negative impact it has on others.

However, interestingly Canadians still have a “truth bias,” we generally assume specific others (our kids, our doctor and our peers) are telling the truth and are a bit shocked when we discover it is a lie. To detect a liar, there are a few signs to watch for.

For example, watch body language:
►Surprisingly, nervousness is not always the sign of a lie. A person may show signs of anxiety but be telling the truth.
►A great liar has mastered the art of controlling fidgeting or excessive arm movements. So the trick when looking at body language clues is to figure out what level of liar you are dealing with; a master, or a novice.

Also closely watch facial expressions:
►Watch the forehead. If a liar is trying to mimic sadness, they may inadvertently look surprised with wide eyes and raised eyebrows. This is a real give away!
►Watch for exaggerated responses like excessive smiling, eye rolling or crying.
►Watch the corners of the mouth near the end of the conversation for the tell tale “duping delight” – that very subtle smirk when a liar  thinks they have fooled you.

Words and phrases can also give away a liar. For example:
►A lair will avoid saying “I” or “we” instead they will use words like “somebody”or the perennial favorite of teenage boys, “a guy.” Just think of the number of “other guys” who have misplaced library books!
►A liar will use phrases like “the true story is …” or “the honest truth is…”
►Listen for the speaker’s voice to rise or if they repeat the question being asked. These are good indications that a lie may follow.
►The classic comment “the bigger the lie, the more believable it is” is simply not true. Often a very exaggerated lie is the easiest to spot if you just sit back and listen as the tale unwinds.
►A skilled liar will use the “shell game” to confuse the listener and distract them from discovering the truth.
►A novice liar will struggle to keep track of the lie as it gets more and more complicated with each telling. “It was the dog that wrecked the book; no, it fell into the swimming pool; no, it was left out in the rain….”

These tips are no guarantee that you will spot a lie, but at least you will be watching for it and enjoy the ride!!

So there you have it, more than you ever wanted to know.


Kitty Pope                                                                                                #25 June 2014



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