Everyone lies – fact. How to see through it and know where you stand.
The average person is lied to, on average, up to 200 times a day. Family, friends, colleagues and merchants lie all the time. I know the gods had no trouble dealing with liars but the art of spotting deception is a vital skill you need in today’s society which is cluttered with spam and fake friends requesting help when stranded abroad, identity theft, desperate employees and people looking to jump on the Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) claim compensation bandwagon.
Is there really a problem?
The statistics on the subject speak for themselves. Apparently children as young as six months learn to deceive. Dr. Vasudevi Reddy from the University of Portsmouth undertook a study of 50 children & parents. She found that deception was visible in children who sought attention by pretending to laugh or cry when there was no reason to do so.
Studies by Aldert Vrij found up to 82% of lies went undetected. Huston, we have a problem…
But I can tell if someone is lying, I think.
Studies show we can usually detect someone is lying only 54% of the time. This is only just better than flipping a coin and taking a guess – shocking but true. However, just to add the statistics, apparently judges, police and custom officers are no better at spotting deception.
Paul Ekman and Maureen O’Sullivan made a few fraudsters happy when they published a study in the American Psychologist. This suggested that only detectives consistently fared better than the 54% average.
Most people (72%) believe they can spot a liar by looking at their eyes. Avoiding eye contact is often cited as a sign of deception. However, this is untrue! Charles Bond conducted a study that suggested people engaged in normal conversation only make direct eye contact 30 to 60% of the time.
Decipher the deception
There are various websites, books, research papers and even television programs (Lie To Me ring ant bells?) which provide us with some useful hints. However, here are the best:
The first rule is to watch the face.
Our face shows what we are thinking, feeling and intending.
1. Genuine facial expressions are always symmetrical
Smiles or frowns – we reveal our true feelings using both sides of our face. So if a colleague shows sign of surprise on one side of his face, chances are he already knew what you just told him!
2. Involuntary movements around the eyes are the difference between a genuine and fake smile
Genuine smiles have upward-turned corners of the mouth, and narrowing of the eyelids to create crow’s feet. We can manipulate the muscles to create half a smile, but it’s impossible to create muscle movements at the top of the eyes. So if a smile doesn’t activate the crow’s feet – beware!
Did you know 80% of communication is non-verbal? Body language makes up to 65% of our interaction with others. Only 7% of how we communicate is through words.
1. The hands are the most expressive part of the body
Hands are used to emphasise speech – typically referred to as illustrators or wands. Look out for people who don’t use gestures when telling a story, unnatural movements, OTT gestures and folded arms, which demonstrate resistance.
2. The head
As the part of the body responsible for housing our brain, it’s a good place to concentrate on when face-to-face. When concentrating on other things the head is prone to nodding yes even if we say no. Look out for this in the news – no surprise that politicians do this often!
Lying is hard work – may sure you listen to what is being said and be aware of these common flaws
1. Guarded tones and responses
If a colleague responds by lowering his voice and says what do you mean? Deception could be formulating. This guarded approach would suggest they were concealing something – it could be the honest answer or his attitude towards you asking the question in the first place.
2. Overemphasising honesty
“To tell you the truth…” “Honestly…” “I swear to you…” all examples of people attempting to re-affirm, to themselves, that they need to appear genuine but most of the time they are hiding something. There is no need to use the phrases if you are being honest – listen out for such key words!
Knowledge is power
There is plenty of information out there that will help you see through the world of deception. Use these skills to enhance your position without having to go to Jeremy Kyle and take a lie-detector test.