Become a Human Lie Detector: How to Sniff Out a Liar

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Have you ever
been burned by somebody because they told you an outright lie? It
can happen in your personal or business life – you’re
on cloud nine when your girlfriend says she loves you, only to find
out later she’s been cheating on you for months; a client says
their business is solvent, but they end up bankrupt, and you lose
a ton of money on an account.

Wouldn’t
it be great to avoid these situations by being able to tell right
then and there if someone is lying to you? Well, based on research
by behavioral scientists and the work and experience of FBI agents
and police officers, a system has been developed to help people
become human lie detectors.

Below we provide
a short introduction to the art of sniffing out a whopper. Ready
to get started? Read on.

Caveat:
Detecting lies is extremely difficult. It’s more of an art
than a science. People can fool polygraph tests, so they can definitely
fool you. There is no single behavior that indicates deception 100%
of the time. Rather, detecting lies requires observing multiple
behaviors and analyzing them using the surrounding context. Also,
just because a person shows some of the signs we list below, it
doesn’t necessarily mean they’re lying, just that they
might be lying.

Catalog
a Subject’s Pacifiers

The key to
detecting deception is to recognize when people are uncomfortable.
Generally, people who are being honest feel comfortable, while people
who are lying feel stressed.

When we’re
nervous or uncomfortable, we all unconsciously manifest our distress
with the use of pacifiers. Like the name suggests, we use
these gestures and body movements to help soothe and comfort ourselves
in uncomfortable situations. Below is a short list of pacifiers
many people display:

  • Face touching
  • Rubbing
    the back of the neck
  • Lip pursing
  • Hair stroking
  • Playing
    with jewelry
  • Covering
    the neck dimple (usually seen with women)
  • Eye blocking
    – closing eyes tightly or even covering eyes with hands
  • Rubbing
    palms on legs
  • Hand wringing

Every person
has a different set of pacifying behaviors. Your goal at the beginning
of a conversation is to know what pacifiers your potential liar
uses. Once you know a person’s pacifiers, you can use that
info to gauge their comfort and discomfort around certain topics.

Establish
a Behavioral Baseline

Maybe somebody
rubs the back of their neck all the time, not just when they’re
lying. So in order to gauge someone’s level of comfort or discomfort,
you need to establish a baseline for their behaviors. That way you’ll
know when they deviate from it. Figuring out a person’s pacifiers
is easy if you’re around them all time, but what if you’ve
just met someone? How can you figure out the pacifiers of a potential
employee in the short time you’re interviewing them? Well,
most people display a bit of nervousness when they first meet new
people, so you might see pacifying signs at the beginning of your
encounter. Make note of them, so you can use them to read the person
later in the conversation.

Again, just
because a person shows signs of discomfort around a topic, doesn’t
mean they’re necessarily lying. It just means you need to investigate
that subject a bit more to find out the reason for the discomfort.

Get the
Person Relaxed

After you’ve
figured out the person’s pacifying gestures, get your subject
relaxed and comfortable with you. Make small talk. A person will
express their comfort with their body language. They’ll lean
in closer to you, they’ll open up their suit coat, they won’t
have folded arms, and their feet might be bouncing underneath the
table. After you have the person relaxed, you can start asking the
important questions. As you discuss certain topics, look for the
pacifiers you identified earlier to reemerge. If they do, it could
mean the person is lying to you.

Read
the rest of the article

June
9, 2010

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