Are they lying to you? How to spot a fib

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in Workplace Communication

That colleague looking intently into your eyes as he answers your questions may be telling you a fib.

Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception, says to look for these common tip-offs that someone is lying:

  • His upper body freezes. When telling a lie, “the cognitive load is huge,” says Meyer. Liars are so focused on telling their rehearsed story they may freeze their upper body, look down or slow their breathing and blink rate.
  • He doesn’t use contractions. He’ll say “did not” rather than a more relaxed “didn’t.”
  • He’ll use inappropriate detail, as if he’s trying to prove he’s telling the truth.
  • His eye contact may feel excessive. A liar may think that extreme eye contact conveys honesty. People telling the truth only make eye contact a comfortable 60% of the time.
  • He can’t tell the story backward. Because he has memorized a sequence of events, but has no emotional memory of the events, it’s difficult for him to tell his story in reverse order.

— Adapted from “Pamela Meyer on the science behind ‘Liespotting,’” Mary Ellen Slayter, SmartBlog on Workforce.

Quick Fact: According to Pamela Meyer, liars tend to be strategic thinkers, powerful, verbal and outgoing. Extroverts lie more than introverts, and they keep up their lies longer even under interrogation. Men tell eight times more lies about themselves than others, while women lie more frequently to protect others.

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