Volkswagen was caught in a big lie. Its emissions-cheating scandal might cost the company as much as $25 billion, according to a news report by Market Watch. And soon, we’ll see Judge Neil Gorsuch questioned during his SCOTUS confirmation hearings. Car manufacturer and politics aside, these two scenarios do bring up an important point about a very common human behavior — lying.
Surprising Lying Facts
Merriam-Webster defines lying as “marked by or containing untrue statements.” Psychology Today reports many reputable studies reveal the average person “lies several times a day.” The behavioral science publication goes on to explain some of those every day lies are whoppers, while others are infamous white lies. The trouble with this is, we are simply horrible at knowing when someone is and isn’t lying to us. In fact, it’s one of the seven Dave Ramsey “D’s” of partnerships — dishonesty or deception.
Either way, can you handle the truthiness? Research says probably not: we’re terrible at detecting lies. Even technology doesn’t improve our chances—a 2009 study in the Journal of Forensic Sciences examined a technique called voice stress analysis and found that it worked about as well as … you guessed it: guessing. —Scientific American
One study, published in 2014 by Leanne ten Brinke, Dayna Stimson, Dana R. Carney, reveals your gut reaction beats any attempt of conscious lie detection. Similar studies find participants could only accurately identify lies about 43 percent of the time. The same research reveals truth-tellers were only identified approximately 48 percent of the time. That’s not exactly a confident reassurance we can readily detect untruths.
How to Tell if Someone is Lying to You
So, if it is our gut instinct that’s the best lie detector, what else could we possibly do to know when someone isn’t being honest? Well, we’ve all heard and/or seen some truth detection techniques that can produce results. At the very least, these tips and tricks give you a better idea as to the truthfulness of a person’s statements. If successful, it’s one of a few different signs an employee won’t work out or needs to make a personal change to stay with your company. Here are some ways to tell if someone is lying to you:
- A noticeable, delayed response. Okay, so this is an obvious sign someone is lying but you should exercise caution. However, it’s still an indication a person isn’t telling the truth. Try this exercise: ask if someone what he or she was doing five years ago on the same day. You’ll receive a delayed answer. But, ask the same question with a specific, like if he or she robbed a bank, and he or she won’t delay.
- Verbal and body language disconnect. This is the commonly known mismatch of saying “Yes,” while nodding “No,” simultaneously. And, it’s strong indication the absolute truth is absent from the person to whom you are speaking. Verbal and body language disconnects are more easy to detect because these are unnatural behaviors.
- Concealing the mouth and/or eyes. A primordial human instinct is to conceal a lie because it goes against our own nature. So, someone who is fibbing might cover his or her mouth and/or eyes because it helps shield him or her from shame.
- Swallowing and/or throat clearing. Another classic telltale sign is a gulping swallow and/or grunting throat clearing. However, if you see this behavior, it’s not particularly troublesome, if it comes after he or she answers a question or makes a statement. But, if it’s done beforehand, that’s a sign he or she isn’t being truthful.
- Hand-to-face behavior. When hand-to-face activity occurs, it’s probably due to anxiety, triggered by the autonomic nervous system. For example, if you ask a question and the person immediately licks his or her lips, bites at the lips, or pulls on the ears, this behavior is caused by anxiety because telling the truth would self-incriminate.
How do you know when someone is lying? What body language and/or catchphrases do you look for? How do you deal with people in your organization who don’t tell the truth? Please share your experiences and thoughts with us!