“The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept.”
Last week, After I had made my post about the importance of honesty, Nova from Nova’s Namaste commented and asked if I knew much about the body-language habits of a liar. Now, this was an interesting question, because I did remember watching a TedTalks video a few years ago about how to tell when someone is lying to you. I told her that I didn’t remember clearly but I would create a post around that very question. So, lo’ and behold. Challenge accepted. Let’s get started. 🙂
If you’d like to watch her TED-talk in it’s entirety, feel free to view the video here. However, if you’d prefer to just get a quick gist of it all, I’ve got you covered!
We all lie in little ways. “White lies” if you will. Whether we knowingly acknowledge that or not, it’s human nature. When I reflect upon the article that I had written about honesty, I realize now, that to be completely honest in all regards is unlikely or even completely improbable. What matters mores than being honest in every little matter, is being honest when it comes to matters of principle, community and love. The things that really matter!
Pamela Meyer starts off by informing us that we are all liars. In fact, we lie a lot about little things, in order to maintain a certain social etiquette. These are what most of us consider “white lies”. She goes as far as to say that statistically, when two strangers meet, they will each lie to each other 3 times on average within the first 10 minutes of talking. That’s pretty huge!
She also claims that verified studies have shown on average, any person will be lied to between 10-200 times in a single day. We can’t do anything to protect ourselves from liars, because they’re always going to be there, and not all lies are dangerous. However, we can become more apt at unveiling others in the act of lying when the time counts by recognizing the signs of a liar.
More About Lying
At one point during the video Pamela speaks about a very notorious con man named Henry Oberlander, who was considered to be so effective with his cons that he posed a threat to the entire Western banking world.
Henry Oberlander revealed the art of his con game at one point, by saying, “Look, everyone is willing to give you something. They’re ready to give you something for whatever it is they’re hungry for.”
What Henry meant by that, is that we are all willing to buy into someone’s lie if we believe we are going to get something in return which we’re craving. So, it’s important to know your own motivations, wants and desires, so that you can be conscious of others trying to use those desires against you insincerely.
Lying takes two parties. We either need to participate in the fabrication of the lie, or the receiving and acceptance of a lie. In order to empower ourselves against being fooled by liars, we need to be able to spot lies, and we also need to be able to spot truthfulness, so that we can still manage to trust others. Learning these techniques for spotting a lie should be used mainly for self-preservation, and not for gloating in the face of white lies.
If your husband or wife says that they like your spaghetti and meatballs, but they’re always mysteriously full a few bites in. It’s probably just best to assume they’re telling the truth. No point in trying to use your newfound lie detecting tools on them. In fact, you should probably make them meatballs every night, since they love it so much!
It’s not your fault if the roadkill that you collected to create those meatballs, wasn’t to their high standard of meat quality. If it wasn’t your family eating it, it would be someone else’s. It’s better off in your bellies, right?
Here are some some more statistics about lying:
- Lying has an evolutionary value to us as a species. The more intelligent the species, the greater the chance of utilizing deception.
- Example: Koko the Gorilla was taught to use sign language, and also had a pet kitten. Koko once blamed the pet kitten for ripping a sink out of the wall.
- One year old human’s will begin to use concealment. They will cry, look around to see if anyone notices, then go right back to crying. Two year old’s can bluff and by five years old they can lie outright.
- Extroverts lie more than introverts
- Men lie much more about themselves, while women lie much more to protect other people.
- An average married couple will lie to each other once in every ten interactions.
How Can We Protect Ourselves?
Well, the best way that we can protect ourselves against lies, is to try and understand the tells of a liar or the “red flags”.
As a person who has been victimized greatly by liars in my lifetime, I value the ability to be able to spot these deceptions in all of my personal relationships! I also have a great respect for the few people I know that live in much more than less honestly. I don’t want it to wreck my trust with all people, but I’m skeptical of everyone until they’ve proven to me which type of person that they are.
Here are a few signs that someone may be lying to you:
- The person in question becomes overly formal with their language in their denunciation of a lie, losing their casual demeanor in the process.
- The person distances themselves from the subject of the lie with their language, meaning less use of proper names, etc. Replacing subjects with “that place” or “that person/man/woman” and such.
- Language such as “In all honesty” or “To tell you the truth”, can actually be signs of someone overcompensating for a lie.
- Too much detail in recollection of events and repeating a question in it’s entirety, can both be red flag signs.
- Although anxiety can make a fidgety person look guilty, liars are actually known to freeze their upper bodies when they’re lying.
- Again, even though anxiety can keep a person from direct eye contact, a liar may maintain abnormally long lengths of eye contact to overcompensate.
- Liars will fake their smiles. Fake smiles do not convey the smile in the eyes. The crows feet in the corner of the eyes will not be present, because they’re not possible to fake.
- An honest person is co-operative in the recollection of events, and they’re going to be infuriated about being wrongly accused the entire time that they are interviewed. They will recommend strict sentencing on the wrongdoer, if asked what the punishment should be for the wrongdoer if caught.
- Deceptive people may show they’re infuriated in flashes. They may be withdrawn, lower the voice, stare at the ground. Too much detail in irrelevant places. They’ll also likely tell their story in strict chronological order and there may be a slight smile which is known as “duping delight”, when one thinks they have gotten away with a crime.
- Leaked expressions. Expressions of anger or contempt may leak through someone’s visage and betray their true feelings over a certain period of time. A person who shows anger can be worked with still, because it’s human and natural to disagree and get angry. Contempt betrays moral superiority and this person will have a difficult time ever treating you as an equal.
- Liars may point their feet towards an exit or create barriers with objects in between them and the person interviewing them out of a false sense of self-preservation.
It’s important to know, that all those these are signs of lying behavior are only red flags on their own. Not a full blown confession of a lie. When the lying red flags come in clusters that’s when there is a good sign that you are being deceived, and it can help you to decide how to handle future interactions with this person.
Pamela goes on to talk about the importance of asking plenty of questions to someone you suspect of lying, treating them with a sense of rapport to maintain communication and then verifying your suspicions intelligently. It also helps if you know the person beforehand, and what they’re like when they’re being honest through conversation so that you have a point of reference when searching for the lies.
By the end of the TedTalk, Pamela talks about how it is advantageous to live explicitly and honestly, while also being able to recognize deception. In that way, we create a world around ourselves where we accept truth as normal behavior and punish or marginalize lies and liars.
We help to create what is acceptable in our lives and this society, just a little bit at a time. So, we should all work towards being participants of truth on most occasions and shape the world for the better.
Hopefully you’ve been able to learn something through this article, and feel better prepared to handle yourself against liars. The video is an interesting one to watch, so if you enjoyed this article, and wish you had even more detail, feel free to watch the Ted Talk above!