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You Know That Someone Is Lying When You See These…

You Know That Someone Is Lying When You See These…

Whether it’s Ricky Gervais discovering that he’s the only one in the world who can tell a fib, or the entire spectrum of lies that everyone deals with every day (everything from little white lies to stonking great ones), humans are a species and a culture for whom lying is despised and yet something virtually everyone does at some point every single day.

Is it an evolutionary instinct? A psychological response? Or maybe people just don’t want to admit they cheated on their New Year’s resolutions and binged on an entire KFC meal. Whatever it is, humans have lied and lied and lied for centuries, ever since Adam turned to Eve and implied they should keep the old apple-eating on the down-low.

Lying is such a mainstream fascination of daily media – consider all the TV shows, films, and media devoted to catching unfaithful spouses or philandering partners – that it’s no wonder that more people than ever are desperate to discover the truth about how to weed out the truth. There’s so much to be garnered from learning to read people and how to tell when they’re trying to pull the cotton over your eyes.

So, if you fancy brushing up your lie-sensing skills in order to become a human guilt detector, or if you want to learn what you might be doing when you’re trying to get away with something, then check out this list of the ten sneakiest, smartest ways to tell when someone is lying.

1. Shifting Eyes

It is such a cliche it has been parodied in every single movie genre you can think of – and The Simpsons. However, cliches aside, there is plenty of reason to use the old ‘shifty eyes’ technique to assess if someone is lying to you. A lot of analysis and research into how humans lie as a species has found evidence that people find it hard to make eye contact with people they’re lying to, possibly as a throwback to a survival tactic.

In our evolutionary past, homo sapiens learned the power of group dynamics and that surviving in a pack of people was much smarter than trying to survive on your own. However, group dynamics found that telling the truth to your pack members – about the environment you were living in, the food you were gathering, what you found out when you were scavenging – helped keep them informed and alive, and helped your pack survive. We still subconsciously feel ‘wrong’ about lying – hence why you can find it incredibly hard to look the other person in the eye; perhaps because you feel that they can ‘sense’ when someone is lying.

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Facing someone eye-to-eye and lying right to their face can be an incredibly daunting and difficult task. Keep that in mind when you’re trying to interrogate someone. After all, sometimes the old cliches are the best ones.

2. Sweating Palms

No longer just the feeling that you get from being too close to that rather attractive person you like, having sweating palms is one of the biggest indicators out there. Okay, so a lot of it can be rooted in the kind of common-sense logic that anyone with a functioning computer can Google with success, but there is a genuine scientific basis behind why sweating palms equals lying.

Sweating palms are usually caused by a change in the body’s metabolic rate, in turn caused by the person’s heart rate starting to increase. Think of it like this; when you’re running, your heart is clocking up some serious BPM mileage, causing you to sweat in order to cool your body down. When you’re lying, your heart rate increases and you start to sweat from your palms. This method of observing guilt is so well-known that polygraph detectors measure it when someone takes a lie detector test. That’s something handy to note when you’re trying out a lie, or bingeing out on several episodes of Jeremy Kyle back-to-back…

3. Too Many Unnecessary Details

The devil really is in the details, then, huh? It turns out that one of the best ways to check to see if someone’s lying is to actually listen in deep to their story and see how much they’re actually telling you. Why? Well, because unless your friend/lover/spouse/relative is one of those rare but especially verbose and chatty people who seem to populate every conversation with details, when someone is elaborating, unprompted, with details about their day… it usually means they’re lying their butts off.

Something in human behavior seems to trigger this, suggesting that humans need to cover their tracks by creating such a watertight alibi or imaginary day that is so plausible and believable that the victim of their lie will never suspect. Cheating on a partner? You spent the day at work, and give them an hour-by-hour account of what you and the annoying guy in Accounts did. Lying about not quitting your smoking habit? You spent your lunch hour with your work friends discussing a myriad of topics you’re able to accurately recall. Keep an eye out for an abundance of details; it might just be the case that someone’s recycling the truth with you.

4. Gesturing Too Much

Okay, some people are naturally adept or inclined towards gesturing when they talk. It’s fine, it’s a quirk that a lot of people have to demonstrate what they’re saying. However, going over the top with gesturing or fidgeting is, in fact, an indicator that someone is overcompensating for lying throughout their speech. Research has found that rather than the stereotypical image of a twitchy liar unable to stop with the little movements, a liar is much more likely to rein in those smaller moments and go for the big, unconscious guns.

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Anything and everything from using their hands to convey every single point, to over-emphasizing even smaller details with physical gestures and details, can be a tell-tale sign that the person in question is telling a big fat fib. So, if you’re trying to get away with a hell of a lie, maybe try and keep your physical gesturing down to your usual amount. Sure it might take a little more concentration, but isn’t it worth it compared to flailing and being caught almost instantly?

5. Responding Incorrectly To Leading Questions

One of the more proactive and more dangerous ways of trying to discover a lie is to try your hand at some leading questions. Leading questions are, in of themselves, methods examined through psychological research, and are ways that people can consciously or unconsciously lead others on in conversations. However, one of the best ways that can help you uncover the truth is to use leading questions to try and catch the suspected liar in a trap.

In a situation when you know certain things, try dropping a leading question such as ‘Boy, you must have hit all that traffic coming home’, when you know that their route home was very clear and easy. If they lie to your face and go along with your falsehood, it can suggest that they are attempting to go along with you, rather than provide an accurate re-telling of events. Does that necessarily mean they’re out-and-out lying? Well, it’s not looking good, let’s put it that way.

6. Reduced Use Of First Person Pronouns

Me, me, me. No, this isn’t the Twitter biography – or, hell, let’s be honest, the actual autobiography – of some of the world’s stars. It’s one of the best ways to check to see if the person you are having a conversation with is actually being straight with you. Studies into lying and the way humans do it have found that, etymologically, there’s one major thing that occurs when humans are trying to pull of a lie: the liar doesn’t us first person pronouns as much.

Basically, they stop saying ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’, and ‘mine’ as much when they’re telling a lie. The reason behind this? Psychologists have suggested that humans stop using the first person pronouns when they’re lying in order to try and distance themselves mentally from the lie they’re telling themselves. Human beings tend to try and think of themselves of good people; so rather than deal with the fact that they’re lying, they try to make it about other people, or from a more objective point of view. It does explain why there are so few ‘I totally slept in’ excuses, and tons more ‘the traffic was insane’ ones that you probably run into on a daily basis.

7. Check Their Head Position

Okay, now you’re moving into more expert territory here, but if you can crack these babies, you’ll be a veritable lie detecting machine. One of the best ways to spot someone lying is to check their head position. Seriously, watch their head.

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When someone is lying, they’re much more likely to keep shifting or changing the position of their head, much like when you’re trying to avoid the subject of why you haven’t settled down with that special someone, or why you haven’t called your parents in a month. Lying induces a subconcious feeling of guilt in the vast majority of people, and so they adjust their head more often as an unconscious way of not having to face their guilt head on. Look at how so many people, when lying, don’t even look at their victims in the eye. A lot of power lies in unconscious movements, and the way your face and head react are telltale signs that you’re guilty as charged.

8. Microexpressions

Microexpressions. They’re the stuff of Sherlock Holmes, ‘Lie to Me’, and every pseudo-psychological publication worth their salt. A lot of modern research has been conducted into just what microexpressions are – although the name does give you a massive clue. Microexpressions are the tiny, fraction-of-a-second-long expressions that are, more often than not, done unconsciously . In the grand scheme of things, this can give you a premium, VIP seat into what even the most stoic individual is feeling at any one time.

Examining these microexpressions may seem a little bit too advanced for any basic lie detector in training, but they’ve been proven to be a useful tool in examining what people are really thinking when they let their guard down. Isn’t that worth doing a little bit of hard work and practice in? The best thing? Training in recognizing and analyzing microexpressions is becoming rapidly popular all over the world – and an hour’s worth of good training is probably coming to a city near you.

9. They Cover Their Mouth

One of the most well-known ways of examining someone’s you believe is telling a fib is to examine what they do with their mouth when they’re talking. Yes, alright, aside from talking that is, which, in itself, is important. However, when someone covers their mouth a lot whilst telling you a story, it can be a massive indicator that they’re spinning you a none-too-reliable yarn.

What is it about covering your mouth that means ‘lie’?” Psychologists have suggested that this behavior comes from an unconscious desire to close off information in case it turns out to lead to the lie being found out. Basically, it boils down to the liar wanting to shut down their information channel (i.e. mouth) and trying to avoid the situation altogether, particularly when the person they are lying to insists on bringing up more questions and information that can potentially threaten the integrity of the lie. Next time your partner tells you about their day with half their hand covering their mouth, you can begin a bit of investigation. After all, they might just be trying cover up one heck of a lie.

10. Trust Your Gut

All platitudes aside – this lie detecting technique is one of the most underrated, and yet most innately valuable.

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Trust. Your. Gut.

Okay, so it is a little bit of a cliche, but still, when you’re trying to suss out a lie, sometimes you already know the answer. Your gut instinct isn’t a thinly-veiled euphemism for your spiritual essence or soul; it’s a biological instinct developed through generations and generations of survival. Humans have this instinct in order to understand, analyze, and consider threats to themselves and those they care about. While lying might have evolved somewhat since the days of kill-or-be-killed, it’s still a threat rooted in biology.

When you’re facing off against someone you suspect of lying, listen to that little voice in your head telling you that something is wrong. More often than not, you have a reason, unconscious or otherwise, that you think that someone is lying. You’re much better at reading people and intuitively knowing that something ain’t quite right than you even know. It doesn’t mean you should go in all guns blazing. After all, everyone’s wrong at one time or another.

So, the real question is whether or not you can trust your gut when you’re dealing with a potential liar. It might just be worth trying out sometime – after all, you can’t rely on wooden noses growing all the time.

Featured photo credit: summer, holidays, vacation, happy people concept – smiling girlfriends having fun on the beach via shutterstock.com

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Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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