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Put Up Your Hand If You Ever Lie

Put Up Your Hand If You Ever Lie

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    Put up Your Hand if You Ever Lie.

    If your hand went up, then we now know you’re a liar. If it didn’t go up then we know you’re an even bigger liar.

    When asked the question “are you a liar?” nearly 97% of people answer “no”. When the remaining 3% (self-confessed liars) are subjected to questions calibrating their real, rather than perceived, honesty, they turn out to be, on average, 28 times more honest than the people who claimed they never lie. One of the most prolific liars in history was US president Richard Nixon, who researchers found to have lied on record 837 times on a single day.

    Geeze, that’s a lot of fibbing.

    Why the interest in lying?

    As you know, I’m a student of human behaviour: what we do, when we do it, how we do it, and why we do it. In the field of behavioural psychology there aren’t too many things that interest me more than the subject of dishonesty. Or is it honesty? Anyway, I’m referring to the propensity we humans have to lie. All humans. In my job I listen to (and look at) a lot of people. Since 1987 I have personally completed over 40,000 one-on-one, face-to-face sessions. Close proximity. I get to see the pupils dilate and constrict. The nervous rash appearing on the neck. The facial ticks arise. The postural change. The awkward fidgeting. I notice the change in the pitch of the voice. And the increase in respiration. The lack of eye contact. The shift in emotional state. The defensive body language. The contradictions in their story. The anger. The denial. And often, the tears. Hence, my very absorbent clothing.

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    Listen to what they’re not saying.

    How can we listen to someone who isn’t speaking? Easy. Use our other senses; they will tell us what our ears can’t. We know that communication is about seven percent verbal so it’s only logical to conclude that we will learn more about people (what they think, feel, believe, expect, fear, know, have done) by watching them, than we would by listening to them. Not to say we shouldn’t listen, of course. I’m always more fascinated with what people don’t say because by saying nothing (about a certain matter) they are saying something. People are “speaking” all the time; we just need to learn their language. Pet owners will understand this concept. Once we understand that the verbal stuff is only a minor part of communication and human interaction, our relationships and reality change and our awareness shifts dramatically. If you can’t be bothered researching (and who can?) just watch an episode or three of Lie To Me. Even though it’s ‘only’ a TV show, there’s some pretty cool science and research behind it all. In other words; the truth about liars.

    How often we fib

    The average person lies 114 times every day of their life. So if you live to be eighty, you’re gonna tell somewhere around 3.3 million fibs over the course of your lifetime. Wowzer!! Can you believe that?

    Don’t. I made it up. See how easy that was?

    The truth about lies

    Of course, it’s virtually impossible to acquire accurate and broadly representative statistics regarding how many times the average person lies each day – being as we’re so predisposed to… well, lying. And anyway, who’s gonna keep count? Nobody wants to be seen as a pathological liar – or any kind of liar – so even when it comes to research, we’ll continue to lie about our lying. After all, who’s gonna be honest about their dishonesty? And there-in lies (pun intended) the challenge; in order to gain reliable data we need to rely on people’s honesty. There’s some irony for you. Take a peek at the following report from the University of Massachusetts:

    AMHERST, Mass. – Most people lie in everyday conversation when they are trying to appear likable and competent, according to a study conducted by University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert S. Feldman and published in the most recent Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology. The study, published in the journal’s June issue, found that 60 percent of people lied at least once during a 10-minute conversation and told an average of two to three lies. “People tell a considerable number of lies in everyday conversation. It was a very surprising result. We didn’t expect lying to be such a common part of daily life,” Feldman said. The study also found that lies told by men and women differ in content, though not in quantity. Feldman said the results showed that men do not lie more than women or vice versa, but that men and women lie in different ways. “Women were more likely to lie to make the person they were talking to feel good, while men lied most often to make themselves look better,” Feldman said.

    What? Men lie to impress people! I find that hard to believe. BTW, have I told you how much I’m bench pressing lately?

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    Some Common Fibs

    Lie: Yep, I’m on my way now.
    Truth: I’ll leave in ten minutes. Or twenty.

    Lie: No, your arse is tiny.
    Truth: You look like a f**king yak from back here.

    Lie: If you don’t go to sleep, Santa won’t come next week.
    Truth: He’ll come (won’t he?).

    Lie: The dog ate my homework.
    Truth: There ain’t no homework. Or dog.

    Lie: Yep, this assignment is all my work.
    Truth: I am the cut and paste king.

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    Lie: I was working late.
    Truth: I’m a Dirtbag.

    Lie: No, I’m busy tonight.
    Truth: I don’t like you.

    Lie: I’ll get back to you.
    Truth: I’ll never contact you.

    Lie: Yep, I’ve nearly finished.
    Truth: I haven’t started.

    Lie: I’m really careful with my food.
    Truth: Careful not to let others see how much I eat.

    Lie: No, I’ll be fine (sob).
    Truth: Can I have some attention and sympathy?

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    Lying Etiquette

    So now we’ve established that you’re part of the Pants-on-Fire Fraternity…

    1. What are your lying rules?
    2. When is it okay to lie? (an example?)
    3. Is it okay to lie if we have noble intentions?
    4. Should we ever lie to our kids? (an example?)
    5. They say “the truth will set you free” but perhaps sometimes a strategic lie will save someone a lot of pain – what do you think?
    6. What about you more spiritual and/or religious (not always the same thing) folk, what are your thoughts?
    7. Is deception (not sharing certain information perhaps) the same as a lie?
    8. Have someone else’s lies impacted your reality in a big way?
    9. Are you aware of your lying?
    10. Surely, it’s okay to lie to your girlfriend about her upcoming ’surprise’ birthday party?

    I don’t expect you to answer all of the above questions (or any for that matter) but I thought they might be good conversation-starters. Off you go Pinocchio.

    And in answer to your question…

    Q. Do you ever lie Craig?
    A. Only when I’m awake.

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    Other than that, never.

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on July 20, 2021

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

    Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

    Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

    1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

    According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

    “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

    Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

    Warming up

    If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

    If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

    Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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    1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
    2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
    3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

    Stay hydrated

    Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

    To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

    Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

    Meditate

    Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

    Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

    Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

    Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

    2. Focus on your goal

    One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

    Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

    Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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    Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

    If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

    3. Convert negativity to positivity

    There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

    ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

    It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

    Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

    Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

    Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

    4. Understand your content

    Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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    However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

    “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

    Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

    Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

    One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

    5. Practice makes perfect

    Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

    In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

    Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

    6. Be authentic

    There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

    Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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    Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

    To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

    With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

    Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

    7. Post speech evaluation

    Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

    Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

    We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

    You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

    Improve your next speech

    As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

    Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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    • How did I do?
    • Are there any areas for improvement?
    • Did I sound or look stressed?
    • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
    • Was I saying “um” too often?
    • How was the flow of the speech?

    Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

    If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

    Reference

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