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Four Things To Notice As You Learn How To Detect Lies

Four Things To Notice As You Learn How To Detect Lies

People’s fascination with lie detection has been demonstrated by the popularity of TV shows and movies such as Lie To Me and The Negotiator, where complex concepts such as micro-expressions and eye movement patterns are reduced to sound-bytes that make them easy for public consumption. While it is true that the more time and energy you put into studying lie detection techniques the better a “people reader” you will become, you can also pick up some fast and easy techniques to help you learn how to detect lies.

To begin detecting dishonest statements, it is helpful to get a feel for the overall landscape of lie detection. The broad areas you will want to pay attention to are body language, emotional signals, interactions which reveal guilt or discomfort, word choice and physiology.

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You may want to watch this video to have a brief idea first:

Body Language

When noticing body language for the purposes of learning how to detect lies, start contrasting someone’s non-verbal communication by establishing a baseline of veracity. One way to do this is to make a statement that you know to be true and then mentally record how the subject’s body looks when they respond. For example, if you know the person went to Hawaii for vacation, state firmly, “So you went to Hawaii last month for a week. Fantastic!” Then state something that you know to be false: “And you took a cruise there. What an experience!” Watch as they non-verbally disagree and then watch their body language as they correct you. Now you have two mental snap shots of their “yes” and “no” that will give you a baseline for further calibration. In the future, when you make “yes” or “no” statements or questions, you should see the same physiology as the baseline that you established. If not, there could be deception involved.

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Here is some general physiology people display when they are lying:

  • Stiff or limited hand and arm movements
  • Decreased eye contact
  • Increased hand contact with face
  • Body language does not match words

Emotional Signals

The way people express emotions can reveal whether they are being honest or not. In this category, simply becoming aware of abnormal expressions of emotions will help you learn how to detect lies.

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  • Watch for delayed emotions
  • Notice emotions that last longer than what is natural for the person
  • Emotional expression is limited to one area of the face rather than the whole face

Word Choice

Our choice of words can reveal dishonesty as well. When a person is creating a deception, they need to distance themselves from the lie due to the cognitive dissonance created by the deception. To do this, they alter how they represent the lie to themselves, and this representation will cause a waterfall effect on their language.

Of special and recent interest, even our pronoun usage can reveal whether we are lying or telling the truth. According to Dr. James W. Pennebaker of the University of Texas at Austin, pronouns such as “I,” “me” and “my” show ownership of a statement. Therefore, when someone is lying, they will use these pronouns less, as they are further linguistic signs of distance from the lie.

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  • A person being dishonest will make less direct statements.
  • They will often repeat your exact words.
  • Unnecessary details are added to the deceptive statement.
  • A statement with a contraction like “wouldn’t” or “didn’t” is more likely to be truthful than the uncontracted form.
  • Liars will interject words like “actually,” “to be honest,” or “frankly.”
  • An abrupt change of subject is another sign of dishonesty.

Physiological Symptoms

Much of what has been written previously about how to detect lies is within the conscious control of the deceptive person. There are, however, “tells” that are generally outside a person’s consciousness that are harder to repress or control.

  • Sweating can be a sign of lying.
  • Lying can cause an increase in the secretion of the hormone adrenaline. This causes a fluctuation in saliva production, which causes the person to first have to swallow more and later clear their throat due to dryness.
  • Since the heart is usually beating faster, a person being dishonest will breathe faster.
  • Decreased blinking of the eyes can also be a sign of lying.

While lying is prevalent, it does not come naturally. Deep down, most people want to tell the truth, even when they feel they need to lie. To accomplish this feat, the brain goes into cognitive overload in order to provide the resources necessary to pull off the lie. Since the mind and body are connected in various ways, it makes sense that when the brain has an increase on its cognitive load, the body will show symptoms. The single key to becoming good at lie detection is to look at the big picture (all of the above indications) in relation to the person you are observing. Make sure you account for cultural norms and personal idiosyncrasies by gaining rapport with the individual you are studying. Keep an open mind and stay relaxed, and you will be on your way to becoming a master lie detector!

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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