Live no lie – How to catch the liar?

Your friend says that the dress you are wearing looks perfect on you when it isn’t. A neighbor praises your good taste when you show them your new car (even though you have just bought a Proton Juara see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton_Juara ). An insurance agent promotes an insurance package that will be most beneficial to you even though in reality you don’t need it.

Every single day, the people around us bombards us with lies. Whether these lies are white lies or not, they are often misleading, frustrating, and upsetting. What is worst is that finding the truth in the midst of an ever increasing accumulation of lies is very time consuming. That is if you don’t know how.

Here are some compelling tips from the experts:

1. Hear the voices

Unless your friend or the person who you are dealing with  is Mariah Carey, you should be able to determine the normal pitch of their voice. A good hint that the person is lying is when their voice differs from the norm.

Paul Ekman, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco teamed up with Maureen O’Sullivan, professor of psychology at the University of San Francisco, to test 509 people for their ability to spot liars and the results were telling.

The group of 509 people which included the Secret Service, CIA, FBI, psychiatrists and university students were shown a videotape of ten individuals who were either lying or telling the truth. On the tape, one woman described the lovely flowers she was supposed to be looking at. Although she was smiling as she spoke, a few keen observers detected an odd hesitation in her voice. Her words lacked joy, and her hands seemed tense, not relaxed. Bingo! Liar!

Among other aspects to be noted is speech rate. If a person is speaking too fast or too slow, it might be a good indicator he/she is lying.

2. Watch those words

Professor James Pennebaker from the University of Texas Austin and colleagues have developed a computer software known as the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) which analyzes written and verbal content for lies.

According to Mr Pennebaker, there are two main markers to watch out for. First, liars tend to use fewer first-person pronouns (like I, me, mine) than truth tellers. It is as though they are trying to separate their personal identity from their lies. Second, liars use fewer exclusionary words (like but, nor, except, whereas). For some reason, liars have trouble with complex thinking (most likely caused by the fear of their story being not cohesive).

In resumes, common lies include inflated job titles. extra education (which they really don’t have), exaggerated salary (a few more zeros at the back of the total would be nice), and non-existent technical ability (I can build the Iron Man suit Tony Stark designed!)

3. Look past shifty eyes and focus more on body language

Most people tend to relate darting, unfocused eyes as the classic example of lying. However, good poker players are more skeptical. However, It is true that inexperience individuals may find it hard to maintain eye contact when lying about something that are embarrassing. But beware of overly focused eye gaze as that is also a good indicator of a liar.

On the contrary, body language may tell even more of what is inside a person’s mind than his/her eyes. Among the notable indicators according to Mr Ekman are changes in small hand movements, changes in the amount of hand gestures, shrugs that are inconsistent with what is being said and changes in body postures at particular points in a conversation.

4. Check for Emotional “Leaks”

The expressions that suddenly appear on people’s faces are a very good pointer to what they’re truly feeling or thinking. Mr Ekman calls these exposures: ultra-brief facial movements that may last only a quarter of a second and are incredibly difficult to spot.

Smiling is a prime example. Smiles of true enjoyment and joy are accompanied by the movements of muscles near the eyes. On the other hand, masking smiles (no eye involvement) are made to cover fear, anger, sadness, or disgust.

Source:Reader’s Digest Magazine August 2006, Volume 87. No 521

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