How to Spot a Liar, as Explained by a Certified Fraud Examiner
This article is shared with permission from our friends at Truth Theory.
Though we may not like to believe it, people have a tendency to lie. In fact, studies have shown that the average American is lied to approximately 10-200 times every day. That’s astonishing, right?
For whatever reason, lying has become commonplace in our society. Fortunately, there are ways to tell if someone is attempting to deceive you, and they are actually quite simple to spot once you know what you are looking for.
Certified Fraud Examiner Pamela Meyer is an expert at spotting liars. In her bestselling book, ‘Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception’, she explains the tried, tested, and true method of spotting a liar.
In an interview with Fraud Magazine, Meyer explained that she “walked into the world of deception” at her 20th year reunion at Harvard Business School. “I took a workshop at this reunion with 350 of my classmates where a professor detailed his findings on how people behave when they are being deceptive,” she explained.
Meyer continued, “What they do with their posture, their purses, their backpacks, their language structure, their smiles. I witnessed something you rarely see. For 45 minutes, 350 high-level, busy people were riveted. No one was tapping at their Blackberries. No one was running to the hall to start a conference call. People, who thought they had seen it all, were learning something completely new and useful. When I witnessed this unusual moment of executive silence, I knew I had happened onto something transformational.”
Intrigued by what she had seen, Meyer immersed herself in learning techniques for spotting deception. She discovered the same ones intelligence, security, law enforcement and espionage agencies have used for decades. Said Meyer,
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In her book, Meyer identifies the nine motives behind lying. Some occur when one feels defensive, and others happen when on is on the offensive.
The motives follow:
- To avoid being punished or to avoid embarrassment
- To protect another person from being punished
- To exercise powers over others by controlling them
- To protect yourself from the threat of physical or emotional harm
- To obtain a reward that’s not otherwise easily attainable
- To get out of an awkward social situation
- To create a positive impression and win the admiration of others
- To maintain privacy
- To gain advantage over another person or situation
According to one study, the average adult is only able to distinguish truth from lies approximately 54% of the time. Meyer says that rate is equal to that of a chimpanzee. In her TED talk, Meyer explains that there are 3 main reasons for this: evolution, truth bias, and the learning curve challenge. Though humans get better at spouting falsehoods as they develop, the ability to detect lies tends to diminish due to the learning curve.
Meyer commented: “Americans are especially predisposed to a ‘truth bias’ when dealing with other Americans. In general, they presume good faith on the part of others, and they believe that people are innocent until proven guilty. When someone answers the phone and says, ‘I was just going to call you. You read my mind,’ many of us give the benefit of the doubt, even if we’re not entirely convinced.”
Watch the fascinating TED Talk below:
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