How many times has your business suffered because you trusted the wrong person? If you're like most people, you've been lied to thousands of times.
Deception hurts in many ways. There's the emotional stress from being betrayed, the loss of self-confidence and the increased suspicion or even paranoia. Not to mention the financial cost.
A deceptive supplier may promise that a shipment will arrive by your deadline, all the while knowing that delivery by the promised date is impossible. Trusting this supplier could cost your company thousands of dollars or more. Deceptions like this can be deadly to a growing business.
But you don't have to be a victim. Here are seven subtle cues that often mean a person isn't being completely honest with you.
1. Nose touch: We have erectile tissues in our noses, which engorge with blood when we lie. This causes a tingling or itching sensation that requires a nose touch to satisfy. The absence of a nose touch doesn't guarantee truth, but the presence of a nose touch often means deception. Of course, sometimes a person will touch his or her nose because of a non-deceptive cause, such as a cold. With some practice, you can quickly learn to distinguish a deceptive nose touch from something innocent.
2. Speech disturbances: When we lie, we force our brain to pretend that the lie is true, that the truth is a lie and simultaneously remember that the real truth is that each is the other. Are you confused? So is your brain when you lie. The process of deception taxes our cognitive ability to think efficiently. So when we lie, we pause longer and speak slower than normal and often experience speech disturbances that serve as gap fillers, such as "um," "er" and "ah." Train yourself to look for deception when you hear this kind of verbal cue.
3. Incongruent behavior: When our words and our body language don't agree, our communication is incongruent. Imagine that you ask a salesman if he can assure your delivery will be on time. If he explains how certain he is about it being on time while also shaking his head--as if non-verbally saying "no"--he is incongruent. When this sort of incongruence occurs, you would do well to believe the person's body over his words.
4. Neck rub: We rub our necks because of the stress we experience when we feel that an obstacle may be insurmountable. Let's say you're interviewing a potential employee for a key leadership position and the prospective employee verbally emphasizes his interest in the job. However he also begins to rub his neck when you explain the expected duties. This probably means he doesn't feel he'll be able to accomplish the duties. He might be wrong, but if we know anything about human psychology, it's that if someone believes that they can or can't do something, they're probably right.
5. Eye rub: An eye rub is an indicator of disbelief. Let's say you have an important computer keystroke sequence to teach a new employee. The employee begins to rub her eyes even while verbally affirming your statements. This probably means that she doesn't believe you or disagrees with your instruction. It would be wise to stop and ask a question to allow the employee to verbally object. Many subordinates feel uneasy about disagreeing with the boss, but their bodies don't hesitate. Perceiving a potential problem and dealing with it early can be the difference between a simple misunderstanding and a business disaster.
6. Upward inflections: We upwardly inflect our words when asking a question. You may have noticed that some salespeople will upwardly inflect certain statements of fact. This is a red flag that should alert you to potential deception. The salesman might say, "Your competitors have seen their profit margins increase by 30 percent by using our product." If you notice that he upwardly inflected the words, "30 percent," you should disregard this statistic and be suspicious of him altogether.
7. Stabbed hollows: In the study of graphology--or handwriting analysis--hollow letters represent honesty. Anything that disrupts a hollow letter could indicate deception. Let's pretend you enter your office to find a note from your top salesman on your desk. His note indicates that he had to go out of town to visit his sick mother and won't be able to go to the annual trade show. You notice that every "o" in his note has some sort of mark interjected into the hollow space of each letter. You would be right to be suspicious of the facts in the note and a phone call or meeting would likely expose some sort of deception.
With some practice, these new awareness tools will give you greater confidence in your perceptive ability and new peace of mind when deciding to trust others.
Ken Osborn is the founder and executive director of The CIA Institute in Corona, California. He has taught hundreds of deception awareness seminars and workshops including the popular Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!!! Workshop and is the author of A Pack of Lies, a flash card system designed to teach someone to instantly recognize 50 common deceptive cues. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.