Trained Liespotters can tell when someone is lying, but it's not a magic trick, said Pamela Meyer, author of the book "Liespotting" and a Certified Fraud Examiner and Harvard MBA, who discussed how to spot lies during a session at the Woman's Foodservice Forum Monday in Dallas. Although deciphering a truth from a lie takes practice and training, almost anyone can learn the technique if they study body language and listen for specific verbal cues, Meyer said. Here's how:
Part of a professional liespotter's job is to review transcripts of conversations to pick out certain verbal cues that signal a lying red flag. People can look for these same types of cues when talking with employees or peers. They include:
People have all types of physical tells when they lie, Meyer said, but they may include:
When is it a lie?
Just because a person engages in one of these body behaviors or verbal cues doesn't mean they are automatically lying. The key, Meyer said, is to look for clusters of these behaviors, but even when you see a few of them, you can't assume they are lying. It should signal you, however, to ask another question. Asking more or harder questions allows you to keep assessing behavior in order to see if they are lying or if one of their behaviors, foot tapping, for example, is just part of their normal body language.
Getting a baseline
In order to accurately judge a person's verbal and nonverbal language, you must first learn what's normal, Meyer said, which is why interrogators often start interviews with suspects by asking them questions in which they already know the answers. It allows the interviewer to see how the person acts when they know they are telling the truth.
The most important thing to keep in mind when trying to spot lies, Meyer said, is to pursue facts, not people. Don't get caught up in whatever "bad" thing a person is trying to hide. Instead, ask yourself if the person is "friends with the facts," Meyer said. If someone is trying to avoid the facts, s/he is probably lying.