Posted by: Jo Banks
One of the most useful things I’ve learned over the years is how to read body language. Knowing how to spot if someone is lying is a key skill. Learn how to do it here...
I’ve studied it avidly over the years and it’s helped me immeasurably in my professional life.
From the beginning of my career I have observed others’ body language. Not only have I found it fascinating, but it has allowed me to perform my job better. As I’ve always worked in people centric roles, understanding what others are really thinking rather than just taking what they say on face value, has been invaluable to me. Particular examples of this are:
There are number of ways of spotting deception and it’s a combination of these which makes identification more accurate. However, I have to say that the study of body language is not an exact science. Sometimes we may think someone is lying, but signs exhibited by deceit are virtually the same as those we exhibit when we’re stressed. Therefore, I’m going to put a huge warning on the what follows in this post – THIS IS A GUIDE ONLY and should not be used to make any life changing decisions!
Spotting deception through eye cues
In NLP, we learn eye cues (which direction a person’s eyes are looking when we ask them certain questions) in order to get a good idea of what someone is thinking. Here’s a quick diagram that illustrates it perfectly (the illustrations assume that you are facing the other person (so that their left is your right):
Eye Cue Summary
Try this out on your friends – after each description, I’ve added questions you can use to test the theories out. When you’re facing the person...
A word of caution here, these eye cues cannot be relied upon 100%. Experienced NLP professionals use them in conjunction with observing what the person is saying together with their general body language. Also the eye cues may be reversed in some people for a number of reasons, including if the person is left handed.
Spotting deception through body language
We also need to be aware of other body language traits, which together with the eye movements, will give you a better idea of whether someone is being truthful or not. When we lie, no matter how accomplished we are, we usually can’t control our automatic or reflex body reactions. Our blood pressure and pulse tends to rise, our breathing patterns change and the blood drains from our faces (causing our noses to itch!).
Deception traits to look out for:
As I said with a HUGE caveat – this information is for guidance only and shouldn’t be relied up for making big decisions. What I will say is that your ‘gut’ feeling is usually the most reliable indicator of who’s telling you the truth. That ‘gut’ feeling is there for a reason and usually right, however, we do tend to override it quite frequently. Start tuning into that feeling more often and act on what it’s telling you – nature created that feeling for a reason, to keep us out of danger. You decisions will turn out to be much better for it.
In the next post, I’ll talk a bit more about general body language in the workplace, including how to tell who is and who wants to be ‘top dog’.
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