The truth about lying

By John Boe

Some people can't tell a lie, others can't tell the truth and unfortunately, most people can't tell the difference. Can you tell when someone is pulling the wool over your eyes? Whether you're an attorney selecting a jury, a manager interviewing a new agent or a salesperson making a presentation, your ability to quickly and accurately discern the truth greatly enhances your effectiveness. Fortunately, having the ability to sort fact from fiction is an important communication skill that can be learned.

Aside from con men, compulsive liars and some politicians, most people become uncomfortable when telling a lie and transmit their deceitful behavior through their body language. While they may sound convincing, their gestures speak louder than their words. Consequently, they reveal their deceit nonverbally. While it's not always easy to spot deceptive behavior, there are many subtle yet discernable clues to the trained eye.

Body language is a mixture of movement, posture and tone of voice. Studies show that nonverbal communication has a much greater impact and reliability than the spoken word. Therefore, if a person's words are incongruent with his or her body language gestures, you would be wise to rely on the body language as a more accurate reflection of their true feelings. During the selling process it's important to remember that body language is not a one-way street. While you're evaluating your prospect's body language for signs of honesty and credibility, he or she is subconsciously observing and reacting to your gestures as well.

Some people can't handle the truth

The truth sometimes hurts and few business or personal relationships could survive the harsh reality of total honesty. While honesty is certainly the best policy, the truth is, that in our day-to-day encounters, it's not always diplomatic or socially acceptable to be completely honest. To spare the feelings of others, we have learned the usefulness of telling half-truths, fibs and white lies.

During the selling process, some people have difficulty saying no and will actually tell you that they are interested in order to avoid potential conflict. As the pressure of making a decision builds, prospects will frequently use half-truths or lies to either stall or disengage from the selling sequence. While their words say yes, their body language indicates no. By being able to recognize the inconsistency between your prospect's words and his or her gestures, it is often possible to flush out their concerns, overcome their objections and make the sale.

See no evil - Hear no evil - Speak no evil

Eye, nose and mouth movement, along with hand gestures, are the four major nonverbal cues typically associated with lying. The statue of the Three Wise Monkeys accurately depicts the primary hand-to-face gestures associated with deceit. When a person is doubtful or lying, they'll often use their fingers to block their mouth as if they were filtering their words. This hand- to-mouth gesture is commonly referred to as "speak no evil." The second hand gesture associated with deceit is called "see no evil," and it occurs when a person rubs or touches his or her eyes. The third hand gesture "hear no evil" is displayed when a person covers or drills a finger into his or her ears.

If people use one of these gestures while they're talking, it indicates that they are being deceitful. On the other hand, if they are displaying one of these gestures while someone else is talking it indicates that they doubt the truthfulness of what is being said. These three gestures should be considered red flags. When you encounter one of these gestures during your presentation, it is a good idea to gently probe the subject matter with open-ended questions to encourage your prospect to voice his or her concern.

In addition to the three hand-to-face gestures, eye movement is another reliable indication of deceit. It's normal for a person to look up to his or her left when thinking about the past and up to the right when thinking about the future. If you ask a person a question from his or her past and they look up to their right, they're making up a response. Law enforcement personnel and customs agents are trained to routinely monitor eye movement during interviews.

Micro gestures

According to Paul Ekman, professor of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco, two of the most common micro gestures that are associated with deceit are the nose wrinkle and the mouth curl. The nose wrinkle is the same gesture that occurs naturally when you smell something offensive. The other facial micro gesture is a slight downward curl of the corners of the mouth. Even liars who make a conscious effort to suppress all of their major body gestures, will still transmit micro gestures. People sometimes lie, but their body language always tells the truth!

John Boe presents a wide variety of motivational and sales-oriented keynotes and seminar programs for sales meetings and conventions. For further info, visit

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salesman and politicians, you already know they&re lying, because it&s their job. Pathological liars you can usually tell because they are kind of crazy and they are always wrapped up in some weird sh"t, so just keep away from their sh"t and you&re ok.

It&s the con artists you have to be careful of as they are masqquerading as real ppl, they&re not just lying, they&re acting, and that&s where you&re screwed. Since they&re pros, I have a feeling they have a good handle on and good controol of the cues mentioned in this article.

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SO what does it mean, when OL's in the cafeteria are chatting and they keep a hand over their mouth?

Does it mean they are telling lies, or does it still mean they put the hand in front of the mouth to keep the things they are eating from falling out?

Honestly, at lunchtime, most OL's first put something in their mouth and then they start talking. Disgusting.

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I recommend watching a new series called 'Lie to me'. Looks very interesting!

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The stuff presented in this article is by no means cutting edge, and even incorrect. Although their are several "general" body language gestures that relate to "general" meanings, there is no universal cheat sheet. The only way is to calibrate, that is notice how somebody is behaving when you KNOW they are lying and remember it. Poker players call this looking for "tells."

For example, somebody may cover their nose or their mouth not because they are lying, but because they are fearful of how you will take whatever they are saying.

The truth is that all humans are natural born lie detectors, as well as liars. Evolutionary psychologists believe this is the "arm's race" that skyrocketed the size of the human brain. A inter-species competition between liars, and lie detectors. The ability for the unconscious to assimilate all those micro movements into an intuition, or gut feeling that somebody is being truthful or not.

You don't really need to know all the stuff in this article, just being able to trust your gut instinct is oftentimes all you need.

This can be tough when you're desperate to make a sale.

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looking to the left for truth, and to the right, for lies, works because we read, from left to right.

Cultures where people read from right to left, or, up and down, will yield different reactions as their past, and future, are found in different directions.

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I recommend watching a new series called 'Lie to me'. Looks very interesting!

dolphingirl is right! I watched the first episode! It was very interesting. I can't wait for it to start weekly on Sky Perfect.

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It’s normal for a person to look up to his or her left when thinking about the past and up to the right when thinking about the future.

This theory (most famously adapted in NLP) has been proven wrong in several controlled studies, but still people believe it.

PS: Reality does not work like they show in CSI.

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electric 2004, they are covering their mouths because of their bad breath, or they hazukashii about their ugly teeths.

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I wouldn't say this article is a lie, but it keeps only one foot in the truth at times.

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When a certain U.S. politician promised that 95% of Americans will get a tax break, was that a lie?

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Liar! Liar!

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The three rules of Japanese morality: (1) Do whatever you want. (2) Don't get caught. (3) Deny everything, repeatedly. Any questions? (Who needs Ten Commandments?)

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What kind of article is this about ? It's kind of lame and boring !!!

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What kind of article is this about ? It's kind of lame and boring !!!

It is a sales pitch for for John Boe's services; so visit

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Great article.

You can't tell if I'm lying over the net though, right?

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The three rules of Japanese morality: (1) Do whatever you want. (2) Don't get caught. (3) Deny everything, repeatedly.

Three rules of life passed on from Homer to Bart (when homer thought he was going to die from an improperly prepared blowfish):

1) It was like this when I found it

2) It's the other guys fault

3) Great idea, boss!

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No, it's called statistics.

BTW, the less-known 11th Commandment says that if you ever break any of the more-famous Ten Commandments, for the love of God, don't get caught!

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