“To spot lies, observe body language. Body language will leak lies that words omit.” – Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)
“How To Spot Lies To Be A Better Negotiator”
“I wasn’t sure what I was sensing. But the story didn’t seem right. I didn’t know if it came from the man’s darting eyes, or his constant lip licking. He seemed nervous. And that increased my suspicion of his guilt.” Those were the words of a police officer recounting his thoughts to a supervisor. He’d just captured a criminal that had been on the lam for decades.
One researcher found most people lie in everyday conversation. They do so to appear approachable and skilled. As a negotiator, when you assess someone’s possible deceit, what signs do you look for in their body language? Are there other nonverbal signals that you spot that give clues to someone’s degree of truthfulness?
When a person lies, their body emits clues. That’s because our body attempts to stay in a constant state of comfort. And, when it’s out of that state, the body displays signals that account for that lack of wellbeing. The following guidelines will assist you in spotting lies in those that attempt to deceive you. Having this information will allow you to heighten your senses when someone is lying.
Reading Body Language
- Forehead – When someone’s forehead begins to sweat, take note of what preceded that action. While the person may be sweating due to the heat, observe to what degree the sweating continues based on questions posed in the conversation. When coupled with other signs, you’ll have better insight into the person’s deceit or truthfulness.
- Eyes – In some situations, a lier will avoid eye contact, because they know a lack of eye contact may indicate someone’s lying. And others will maintain eye contact longer than usual. To decern when someone may be lying, observe what’s regular eye contact for that person in different situations. As an example, note their eye movement when they’re calm compared to when they feel threatened in an attempt not to disclose the truth. Even when you first meet someone, within moments of the encounter, you can gauge their altering of eye movement. Note what may have caused it to occur.
- Mouth – When people lie, and they believe someone may be spotting it, the more they speak, the drier their mouth may become. They may begin to lick their lips to offset the dryness or start to swallow excessively. Pay special attention to this act. While nerves may have a role in their actions, guilt from telling lies may be the real source.
- Ears – Someone fondling their ears may be indicating that they can’t hear what you’re saying. But constant fondling is usually a sign that they’re attempting to comfort themselves. While they may be nervous, note some of the other signals to assess if there’s more to their fondling.
- Neck – Rubbing the neck more than usual is another sign of tension, which may be caused by someone lying. Once again, observe other signals mentioned to gain greater insight into what this clue me be giving you.
- Hands – Some people cover their mouth with their hand when lying. They’re attempting to hold back their words. If someone makes large gestures with their hands and then begin to make smaller ones while displaying some of the other signals noted, that might be another clue that they’re attempting to shield the lie that they want you to believe is the truth.
- Fists – Hands that become fists indicate potential hostile actions to follow. That gesture in a tense situation may mean the person is tired of your inquisition. He may be experiencing anxiety from thinking you’re aware of his deceitful pronouncements.
- Feet – When someone suspects that you’re aware of his lying, he may shift his body and point his feet towards the nearest exit. That gesture indicates that he wants to get out of the current environment because he feels uncomfortable.
As you watch someone’s body language, look for a cluster of actions. No action standing alone can definitively denote their truthfulness. Remember, when someone lies, their body emits signals. Those signals may be fleeting. But, if you’re astute at recognizing them, you’ll be better at catching the lies that people tell. That will allow you to maintain greater control in all of your environments … and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!
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