3 Truths About Lies. Over the years you’ve heard more about body language and nonverbal cues than you can possibly keep track of. And it can be tough to suss out what is actually valid and useable information from what is bogus or incomplete.
To help you untangle the good from the bad, I’ve laid out 3 popular myths you’ve most likely heard. I’ll break them down and show you why they aren’t valid. Altogether I’ve got close to 50 of these things. Here are the first 3 Truths About Lies… (Keep in mind, these are in no specific order.)
#1- NOT EVERYONE LIES
You may be under the impression that not everyone is a liar. The truth is: Everyone lies. Yes, even your sweet little grandmother. For example, she may have told you she’s been thinking about nobody else but you all week long because she couldn’t wait for you to visit. That’s what you want to hear. She loves you so much she can hardly stand it and she wants to relay that to you in every way she can.
In reality, she’s been thinking mostly about that damned gutter-man who was supposed to be there Monday. Because when it rains the gutters overflow and the water leaks on to the back porch. Indeed, you were definitely on her mind all week. However, she’s been hating on that gutter-man, full-on, for 5 of the last 6 days and he has dominated her thoughts.
Some would say “That’s not a lie. She’s just being sweet.” True, she is being sweet. But again, she had another person on her mind more than she did you. That is a teeny-tiny lie. But a lie none the less. So yes, Everybody Lies. Even your sweet little grandmother.
#2- YOU CAN’T HEAR THE LIE
At work you may ask the person who parked next to you yesterday “Did you dent my car when you opened your car door?” They might answer “No I did not.” Reading that to yourself may not sound odd in your head. But ask that question out loud and then answer it out loud with “No, I did not.”
Sounds a bit odd, huh? Here’s why. (Keep in mind this is not an “absolute”. Just because someone answers this way it doesn’t mean they’re lying. They may answer every question this way. But more often than not, when things sound odd, you should keep asking questions.) When someone is rehearsing an answer to a question about their integrity that they know they will be asked, they usually do it in their head:
“No I did not.”
When he asks me “Did you take the money?” I will answer:
“Why, no… I did not.”
What makes it sound odd is that the answer is not contracted. “No I did not” Is the non-contracted answer. “No I didn’t” Is the contracted answer. “No I would not” Is non-contracted. “No I wouldn’t” Is contracted. People don’t normally speak out loud in non-contracted phrases when their integrity is in question.
If I asked you “Do you want this check for a million dollars?” You wouldn’t say “Yes I do.” You would most likely say “Yeah!”. Your integrity isn’t in question here, but you get the idea. So yes, there are times when You Can Hear The Lie.
#3- LIARS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BREAK EYE CONTACT
This one is famous. Ask the next person you see “How can you tell if someone is lying to you?” There’s a 71% chance they’re gonna say “When someone lies, they break eye contact.” You’ve heard that so many times you would probably bet it all on that answer being correct. If you did? You’d lose. Here’s why:
When someone lies to you they want to make sure you believe the lie. The last thing they want to do is stop looking at you. Even for a second. If you start making a face that shows you don’t believe them, they want to know. They want to know so they can add qualifiers to strengthen the lie, to prop it up, to make it more believable.
In the early ’90’s professor Charles Bond lead a group of 90 scientists in studies on 5,000 people in 75 countries and in 43 languages. He wanted to know what that many people, in such different parts of the world, believed about liars.
In a nutshell, they found most of those people believe liars break eye contact, look away, or “avert their gaze” when lying. 71% of those people to be exact. Professor Bond said “This is the most prevalent stereotype about deception in the world.” So, Liars Are Less Likely To Break Eye Contact.
There are many myths about lying and Body Language. Hopefully that cleared up a couple of things you may have been wondering about for a while. Or it may have let you know you’ve been using incorrect information to make decisions about people’s behavior.
If there’s something you’re not sure about when it comes to body language or non-verbal cues, let me know. If there’s something you’ve seen someone do that you thought was odd at the time, or you’ve never seen someone do before when they were asked a question, let me know.
Soon I’ll be answering reader’s questions about Body Language. So if you have any, now is the time to load them up and send them on over. Let me know on Twitter: @ScottRouse3.