The Holy Grail Of Lie Spotting?

About 90% of the time, the first question I’m asked after I’ve given a talk on body language or deception detection, is “How can you tell when someone is lying?”.  That seems to be the Holy Grail of body language.  However, no one has ever asked me the most powerful question they should want the answer to if they think someone may be lying. 

This question has the answer that could tell you so much more about the person, what’s really going on, and what’s gonna happen next.  What’s the question?  Here it is:

“How can you tell WHY someone is lying?”.  That’s what you really want to know.  The answer will explain why the meeting was rushed, came out of the blue, has someone in it you didn’t expect, has a much better offer than you expected, or maybe a worse offer than you expected.  Knowing that answer will tell you so many things.

Let’s say you’re in a meeting.  You’ve got a feeling the head of the other company is lying about something specific.  You’re not positive that she’s lying, but your gut feeling tells you something just isn’t right.

As you look for the cues, tells, and mistakes, they may make while being dishonest, you need to ask yourself “WHY is she lying?  What would she gain from lying about this?  Could there something in the market we aren’t aware of that effects our company?

THOSE are the things you really want to know.  What if you saw 5 cues in a rowthat told you the CEO of that other company is lying.  Let’s say you’re sure they are being dishonest.  Now let’s say you call them on it.  You say “With all due respect, Samantha, those figures are wrong and your company never owned I.P. that would allow you to do that.”

Guess what? Samantha will say “You know… you’re right about that.”  As she shuffles through some papers with a poorly-faked confused look.  “These stats and figures are from something entirely different.  So give me a just minute to get the correct papers in order.  I’ll be right back.”


Now she’s left the room.  Consulting with who knows who, and you’re team is back at square 1.  So what should you do in a case similar to this one?  Wait.  See if there are more things she lies about.  See where she’s headed with the meeting.  Listen very carefully to the details of what and how she makes statements.  What is she asking you about in an almost nonchalant manner that could give her some information she may need?

Does the topic you’re meeting about seem important, or is this a recon-mission for the other company?  Let nothing just slip by in passing.  THAT is where the important information will be hiding for you to discover.