One of the questions I’m asked most often after speaking to a group of business people is “What are the early warning signs of deception?”
There’s nothing I look for right out of the gate. At first, I’m just watching. My brain is in nuetral, my eyes are absorbing information, and my ears are just listening for glitches.
A glitch is usually the first thing to pop up and get my attention. By “glitch” I mean something someone does or says that is out of the ordinary for most people. For example, if I’m at a function, party, or family get together, and I ask someone a question and they answer with something like “No, I have not” or “No, I did not” you can almost hear every deception detection tool in my head clicking on…
Then, 2 seconds later, “Oh? Tell me more about that…” just slides right out of my mouth. That’s when my wife lightly squeezes my elbow and gives me the “don’t face” with her eyebrows really high and her chin pushed way down.
The reason that verbal cue gets my attention every time is because nobody talks that way. NOBODY. When was the last time someone asked you if you wanted to go to Arby’s and you said “No, I do not.”? Unless you’re pissed off or you’re a reporter from the 1930’s, you never talk like that.
How would you talk? You would contract those words. You would say “No, I don’t” or “No, I didn’t”. When you don’t contract those words, that ususally gives me the feeling that answer has been thought through and you’ve said it to yourself, in your head, a lot, but not out loud. It usually goes something like this in there:
“When he asks me if I was in that room tonight I’ll say ‘No, I was not.’” Or “If he asks me if I robbed that jewlery store I’ll say ‘No, I did not. That was not me.’”
That sounds fine in your head, but it sounds weird when you actually say it out loud.
In reality, you’re probably going to answer those questions more like this: “No, I don’t” and “No, I didn’t do it, it wasn’t me.”
There are some non verbal communications that usually follow the non contracted answers. That’s because the person is a bit uncomfortable with being deceptive. (Remember, they’re not necessarily a liar.) We’ll get to those non verbal cues later. For now though, I’ll tell you what I tell people when the ask me what the early warning signs for deception are.
They’re the little things that seem, sound, or look unusual, that you more often than not, ignore and let pass right by you in a conversation. So pay attention to what they say and how they say it.