How to Spot a Liar.

Yesterday I was watching a press conference of a well-known political figure. I will not say which one. I will leave this for the astute reader to check today’s date and draw his own conclusions.

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityThe politician was exhibiting deceptive behaviors–not answering the questions directly, using qualifiers, making true statements that were not related to what was asked, and becoming verbally aggressive.

As I watched the press conference, it was clear to me that the politician had something to hide.

How Do I Know?

Recently I read a fascinating book about lying behavior.

 Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception is unlike any other book I have read on the topic. Many body language books are patently unhelpful. Often they provide useless generalizations like “If the suspect has his arms crossed, he is defensive because he is lying” or some similar nonsense.

In Spy the Liethe authors rule out silver bullets. Instead, they teach you to ignore truthful statements and look for patterns of deception. They call these patterns clusters.

The Signs of Deception

The authors demonstrate 30 to 40 different deceptive techniques that liars frequently use. Yesterday, these 7 immediately jumped out to me as I watched the press conference:

  • Inability to directly deny an allegation
  • A nonspecific denial
  • Repeating the question
  • Attack behavior
  • Referral statements such as “as I said before…”
  • Inappropriate level of concern
  • Qualifiers that provide wiggle room

Again, How Do I Know He was Lying?

It worked for me.

About a week after I read the book I had an odd interaction with a high ranking executive at an organization not far from where I teach. When I asked the executive about a particular key project, I  saw a number of signs of deception. I not only saw the signs–they were vivid.

Previously, I would have walked away thinking “that was odd” and I would have written off this executive’s behavior to poor indigestion or a having a bad day.

However, unbeknownst to the executive, I had just run into one of his colleagues who told me that the same project was being scrubbed. I witnessed a confirmed lie and the signs were clear as a bell.

Need More Proof?

View this video of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY):

The authors of Spy the Lie called this lie 4 days before Weiner confessed. With the little bit that I told you in this post, you should be able to recognize the deception too. Want to know more? Get the book. You can thank me later.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

November 15, 2012


Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University


1 Comment

Filed under Books, Leadership, Poltics

One response to “How to Spot a Liar.

  1. Patrick Jackson

    Thanks Prof Gerdes! Can’t wait to look into that book. I have read Tonya Reimans stuff and one of Paul Eckman’s books. I am looking forward to getting this that you recommend.

    Weiner is making all kinds nonverbal gestures, shoulder shrugs, touching the nose, very fidgety!

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s