An Educational Newsletter
Welcome to The Morning Text!
Did you know that by the time you finish today, you will have been lied to somewhere between 10 and 200 times.
I’m not proud of it, but I’m really good at lying. Fortunately, I never lie about anything truly important. I think that being deceitful, for the most part, inhibits progress. For example, someone may be lying about their feelings, breaking something, cheating, fronting/stealing money, and/or problems that they’re having. In any of those situations, by lying, the person is halting true progress in some form or another. For this reason, I only lie for two reasons:
1. The more common reason, for humor and my own amusement. Because why not convince my girlfriend that Mormons don’t believe in microwaves above eye level? Of course I tell the truth immediately after.
2. Far less common, small harmless things. I am a strong believer in the notion that white lies are better than painful truths –“Does she hate me?” “No of course not!” – “Does this dress make me look fat?” “No you look wonderful.” (because Cat will be reading this tomorrow morning I would like to go ahead and say that I’ve never told these particular white lies).
Furthermore, I never lie if a promise is involved. Unfortunately, a few of my friends know this so if they think I’m telling a white lie they ask “do you promise?” In which case I have a moral obligation to come clean and tell them that the hat does in fact make their head look like an argon-inflated spare tire.
Interestingly, while I am good at lying, I’m also really easy to lie to. I used to often be skeptical of people if I felt like they had motive to deceive, but as I grew older I began to dislike this quality in myself. I made the decision to take everything at face value (within reason). Because I would much prefer be lied to than go through life suspecting deceit where there is none. This mentality has royally bitten me in the butt a few times, but overall it’s done me a lot of good.
So let’s talk about lying and spotting lies. Most of my information today comes from a book written by CEO of social networking company Simpatico Networks, Pamela Meyer. The fascinating book is appropriately titled Liespotting. She also gave a great TedTalk on the why’s and how’s of deception.
Meyer first aims to help us understand the why. She believes that our lies are depictions of our desired self images. We all wish we were better employees, husbands, wives, parents, or students – so we all create lies to fill the gap between our real self and the self image we desire to attain. Now imagine the desired self image is a “hunger.” We all have this “hunger,” and once we find out other people’s hunger we can exploit those desires and either lie to them or see through their deception.
There are many ways that a person can give themselves away, but I’d like to focus on two: verbally or physically.
“I want you to listen to me. I’m going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” First of all, liars will often stress the “truthfulness” of their statement by going “in all honesty” or “listen to me” etc.
Meyer also tells us that liars will often use more grammatically correct language when lying. Of course this only applies when the accused person does not typically use “did not” as opposed to “didn’t.”
A big giveaway, which I found interesting, is displayed in Clinton’s statement in the words “that woman.” Liars commonly distance themselves from the accusation by making it impersonal. Instead of saying the woman’s name, Clinton chose to remove himself from the. Crime by saying “that woman.” To a lie-spotter it may be a giveaway, but to your average Joe it seems rather effective.
Liars will also often speak in a different vocal register. The lie may be told with a little too much or too little animation than the person uses. But more commonly, the person will use a lower pitch and tone to tell the lie.
Meyer also says that most liars will get defensive in their language, but truth-tellers will be very compliant.
Take what most people say and throw it out the window. This includes, “liars are fidgety,” “liars won’t look you in the eye,” “liars faces will twitch.”
To my surprise, liars upper bodies actually freeze more often than becoming fidgety.
Studies have also shown that liars actually keep more eye contact than usual in attempt to make the lie more believable.
Most liars will have a completely still face and make a symmetrical facial expression when lying. This includes intentional strained looks, forced smiles, and normally raised eyebrows. For most people, it’s hard to tell the fake smile from the real smile, but Meyer says that the real smile is from the eyes and that a fake smile only contracts the cheeks.
There is only one asymmetrical facial expression common amongst liars that Meyer likes to call “the face of contempt.” This face is typically from a lie that is being given out of anger and malicious intent. It is shown by the raising of one side of the upper lip. Anger turns to contempt when a sense of superiority gets involved. When you see this face, Meyer recommends that you turn away, close down the business deal, or rethink your options.
Liars will often shake their head instead of nod when giving positive affirmation. They will also commonly shrug during a lie in attempts to display openness. They will even get a deceptive smile sometimes because they feel proud for beating the system (it’s not as evil as it sounds, we all do it).
Although this is fascinating, please don’t employ these skills in your daily life. You’re not a trained behavioralist with the proper skill set to decipher between a lie and a truth using an eyebrow twitch or a vocal inclination. I much prefer my “trust 95%” mentality to the skepticism that many people have. Also, please tell the truth. It just makes life easier.
Challenge of the Day: Ask why three times. If someone states their opinion or desire, ask them why three times (one “why” after each answer). Behavioralists say that by asking “why” three times you can come to understand someone and their motivation far better than you had before.
Just by the way, I will not be sending a Morning Text tomorrow!
That’s it for today! Please don’t hesitate to provide feedback so that I can better cater to your interests. If you believe you have received this message in error and no longer wish to receive them, please notify me. If you would like to view previous Morning Texts please visit themorningtext.com
Have a wonderful day.
Pamela Meyer’s Liespotter