- 60 percent of us tell our own lies to others, according to experiments by Robert Feldman, at least once in every 10-minute conversation with the majority giving two to three falsehoods every 10 minutes.
- But Kim Serota, Timothy Levine, and Franklin Boster found that an ironic 60 per cent of people do not even admit to lying in an average day.
- So, people lie then lie about lying.
Sadly, lying and deception flourishes as a ubiquitous part of the human experience. Pamela Meyer in her famous TedTalk proclaimed that we are lied to on average between 10 to 200 times every single day. Such sheer volumes of dishonesties leave us constantly searching for truth in our work, home and community relationships. Many of us become convinced that we can adequately discern deception from accuracy.
But 60 percent of us tell our own lies to others, according to experiments by Robert Feldman, at least once in every 10-minute conversation with the majority giving two to three falsehoods every 10 minutes. But Kim Serota, Timothy Levine, and Franklin Boster found that an ironic 60 per cent of people do not even admit to lying in an average day. So, people lie then lie about lying.
But why do we lie? Kids provide brutally honest verbal proclamations about what and who they see around them. But we notice children lying more to escape blame for behaviour that comes with consequences, such as eating forbidden sweets before bedtime and slapping a sibling, among others.
Conversely, manipulation, self-presentation, and better social experiences stand as pinnacle foundations of why adults lie. Researchers Daniela Glätzle-Rützlera and Philipp Lergetporer detail how we develop lying aversion tactics as we age and therefore decrease our propensity to deceive between childhood and adulthood.
The human brain craves honesty. We search for candour in the leaders we follow and integrity in the colleagues we commiserate alongside.
In the midst of the lying epidemic as a human condition, the Internet includes heaps of posts, sites, and videos proclaiming to unlock the secrets to body language that identifies a liar. Authors and content providers are prone to look at outliers. They often take a few infamous liars and analyse their behaviours, but such approaches represent such a small sample such that concrete conclusions cannot arise.
Unfortunately, looking for body movements and gestures does not present a statistically reliable method for spotting a fabricator. Humans are easily fooled by liars in our midst.
Forensic psychologist Coral Dando provides an alternative methodology for detecting people who spew falsehoods. She proposes analysis of verbal cues as more reliable.
First, ask the right sort of questions. Do not merely seek yes or no confirmatory responses but rather open-ended queries that elicit a more detailed reply. As an example, do not say “you worked as bank teller at Absa Bank?” and instead ask “tell me about the time you were a bank teller at Absa Bank”.
Second, avoid pointless filler questions just used to take up time. Instead ask intentional questions that slowly but methodically revolve around the main point you are trying to prove or disprove.
Third, be strategic by not revealing you know a particular fact too early in a conversation but rather inquire about that fact and see how the other individual responds pertaining to something that you clearly already know about. It allows you to learn their truth-telling or lying behaviour characteristics of that person. As an example of studying someone, analysis by Daniel Dale showed that when former American President Donald Trump used the word “sir” in a story during speeches, then his lying correlation increased substantially.
Fourth, listen far more than you speak. Most people excitedly like to share about what they know or what falsehood they want to portray. But resist talking temptation and as an alternative listen. Fifth, be engaging in a friendly manner and not aggressive. A typical conversational styles will alert the liar that you are onto them.
Sixth, switch up the tenses in how you probe your questions. Sometimes ask in past tense, other times in present tense, and still additional questions in future tense.
The switching between tenses in an inquiry becomes mentally taxing and the other person is much more likely to make mistakes exposing holes in their story. Seventh and final, ask follow-up questions for deeper explanations on puzzling aspects to their narratives. Liars find providing detail and then repeating the same detail extremely difficult.
In summary, do not be lulled into complacency by thinking those around you in your job tell the truth with regularity. Deliberately follow the seven steps to ascertain truth in your workplace.
Dr Scott may be reached on [email protected] or on Twitter: @ScottProfessor