Pamela Meyer knows when you’re lying. And she’s not afraid to call you out on it. According to Meyer, we’re lied to in person 10 to 200 times on any given day.
In fact, it seems like deception has become a national pandemic. Consider sensational social and political issues like the college cheating scandal and the government’s special counsel investigation, the Mueller Report. Headlines like these, and people who lie, are keeping John Oliver rather gainfully employed.
According to Meyer, deception spotting is more important than ever. “Lie spotting is a post-modern tool,” says Meyer. “We’ve always needed to be able to read people well. But we are in the middle of a deception epidemic right now and the moral bar is really low.”
But, why is Meyer, specifically, talking about this? She is a certified fraud inspector, founder of Calibrate, Inc. and author of “Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception.” Her TED talk “How to Spot a Liar” is one of the 20 most popular TED talks of all time.
Meyer became interested in the field after concluding one chapter of her career during which she built and sold media companies. Having done this in a variety of different industries, she found that interpersonal interactions were key to success. One of the most harmful, and most common, interactions is lying.
As CEO of Calibrate, Meyer applies these skills to the business sector for the purposes of insurance, human resources, legal cases and financial institutions. But, the skills she utilizes can be applied in both the professional and personal areas of your life. After, all, lying happens everywhere. In her TED Talk, Meyer says that 1 in 10 interactions between a married couple is a lie.
Meyer’s goal isn’t to have a “gotcha” moment with people she knows are lying to her. Though she says she has busted employees over longer periods of dishonesty. Instead, she says her work is geared towards preserving honesty.
“For anyone that has challenges in the workplace, it’s not the technique of lie spotting that will help them,” says Meyer. “It’s connecting with people. The truth is often very surprising.”
3 Tips for Spotting A Liar
Recently, Meyer gave a talk at the Simmons Leadership Conference in Boston and offered tangible instructions for spotting deception.
Tip 1: Language
Listening closely to how someone delivers their message can reveal a lot about their intention. Liars use formal language (no contractions, for example), they distance themselves from the subject, and they use qualifying language (“well, to tell you the truth”).
Tip 2: Physicality
Words aren’t the only giveaway; body language plays a significant role, as well. With body language, Meyer says our instincts are often wrong. Liars will freeze their upper bodies rather than fidget; they’ll make too much eye contact, rather than none, in an attempt to counteract the common beliefs about liars.
Tip 3: Facial Expressions
According to Meyer, facial expressions are one of the ways people “leak” truth. For example, your colleague might be agreeing with you while subtly shaking their heads no, or smiling with their mouths while congratulating you, but glaring with their eyes. Shifting blink rate (rapid blinking or no blinking) is also a facial indicator of dishonesty.