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Can you spot a liar? I honestly can’t. My trustfulness can be sometimes confused with the naivety of a five year old.
Turns out, I’m not alone. According to this article, not many people can tell whether they are being lied to simply because they are not expecting a lie, and thus are not looking for clues to spot a liar.
For some people, however, spotting liars is a profession and a second nature.
Full Name: Stian Fossheim
Occupation: Private Intelligence Consultant
My next guest on True Stories with Gill is Stian Fossheim, a Private Intelligence Consultant. You can think of him as a private detective on a larger scale who works for organizations, corporations and countries.
While we are in the final stages of preparing his main story for publishing (update: Stian’s story “Great Job That Comes at a Cost” has already been published), I’d like to give you a sneak peek of the coming story and share with you some interesting tricks Stian personally uses in his job.
During our interview, I asked Stian what clues he uses to figure out whether someone is genuine, or is hiding something/lying. This is what he told me.
1. Watch the hands
The hands, especially the fingers, are one of the body parts that will act out what one is thinking or feeling. Most people tend to focus on where they are looking if they know they are being dishonest. The fingers, however, will usually act on their own.
Someone who starts twiddling or rubbing their index finger over the thumb or middle and ring finger feels stress being in an unwanted situation.
If they start using the thumb to touch or rub on the nails of the other fingers it shows they are contemplating or thinking about something.
Tiny twitches or small signs of shaking in the fingers usually mean one of two things: They drank a lot of coffee, or they are afraid.
2. Listen to the tone
The tone of one’s voice is a key factor of determining one’s emotional state. Are they excited? Angry? Stressed? Aroused? The way one’s voice changes tone when you explore certain subjects reveals a lot.
If it’s hard to know the base tone of someone’s voice, try a bit of small talk about common neutral subjects, like the weather. This way you can hear their voice when they are not agitated or upset. Moving on to other topics will then make it easier to notice any changes in the tone the voice.
3. Watch the throat
People who are being dishonest tend to swallow or clear their throat a lot. Sometimes they will try to hide this mannerism, and instead let their fingers rub or touch their throat or, in some cases, their beard.
4. Watch the phrasing
Just as important as the tone of your voice, the particular words we use to phrase what you want to say is just as revealing.
For example, look at these answers to a simple “How are you?” question coming from someone who is obviously not well:
“I am feeling a little under the weather” (reserved). “Right now i am not feeling well (formal). “I am feeling a little bit sick (open/honest).
5. Notice the breathing pattern
The breathing pattern will often, in an almost unnoticeable way, change depending on what a person is thinking. If they disagree or wish to say “no” their breaths will often become irregular.
If they are consciously withholding information their breathing will become slightly faster.
To notice the change in breathing pattern, count the number of times they swallow, look whether the nostrils are slightly dilating and notice the rhythm of their chest and shoulders.
Someone breathing deeper or faster tend to swallow a lot as the mouth gets dry. You will also see this in correlation with the eyes. Someone who is breathing fast is emotionally stimulated, which causes the pupils to dilate.
6. Pay attention to the posture
Is a person comfortable in that chair or just feigning comfort? Someone who is directly lying to you tend to slouch while sitting, pretending to be comfortable and relaxed. This is very common if they had time to prepare a lie before talking to you.
Someone who lies on impulse, however, will either let their upper body become stiff and rigid, or they would lean away from you, projecting that they wish to get away.
7. Take them for a walk
Little known fact: Happy and relaxed people tend to skip or even “jump” a little when walking. Someone who desperately wants to run away, however, will often hold their arms close to the body, suck in the stomach and walk in a straight line forward.
But be careful: Don’t jump to quick conclusions. One sign alone doesn’t mean anything. Look at the whole picture and be sure to watch for all the signs in the context.