Thursday, 13 September 2012

7 Conversational Warning Signs that someone may be lying

I have just finished reading an excellent book, Spy The Lie, written by 3 former CIA officers who are experts in detecting deception. The basic idea is that there are some powerful indicators of possible deception. Any one of them by themselves may be quite innocent but when you start to encounter clusters of them around a conversation topic then you need to dig deeper.

7 of the deception indicators I found particularly useful were:
  1.  Nonspecific denial where rather than saying a plain NO you say something like “I would never do something like that”
  2. Isolated denial where the NO is only a small part of a very long answer
  3. Non Answer Statements such as  “That’s a great question”
  4. Overly Specific Answers where technically the answer they gave is true but its not actually an answer to the specific question you asked them
  5. Referral Statements such as “I think I have already answered that” or “I refer you to my written answer”
  6. Answer Qualifiers such as “fundamentally” or “frankly” or “basically” or “to tell you the truth”
  7. Selective Memory such as “to the best of my knowledge”
This all reminds me of the old joke - Question: "How do you know if someone is lying to you". Answer: "If their lips are moving". Thankfully life is not quite as bad as that but if you listen for and encounter 2 or 3 of these deception indicators in close proximity to a specific question you have asked then you definitely need to probe further!

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at