Tune your radar to detect liars
You might think you can detect a fibber by reading body language.
Obviously, the weird guy who never makes eye contact or the woman who nervously chews her lower lip are showing signs they are lying, right?
But what about your best work buddy who hangs out with you on weekends and threw you a surprise birthday party? This is someone you can trust.
Well, to be honest, that's a lie. The truth is that we're all liars at work, including you, according to Carol Kinsey Goman.
The lying appears to begin with a job interview and never stops, she says.
University of Massachusetts research finds that 81 percent of job interview candidates lie, and extroverts are the most likely to stretch the truth. On average, participants in the study told 2.19 lies in a 15-minute interview.
The lying doesn't even end in the exit interview, Goman says.
“People lie their heads off in exit interviews,” she says. “They say it would be a career killer if they told the truth, and they don't want to burn their bridges.”
So what does all this lying mean for the workplace?
At its most benign, a co-worker can lie to tell you that your butt doesn't look big in those pants.
But the problem can become much more destructive if a colleague lies to cover a serious error — or puts the blame on you. Lies can destroy careers and seriously damage companies, which is why Goman believes it's important to become more aware of liars.
“I don't want us to become suspicious of everyone, but I do think we need to understand the lies that are going on and think about what our response will be,” she says.
In her new book, “The Truth About Lies in the Workplace: How to Spot Liars and What to Do About Them,” Goman outlines ways to spot liars:
Look for “tells.” Just as a poker player spots nonverbal cues that give away another player's increased stress, you can look for body language that is out of sync with what a person is saying.
Body language that might indicate deception includes touching an eyebrow or squeezing the bridge of the nose while closing the eyes. Or, a liar may show nervousness through increased foot movement.
Listen to the choice of words. Verbal cues can indicate someone might be lying, such as offering unnecessary elaboration to a story, changing a subject or offering qualifiers such as “to the best of my knowledge.”
Once you think someone is lying, what should you do?
The answer may be different depending on the circumstances and the lie being told, Goman says.
You've got to consider who is lying. You might react differently if this person has power over you, such as your boss.
Also consider your goal in confronting the liar: Do you want an apology, a change in behavior or punishment for the person?
Even with our radar on alert for liars, Goman says they're not always easy to spot at work because we have an “invested interest” bias.
Anita Bruzzese is author of “45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy ... and How to Avoid Them,” www.45things.com. Write her in care of USA TODAY/Gannett, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, Va. 22108. For a reply, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Airlines offer small conveniences to counter higher fees, less space
- McDonald’s localizes menus to battle growing competition
- Aetna to buy rival Humana for $35B
- Consider these factors before opting for longer-term auto loan
- Longer, roomier, ritzier Sedona upgrades minivan to 1st-class
- National Day Calendar lends legitimacy to pseudo-holidays
- Air control stickiness a real puzzler
- U.S. employers add 223K jobs, jobless rate falls to 5.3%
- Pending home sales in U.S. climb to 9-year high
- Obama overtime proposal slammed
- Gulf states reach $18.7B settlement with BP over oil spill