It’s often the situations that matter most when conclusions are made swiftly without considering all possible options.
Does this sound familiar?
Someone makes a statement or replies in a certain manner, and may even have a particular look on their face, which is all you’ve decided is necessary to determine the person must be lying. Your gut tells you that they’re not being honest with you. You’ve already tried and convicted the poor soul without a proper day in court. Okay, perhaps you’ve never done that, but you know someone who this describes, I’m sure
First of all, the amount of eye contact one gives during communication isn’t a reliable factor to determine when looking for truth vs. lies.
I’m going to say that again because it’s still a common myth: The amount of eye contact one gives during communication is not a reliable factor to determine when evaluating for truth vs. lies.
Whatever you may have heard about how much or where someone is looking, has little to do with honesty. Most liars know this common belief and therefore it is easy to manipulate.
Don’t Jump to Conclusions
Consider all options. What could the break in eye contact mean, other than your instant assumption the person is lying? It could mean something distracted them. It could mean they’re thinking. It could mean their contact lenses are bothering them. It could mean you have something in your tooth and it’s distracting so they must avert their eyes. It could mean any number of factors.
Have you ever worked on a group exercise at work or school that required you to brainstorm? This happens even everyone tosses out ideas without judgment. It’s just getting every remote idea or possibility out there. Evaluation is a future step. This is the same thing. Before immediately jumping to a verdict of LYING!, brainstorm all the other possibilities what it could me.
Again, consider all options. In the above example of “I don’t know/remember” what could lack of memory mean? Likely it means he does not remember. Often if details aren’t important to the story teller, then there isn’t a good reason to hang on to that memory. Don’t jump to the conclusions that it’s simply too convenient of an answer.
Sure in some cases, it very well may be a clear cut case of evasion. “Ask me no questions; I tell you no lies.” Point being – don’t automatically conclude deception to be the case without collecting more information. Perhaps they are planning a surprise for you and want to keep it a surprise. Consider all possible reasons.
One more quick example:
What else could this look mean? Perhaps she’s cold and listening intently. Perhaps she has a belly ache so crossing her arms merely feels better. It may have absolutely nothing to do with you and what you’re saying. So don’t be so quick to judge.
The next time you encounter a reaction that causes you to quickly decide someone is not being truthful or is upset with you, pause and consider all options: What else could this mean?
About the Author: Laurie Ayers, Managing Director of Concealed Statements, is an analyst, consultant, and speaker focused on the subject of deception, specifically forensic statement analysis. She is an active contributor on the subjects of deception awareness, content analysis, exposing lies through written and verbal statements, behavioral clues to credibility, deception detection, nonverbal communication, and personal safety. Before becoming a deception expert and speaker, Laurie worked with the Department of Homeland Security. Learn more at www.LaurieAyers.com