It’s always the best policy to speak the truth,
unless of course you are an exceptionally good liar
Jerome K Jerome
Robert Feldman at the University of Massachusetts studied 121 couples and found that >62% of participants told 2-3 lies per 10 minutes and James Patterson wrote in ‘the day America told the truth’ found 91% of Americans lied regularly at home and at work.
In ‘Why Men lie and Women Cry‘, by Allan Pease showed how women are better at reading emotions and therefore better at manipulating others with an appropriate lie. Sinead O’Connell in ‘Mindreading’ found that women are far better liars than men.
Three types of lie:
- White lies – makes others feel more comfortable
- Social lies – people who tell lies to smooth things are more popular than those who continually tell the truth
- Malicious lies – one person deliberately sets out to deceive another for personal benefit
More attractive people are more believed than unattractive ones.
Why do we keep secrets?
(Herbert, et al., 2008)
- Others can’t cope with the horror of your experiences
- Some people were tactless or hurtful, in the past, so you closed down
- Others didn’t think of your emotions (or only expect certain reactions)
- You may feel that sharing is a sign of weakness
- Feeling numb and unable to respond; to be shocked, to feel, or verbalise
- You are ignored because you look okay
- You are seen to be to blame so no one showed you the sympathy for the effect on you
We lie often because we don’t feel safe (lack of mutual purpose and mutual trust) and if we fear condemnation for the truth.
Eight most common lying gestures
(Alan Pease, The Definitive book on Body Language)
When we lie, there’s an unconscious reaction with 400ms twitches on the top of the mouth. Only psychopaths/ sociopaths don’t twitch – 1% of the population (or 15% of CEOs). The key is to baseline – check what is normal when someone is not lying and then compare:
- The Mouth Cover
- The Nose Touch
- The light touch of the itchy nose
- The eye rub
- The ear grab
- The neck scratch
- The collar pull
- The fingers in the mouth – needing reassurance
Also, there is a common behaviour – e.g. reassurance signals
Liars smile less and try to look you in the eye. Women have a wider peripheral vision, so can look at more things at once, but they see where men are looking.
“Why am I afraid to tell you who I am?
– because who we are is ALL we’ve got,
and we’re afraid of being rejected”