01 Sep 2021 15:38 IST

Six ways to spot a lie

Improving your ability to detect workplace lies can help avoid large-scale ramifications in the long run

Do you recall the astounding number of banks and financial services firms that invested with Bernie Madoff? Even top-level executives and decision makers believed him. In the Madoff example, if you knew how frequently the stock market goes up and down, you would probably find it suspicious that an investor had positive returns 96 per cent of the time.

Clearly, being able to detect lies can make a dramatic difference. Even small lies from your teammates can lead to missed deadlines and out-of-control expense, if not caught at the right time. Here are six steps that will help you improve your ability to spot a lie:

  1. Establish a baseline: Similar to a polygraph test feared by criminals around the world, determining a baseline is key. If you get to know what’s normal for the person and the situation, you automatically have the best chance of detecting when someone is stretching the truth.
  2. Right questions: Studies show that best questions are open-ended ones that involve negative assumptions. Because they force the responder either to disclose real information or actively come up with a deceptive answer.
  3. Increase cognitive load: Lying requires mental labour. One needs to remember the fabricated story and keep track of the truth. Increasing the cognitive load by asking questions out of order, demanding irrelevant details, or throwing in a distraction by turning on talk radio or the TV makes a difference.
  4. Watch out for uncommon behaviour: Using the baseline, look for behaviours that deviate from that baseline.
  5. Exit options: Liars often disengage with uncomfortable conversations.
  6. Scrutinise overdoers: Liars tend to go overboard to try and sound credible.

Read the complete story here.