Well…technically speaking, you could lie to me. However, I’d be able to tell–almost immediately, thus rendering your lies ineffective. I can’t explain how, apart from saying that, my natural inclination toward silence, introspection, and observing my surroundings help.
I recently began reading the book that inspired the title of this post, You Can’t Lie To Me by Janine Driver. The author, a former federal law enforcement investigator, is an expert in the field, and has helped catch many a bad guy (as well as teach millions of people) with her knowledge.
In the book, Driver mentioned that one of the things that will set a person who can easily detect dishonesty apart from a person who cannot is the sweet spot between trusting everyone, and trusting no one. Cynics are horrible lie detectors because they don’t trust anyone, so every person they encounter is suspicious. Obviously the people who trust everyone aren’t great either. And then there are the rest of us: the ones who fall somewhere in between.
Experience has taught me whom to trust and whom not to. I can detect lies because I do not automatically suspect anyone of lying. I give the benefit of the doubt until I am certain that the person is untruthful. If the lie is worth busting, I ask questions until the person tells the truth. (AKA, badgering the witness until the truth leaks out of his or her face!) If not, I let it slide and remember it for next time. If a person has a pattern of dishonesty, he or she will never be trusted by me. (INFJ’s love noticing behavioral patterns, and using them to figure people out.) When I approach a person from a foundation of openness, the person can relax. When the person relaxes, I can observe what he or she looks like in a normal situation. Armed with the knowledge of how a person normally behaves, I can better discern when he or she is lying because attempts to conceal dishonesty upsets standard behaviors.
In other words, a person’s actions give will always give them away. In this book, I also learned that most of our commonly held beliefs about lie detection are both true, and false. For example, some people can hold constant eye contact when they’re lying. Others avoid eye contact when they’re telling the truth. In some cases, eye contact is an excellent way to detect dishonesty. In other cases, it is not. The key is to find out what is normal for the person whom you suspect of lying. Any deviation from their norm is cause for further investigation.
I pay more attention to what a person does than I do to what he or she is saying. Non-verbal communication speaks volumes, but so does a person’s choice of words. Or his or her vocal patterns. If a person who normally is loud and boisterous becomes silent and withdrawn, something is up. If a person whose typical behavior toward me is cold, starts to be warm and friendly, something is up.
Lie detection, Driver says, should be about searching for the truth of the matter, rather than the lies. Question why you are searching for the truth (What’s in it for me? What does it solve?), and whether or not the outcome will be worth the risk. (I mean; it makes no sense to bust someone for lying about having a home in the Hampton’s, when that lie isn’t damaging to anyone else.)
I hate when people lie to me, but I am judicious about which lies to confront. Some of them aren’t worth the time it would take to investigate, but now I know exactly what to do if the need arises.
Anyway, this book is great. Janine Driver definitely knows what she’s talking about, and she does it in an accessible and fun way. I would not want to be in a room with her if I had something to hide. Then again, I would not want to be in a room with me if I had something to hide either.