You work with liars. The higher up in any system you get, the more lies find you. Sadly, most leaders reciprocate. The best way to know if you’re being lied to is not to have the suspect take a polygraph test. Polygraph, according to Webster’s, is a synonym for “lie detector.” This, in and of itself, is a lie. A polygraph test simply measures the autonomic nervous system signs of arousal like blood pressure spikes, sweating bullets, your heart pounding out of your chest, and stuff like that. It’s not very scientific and less accurate than a trained eye. The problem is it takes too long to train the eye to master this craft so we’ve accepted a cheap substitute instead. Funny, huh.
The best way to know when you’re being lied to is to study the “body language” of those you interact with the most. Funny, most of the deadly deception in the world of work doesn’t come from the competition, it comes from colleagues. The best body part to study is the face. The face doesn’t lie for a brief second – a really brief micro-second. Problem. It takes too long to train the eye to master this for most. Moving down.
Illustrators, according to Paul Ekman, the “father of the face,” and guru of the science behind body language, are your best bet for detecting the lie. People all illustrate when they can’t find the right word, want to add emphasis to the words they got, and all of us develop a habit in how we do it. In other words, if somebody you work with is comfortable talking with you, they will illustrate in a very comfortable, default kinda way. Study this. Memorize their tendencies. Know default settings. Most people illustrate with hand jesters, arm crossings, leg shakes, and large body movements away or toward. These are easier to read than the micro expressions of the face. Study here…
When people get pissed their default illustrators go up. Same when they get excited and enthused. People illustrate less when they’re bored, saddened, an when they’re having trouble deciding what to say. If somebody is measuring their words and thinking too much they stop their normal illustrators. Study the illustrator patterns of the people closest to you and when you detect a change in their default, you have struck a nerve somehow. This doesn’t indicate a lie. However, you’ve caused some kinda distress in somebody close by. Start digging. Be clear, concise, and direct with your questions and trust your gut when filtering the response. You may dig up a lie or two.
Most corporate cultures are not a culture of truth. Most are a culture of cya – a culture of lies. I’m re-reading a great book by Paul Ekman titled, Telling Lies. It’s filled with good science, tough to digest, much less assimilate. Most people won’t like it because it’s not candy, and it’s not an inspiring, uplifting topic. The truth is, if you’re leading anything, you’re being lied to. Can you imagine the value of detecting a few?
God, help me trust first and tune into the warning signals at the same time. Help me to trust you..