You work with liars…

You work with liars. FACT. The higher your perch, the more lies you’re told. Sadly, most leaders reciprocate. The best way to know 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 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 even 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.

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 competitors, it comes from colleagues. The 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 guru of the science behind body language, are your best bet for detecting the lie. Everybody illustrates when they can’t find the right word or want to emphasize the words they’ve found. People illustrate habitually. In other words, if somebody is comfortable talking with you, they will illustrate in a very comfortable, default kinda way. Study this. Memorize tendencies. Know their default settings.

When people get pissed their default illustrators go up. Same when they get excited and enthused. People illustrate less when they’re bored, saddened, and when having trouble deciding what to say. If somebody is measuring their words and thinking too much, their illustrator pattern will deviate from default. Study the illustrator patterns of the people closest to you. When you detect a change, you have struck a nerve. This doesn’t tell you you are receiving a lie. You’ve simply distressed somebody close by. Start digging. Be clear, concise, and direct with your questions and trust your gut when filtering the response.

Most corporate cultures are NOT a culture of truth. Most are a culture of “cover your ass.” A culture of lies. I’m rereading a great book by Paul Ekman titled, Telling Lies, that is long, filled with good science, and tough to digest, much less assimilate. Most people won’t read it because 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 catching a few lies before you’re taught a hard lesson?

God, help me trust first and tune into the warning signals at the same time. God, help me embrace this paradox. God, help me embody truth in love. God, help me make my yes a yes and my no a no. Simple, not easy. God, help me…

2 thoughts on “You work with liars…

  1. Chet, I love reading Built to Lead. I’ve been a middle school principal for over 10 years and a elementary principal 8 years prior to this. I’m also an aspiring entrepreneur. This topic is both relevant and difficult Authenticity and honesty is something I work hard to model — most of all when it’s having those courageous conversations with my team. I appreciate your words this morning. Staying the course and always working to get better, be better, lead better. Thank you for your inspiration!

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