Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

The American Genius Real EstateThe American Genius Real Estate

Op/Ed

How to work with coworkers that you know are liars

People are liars for about a million different reasons – here’s how to sniff out the bull and come out the other end smiling.

man showing ipad representing liars at work

Liars with pants on fire

“The honest man invariably succeeds in business,” Mark Twain once wrote, “until his path crosses that of the ingenious man, who is willing to allow the honest man to be so, to his own disadvantage.”

Let’s face it, no one wants to be taken advantage of or lied to. However, in a world teeming with people wanting our attention, it’s likely that we will eventually be the victims of liars, whether they do it baldly to our faces or through the relative safety of an email. Beyond just the efforts of individuals who try to lie to us, we’re also confronted with a plethora of misinformation, whether it be in the form of partial truths or complete fabrications.

That Twain quote up above? He never wrote that; I just did. It’s completely made up. See how easy it can be?

So when we’re looking for an answer to how to detect liars, there’s no uniform reliable way to determine when we’re being lied to. Lie detector test? There’s no such thing. A polygraph machine detects only physiological changes in the subject. A trained polygrapher has to determine if those changes mean that the subject is deceptive or not.

All the physical and verbal cues that are common when people aren’t telling the truth? You know, liars look up and to the right because they’re concocting their story. Or they touch their face and cover their mouths. Or use words that try to distance themselves from the lie, like an absence of first-person pronouns.

These are true in some cases, and not in others. Like just about everything else in life, it depends. Some people may do all of those things and be lying directly to you. Others will do those same things but are just exhibiting nervous tics due to being questioned.

And it’s not easier for the experts. Research conducted by the University of Portsmouth identified that law enforcement officials often do no better than the average layman when attempting to detect a liar. Both groups barely exceeded the 50/50 expectation (either someone is telling a lie, or they aren’t) when trying to figure out what’s the truth.

What can we do? Instead of looking for physical clues of dubious value, look instead to a factual analysis of what you’re being told, and the motivations of the people behind them to be honest, dishonest, or somewhere in between with you.

Does it pass the smell test?

When looking at a situation in which you’re not sure if you’re being lied to or not, stop and consider the information in question. Most things that are too good to be true usually are. “Trust, but verify,” said Ronald Reagan, and he was right.

You should always trust your own instincts when something doesn’t feel or sound right. Inspect what you’re being told if you feel it deserves further scrutiny. Most facts are checkable, and while you shouldn’t feel the need to investigate everything you’re told or see it in every detail, don’t be afraid to check those that just don’t seem right to you.

Why lie?

People can have multiple reasons for which telling a lie may be perceived as the safer course than telling the truth. There’s a reason, after all, that the Cadet Prayer at West Point includes the line, “Make us choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won.”

If you think you’re dealing with liars, stop and take yourself out of the equation for a moment. Try to put yourself in the other’s position. What would they have to gain or preserve by lying to you?

People have been known to lie for wide ranging reasons: greed, apathy, fear of disappointment, self-preservation, self-aggrandizement, or because they’re sociopaths, just to name but a few.

For example, studies on the percentage of resumes that contain at least some false information peg that number between 46% and 63% depending on the level of falsehood reviewed. Common lies included salary, responsibilities, and ranged all the way to fake positions at ersatz companies, along with phony degrees. Some of that is an ethically spent attempt at standing out from a crowded field of job applicants. Some of it is to feel better about one’s own self and accomplishments.

That self-aggrandizement is often behind the acts of stolen valor, in which individuals attempt to claim that they had military service or were stationed in dangerous active duty assignments when they often were not. These individuals have been caught claiming ranks and honors that they weren’t entitled to, leading to debate on whether being a liar is a form of free speech or not. In this instance, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was morally bankrupt, but not against the law.

For others, you’ll be able to understand their need to lie by understanding what it costs them to tell the truth. Are they afraid of being fired, even when you’ve got them on video doing the very things that they deny? Are they afraid of disappointing their loved ones by revealing a spending habit gone out of control, and therefore lying about the bills? Again, it depends.

By taking yourself out of the equation and trying to understand their motivations not to be honest with you, you can come one step closer to finding out why they feel they win by destroying your trust.

Mirror, mirror, who’s the fairest?

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment, shall we? We all want to feel that we’re important, smart, and attractive, in whatever form means the most to us. Sometimes, even if we won’t admit it to anyone, including ourselves, we’re perfectly happy with reveling in the feedback of what’s socially termed as the “little white lie”.

This makes us human, but it doesn’t make things any better for us in the long run. We owe it to ourselves to be self-critical and accept honest feedback from those around us whom we trust enough to ask it from, even when it stings at times.

It would be great if there were a way to know conclusively at all times when we were being told the truth, whether in person or online, but it just doesn’t exist yet. And as complex as humans are, it may be some time yet before a fully vetted version of a ‘liars detected’ tool comes about. In the meantime, we have to think alongside those who we interact with and try to understand their purposes, as well as our needs, as we search for the truth.

To paraphrase Tarantino’s adaptation of Jackie Brown, there are some people who you can’t trust, but you can always trust them to be them. Take a moment to consider those around you and figure out which camp they belong in: those you can trust, or those that you just have to trust to be them. If there are more in the latter group than the former, shouldn’t it be time for a change? After all, there’s no need to lie to yourself any longer.

Written By

Roger is a Staff Writer at The Real Daily and holds two Master's degrees, one in Education Leadership and another in Leadership Studies. In his spare time away from researching leadership retention and communication styles, he loves to watch baseball, especially the Red Sox!

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Advertisement

The Daily Intel
in your inbox

Subscribe and get news and EXCLUSIVE content to your email inbox.

Advertisement

KEEP READING!

Op/Ed

Bad clients can break your spirit, your productivity, and your confidence. So, what is a professional to do?

Op/Ed

The key to a good relationship with your clients is trust - so how do establish it within the first few minutes of meeting?...

Real Estate Brokerage

(BROKERAGE NEWS) This is one of those things that you might think we don’t need to talk about, but we do. We really do.

Real Estate Marketing

Surveys and polls allow agents and companies to hear from their customers first hand. They are critical in learning who your audience is, what...

The American Genius' real estate section is honest, up to the minute real estate industry news crafted for industry practitioners - we cut through the pay-to-play news fluff to bring you what's happening behind closed doors, what's meaningful to your practice, and what to expect in the future. We're your competitive advantage. The American Genius, LLC Copyright © 2005-2022