“False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.” -Socrates
The difference between success and unfavorable outcomes can rest in the margins. Misreading or being misdirected during a face-to-face conversation can hold dire consequences in any setting. Unless you have been trained by the CIA, everyone has a predisposition to express hidden emotions via physical tells. The nonverbal language is so pervasive within specific cultures, those messages are constantly being coded and decoded when two people have a conversation. Handshakes are the easiest to discern. The weak dead fish handshake denotes trepidation while the aggressive “turn the shake on its side, so the other person’s hand is on top” maneuver indicates that person is controlling.
One of the largest problems leaders face is dishonesty. From the little white lies to cover tardiness to larger departures from reality, using body language to spot deceit will serve you well in any capacity. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) experts suggest that often, liars will subconsciously cover their mouth or throat when speaking, physically attempting to cover the lie before it escapes. Sometimes the act of pointing can be a physical sign of misdirection. If someone closes their eyes for more than one second or blinks excessively, some form of deceit or half-truth could be lurking below the surface. Of course, none of these clues are foolproof. Someone may be blinking excessively because their contact lenses are out of whack. Additionally, cultural differences also can eschew the body language lie detector.
The larger question at hand is, Why does that person feel the need to be dishonest with you? Workplace lies often arise from not wanting to displease a leader or team member. If your reactions to suboptimal results are too harsh, your team may be more inclined to part from the truth. Leaders are lied to every day and will be no matter what your demeanor. Just make sure you’re not fostering a workplace where exchanges of honesty carry too high a penalty. Successful leaders and top performers create an environment where truth telling is safe, encouraged, and rewarded.
Lie to Me: Accelerators
- Identify three people within your team you explicitly trust to tell you the truth.
- Ask them for feedback regarding the “climate” for truth telling in your project, business, or workplace.
- If it’s solid, ask them for feedback to keep it going. If it’s bad, ask about ways to make it better … then do it!