Power of Persuasion: I’m a fraudJanuary 3rd, 2011 by Frank Damelio
How do you know when someone is lying to you? They don’t just admit it.
I’ve been experimenting with that very question. Most of my readers know me as a professional development trainer, but I am also an expert sleight-of-mind magician. In professional performances I have a unique opportunity to test principles of body language and persuasion. My latest experiment delves into the art of deception.
A member of the audience is asked to select a card at random. She is then asked to repeat the card in her mind ten times. Finally, she is asked to make a secret choice of being a liar or a truth teller. My job is to ask questions and study her as she answers. I must then determine her veracity.
Results: Liars unknowingly give off common signals
What are these common signals?
Some of the conventional wisdom was proven wrong. Those of us who study body language have read that liars often look away, stutter, and pause to calculate a false answer. Sometimes this can be true, but here is what I’ve found.
- Make far more direct eye contact than when they are not lying; thus overcompensating.
- Answer faster and shorter.
- Blink less than when they are telling the truth.
- Make almost no facial expressions as compared to moderate facial expressions when they are telling the truth.
- Smile more and become overly expressive. This can include a laugh or giggle for no reason.
- Take a longer time to answer.
- Shift eyes far more as they search for their answers.
- While they make less eye contact than usual, when they do so, they tend to raise one eyebrow.
When I started my experiment in September 2010. I was correctly “guessing” whether they were lying in 60% of cases. After dissecting the differences between men and women, my success ratio is now at 90%. It is not pure science, and some people pause or laugh because they are nervous. It helps to ask five questions that I know are true to use as a baseline to see how quickly they answer and how expressive they are.
The ability to persuade others is imperative if we wish to advance our personal agendas, careers and businesses. It is a fact that when people internally disagree with what you are proposing, they will sugar coat and even lie to avoid what they perceive as unpalatable disagreement. Once you learn to read others, you can understand when they are not sold, even if their words say that they are. And this ability will prove priceless.