We all lie. These lies might be small lies to make people feel better, they might be lies through omission, or they might be manipulatory lies. A study conducted by the University of Massachusetts found that 60% of adults can’t have a ten minute conversation without lying at least once. These lies may not all be self-serving, but they are lies nevertheless.
What’s more, the more someone lies, the easier it gets. According to a new study in Nature Neuroscience, the brain becomes desensitized to lying the more you do it. This is especially true when people lie out of self-interest. Because frequent liars are less likely to feel guilt, it may be harder to spot them.
In the workplace, it is especially important to be able to identify both colleagues and clients who lie. If you can’t spot a lie, you may be taken advantage of by a coworker or manipulated into a bad business deal.
So who is most prone to lying and what kind of lies are people likely to tell?
- Creative people are better at rationalizing dishonesty
- Extroverts lie more often than introverts
- Men tell more self-serving lies
- Women tell more kind-hearted lies
Even when you’re on the lookout for liars, determining whether or not someone is lying can be difficult. There is no exact formula for detecting a lie, which is why it is important to understand someone’s normal verbal and nonverbal behaviors — this is called establishing a baseline.
If you’re unsure how someone usually acts, here are a few things you should observe.
- Make mental notes of someone’s common gestures and posture from the first time you meet them
- Ask a variety of questions to understand how they respond to different situations
- Pay attention to their normal tone of voice
Now that you understand the importance of establishing a baseline, here are some scientifically-backed signs (and myths) to look out for, and steps you can take to reduce lying.
Transparent communication is essential to work as a team. You may be able to live with small social or egotistical lies in the office, but when they become deceptive or manipulative then you have a problem. Make sure to confront the issue when it arises and have a written moral code to ensure there’s no ethical gray area.