Is Everyone Dishonest?
It would be nice if liars were relegated to certain professions. You’d know when to have your guard up and when to let it down. Unfortunately, the reason people miss a lot of lies is because you just don’t expect them, and it’s not easy to protect yourself against a sneaky enemy. How many spouses, for example, are shocked to learn of their mate’s infidelities and then count the lies they’ve been told?
These people aren’t stupid; they just weren’t looking for signs of deception in their loved ones. And, since taken separately, most nonverbal signs of lying also do double-time as indicators of anxiety, it’s easy to give a fibber the benefit of the doubt by saying to yourself, “Wow, he’s really insulted by my accusations. I must be way off base.”
Which brings you to the closing point of this chapter. Knowing the nonverbal cues that indicate lying is a helpful tool in some situations. However, if you’re a pessimistic person by nature, you could start to see signs of deception in everyone you know. Remind yourself that body language is a study of patterns of behavior. And when you’re talking about body language and lying, it’s especially important to look for a combination of cues.
In other words, don’t assign guilt based on a random cue. You’re looking for out-of-the-ordinary patterns and reactions to a specific situation. If something about your friend’s reaction to a simple question is obviously amiss, then you may have stumbled onto something—and that’s the kind of situation where your knowledge of body language can help determine which direction to take that conversation in.
Last but not least, remember that even though you may be able to determine within reasonable parameters whether someone’s being untruthful with you, you can’t force her to tell you the truth. Experts in the field believe that nonverbal cues override the spoken word, so use your body language deciphering skills, and then sit back and trust your gut feeling.