The Negotiator Magazine

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The Truth About Lying

By John Boe

Some people can't tell a lie, others can't tell the truth and unfortunately, most people can't tell the difference. Can you tell when someone is pulling the wool over your eyes? Whether you're an attorney selecting a jury, a manager interviewing a new agent or a salesperson making a presentation, your ability to quickly and accurately discern the truth greatly enhances your effectiveness. Fortunately, having the ability to sort fact from fiction is an important communication skill that can be learned.

Aside from con men, compulsive liars and some politicians, most people become uncomfortable when telling a lie and transmit their deceitful behavior through their body language. While they may sound convincing, their gestures speak louder than their words. Consequently, they reveal their deceit nonverbally. While it's not always easy to spot deceptive behavior, there are many subtle yet discernable clues to the trained eye.

Body language is a mixture of movement, posture and tone of voice. Studies show that nonverbal communication has a much greater impact and reliability than the spoken word. Therefore, if a person's words are incongruent with his or her body language gestures, you would be wise to rely on the body language as a more accurate reflection of their true feelings. During the selling process it's important to remember that body language is not a one-way street. While you're evaluating your prospect's body language for signs of honesty and credibility, he or she is subconsciously observing and reacting to your gestures as well.

Some People Can't Handle the Truth The truth sometimes hurts and few business or personal relationships could survive the harsh reality of total honesty. While honesty is certainly the best policy, the truth is, that in our day-to-day encounters, it's not always diplomatic or socially acceptable to be completely honest. To spare the feelings of others, we have learned the usefulness of telling half-truths, fibs and white lies.

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April 2006