THE BLOG
11/11/2012 01:26 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Three Keys to Taking Back the Truth

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Watch Pamela Meyer's talk above about the science of "lie spotting" and how it can lead to a more honest world.

"A lie has no power whatsoever by its mere utterance; its power emerges when someone else agrees to believe the lie." Pamela Meyer

The man sitting across from me is not only a criminal, but he has just slept with my girlfriend. He has robbed my house, stolen my money and has been driving my car. Although I suspect something is not right, I don't know this yet. I have asked him to meet me at the coffee shop around the corner from my house. It is the most surreal day of my adult life.

He comes late. He nervously makes idle chit chat. His body language indicates he is ready to leave. The man fiddles with his phone. I intuitively look at his feet under the table (a strategy often employed by the FBI). They are pointed to the door. This is a sign that he clearly has marked the exit.

On any given day, we're lied as much as 200 times. The clues to detect those lies are not what you think. They can be subtle and counter-intuitive.

My mouth opens and the words fall out of my mouth. "You're not sleeping with my girlfriend, are you?"

I was waiting for him to look away but instead he glares intensely into my eyes. "To be completely honest, I am not sleeping with that chick." Then in the corner of his mouth I notice a smile as he gestures asymmetrically with his lips. He pulls one corner of his lips quickly up and in.

Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting, shows the manners and "hotspots" used by those trained to recognize deception.

Key #1 Qualifiers
Liars don't usually deny softly. They overcompensate. Meyer teaches us that liars often use qualifying language which quickly discredits them. In this case the qualifier is "To be completely honest." Also, liars often glare directly in your face in an attempt to mask their deception through obviousness.

Key #2 The Contempt Micro-expression
Myer correctly tells us that an asymmetrical gesture with one lip corner pulled up and in is the universal symbol for contempt and is a great indication that the person is lying.

Key #3 Distancers
Liars will often attempt to distance themselves from the subject of their lie. In my case the man knew my girlfriend well. Why would he refer to her as "that chick?"

"So if someone slept with your girlfriend what would you do?" I ask.

He does what most liars do. He hesitates, stutters and then makes a suggestion. He continues peppering his suggestions with all kinds of information in irrelevant places. There is no logic to his suggestions. According to Meyer, an honest person is far more likely to suggest strict and sensible punishment. Liars go off on tangents.

I am silent and watch quietly as the man leaves. I later find security camera footage implicating the man and my ex-girlfriend in a number of crimes against me including the ones I mentioned earlier. Instead of being further victimized by this, I choose to walk away from it all.

I never pressed charges and quickly broke up with the girl. To this day I look back and wonder what the outcome might have been if I could have detected the deception earlier.

Meyer is quick to point out that behaviors are just behaviors and do not necessarily mean the person is lying. It is only if you find clusters of these behaviors that they should become a red flag. In that case they should immediately put you in what Meyer calls "curiosity mode."

I would add that when we are in the heat of a situation, our judgment is impaired. Even if we are armed with the knowledge of how to detect a lie, we are still human. As such we are impaired by our emotions. For this reason, if you are directly involved in the matter, it is best to have a trained second set of eyes on any situation you may be assessing for credibility.

At the end of the day, truth matters. Eventually, in one way or another it surfaces. Learning to detect the earlier signs may save you a lot of pain and aggravation. When you finally detect it, if you choose to see it and what you do at that point maybe what counts the most.

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