Art of Deception

Auckland City, NZ 2019 (Photo Credit: Christian Espinoza)

We are all storytellers, every single one of us. Our method however, is largely non verbal.

I always used to tell my son that he has no poker face, because he simply couldn’t lie to save himself. But like him, not all of us are experts at lying, in fact we rarely are. Our body language gives us away.

Incongruity is prevalent when we’re really trying to deceive, we can’t hold the lie for too long before slipping up somehow. My son’s friend is a classic case. For a thirteen year old he’s surprisingly good, but as soon as I suspect he’s pulling a fast one on me, I hit him with some incredibly specific questions. It forces him to think about the story of the lie (whilst ultimately knowing the truth) and that’s when it becomes apparent. I notice his eyes drift upward to the ceiling as he processes the lie in his head. His hands start rubbing against his neck as a means of self soothing, and the main the main giveaway is the lack of eye contact.

Just for fun, next time you meet someone for the first time, notice their non verbal language. For example, how far away they stand from you, if they make eye contact, where they position their hands, what their feet do, whether or not they’re well groomed.

People are always talking, but we should learn to listen more with our eyes.

Never trust to general impressions, my boy, but concentrate yourself upon details.

– Arthur Conan Doyle, author of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

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