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How To Tell When A Co-Worker Is Lying

January 11th, 2008 · Leave A Comment

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Some of us work in pleasant, civilized workplaces. The rest of us live in a cut-throat jungle full of back-stabbings, double-crosses and deceit.

It’s hard to get ahead in the office politics rat-race if you don’t have a good sense of when someone is lying straight to your face. You know the situations: the long-delayed project that your co-worker swears is almost finished and never is; the promised credit for an achievement that mysteriously ends up going to your superior; the promised raise that never materializes.

Truth is, you’re probably not very good at your job if you can’t look in a client’s face and see that she’s hiding something; or close a deal with a competitor who is lying to your face. has a handy tip sheet to help you detect the signs of a dissembler. Some of the more surprising tell-tale indicators:

3. Incongruent behavior: When our words and our body language don’t agree, our communication is incongruent. Imagine that you ask a salesman if he can assure your delivery will be on time. If he explains how certain he is about it being on time while also shaking his head–as if non-verbally saying “no”–he is incongruent. When this sort of incongruence occurs, you would do well to believe the person’s body over his words.

4. Neck rub: We rub our necks because of the stress we experience when we feel that an obstacle may be insurmountable. Let’s say you’re interviewing a potential employee for a key leadership position and the prospective employee verbally emphasizes his interest in the job. However he also begins to rub his neck when you explain the expected duties. This probably means he doesn’t feel he’ll be able to accomplish the duties. He might be wrong, but if we know anything about human psychology, it’s that if someone believes that they can or can’t do something, they’re probably right.

6. Upward inflections: We upwardly inflect our words when asking a question. You may have noticed that some salespeople will upwardly inflect certain statements of fact. This is a red flag that should alert you to potential deception. The salesman might say, “Your competitors have seen their profit margins increase by 30 percent by using our product.” If you notice that he upwardly inflected the words, “30 percent,” you should disregard this statistic and be suspicious of him altogether.

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Tags: Office Politcs