Claire Duffy's blog about public speaking and communication (in real life). Speak well, do well!
Catch up here on Lance Armstrong, whose apology made his disgrace worse; and here on MP Craig Thompson, who sounded most like a sneaky six year old when shown evidence of prostitutes, junkets, cash advances, dates, times, amounts…. “It wasn’t me…I can’t remember… I was set up”. Now facing 150 charges of fraud he at least has the sense to let his lawyer do the talking.
Beyond the rage that chokes any tax-paying, law-abiding voter when this sort of thing comes out, the idea that we’ve been so totally misled is quite unsettling. Are they all at it? Does being truthful make you the crazy one? What can I do to keep safe?
Time Magazine tells us that “The best liars tend to be the least troubled by their dissembling and produce the fewest outward clues”, which is some consolation if you’ve been duped. And then there’s the wisdom of George Costanza, (“one of the most deceitful duplicitous deceptive minds of our time”) “It’s not a lie… if you believe it”.
More seriously, Canadian researchers are training mental health and legal professionals how to read the signs that tell you someone is lying. They say that high-stakes liars tend to “leak” their true emotions from their faces. The corrugators, the so-called ‘grief muscle’s in the middle of the forehead…don’t get activated as they would if someone were really in agony…Skilled liars will use fewer words and fewer sentences and, contrary to popular thinking, they have no trouble maintaining eye contact with the target of their deception…
So here is what you need to know.
Ten ways to spot a liar:
I am a great fan of sincerity. When Aristotle wrote the rulebook on public communication he taught us that to be persuasive, a speaker needs three things:
• Ethos/credibility. We believe people we respect. Our judgement of someone’s character influences how convincing they are.
• Pathos/ connection. Emotions are how to sway opinion and change minds.
• Logos/reason. Evidence, facts, values and beliefs justify a position.
Anyone in public life should using all three. Knowing you’re lying can’t work – not for ever. It severs your ethos, pathos and logos all at once. The audience, in the end, will see through you.
If only the liars cared.