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Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception

Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception

3.7 33
by Pamela Meyer

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Learn communication secrets previously known only to a handful of scientists, interrogators, and intelligence specialists....

Liespotting reveals what's hiding in plain sight in every business meeting, job interview, and negotiation:

The single most dangerous facial expression to watch out for in business and personal relationships

Ten questions that get


Learn communication secrets previously known only to a handful of scientists, interrogators, and intelligence specialists....

Liespotting reveals what's hiding in plain sight in every business meeting, job interview, and negotiation:

The single most dangerous facial expression to watch out for in business and personal relationships

Ten questions that get people to tell you anything

A simple five-step method for spotting and stopping the lies told in nearly every high-stakes business negotiation and interview

Dozens of postures and facial expressions that should instantly put you on Red Alert for deception

The telltale phrases and verbal responses that separate truthful stories from deceitful ones

How to create a circle of advisers who will guarantee your success

Read Liespotting and gain access to a secret language of gestures, words, and emotions. Learn to see through any business or personal encounter, get right to the truth, and build a world of trusted, expert advisers around you.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Every decision maker in your organization should read this breakthrough book. It is practical, hands-on and founded on years of research. It offers the easily accessible methods to spot and stop what has become the most insidious business cost today…deception.” —Richard Whiteley, Best-selling author of The Customer Driven Company, Customer Centered Growth, Love the Work You're With, and The Corporate Shaman

“All businesses spend a tremendous amount of time and money trying to detect just how truthful people are. The stakes are high. Despite the fact that few of us have never studied how to objectively read people and understand the many established ways of detecting unconscious communication, we are surprised at how often we get it wrong when the whole truth is finally known. This book changes the odds, and does it in a straightforward, useful and engaging way. It's worth every minute you spend reading it.” —Jay Walker, Founder, Priceline.com and named inventor on more than 400 U.S. patents.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.72(w) x 5.88(h) x 0.89(d)

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter Five: Listening to the Words

……Humans excel at adapting language to suit their needs.  We hear a clever phrase and make it our own; we pick up slang; we order “soda” until we move to another part of the country and start ordering “pop.”  Each of us has developed a singular style of verbal communication that is heavily influenced by our geographic location, our life experience, and our social, ethnic, and economic demographic.

Yet trained deception detectors know that though everyone has a unique way of expressing himself, there are some near-universal ways in which liars reveal themselves when they speak. 

The Verbal Habits of Deceptive People

Liars usually work very hard at constructing a convincing narrative, making sure that each part of their story is plausible and logical.  But just as unconsciously leaked facial micro-expressions and body language can betray a liar’s true emotions, unconsciously leaked verbal slips can betray one’s underlying train of thought.  For the liespotter who knows how to listen well, the random words, sounds, and phrases in a person’s speech are never as random as they seem.  They offer a clear sightline into the liar's psyche. 

After all, lying is hard work.  As the Swedish researcher Aldert Vrij observed, liars "have to think of plausible answers, avoid contradicting themselves, and tell a lie that is consistent with everything the observer knows or might find out"—and they have to do all this while reminding themselves not to make any mistakes.  And remembering not to look nervous.  And not to act differently from how they'd normally act in this situation.  And—speaking of acting—to be sure to display the emotions they'd normally show. Is it any wonder that they can't always pull it off?

To spot verbal indicators of lying, deception detectors pay close attention to four characteristics of speech—statement structure, verbal leaks, vocal quality, and attitude. 

Statement Structure

A person’s statement structure—his choice of words and phrases—is a rich source for any liespotter to mine for possible deception indicators.  As always, it’s important to remember that any number of physiological and psychological factors—fatigue, stress, hunger, concern about getting home on time—can affect how someone expresses himself. 

Truth-tellers who expect others to believe them tend to speak naturally and unselfconsciously.  But if they don't expect to be believed, they may try too hard to seem honest.  Unfortunately, the result makes them sound less believable.

Obviously, then, not every oddly phrased statement is a lie. Still, there are tactical turns of phrase that should raise a liespotter’s eyebrows——not because of what the suspect says, but instead due to what these tactics help him avoid saying.

There are several types of statements liars often use to evade questions or deflect suspicion.  You’ll learn how to respond to them in the next chapter.  For now, just focus on familiarizing yourself with them.

Parrot Statements. If you ask a question and someone repeats it back to you, he may be stalling to buy time to think about how he wants to reply.  For example, if you ask “Which email account do you use for business correspondence during non-work hours?” and you hear back, “Which email account do I use for business correspondence during non-work hours? Well, I guess that would be my company account”, pay attention.  Had you simply heard,  “My business correspondence?” or “During non-work hours?” he could have been clarifying your question to make sure he told you what you wanted to know.  But  repeating the question in its entirety suggests that he doesn’t want to answer. 

Dodgeball Statements. Let’s say you ask, “What computer system do you mainly use when you’re in the office?” and someone replies, “Are you interviewing all of IT, too?”  When people ignore or deflect your question,   and lob a new one right back at you,  it’s often an attempt to find out how much you know before volunteering an answer.  In this example, the subject may be trying to determine whether you've noticed something suspicious about his email activity.  "Do I have to come up with an explanation for something?" he may be asking himself.

Guilt-trip Statements.  A guilt-trip statement is an evasive tactic that tries to put you, the interrogator, on the defense.  Say you ask an employee which exit she generally uses when she's leaving the building at the end of the day.  If she's trying to avoid  the question, she may make a show of taking offense: “I’ll bet you’re not hounding any of the execs about their comings and goings.  You guys in HR always think it’s the people on the ground who are on the take.”  She’s hoping that you’ll abandon the question while defending yourself or getting caught up in proving that you’re not biased.  Don’t take the bait. 

Protest Statements. Instead of trying to put you on the defensive, a liar using a protest statement will respond to questioning by reminding you that nothing about his track record indicates that he is someone capable of deceit.

“What exit do you generally use when you leave the building at the end of the day?”

“It depends on the day.  Look, I’m a mother, I go to church, I give blood.  I don’t understand why you're talking to me like a criminal!”

Too Little/Too Much Statements. In the split-second before someone prepares to answer a question, he will consciously or subconsciously evaluate what the best possible answer might be. For a truthful person, the best possible answer might omit some information. It might have a few extraneous details.  But it will still offer the information requested. 

“Why don’t you tell me what you know about the email one of our clients received the other day?” you ask. 

An honest employee might say, “All I know is that Bill Patterson called on Friday saying that Jane sent him an email calling him a drunk and a loser.  Now she's saying that I somehow hacked into her email account and sent it.  It’s no secret that Jane and I don’t get along, but I’m not dumb enough to risk my job just to mess with her.”

For an employee who's trying to deceive you, however—let's call him Todd—the best possible answer is often the one that doesn’t make him repeat the ugly details of the accusation.  "Not much," he might answer evasively.  “He says he got a rude email from Jane, right? And she thinks I did it? I don’t know why she’d think I’d do such a thing.”  Steering clear of the specific charges helps him to keep himself at a psychological distance from them.  

On the other hand, Todd's reply might be unnecessarily wordy: “What do I know? I know Jane is trying to get me fired.  Basically, she’s never liked me.  This isn’t the first time she’s tried to get me into trouble.  Ever since that mix-up last year, when her shipment went AWOL for a few days—she says I never put the order in, but I definitely did–I’ve told people we need to get a system upgrade to keep stuff like that from happening.  Now someone is upset and Jane’s saying it’s my fault? She has a lot of nerve.”

Two clues in this reply indicate guilt.  The first is that Todd is using a lot of words to say very little.  The second is that nowhere in the midst of all this verbiage does he actually answer the question.


Meet the Author

Pamela Meyer is founder and CEO of Simpatico Networks, a leading private label social networking company that owns and operates online social networks. She holds an MBA from Harvard, an MA in Public Policy from Claremont Graduate School, and is a Certified Fraud Examiner. She has extensive training in advanced interviewing and interrogation techniques, facial micro-expression reading, body language interpretation, statement analysis, and behavior elicitation techniques. For the book Liespotting, she worked with a team of researchers over several years and completed a comprehensive survey of all of the published research on deception detection. The most interesting highlights from the research survey are included in the book, while additional new findings are regularly featured on her blog.

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Liespotting 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
HugosTheBoss More than 1 year ago
Human deception is an inescapable aspect of human interaction - and the more a sociologist digs into the true nature of lying, the more pervasive this tactic reveals itself to be. Liespotting is astounding in that it combines the human aspect of how lying affects one's life, combining it with the most important data from almost every major sociological finding in the field. Think Malcolm Gladwell for the masses. I have never read a more thoroughly researched and condensed discussion of the topic of human deception. I was also surprised by how readable to guide truly was: Not only do the daily tips keep you underlining and dog-earring, the stories of deception are palpable. These techniques feel imperative to one's own life. I couldn't put it down. Liespotting is a must read for its unearthing of a corner of humanity we all live with and never think twice about, while giving the reader a leg-up in everything from relationships to business to parenting.
BlueGil More than 1 year ago
Liespotting pulls from decades of research in the field of human deception, as well as professional analyses of less-than-truthful public figures such as Bill Clinton, Alex Rodriguez and Scott Peterson; the book excels as its own contribution to the field, however, in its applicability to the everyday reader - the mother of a secretive teenager, the owner of a small business who can't monitor his staff every minute, the apartment hunter... - not just the FBI interrogator. Refreshingly clear and well-presented, Liespotting "comes clean" by providing the most quantifiable, objective data regarding deception recognition and that's it. A pitfall for this sort of relationship coaching is vagueness, speaking in generalities to avoid any error, and Liespotting steers clear of that and sticks to the "takeaways" of this field. While the author does use anecdotes to illustrate certain points, there is documented research and a tip to take away with each story, making it both reliable and readable. A "liespotter" focuses primarily on the face, as a liar can (and often does) control his words; the face, however, betrays emotion. Well and good to hope for the twitch around the liar's eye, but the interviewer can, and should, ask the proper open-ended questions to elicit non-verbal responses as well. If anyone has ever felt helpless in the face of deception, it is possible to regain control (sometimes without the liar knowing you've shifted the dynamic). Of course, there are verbal indicators of deception as well: As one might expect, qualifying statements such as, "As far as I can recall," should set off a red flag; but more surprising, seemingly innocuous statements such as invocations of religion or perfectly chronological stories also point to deception. A great deal of Liespotting is devoted to the Art of the Negotiation, and while the preparation techniques - sit where you can observe body language - as well as particular signs to look out for - a post-interview sigh of relief - were well-presented and applicable to the business readers, some might prefer the sections devoted to lying married couples and analysis of Bill Clinton's denying his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Vclaw More than 1 year ago
I had become obsessed with trust as an entrepreneur. I always try to go on the record in my business, but when I am making deals and trusting my staff with my entire livelihood, I always hit a wall and must simply trust those I have chosen to do business with. It isn't always easy. I have been waiting for a book like this to give me some objective signs of deception, and what a business owner can do about it without becoming paranoid and hiring a new staff every year. I don't like to accuse anyone, even if I'm almost positive of some kind of wrongdoing, and I've been able to actually incorporate the techniques of questioning in this book into the way I like to do business.
CarlWhite More than 1 year ago
I picked up a copy of this book not sure if I was getting into a how-to or a science report, but I ended up really liking it. Clearly tons of research went into it, and the hard facts about liars were the most interesting to read, who are the biggests liars, the corporate chameleons, why we lie, (that we lie to coworkers more than strangers) I thought this sort of information was really interesting and I never knew this research had been done. I read it quickly, but I think this book is geared more toward business owners. I work for a living but the whole section on business deal negotiating didn't really apply to me. So I skimmed through that part and still found the book thorough and well written and would definitely recommend it.
Rboow More than 1 year ago
I've never read anything like it. Liespotting really offers a chance to change the way you do business. I was fascinated to read about the author's experiences and training in FBI interrogation techniques ... and that no matter how savvy we consider ourselves, humans are pretty much open books. We may be bad at detecting lies, but we are also bad at telling them. The "takeaways," as well as applications to every day life (who wouldn't want to know if their landlord or even their boyfriend was lying?), made this a great read - a lot more accessible than I thought it would be, considering the heavy research that clearly went into it. This one will be around for a while.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The difficulty in dealing with liars is now a little bit easier. After reading Pamela Meyer's Liespotting I feel more at ease with knowing I may be lied to up to 200 times in day. The author begins with the origins of lying, why people do it, and how to determine if it's just a little white lie or something much more meaningful. She then delves into the art of detection reading the face, body, and words of the liar. She rounds it out with the most important feature of the book with her method for dealing with a potential liar. In all, it a well written, useful book for anyone from board room executive to entry-level employee.
GusAv More than 1 year ago
Not only was this book an interesting guide to getting ahead in business, especially for someone who is in meetings all day, every day, it was a compelling look into humanity and why we lie - and always will. But Meyer truly blew me away with her level of research, as well as her in-depth discussion of the human aspects of lying, and what you can do to take back the truth, even while everyone around us bluffs and deceives. The consideration to baseline someone's behavior before assessing if they are displaying suspicious signs, the specifically outlined, objective signs to look for in the face and body language and word choice, the application to business negotiations - this all impressed me in particular. Definitely keeping this one.
CodyC More than 1 year ago
I picked up Liespotting, wondering if the negotiation techniques would really apply to me as an entry-level employee, as someone who is not making major deals for a company, and I would recommend it to any professional - well, to anyone. It was such a quick, interesting read. I was so impressed by the science behind deception (and there are plenty of studies out there), and the way the author presented it in the form of quick tips, in ways that would be useful in everyday life. We are constantly being lied to, and there are so many signs on people's faces, if we just know what to look for. A great deal of the tips felt very intuitive, but Liespotting clearly outlines what certain verbal indicators I never would have guessed truly mean: like invoking religion or objecting to irrelevant specifics (no, it was 3:37!), or that liars recall a story chronologically, while truthful people usually do not. We all like to think we are not being deceived, that we are in control. But we really are not, if we are complacent - and I'm glad someone wrote a game plan to take back the control (without coming off as a walking lie detector).
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. I thought the information very informative and useful for day to day in a variety of situations. The author provides information from many sources, facial recognition training, interrogation training, and a comprehensive survey of research in the field. I am already using some of the techniques she provided when I watch politicians speaking on television :-) It's fun.
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Not good
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PI_For_ME More than 1 year ago
As my first read on this subject I found incredibly interesting and useful. I just find it amazing that tiny expressions in a person's face can give them away. It really makes me wonder next time I play poker if I can pick up an extra thing or two. On an even more practical level, I feel a little more at ease in the business world knowing what questions to ask the next time I interview new employee or decide to make a deal with someone. Highly recommended!
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