You’d love it if all your employees told you the whole truth all the time. But you know it’s just not so.

Sometimes a fib or exaggeration may be harmless, or have so little impact that it’s not worth pursuing. But sometimes – like during complaint investigations, evaluations or progress reports – lies can be very harmful, and you want to catch them.

Digging deeper
Pamela Meyer, author of a recent best-selling book on detecting lies and liars, says there are a number of verbal clues to watch for. Their presence doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got a Pinocchio on your hands, but it does mean you’d be well advised to dig deeper.

Here are five of these clues:

  • Stilted, formal speech. This sometimes takes the form of an avoidance of contractions: “I did not,” rather than “I didn’t.”
  • “Distancing” language: “I never touched that woman,” rather than “I never touched Ellen.”
  • Repeating a question. This may be a tactic to buy time to concoct a response: “You’re asking what time I locked the safe and left the office last night?”
  • Qualifications. Examples: “As far as I can recall … to the best of my knowledge … as far as I know.”
  • Overly emphatic language. “I swear on my mother’s grave,” or “May God strike me dead if it’s not so.”

Source: “Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception,” by Pamela Meyer.

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