Competitive Intelligence: How to Spot a Liar
BY Burt Helm
The art of knowing when to trust a source of information
"Deception detection" experts—often former CIA agents—are used by banks and hedge funds to assess the honesty of CEOs. In his recent book, Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy, Eamon Javers shares some tricks of the trade:
1. Fidgeting Aside from true sociopaths, people aren't natural liars, and saying one thing while thinking something else can actually cause physical discomfort. That's what causes people to squirm.
2. Weasel Words Expected to, probably, basically, should be... These kinds of qualifiers crop up when someone is trying to obscure doubts or worries.
3. Detour Phrases Think, As I said before. Liars try to circumvent a direct answer by referencing past answers to different questions.
4. Complaints Gripes like "How long am I going to be here?" are often used to derail a particular line of questioning.
5. Selective Memory Phrases like to the best of my knowledge are evasive maneuvers, designed to get away from telling the truth or having to tell a bald-faced lie.
BURT HELM is a senior writer for Inc. magazine. In 2013, his Inc. feature “After the Squeeze” was awarded the Stephen Barr Award for Feature writing, and his stories “After the Squeeze,” and “Turntable.fm: Where Did the Love Go?” received awards from Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Prior to Inc. he worked as a reporter for Bloomberg News and a department editor for Businessweek. He is a graduate of Yale University with a double major in Physics and English. He lives in Brooklyn, NY. @burthelm