Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

We all want people to tell the truth.

There's a very simple reason for this: We're all liars.

So if we can get other people to tell the truth all the time, we'll have an advantage.

Other people won't be so obliging. We, therefore, have to work hard in order to discern whether we're being duped.

Thankfully, in this as in everything, there are experts who can help us. These are intelligence experts, there to observe and conclude whether someone has false intentions.

I am disarmingly grateful to the Associated Press for bringing together some of their advice so you can compare it with your own life experience.

Lying comes down to some essential elements, it seems.

First, you need to know how someone behaves when they tell the truth. That is your so-called baseline.

Deviations from that norm are your first signals that someone has come over all Pinocchio.

Often, you need time to see how people behave in a normal setting.

It's not as if you can immediately tell someone is lying -- even a lawyer or a car dealer.

Time spent together may well be one reason why it's harder for family members to lie to each other. It may also be a reason why they don't like to see each other too often.

The next step is to ask open-ended questions. This allows the responder to either change their behavior or act "naturally."

Liars tend to offer answers that might seem literally true but have many possible interpretations. These people are sometimes called politicians.

They tend to split hairs. This is one reason so many people are suspicious of lawyers.

It's also the reason so many lawyers become politicians.

Beware, though, of convincing yourself that fidgeting is a sign of lying. I've often thought police officers make this mistake.

Some people fidget all the time. Some fidget when they're nervous. Police officers often make people nervous. That's why people fidget. It doesn't mean they're lying.

And then there are liars' faces.

It seems that true smiles are seen in the eyes. Fake smiles are mouth only.

There's also the smile in which the mouth only curls up on one side. That's known as a smile of contempt. Oddly, this is also one favored by politicians.

Beware here, too, though. Some people just have crooked smiles. This is sometimes because they have crooked faces.

Symmetry in humanity is very hard to find.

It's hard work, though, to constantly be monitoring others for signs of Pinocchio Syndrome.

It's hard for you to act naturally if much of your concentration is being dedicated to spotting changes in the other person.

My suggestion is, therefore, to assume everyone is lying.

This way, you'll feel very little disappointment in life.

It also offers the hope there might be pleasant surprises.

And pleasant surprises are surely the most uplifting things of all.

I'm not lying, am I?

Published on: Apr 19, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.