Monday, July 26, 2010

Pants on fire

I read an article last week on Forbes.com regarding 10 signs someone is lying to you. This list included intel from former CIA agents, police officers, and interrogators. The list included things you may not already know such as: look for dilated pupils and a higher pitch of voice. Both signs of stress more common in liars than non-liars. And watch out for people who use the phrase "to be honest" since most people assume they will be trusted and people who have to clarify their honesty might be lying. The list also included things I think are quite obvious like: watch body language for fidgeting and sweating, both signs of nervousness. And, people who avoid eye contact when telling you a story are doing so for a reason.

I am confident in the ten magical components of my personal formula used to determine honesty or lack thereof. Here is the breakdown of that formula. Feel free to borrow anyone at Forbes.com. 

1. First, my Father's favorite: Lying by omission. It is not what you are saying, but what you are not saying. For example. When your Father asks you " How was your day?" And you answer "Well, it started with a great breakfast. And now, I am back home with my loving family." And yet you leave out a critical portion like "I accidentally touched the garage door with the car." That is lying by omission. This is the lying that takes place when you know there is more to the story, but it is not being dished up. Glad it was pointed out to me so young. This knowledge served me well in law school.  

2. When someone clearly hears your question and yet repeats it back to you, they are buying time. Beware. The sentences that follow the reiteration of your question are likely to be untrue. For example:

Girl: What time did you get home last night
Boy: What time did I get home last night? (Buying time) Ummmm, I am pretty sure it was a little after 2 am (And by a little you mean four hours.)

Repeat for other common questions some young men and women ask one another like: Who was that on the phone? Who was that person I saw you with? Why didn't you answer my call at midnight?

3. When someone can not keep their story straight and the details change every time the story is told. Also known as: Why is the crap you are telling me now not match the crap you told me yesterday. Or the day before.  It should be a direct recollection from memory, not creative writing. For example:

When your child tells you how they got a speeding ticket and it starts out "I was framed" morphs to "I was rushing a friend to the hospital" and ends up "I was involved in a drag race."

4. When you watch a person's face and not only do they avoid eye contact, but they make crazy eyes. And we all know at least one person with the crazy eyes.

5. When you ask for details and there are none available.  I once asked one of my direct reports how close we were on finishing this significant quarter end report. She said, "Very close." I asked how many pages were in the report so far. Her answer was "I am not sure. But I think a lot." Can I make a quick review of it? "My computer crashed." As she sits at her computer that looked fully operable.

6. When the person makes a statement like: "It depends on what the meaning of is is." Same rule applies to anyone who says "I can see Russia from my house." 

7. When someone says, "For a small investment, you will make millions of dollars."

8. At least 50% of the time when someone says, "Oh, I never got that email."

9. When the details are so outlandish, you almost think you are talking to Tommy Flanagan or Penelope from Saturday Night Live. We had a neighbor like this. In fact, I am going to have to write an entire post about him.

10. When you see their pants. On fire. Wouldn't this be awesome if it happened? Not for the necessary white lies like "This cake is delicious!" but only the real zingers. I would like to see that on Forbes.com as well.

49 comments:

Slamdunk said...

Yeah, the details usually trip folks up.

The Mrs. has a student who was supposed to have contacted her a few weeks ago, but she did not hear anything. Yesterday, the guy contacts her and said that she had not responded to 2 previous emails.

I suggested that she respond with lots of compassion and request he forward her the "two sent mails" (with the date stamped of course) so that she can have her IT Department look into the malfunction.

She sent him the message this morning--this will be interesting if he choose to confess now or later.

LouBoo said...

Ahhh - am now very curious about your neighbour's stories! Everyone knows someone like that! I will now test this little lie-detector thesis on my children... L x

Dual Mom said...

People also have a tendency to touch their face when they are lying. Burning pants or a growing nose would make spotting lies so much easier though, wouldn't it?

jinksy said...

Well observed ! Good set of warning signs, but time to call the fire brigade when you spot the last one!

Jules said...

Or when there are TOO many details. That's how I can tell Hubby is lying. He feels like he needs to go into every single detail to make his story sound legit, which of course makes it sound like he is lying. Because he is.

Mommakin said...

Reminded me of this: http://www.threadless.com/product/2017/If_Your_Pants_Are_On_Fire_Being_A_Liar_Becomes_Less_Important

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

It's so frustrating when you're dealing with a liar and see all those signs, yet they still continue to lie, and lie about lying. It would be awesome if their pants would catch on fire, though, then they can't deny it any more. ;) I'm looking forward to reading about your interesting neighbor! :)

Will Burke said...

My wife is an awsome cook, but when I was "polite" for a blunder, she started having trouble believing me. She really is a wizard in the kitchen!

susan said...

Now THIS is the truth. Another telltale sign is too many unneccessary details..just not knowing when to shut up. Can't wait to hear about Slamdunk's wife :)

*uncorked said...

This is great! I've always been a really good liar (though I really only ever lied to my parents when I was growing up). Now I realize there isn't much point to it. But this one: "When someone says, 'For a small investment, you will make millions of dollars.'" Amazing - when I worked at the SEC my boss would have me just google phrases like this, or "30% return guaranteed!" and a few investigations came out of those searches!

Great post, darlin'!

Simply Suthern said...

I guess i'm screwed. Being an engineer type I always give too much detail to everything I explain.

Shrinky said...

Great observations. I read in a recent study that children found to lie most convincingly, tend to be more economically successful (ie., land up with better qualifications and in higher paid employment)than their peers.

This would depress me, if it didn't give me such great hopes for my kids..

Secret Mom Thoughts said...

Love the list. So true. I do wish people pants would actually catch on fire for those big lies.

Brian Miller said...

when we were in mexico...one waiter set another waiters pants on fire...

hmm...i need to study these a bit more...smiles.

TKW said...

It WOULD be cool if your pants actually exploded into flames! I also think a person is lying when they provide too MANY details--my sister always does that.

Ed said...

To be honest, I always tell the truth.
I'm like the OJ of truth telling.
I taught Bill Clinton every thing he knows. Me and Bubba are TIGHT. Not Lewinski tight, but tight.

AmyLK said...

#8 should include text messages. But I don't want that getting around cause I use that ALL the time with my ex! lol

kate said...

Don't forget the gross over-exaggeration! This guy that I used to work with was a lovely combination of "over-the-top details" and #3. He always had the best excuses for being late to work...my personal favorite? The time that he was driving down the highway and saw a van get into an accident, flip over and catch on fire. When the paramedics arrived, they were too scared to enter the burning wreckage...so he had to climb in and save the driver. Yeah, THAT'S why you were late to work.

What a douschebag.

Bee and Rose said...

When my son was in second grade, he wanted to go to school dressed in full fireman's gear because his teacher told them that their pants would catch fire if they lied in the classroom! He was so freaked out!

Funny post! So true...so true!

Caty said...

lol..great list. I'm going to have to store those tips in my memory bank-#10 being my favorite. Have you ever watched the show (can't remember the name all of a sudden-it's fairly new-)but the guy can tell if you're lying just by interrogating you?

Intense Guy said...

Well, to be honest, fidgits in seat and sweats a bit while looking down at the floor, I would NEVER tell a fib...

I just stick to method #1.

:)

Writing Without Periods! said...

I love your crazy eyes one. I live in retirement ville and made the mistake of thinking people would quit lying when they got older...NOT. They lie more and don't have the energy to be good at it!!!
Happy week.
Mary

Eva Gallant said...

If pants really did catch fire, my ex's ass would be toast!

The Boob Nazi said...

Number 7 is the worst!!!

Kristina P. said...

So basically, everyone in my life is a big fat liarhead.

Yankee Girl said...

I am a horrible at lying. So horrible that I had to give it up years ago because no one ever believed my stories.

Pricilla said...

There has to be a breeding ground for fiction writers somewhere....

blueviolet said...

There's not a soul in the world that can be trusted now.

Eric said...

Hey I just got around to viewing your moment on television. What a great interview!

*eyes not crazy, pitch in voice low, not repeating anything, pants not on fire*

Helena Halme said...

Do you know, I so wish I could lie. I can't even do it in any these 10 ways. I just always have to tell the truth. This has had some very serious consequences in my life. But it's a Finnish thing and I'm proud of it.

Great post. really enjoyed it as always.

Helena xx

PS. I'm back now after the Big Move, which has taken up more than all of my time lately. xx

Aunt Becky said...

I like the old, "well, we didn't get much SLEEPING done" line. And by "like" I mean that it makes me stabby.

Kristy said...

Number 8 is sooo true! And never trust the person who repeats the question. I see this on Judge Judy all the time and then she wails on them. It is great.

Aging Mommy said...

Hilarious as always! Oh yes, if all those emails did get lost then email would no longer be in use!

Grand Pooba said...

Hahaha! Love the last one. And the too much outlandish detail one. I can't count how many times someone has come to ask me for money and spent way to much time explaining WHY they needed the money. Obviously a rehearsed story.

RNSANE said...

For two decades, I was a forensic nurse for a CA city, doing sexual assault cases. It was always interesting when teens, from group homes, often getting back after curfew, reported having been raped and were brought to us for exams. We would immediately separate them ( often the police had not done so ). It was amazing when we got together to compare their histories before getting ready to do exams and collect evidence. Often, it would have been amusing if it weren't such an incredible waste of time and community resources. We would absolutely do an evidentiary exam, without questions but, when stories were blatantly different, we would sometimes bring the girls together and point out the discrepancies. Very often, sheepishly, they would then fess up and tell the truth.

DeNae said...

My husband has been a federal agent for 20 years, and he'll tell you that the way you know if someone is lying is their lips are moving.

He's such a cynic.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I’m not from Forbes, but I printed off your list. I thought these could be some fun traits for future characters. And, the pants on fire thing would be awesome if it happened.

Tracy said...

This was funny, but #6 had me ROTFLing. Honest.

J.J. said...

Don't forget my personal favorite: People who say "trust me" usually shouldn't be trusted.

Siesta in Spain said...

LOVE #6.

shortmama said...

I was very guilty of lying by omission as a teenager...like every day. Ok ok maybe ever 4 hours

Little Ms J said...

I am a horrible, horrible liar. Sadly my friends know this so if I sneeze or even stumble over a word they scream, "You're lying."

Then I make crazy eyes.

Ashley Stone said...

love it. It would be so awesome if people's pants actually burst into flames.

Hampton Rhodes said...

wow. I'm a really good liar!

hotpants™ said...

I love it when people say they never got an email or text. It's very rare these days that those don't go through.

M-Cat said...

A cop friend told us that a trick they use, is to touch the person whom they are questioning. It's harder for a person to lie to you if you are touching them.

Did it all the time with my boys. Caught them every damn time

secret agent woman said...

Here's an interesting factoid from the field of deception research: Cops are actually no better than the average person at ability to detect deception. However, they are far more confidant about their ability than the average person.

Vivienne said...

True dat.

Maria said...

As a teacher, I can usually smell the lie right away..and it is one of my biggest pet peeves...it would be so much easier if they just lit up, no?