Sneaky deceivers are out to take you
for a ride – Can you learn to spot their lies?
By Ken Osborn

How many times have you or your business suffered because of trusting the wrong person? If you’re like most people, you’ve been lied to thousands of times.

Deception hurts in many ways. A deceived person has emotional stress from being betrayed, they may lose self-confidence, they may become overly suspicious or even paranoid and of course, there’s the financial cost.

A deceptive supplier may promise that a shipment will arrive by your deadline, all the while knowing that arrival by the promised date is impossible. Trusting this supplier could cost your company thousands or more. Deceptions like this can be deadly to a growing business.

Here are seven subtle cues to watch-out for so that you’re not wasting your valuable time and resources by trusting the wrong person.

1. Nose Touch – We have erectile tissues in our noses, which engorge with blood when we lie. This causes a tingling or itching sensation that requires a nose touch to satisfy. The absence of a nose touch does not guarantee truth, but the presence of a nose touch often means deception.*(Sometimes a person will touch their nose because of a non-deceptive cause, ie. runny sinuses, a sneeze, an itch, etc.) With some practice, you can quickly learn to distinguish a deceptive nose touch from something else.)

2. Speech Disturbances – When we lie, we force our brain to pretend: that the lie is true, that the truth is a lie and simultaneously remember, that the real truth is that each is the other. Are you confused? So is your brain when you lie. The process of deception taxes our cognitive capability to think efficiently, so when we are lying, we will pause longer and speak slower than normal and often experience speech disturbances that serve as gap fillers. These include, but are not limited to, ah, er, um, ug, hum, etc. You should train yourself to be alert for deception when you hear this kind of verbal cue.

3. Incongruent behavior – When our words and our body language don’t agree, our communication is said to be incongruent. For example, imagine that you ask a salesman if he can assure your delivery will be on time. If he explains how certain he is about it being on time while also shaking his head (as if non-verbally saying “no”), he is incongruent. When this sort of incongruency occurs, you would do well to believe the person’s body over their words. In this case, the headshake indicates that the delivery will not be on time.

4. Neck Rub – We rub our necks because of the stress we experience when we feel that an obstacle may be insurmountable. Let’s say that you are interviewing a potential employee for a key leadership position and the prospective employee verbally emphasizes their interest in getting the job. However they also begin to neck rub when you explain their expected duties. This probably means that they don’t feel that they will be able to accomplish the duties. They might be wrong, but if we know anything about human psychology, it is that if someone believes that they can or can’t do a thing, they’re probably right! – Caveat Emptor!

5. Eye Rub – An eye rub is an indicator of disbelief. Let’s say that you have an important computer keystroke sequence to teach a new employee. The employee begins to eye rub even while verbally affirming your statements. This probably means that she doesn’t believe you or disagrees with your instruction. It would be wise to stop and ask a question to allow the employee to verbally object. Many subordinates feel uneasy about disagreeing with the boss, but their bodies don’t hesitate. Perceiving a potential problem, like this, and dealing with it early can be the difference between a simple misunderstanding and a business disaster.

6. Upward Inflections – We upwardly inflect our words when asking a question. You may have noticed that some salespeople will upwardly inflect certain statements of fact. This is a red flag that should alert you to potential deception. The salesman might say, “Your competitors have seen their profit margins increase by 30 percent by using our product. If you notice that he upwardly inflected the words, “thirty percent”, you should disregard this statistic and be suspicious of him altogether.

7. Stabbed Hollows – In the study of graphology(handwriting analysis), hollow letters represent honesty. Anything that disrupts a hollow letter could indicate deception. Let’s pretend that you enter your office to find a post-it from your top salesman on your desk. His note indicates that he has to go out of town to visit his sick mother and won’t be able to go to the annual trade show. You notice that every “o” in his note has some sort of mark interjected into hollow space of each letter. You would be right to be suspicious of the facts in the note and a phone call or meeting would likely expose some sort of deception in the facts from the note.

With some practice, these new awareness tools will give you greater confidence in your perceptive ability and new peace of mind when deciding to trust others.

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Author's Bio: 

Ken Osborn is the Founder and Executive Director of The CIA Institute in Corona, California. He has taught hundreds of deception awareness seminars and workshops including the popular Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!!!® Workshop. Ken has conducted over 2,000 face to face interviews and many informal studies in the areas of deception and subtle communication. He is the author of "A Pack of Lies" - A flash card home study system designed to teach someone to instantly recognize 50 common deceptive cues. He serves as an instructor for the Forensic Science Academy in La Puente Valley, California. He may be reached at his email address: or through his website at