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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
Discerning Truth From Lies
It’s an unfortunate part of everyday life. People lie. Though we’d all like to believe that every business person out there is honest and trustworthy, that is just not the case. And the lies they tell can often have a severely negative effect – not just emotionally, but also in cost to our business.
I tend to be a trusting person. I give people the benefit of the doubt and assume, until proven otherwise, that they’re telling the truth. That may be a great policy in regard to friends and family, but when it comes to keeping my business up and running smoothly, I’d be better off to be skeptical and watch for the signs that someone may be pulling the wool over my eyes.
Fortunately, there are some indicators you can watch for that will clue you in to someone who may not be telling you everything:
There are many ways that our body language can reveal our inner thoughts. Someone who is shy or nervous will keep their head pointed toward the ground. Someone who is excited will move around quickly.
Someone who may be lying will give any number of signs with his body. When you ask him a question and he responds with a verbal “no” but slightly nods his head, this is an indicator that his words do not match his thoughts. And, of course, many people cannot make eye contact when they tell a lie.
Additionally, someone who is lying may seem uncomfortable in the positioning of her body. She may fidget, be unable to stand still, or slouch. There are also stress indicators many of us have, such as rubbing our neck or eyes or touching our nose. There are tissues in our nose that fill with blood when we lie, requiring a touch to sooth them. Though rubbing her neck could be a sign that she needs a massage, or touching her eyes and nose may be a sign of allergies, they are still indicators we should be aware and skeptical of.
There are many ways in which someone’s words can be an indication that they are lying. If someone is providing you with vague information, such as a supplier telling you your product will be ready sometime next week, rather than a specific date, chances are, they are intentionally leaving information out. And not providing you with all pertinent information, which may effect the function of your business, is a form of lying.
There are speech indicators as well. Someone who pauses often and fills space with “um” and “er” may not necessarily be simply searching for the appropriate word to inject. When we lie, our brain becomes confused because we are trying to convince ourselves that the lie is the truth and the truth is a lie. Our brain cannot keep up and we tend to stumble over our words a bit, trying to make sense of it all.
Upward inflections are another indicator that something isn’t quite right. Basically, when someone is providing information to you and the tone of their voice changes on a certain portion of that information, such as the date your supplies will arrive, then you may have reason to believe that information is inaccurate or there is more to it (such as an “if/then”clause).
These are only some of the indications that someone may not be sharing the whole truth with you, and though someone may be portraying one of these “symptoms” of a lie, there may be another cause for their agitation. It’s best that you be aware and double check everything, rather than be accusatory right from the start.
And, of course, there is the possibility that you may be dealing with someone who is a skilled liar and there may be no indications at all. That’s why it never hurts to do some background work on people you do business with, put everything in writing that you can, and try your best to protect yourself and your business. Sometimes that’s all you can do.
• Entrepreneur.com: Are They Lying to You?
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