Honesty is the best policy, or so we are told. But if that’s the case, why do so many people lie to each other at work? And how can we tell when it is happening?
For a team to work together well, they must trust each other. So if trust is such a big foundation for a productive workplace, why do people lie to their colleagues? Some may want to fit in and others may tell white lies to make their colleagues feel better. These lies aren’t a huge deal, but when it comes to telling big lies to manipulate coworkers and undermine your team, that’s an issue.
Certain personalities are more prone to lying and telling certain types of lies. Creative people are better at rationalizing dishonesty and extroverts have been found to lie more than introverts. Women usually tell more kindhearted lies, while men tell more self-serving lies.
What’s more, a study in Nature Neuroscience found that the more you lie, the easier it gets because brain becomes desensitized to lying and you feel less guilt. This makes it harder to spot compulsive liars.
You may think you’re familiar with typical signs of lying. Perhaps you picture someone that’s sweaty, fidgety, and avoids eye contact. But these signs are actually misnomers. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that most courtroom liars actually made eye contact, and psychologists have noted that liars often tend to appear stiff likely because they are trying not to display unusual gestures. Though body language is a factor in communication, it’s also essential to examine verbal cues, as liars often find ways to modify their speech to remove themselves from a lie and emphasize their innocence.
Furthermore, although researchers have found trends in how liars present themselves, everyone lies differently. In order to tell if mannerisms are out of the ordinary, you should have a general understanding of how that particular person usually acts. Do they typically fidget a lot, or is that something they do when they’re nervous? Do they talk in an animated fashion or are they more monotone? Knowing these things will help you determine when someone is acting different than normal.
To help you recognize signs of lying, GetVoIP put together this visual based on scientific research and data from experienced psychologists. It also includes tips on how you can reduce lying:
Some key takeaways:
Lying requires effort. It’s always easier to tell the truth. So people who are putting effort into their speech patterns are more likely to be dishonest.
Lying breaks patterns. If people behave in ways they don’t usually behave, that’s a sign they might be breaking the pattern of truth.
Lying is natural. That’s right! We have to lie about surprise parties, and to our kids about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. But it’s also commonplace to keep things under wraps to protect ourselves. Dishonesty isn’t always a dealbreaker, but it’s virtually always worth rooting out and bringing into the open.
Because communication and trust play such an important role in fostering a productive environment, it’s important to weed out manipulative coworkers. Paying attention to body language and verbal cues can help. Next time you’re in an environment where the truth might not be what you’re hearing (or speaking), pay attention to these tips. And remember: a workplace where there is trust is one where there is productivity and satisfaction.
Reuben Yonatan is the founder of GetVoIP, a leading VoIP provider comparison resource. As an entrepreneur and tech enthusiast, Reuben’s expertise is in helping small to mid-size business owners build, maintain, and scale their communication infrastructure.