How to Discover a Workplace Liar

Posted February 10, 2017 by Mary McGinley

No one wants to think about it, but it’s a reality we have to face, especially in the world of work: people can and do lie. According to a recent article which appeared in Human Resources Online, there are several different ways to determine if a coworker is not telling you the truth?

Inconsistent Details

When someone is not being completely honest with you, you need to look at the details. If they are inconsistent, chances are that person is lying to you. According to former federal agent J.J. Newberry in an interview with WebMD, “When you want to know if someone is lying, look for inconsistencies in what they are saying.”

Often a story will change slightly when a person who is lying is pressed for specific details over and over again. When this happens, chances are they are hiding something. If a person claims to have acted in a way that is inconsistent with their usual behavior pattern, it’s probably a good idea to view their story with a bit of suspicion.

Pay attention to body language

Most experts with an insight into human behavior patterns agree that if a person is lying they have a tendency to either make no or excessive eye contact. If they are making rapid head movements or tend to cover their face and mouth with their hands, scratch their head or touch their neck or their nose. A person who lies also tends to sweat a lot. Look for these telltale signs to indicate if the person is being honest or not.

What to look out for

Some behaviors are more obvious than others in tipping off whether or not someone is being less-than-forthcoming. According to Noah Zandan in a recent TEDed talk she gave on the topic, this may take the form of negative language, overly simplified explanations, or awkward phrasing. Keep an eye for these indicators to be able to discern the truth of the matter.

Liars really are wired differently

It’s true that nearly everyone lies at one time or another. However, according to a study conducted in 2005 by University of South Carolina researchers, Yaling Yang and Adrian Raine, the brains of those who habitually lie are different from those who don’t.

The study found that liars had 22% more prefrontal white matter and a 14.2% decrease of prefrontal gray matter than compared to others who were not prone to lie. This would seem to suggest that increased amount of white matter is in some way providing liars with the tools they need.

“Lying takes a lot of effort,” Raine said.

Of course, we always hope that our coworkers or the people we hire in our organizations are essentially good and honest people. Most people are indeed honest and work with integrity.  In situations where lying becomes a problem, workers should always be encouraged to speak with their supervisors or with a human resource professional who can help to address the situation.

When making a hiring decision, you need to have as much information as possible to be able to choose the right candidate for the job. HR professionals often do this through a combination of background checks, interviews, and testing of job candidates as a part of the screening process.

At Einstein HR, we are committed to providing service and screening above and beyond what our clients expect. We provide all level of services, including personality testing and candidate screening in order to help you in your HR and PEO decisions. Contact us today to find out how. You can reach us toll-free at 770-962-1700 (EMC2).