Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Don’t lie to me, Fibber Magee.

I know people.  I’ve been studying human behavior since I was knee-high to an angry grasshopper.  As kid, I was an expert at interpreting whether someone was angry by the way they walked up a very short flight of stairs.  By the time I was eleven, I could spot the difference between agony and apathy from about 50 yards.  Growing up in an incredibly chaotic household will do that to a person.

For most of my life, I have been surrounded by, shall we say…Intense Personalities of Nuclear Passions (there are certainly more appropriate, technical psychological terms for these people, but that’ll do, for now).  Breathing the same radioactive air as the IPNPs do, you develop the skills of an emotional ninja which help you protect yourself from the wounds that the IPNPs can cause.  You read faces, breathing and body language the way some people read political cartoons in the newspaper — you don’t have to, but it’s a compulsion and, after all, it’s right there in front of you.

When the television show “Lie to Me” first aired, I think I was more excited than the average bear – because deep down, I was waving my hanky and high-fiving actor Tim Roth’s character, Dr. Cal Lightman, in my mind saying, “Represent, Brother!”  I’d finally found my peeps.  “Lie to Me” ran from 2009 to 2011 and then FOX network suits went and cancelled it, leaving me adrift and alone.  I walk through the world, people-watching, but with no support from the fictional Lightman Group.  Lest you think I’m mad to fall so hard for that fictional pod of people, you should know the show was based on a real character, Dr. Paul Ekman who pioneered the Facial Action Coding System (you can Google him.  I’ll wait) and his crackerjack team.

Outside of a poker game, most people don’t realize how their faces and body language tell tales on them.  They don’t realize how closely some of us watch them (remember, it’s not creepy if it’s in your hard wiring).  You’ve seen them, you know.  The ones who stand in a room full of people, telling everyone how happy they are in their current relationship, hoping the people present believe them.  You have watched footage of those who talk about their lifestyle and ideals, certain that their viewers will believe every word that they say.  There are others who address crowds about the weighty issues of morality and values, knowing that the most wide-eyed in the group believe them.

Yeah.  Not me.

I watch these people and even though I hear the words that are coming out of their mouths, their microexpressions and body language, though nonverbal, speak volumes.  Unfortunately, Botox has made faces frozen in place a bit harder to read, virtually erasing microexpressions.  [Even if you’re not looking for the truth, it is a terrible thing when eyes don’t crinkle in genuine joy anymore, because people have injected the area that used to indicate true, unbridled happiness.  Sad, that.]

Frozen faces, be darned — there are still markers in body language that will give away a person’s “tell” – that thing that betrays portrayed information/emotion for what’s really going on.  Here some of the things experts will tell you to look for:

1)      They have little arm and hand movement.  As a rule, a liar’s physical movements are limited and stiff. Some people normally illustrate with their hands, waving and gesticulating as they tell a story.  During a lie, those same people will lessen those indicators or stop all together.

2)      They maintain little, to no eye contact.  Often, but not always, fibbers will avoid eye contact.  Know it may also be cultural, embarrassment or (and I speak from experience as the mother of an autistic child, here) part of a social disability.  Be very clear about the person before you use this as an indicator.  If it is someone who normally maintains eye contact, then suddenly break, chances are they are not being truthful.

3)      Their hands are more likely to touch their face, mouth, nose or scratch behind their ear.

4)      They are not likely to touch their chest with an open hand.

5)      They may shake their heads “No” but say, “Yes.”  It is a subconscious movement, indicating that even they do not believe what they just said.

6)      They will gesture with palms face down while lying, because the subconscious mind believes they are more vulnerable with palms face up.

7)      They will place a barrier between you: a chair or pillow, even a cup or spoon at the table.

8)      Lip licking after a statement.  Nerves cause saliva glands to go dry and either the speaker is nervous and uncomfortable or just uncomfortable with what they just said.

9)      Collarbone touching is a sign of insecurity when speaking or being spoken to.  In men, it is a very unusual subconscious move and in a woman indicates stress.

Warning: Just because a person exhibits one of the above-mentioned behaviors, does not mean they are lying.  However, if they are exhibiting three or four of them, chances are they probably are channeling their inner Pinocchio and taking you along for the ride to Pleasure Island (where ultimately, everyone’s turned into a jackass and led to the salt mines).  If you know them well, keep in mind their normal behavior before you try to decide if they are telling the truth or not.

While being armed with these nine points won’t suddenly make you an expert, they are good to have in your minds’ back pocket in business meetings, on a date or attempting to determine if your spiritual guru is all they’re cracked up to be.  After all, when it comes to the important stuff, nobody likes a Fibber McGee.

The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter – often an unconscious, but still truthful interpreter – in the eye.”  — Charlotte Bronte

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