How to Detect Lies and Avoid Being Duped in the Workplace

By Gini Graham Scott

Communication is the key to building successful personal and professional relationships. But how do you detect lies, and how do you avoid being duped in the workplace?

Here are some tips from my book, “Playing the Lying Game,” that can help you get to the truth.

How to Spot a Lie

One sign of a possible lie is when there are contradictions in what someone says or does, such as when a co-worker tells you one thing about a project and later tells you something else. Another sign is if somebody’s behavior suddenly changes. For example, they suddenly start looking and dressing better, while claiming to have financial problems, or don’t call when they say they’re going to call as they have in the past.

Another clue is if someone is oddly nervous, if you ask them about something they did at a certain time or if they hesitate when you ask for a specific detail, such as what they did on a particular project. People have different ways of being nervous about things and can be naturally forgetful, but the clue is when they act differently from the way they usually act. For instance, if someone is unusually nervous or if someone who hasn’t been very talkative suddenly gives you a detailed explanation about something, such behavior could be a sign of lying, because it’s a change from how people usually are.

That change in behavior is what investigators look for when they conduct lie detector tests. They first use a series of questions to see how a person responds when they give honest answers to create a baseline; then they can tell when somebody’s lying from the change from the person’s baseline behavior.

Other Signs

You might also look for any recent changes in the person’s behavior or schedule, and consider if anything might provide an innocent explanation for the change or not. For example, if somebody is working on an outside project that could be a reason why they have less time to complete an assignment at work, but they don’t want to admit they are moonlighting. So if nothing else explains why that person is changing his or her behavior or if that person isn’t around as much or seems evasive, those may be signs of lying.