How to Detect Lies and Avoid Being Duped in the Workplace

By Gini Graham Scott

Another warning sign might be someone who has previously been distant trying to be suddenly friendly. Maybe they really do want to have a friendship after seeing you on the job for several months, but another possibility is they are warming up to you to get some information from you that that they could use for their benefit or your detriment, such as getting a promotion you want or using this knowledge to trigger a conflict between you and someone else. Such hidden agendas may not normally be considered lying, but in fact they are, since the person is suggesting they have one intent to further a relationship with you, when in fact they have another intent in wanting to use or manipulate you to their own ends.

Body Talk

Consider the person’s body language, too. For instance, if somebody appears to not want to look at you when they say something that could be a sign of lying, if they normally do look at you. By contrast, if the person tends to normally look away when talking (which can happen if one tends to look off in space while thinking), such behavior isn’t a sign of lying.

The body language can also be telling is if there is a disconnect between what somebody is saying and their body language. For instance, they appear to be all smiley and happy, but you can see tension in their body, which might mean they really don’t like what they are doing or like working with a particular person. However, they don’t want to reveal their true feelings.

Caught on Camera

Another tip-off of lying is if you see photographs of somebody doing something that is different from what they said they were doing on a Facebook page or in the media. Or perhaps someone might write about some kind of activity they are involved in which contradicts how they have described themselves on their resume. This can happen, since people often exaggerate or leave things off their resumes to impress others, but share the truth with others in their personal lives. Or their activities caught on camera can reveal a lie.

Since we live in fishbowl today and people around us – even tourists – are often taking pictures, whatever you are doing can easily end up on the Internet.  While such picture taking may be more likely to affect people who are prominent and in the news, it now affects everyone, because cameras and videos are everywhere – even on cell phones.  So some off the job activity might reveal a lie at work.

How to Resolve

A common tendency of someone who suspects a previously trusted person at work of lying is to accept an explanation. That may be a good initial approach in some cases but not in others. For instance, if this a valued employee or co-worker and the lie is to cover up some minor slip in behavior – such as claiming to be ill to get a needed day off from a frantic schedule, because everyone is supposed to work long hours, it might be reasonable to overlook or accept the lie. But if there is a pattern of continual deceptive behavior, then it is time to confront the situation and decide whether to take some corrective or punitive action, depending on your respective roles and your power in the situation. For instance, as a boss you could terminate the person; as a co-worker, you might report his or her behavior to the boss.

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Gini Graham Scott, Ph.D., is the author of over 50 books, specializing in work relationships, professional and personal development, popular culture, and social trends, including the book, “Playing the Lying Game: Detecting and Dealing with Lies and Liars, from Occasional Fibbers to Frequent Fabricators.” She is the host/producer of the radio show “Changemakers,” and a script writer/film producer, with several projects in development and post-production. Her websites are and

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