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So you think you can outsmart me with your lies?

By : Ziad K. Abdelnour| 20 August 2013
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I transact business with hundreds of entrepreneurs, traders, financiers and businessmen all year long. Some real smart and others amazingly dumb and arrogant.

There is though a class of people who think they are so good at lying that they can get away with it…. How delusional they can be.

Well If judging people on first impressions were an Olympic sport, they’d suspect me of using steroids.

Let me share with you how I differentiate the wheat from the chaff

1. Start by a small talk:

Before you try to tell whether someone is lying to you, you have to get a sense of how he or she communicates in a normal, no stressful conversation. Engage in a small talk like the weather, your favorite sports team, etc… You need this baseline, because behavior that might indicate a problem, such as rapidly tapping a foot or using a lot of verbal fillers such as “um” and “well,” might simply be this person’s normal communication mode. When you’re building rapport with people, that’s when you get their baseline. You need a minimum of three minutes to do it.

2. Listen carefully:

Statement analysis can help you discern when someone isn’t telling the truth. For instance, if you ask a yes or no question, the answer should actually contain the word yes or no. Let’s say you ask, “Have you ever closed an oil derivatives transaction in your career before?” If the answer is, ‘Absolutely’ that could be a signal and they are either lying or don’t understand what they are talking about. Seriously, it never seems to fail.

3. Ask follow-up questions:

Now comes the intricate part and just to give them the benefit of the doubt, I then ask them “Please describe to me exactly the transaction you say you have closed” and listen carefully for the next answer. It should be short, simple, and to the point. But a liar will tend to overcompensate. This may take the form of getting angry and accusing you of doubting him, being obnoxious, not wanting to believe even though he or she is telling the truth, or saying he or she doesn’t want to do work with you anyway.

On the flip side, the liar may overcompensate with a lot of character references. I ask anyone I work with or want to work with whether “he is accomplished or not and how many oil derivative or other kind transactions he closed in his career” and sometimes he or she tells me to come and check his or her 13,000 square feet home and see for myself. Incidentally, when you hear something like that, always take them up on it. No one ever does. But you’re likely to be surprised at what you find out. Unfortunately, most people back off at the wrong time because they think it is intrusive. Well for me, there is no such thing as intrusive…. Business is War. You either open up or stop wasting my time.

Clearly, there is no concrete research to prove that there is any one way to detect a lie. While others may look away while they lie, some may look you directly in the face while doing so. There are some general tendencies that you may be able to detect but, like everything else with people, the way they act while they lie depends on the severity of the situation, who they’re lying to, and how prepared they are to mask their nonverbal behaviors.

A habitual liar doesn’t fail the test immediately. It is only when they can’t remember what they lied about last time that they are shown up. Wear them off by asking them the same question differently and see how they respond.

Maybe the last question you should ask is, “ Did you tell me the truth when you answered all these questions? I am just looking for a yes or a no.” Surprisingly, some people will admit to a small (or large!) lie at this point, and you can get at the truth. If someone will be in a position of trust and you really need to know whether this person is truthful, you can follow up with a particularly powerful question: “Why should I believe you?”

Here’s the tricky part: Whatever answer you get first, don’t accept it and ask a second time. “That didn’t really answer my question–why should I believe you?”

You won’t know unless you ask. Never try to be a mind reader.

4. The bottom Line:

Aside from true sociopaths, people aren’t natural liars, and saying one thing while thinking something else can actually cause physical discomfort. That’s what causes people to squirm.

Expected to, probably, basically, should be… These kinds of qualifiers crop up when someone is trying to obscure doubts or worries.

Think, As I said before. Liars try to circumvent a direct answer by referencing past answers to different questions.

Phrases like to the best of my knowledge are evasive maneuvers, designed to get away from telling the truth or having to tell a bald-faced lie.

Now that you have the basics of detecting the smart asses from the real players, go and clean up your Rolodex, stop being a gullible idiot trying to impress people by making up stories. Go make real money.

Most importantly, do me a big favor and never call me with an opportunity until you can prove to me you can deliver and are as genuine as you say you are. Rest assured I will get you if you aren’t. I have a very long reach….

Have a nice day.


By :� Ziad K Abdelnour

Ziad is also the author of the best selling book� Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation in the Age of Welfare Politics (Wiley, 2011),

Mr. Ziad Abdelnour continues to be featured in hundreds of media channels and publications every year and is widely seen as one of the top business leaders by millions around the world.

He was also featured as one of the� 500 Most Influential CEOs in the World.