Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception - Pamela Meyer

Summary: People lie to us all the time. In fact, according to studies, most of us encounter nearly two hundred lies a day.

Now there's something we can do about it. Liespotting links three disciplines -- facial-recognition training, interrogation training, and a comprehensive survey of research in the field -- as well as techniques used in the intelligence community, police-training academies, and universities.  Developed specifically for business leaders, Liespotting brings years of knowledge into the corporate boardroom, the manager's meetings, the job interview, the legal proceeding, and the deal negotiation. Gain access to these communication secrets, and so much more:

    - The single most dangerous facial expression to watch         out for in business and personal relationships

    - Ten questions that et people to tell you anything

    - Five steps to spotting and stopping the lies told in             nearly every high-stakes business negotiation and                 interview

    - How to create a circle of advisers who will guarantee your success

(Summary from book - Image from us.macmillan.com)

My Review:  Liespotting by Pamela Meyer is a non-fiction book geared toward helping people detect deception in the corporate sphere. Meyer proposes a three-prong approach to lie-spotting, based on scientific studies, observational training, and practical interrogation.  The first step is understanding the science of lying, why people lie, what types of lies they tell, etc.  The next step involves observing a person's behavior, specifically facial expressions, body movement, and speech patterns that may indicate deception.  Finally, Meyer details her 'BASIC interview method' which gives five specific steps to detecting deception in an interview or interrogation.  Here are just a few of the topics covered in Lie Spotting:

  • 9 reasons people lie
  • 7 facial expression that are the same across cultures
  • The single most dangerous facial expression 
  • 9 indicators of deceit
  • 4 characteristics of speech that may indicate deception
  • 8 body language clues that may indicate deception
  • and more!

Liespotting is an illuminating and insightful look into how we communicate (and deceive) in our personal and professional lives. It's a fairly quick read, sensibly structured, and incredibly well-researched, if the 14 pages of sources are any indication.  Throughout the book, Meyer cites the work of well-known scientists in the field, including such names as Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, William Condon, Paul Ekman, and others.  The part of the book that I found most helpful and engaging was the first half (give or take) where the author delves into Paul Ekman's work with micro-expressions, verbal cues, and body language, which offered a plethora of information to file away for my own personal use. I also loved the various 'liespotting tips' scattered throughout the book, which condensed specific signs of deception down to their most salient points.  I won't go into the specifics here, but I will say that I'm married to a man who has employed many of the methods that Meyer recommends in this book.  They really do work with practice, when applied correctly. I appreciated that the author provides real life scenarios where her techniques worked and situations where they weren't used, but would have been beneficial to the outcome.  The book even has a fun quiz at the end to see how much you've retained and an incredibly helpful chart in the appendix (I) that distills the BASIC METHOD down to a few easy-to-understand pages.  

I've been fascinated by the concept of lie detection for a while, so when I saw the title of this book, I grabbed it without reading the back and didn't realize it had a decidedly business-bent until I was half-way through the book.  As a stay-at-home mom and book reviewer, certain sections weren't as helpful or relevant to my personal life as others.  For example, I devoured the chapters on micro-expressions, verbal cues, and body language, but struggled to connect with those on high stakes negotiations, deception audits, and brain trusts.  When the author started to use words like "corporate incentive structure mapping," my brain would automatically shift to skim-mode until I got back into relevant territory.  I don't see this as a failing on the part of the author, nor do I plan to rate it poorly simply because it didn't pertain to my life. I can see how this book would be exceptionally helpful in the business sector, and I found that even the most business-related chapters have personal applications if the reader is willing to look for them.

 Liespotting isn't just about being able to pick the liars out of a crowd. It's about learning how to read people and find out who you can trust. It isn't the kind of book you can read once and *POOF* you're a lie spotter. Readers will definitely want a highlighter, pen, and maybe some of those post-it tabs for marking relevant information.  They'll also need to practice, practice, practice. Alas, I am not a human lie detector after having read this book, but I did come away armed with some useful knowledge and a strong desire to apply what I have learned.  Look out world!

My Rating: 3.75 Stars

For the Sensitive Reader: Two uses of the F word (quoting a real-life conversation)

Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception - Pamela Meyer