Thoughtscape: Thoughts and Tips from Mike Clayton


Issue 5

  Detect Deception: Am I lying?
    News and views


  Dear %1
There is no sure way to tell if someone is lying - but plenty of myths.  But this does not mean that there are no "tells" that, together, give clues.  Let's look at some of the myths and facts behind the language of lying.

1. Eyes
Let's start with the eyes: liars don't look you in the eye.  Wrong, wrong, wrong!  In fact it is so wrong that the opposite is true.  Liar's know this rule and exploit it so that, if anything, they will look you in the eye more.  There is no reliable correlation.

But eyes do convey information.  If you ask a simple closed question where the answer should be obvious, a truther may look away for a fraction of a second, but a liar may look away longer while concocting a story to justify their answer.

Fear is a bigger factor for a liar than a truther too, so you can expect the physiological responses of fear - wide eyes and dilated pupils - to be more evident.  But beware - dilated pupils can also indicate attraction or just low light levels.

2. Sort of...
Liars want to limit their lies, so will qualify them with words like "sort of", "maybe", "I think" and, while we're at it, liars use fewer contractions when lying, saying things like "cannot" rather than "can't" as if trying to appear deliberate.  But also note, that some regional and cultural speech groups have greater or lesser use of these contractions too.

3. Fidgeting
When we are nervous, we fidget, and you would expect liars to be nervous.  What we actually see is less movement in posture, particularly in the head, upper body and arms.  They will often grip their hands together, or onto an object, to control unconscious movement.

4. Voice
Another example of a physiological response is the raising of the pitch of our voices when we are stressed.  If you put a liar under stress, their vocal tone will go up, and they will run out of breath more often, causing more hesitancy.

5. Covering the mouth
... to stop the lies getting out.  Hmmm.  This is another old chestnut that "everyone knows", including liars.  Possibly why liars hold their hands still, to avoid this impulse, but the fact is that the eyes and forehead will tell you more.  Look out for unexpected facial asymmetry as a sign of deception.

For more information
To learn about authentic use of voice, posture, eye contact and language, to influence with integrity, read Brilliant Influence, published by Prentice Hall, and the Brilliant Influence Blog.

For advanced insights into detecting deception, you will enjoy Christopher Dillingham's excellent "Dissecting  Pinocchio".


The Neuro-science of Risky Shift

One of the questions that has long been debated among psychologists is what happens when we change our opinions to fit in with a crowd (and there is plenty of evidence that we do read up on the Asch Conformity Experiments, for example).

Do we do so to conform to expectations or because our point of view really is changed by the crowd?

... to find out,
read the whole article here


Five time tips for getting your project done on schedule

I am on schedule with Brilliant Project Leader and already starting to worry about dedication and acknowledgements.  I remember writing five tips that served me well when I wrote Brilliant Time Management.  They are just as relevant now.

... read them here.



Handling Resistance
As promised, I have posted a summary of my presentation at the CIPD Conference and Exhibition on "How to Understand Resistance and Handle It Effectively". The talk focused on Resistance to Change, and you can read it on the Handling Resistance website, here.

You can get your copy of the Handling Resistance Pocketbook from Amazon


My first Web TV Show
I was knocked back by how generous Ross Dean and Claudia Carter were with their praise for Brilliant Time Management when we recorded Show 11 of Photo Night Live. It seems it really hit the mark with them both.

The topic, "So Much to Do but so Little Time - how to make time to start a business while working hard at your current job" allowed me to cover the whole gamut of time management tips, so do check it out at the Photo Night Live website.

You can buy Brilliant Time Management from Amazon and check out the Brilliant Time Management website.


New cover for Brilliant Stress Management
Last month, I announced that Brilliant Stress Control will now be called Brilliant Stress Management.  Here is the new (not very surprising) cover.


Brilliant Project Leader
I am enjoying writing Brilliant Project Leader tremendously.  The material is so familiar, it seems to flow really easily.  More on this book soon.


Three hour Seminars
Bite Size Seminars have started promoting the May and June dates for the first two of my seminars:

Practical Project Management
Risk Happens! Control Risk and Avoid Failure in Organisational Projects

These are on:

  • 24 May London
    RIBA in Portland Place

  • 26 May Reading
    Copthorne Hotel

  • 14 June Manchester
    Renaissance Hotel

  • 15 June Birmingham
    Copthorne Hotel

  • 16 June Oxford
    Cotswold Hotel

The next two seminars are:

Brilliant Time Management
The Three-hour MBA

These are on:

  • 30 June London
    RIBA in Portland Place

  • 5 July Manchester
    Renaissance Hotel

  • 6 July Birmingham
    Copthorne Hotel

You can see all of the dates on my blog and you can book by calling 01227 252100.

My focus this year ...
... is on writing, responding to press enquiries, and new speaking engagements.  If you know a conference organiser who is looking for an engaging speaker with great testimonials, please do send them to my website:  If you need a speaker now, just contact me using the links below, or the contact form on my website.  You can download my speaker pack here.

Best regards


I recognise you get a lot of email and I don't want to add unwanted inbox clutter.  I intend to give useful tips and thoughts, but if you don't wish to get any more, I will understand, so just click the "no more emails" link and they'll stop.

Many thanks

    Please contact me ...
... Tel: 08456 441349
... on Twitter @mikeclayton01
no more emails 
Mike Clayton, 2011