Tag Archive for Verbal Dialogue

Verbal And Paraverbal Cues

At times verbal and paraverbal cues betray the liar and these are cues tied directly to the words in which they speak. Although they fall outside the realm of body language at large, they do complete this chapter with regards to cues associated with deception which is why they have been included. These cues are, as always, related to the stress of fibbing so can be confused with nervousness of any other source. Some however are the direct consequences of lying such as the telling of an implausible story or using more negative comments or statements, which has been shown to increase during lying.

Here are the cues to deception as they relate to our verbal dialogue: Vocal tension, hectic speech, faltering speech, improper structure or grammar, implausible story, inconsistent story, superfluous details, describing feelings rather than events such as “I felt this way when I did this” or “I must have felt this way because of this” etc, adding qualifying statement such as “This is what I am about to say” then saying it, word or phrase repetition, using less contractions saying “I did not” instead of “I didn’t”, using the persons name in sentences instead of saying “he” or “she”, for example “Bill went to the store” rather than “He went to the store”, the use of clichés, blocking access to information, evasive responses or desire to change the subject, speech is less compelling, less personal and with less or too much detail, expressing self doubt, negative complaints or statements, defensiveness or aggressiveness, changes in pitch (high low or monotone), shaky or soft voice, stuttering, false starts, silent pauses, filled pauses, delayed response, appearing to be thinking, admitted lack of memory, tentative construction of sentences, clearing the throat and spontaneous corrections.

Lying In Children

Unfortunately, you probably thought that I would be describing how easy it is to spot lies told by children, but the common theme in this chapter is held consistent. Being able to ‘look through our children’ is a common sentiment. We do think that children are bad liars overall, but studies show that children are nearly as, if not just as efficient at lying as adults. A 2007 study by Leif Strömwall, Pär Granhag and Sara Landström of Göteborg University in Sweden found that overall detection of lies in children was only around fifty-two percent, or not much better than chance. Adult raters were only slightly more effective at detecting children’s lies when the children were not allowed time to prepare their fibs. In this case they were only fifty-six percent accurate. The children relied on their own real life experiences and those of others they knew to fabricate believable stories, whereas their nonverbal strategy was to ‘stay calm’. Other research tells us that children as young as four are able to construct and build lies, but that older children are more skilled than younger children and are therefore caught even less. Another study showed that by age twelve, children have reached adult success levels. Further to this, there is no ‘expert advantage’ mean that when college students were compared to teachers and social workers, no difference was found, they all performed poorly as lie detectors.

Now let’s all breath deeply here! Children have a natural knack for telling lies, but so too does the rest of the world it seems. To catch our children’s lies it’s best to watch for their verbal inconsistencies rather than their nonverbal language. In fact, that is exactly what we do. Paying particular attention to the consistencies in the verbal dialogue is reported by several studies as successful where adults are trying to catch children in lies. To illustrate this point I draw on a 2002 study by Victoria Talwar and Kang Lee of Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario, Canada. In the study they had children hold a stuffed Barney toy behind their backs. As the experimenter left the room, they asked for them not to peek. Almost no one could resist the temptation. Raters who had no chance to interview or listen to children speak, but had to rely on body language alone, showed similar difficulty as other studies when trying to pick which of the children where lying. However, when outright asked if they peeked seventy-five percent lied and only twenty-five percent admitted to peeking, but when asked to guess what toy they held, almost half of the six and seven-year-olds said “Barney” admitting they had looked, whereas ninety percent of the three, four and five-year olds admitted the same. The study demonstrates that young liars are easily read by verbal leakage. Only some of the students where able to come up with alternative answers, or report that they didn’t know.

Another factor we look for in liars, is “richness of detail”’, meaning the level of information in a story. It is this richness that we assume means that someone has actually experienced the event, rather than constructed it. Children have limited life experience and it is difficult for them to create details outside of their personal lives. Then again, young children often give short responses to questions anyway and offer up little detail, even when prompted. Children have also been found to appear more nervous and seem to think harder when lying, the problem of course is that they hold these traits while telling the truth as well. Telling the truth is hard for both adults and children. Reality is as difficult to recall as is creating lies.

Adults, parents in particular who spend a great deal of time with their children, can usually pick out lies easier, because they’ve been with them to measure their experiences more so than the cues they give up through their body language. However this falls much shorter than lie detection, it’s merely an examination of the facts or at its most generous, a probability assessment. Parents most often rely on baseline comparisons in their children and while this is helpful, detecting lies in strangers or in other people’s children would be more useful. Teachers whom are faced with stories about summer vacations or their extravagance might hold doubts, but until they can confirm these doubts with facts, photographs or even parent’s confirmation, they simply remain doubts. Information presented outside the realm of the children’s possible experiences can be used to reasonably detect lies, but with widespread media and internet, story creation by children is made much easier. However, as the research shows repeatedly, we should not expect to be able to detect lies through body language alone, even in children.

How Men Should Gaze

Positive gaze

The eyes are the windows to your soul.

As mentioned, men can use a variety of ways to attract subtle attention. In accordance with the rules of the mating dance, men can see these tactics to create interest and attract women. The real goal of male sexual body language is to induce a woman to look at him, to notice him, the rest is the responsibility of verbal dialogue. It doesn’t get a whole lot more extensive than that.

Once he has her eye, a man should use proper gaze patterns. Most men will make the mistake of smiling too quickly or smiling before she has even noticed him. Worse perhaps, is their grin will appear etched on their face which appears to women as gawking and is off-putting. Men should always limit gazing to three seconds or less, any longer than this comes off as staring or leering. To start, men should first try to establish eye contact, then once established, wait a fraction of a second then flash a quick smile before turning away shyly as if being busted with the hand in the cookie jar. If this feels uncomfortable, use what is called a “slow growing smile” where the smile is directed with eye contact and seems to grow in direct response to the woman.

Mutual gaze.

Mutual gaze.

Men should always wait until eye contact is established before smiling. This tells the target that he is smiling at her rather than smiling generally, or smiling at someone in her direction, or just smiling because he’s heard someone say something funny. Eye contact is the most reliable way to anchor a smile. The effect men are trying to convey is that he has noticed her, got caught looking, but isn’t apologetic because he sincerely finds her attractive. Whenever men hold mutual eye contact followed by a smile they should hold it for at least two to three seconds before breaking it by looking downward. Men should never look to the side when finishing an eye gaze pattern, or break eye contact immediately once established, since it will indicate to a women that he was merely stealing a look, or was just caught staring. In either case, it sends the message that no interest was present, he was just scanning the room, or he’s already in a committed relationship and was checking another women out, but isn’t capable or willing to act on his eye language.

Once eye contact is broken for the first time, it is important for the man to immediately reestablish it, followed by even more powerful smile. If this second bout yields a smile in return there’s a good chance an approach will be welcomed. Women need some time to decide if attraction is present, just like men need time to isolate interesting targets from all other women present. This is why the first sequence rarely produces a smile, whereas the second is a much better possibility. If a smile happens on the first try, it tells us that she was thinking about him even before their first glance, which is also a strong signal.