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Being honest can bring you better quality friends and acquaintances.
But that person will do considerably better if taught to detect micro-expressions, which are suppressed (or repressed) emotions that briefly flash across someone’s face.
The truth is often tucked discreetly under a quilt of cheerful lies.“Don’t trust your impressions,” Ekman says of trying to detect concealed emotions. Judging by demeanor is very difficult to do.”One of the easiest ways to see beyond impressions is to learn to catch these micro-expressions, he says.
But to respond in such a dour manner would turn a passing pleasantry into an awkward, socially debilitating episode.
Take your average 10-minute conversation between two acquaintances. And it’s ingrained in us at a young age, when we’re whipsawed between “honesty is the best policy” and “no matter what, tell Aunt Barbara you like her gift.”“We’re always telling children you should tell the truth, and yet we’re also giving them the message that it’s absolutely fine to lie,” says Robert Feldman, associate dean at the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Massachusetts.
If your colleague believes you are an honest person and to be trusted, friendship, information and opportunities are more likely to flow your way. Every time you need to decide whether to tell the truth or lie, and if you decide to lie, what will the lie be, you are using energy. If you always tell the truth you can’t get caught out! 100% truthful people are rare in today’s society and are an important and valuable commodity.
If you are facing this dilemma multiple times a day it can be both mentally and physically taxing. People who tell the truth are instinctively drawn to other honest speaking people.Lying is a necessary, near-involuntary practice that keeps the fabric of society from unraveling. ” a co-worker asks.“Fine, thanks,” you say, when in truth you’re not fine.Life is a hellish morass, and this person is getting in the way of your dutiful self-pity.They hunkered down in a basement classroom for a two-part class called “The Truth About Lying: Detecting Deception.” One person was there because she suspected her boyfriend was cheating on her.Another wanted to learn how to match wits with friends who are interrogators for the Defense Department.“You can go into a chat room and be anyone you want and make up a whole identity for yourself.”So the way we catch and perpetrate lies has changed in the last 50 years, but the consequences have not.“A big cost of lying is people won’t be able to trust you again,” says Ekman.Everyone knows what it takes to lie, but “nobody knows the ability it takes to reestablish trust.In that span, the average person will lie two to three times. “At a very early age we’re getting these conflicting messages about honesty, and for some people it makes them more prepared to be deceptive later in life.” And here we are, all grown up and peddling lies big and small: exaggerating our resumes, misleading our lovers, fibbing to spare people pain, lying to ourselves to preserve our sanity. How do we cut through the thick crust of deception and drill our way to the hot, molten core of truth? When it comes to teaching the art of detecting deception, Ekman is the man.All those fit into the seven reasons we lie, as delineated by psychologist Paul Ekman: We lie to avoid punishment, to get a reward, to protect others, to escape an awkward social situation, to enhance our egos, to control information and to fulfill our job descriptions (think spies). His 1985 book “Telling Lies” is a benchmark work on the topic, and he has tested the lie-detection ability of more than 12,000 people and found that the average person will correctly identify a lie 54% of the time, hardly a desirable success rate.Right now, someone somewhere is lying about “having plans tonight.” Someone else is discovering that his or her spouse has methodically concealed an affair.And take a look at the news of the last couple of weeks: Barry Bonds was charged with perjury.