Spotting Lies for Aspergers in Adults Communication

aspergers in adults communication‘People–friends, family members, work colleagues, salespeople–lie to us all the time. Daily, hourly, constantly. None of us is immune, and all of us are victims. According to studies by several different researchers, most of us encounter nearly 200 lies a day.’

Amazon Book Review, Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception

There’s much more to it [deception, lying] than speech.  No mortal can keep a secret.  If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips.  Sigmund Freud.

Aspergers in Adults Communication: Spotting Neurotypical Lies

Is it true or is it false?  Is it black or is it white?

Adults on the autism spectrum are wired to tell the truth.  In many ways, they are more honest, and better citizens because of this.  But they struggle with one of the truths of neurotypical society.  Here’s an unwritten rule neurotypicals have when it comes to lying and deception: “It’s not okay to lie, but it’s okay to lie.”

“That’s a nice song,” we may say to a someone who is way off-key.

“You don’t look fat,” a husband will say to his wife.

“Oh, I that email must have gone to my spam folder!” we may say to someone who wonders why we haven’t responded to their email.

This is the most frustrating part of culture, for Aspergers in Adults communication.  It’s like the English language.  It just doesn’t make sense.

Let’s face it: English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant or ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.  English muffins were not invented in England or french fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. WonkyWerewolf

Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception, offers some scientifically based tips for spotting lies.  Adults on the spectrum have often struggled with being duped.  Spotting lies is a way to get to the truth and build trust over time.

Here are some tips for spotting lies:

  1. Extroverts lie more than introverts, and they persist in maintaining their lie when interrogated. Men tell eight times more lies about themselves than others, while women lie more often to protect others.
  2. Listen for Non-contracted Denials and Distancing Language.  When questioned about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton said “I did not” instead of “I didn’t“, a non-contracted denial. He also said, “I did not have sex with that woman … Miss Lewinsky”, which is classic distancing language.
  3. Look for Shifts in Speech Rate.  McCain slowed his speech rate down considerably when asked to back his claim that Sarah Palin was the most knowledgeable person in the country about energy.
  4. Look for Lip Pursing and Excessive Licking.When defending President Bush’s policies, Sarah Palin licked her licks and purses them a bit during her interview. This demonstrated uncertainty, which can signal untruth.
  5. Learn to Recognize Micro-Flashes of Contempt.  Lip corners will be pulled in and up on one side; a nostril on the same side may be contracted.  Contempt is the only asymmetrical facial expression.  When a person is angry, they’re still willing to engage with you. But when they show contempt, they’ve dismissed you.  Alex Rodriguez, the baseball player accused of doping flashed many signs of contempt during his interview with Katie Couric as he denied using illegal substances.
  6. Watch for Gaps Between Someone’s Words and His Body Language.  When an interviewer asked John Edwards if he would be willing to take a paternity test to determine whether he was the father of Rielle Hunter’s child, he said he would be glad to, while shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head “No”.
  7. Listen for Qualifying Statements and Bolstering Language.  “Well, to tell you the truth….as far as I recall….to the best of my knowledge…I am not completely sure”.  Gary Brown, a political candidate, was caught taking down his opponent’s campaign signs. Here’s what he said in his defense:  “I disposed of them. Quite honestly, I may have put them in my own trash can at home. I am not completely sure.”
  8. Here are some non-verbal facts about liars.
    •  Liars freeze their upper bodies when they are lying; they don’t fidget, contrary to what we would think.
    •  We think liars won’t look us in the eyes. Actually, they will look us too much in the eye, to compensate for that myth.
    •  Fake smiles – the mouth forms a smile, but the eyes don’t change. A real smile takes the eyes with it.
  9. Attitude – an honest person will coöperate.  A dishonest person will be defensive and non-cooperative.  Honest person will be angry if accused, throughout the interview.  And an honest person is much more likely to recommend strict versus lenient punishment.

What Do I Do When I Know Someone is Lying?

It’s one thing to spot a lie.  But what should an adult with Aspergers do when spotting a lie?

  1. Remember that the above facts are red flags.  It takes a number of red flags going together over time to make for a lie.  Don’t jump to conclusions right away.  Give the person the benefit of the doubt.  But, as Ronald Reagan said, “Trust and verify”.  Give the benefit of the doubt, but also be aware that people do lie, and think about your own personal safety and rights.
  2. Build a circle of trusted advisers.  This can take time, but over time, you will find people who you can trust to tell the truth most of the time, and who have your best interests in mind.  Go to these advisers when you have questions about employment or friendship red flags.  They can help you know how and when to speak up, and how and when to protect yourself from deceitful people.
  3. Choose your battles wisely.  You don’t want to win the battle but lose the war.  In other words, if you catch someone telling someone they look great, when you think the person’s outfit looks terrible, it’s not worth speaking up and hurting feelings.  However, if someone is lying about corporate fraud, or about a bid on work, it’s worth protecting yourself.  But make sure that you consult with a trusted adviser who can help you take a stand in a way that will benefit you and not harm you.

References Cited

  1.  Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception
  2. http://liespotting.com/about/
  3. Lie Spotting article in the Huffington Post

What advice do you have for spotting lies and dealing with them?  Please comment below!

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 I'm Steve Borgman.  I'm a licensed clinical professional counselor and blogger committed to bringing you hope, understanding, and solutions that you can apply to your life immediately.
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  • http://www.aspiewriter.com/ Aspie Writer

    I think that the 200 mark may actually be on the low side depending what the daily situation is.  That said, I know/knew all these techniques but still miss things.  I think one of the problems is that we (Aspies, those with Asperger’s Syndrome) tend to hear the words, which we take literally, but do not tend to notice those facial expression and cues.  We tend to NOT be looking others in the eye to notice that their smile did not reach their eyes, or be looking intently enough at someone’s face while they are speaking to us to notice the one-sided flared nostril or the corner of the mouth turning up. 
    The problem I find with lie detection is that it take concentration, a concentrated effort and for those of us who naturally miss those clues or do not tend to look at faces, it is a lot of work. When focusing on the face, I tend to lose the words that are being spoken to me. It is almost as if I cannot split my attention in such a way. Does that make any sense? If I am working on, for instance, trying to remember someone’s facial features (battling face-blindness) I will usually not remember a word that was spoken to me during that conversation. Or, at least, I know I will miss much of it.
    It is an extremely frustrating world some of the time.

  • http://www.personal-success-factors.com/ SteveBorgman

    AspieWriter, thank you so very much for shedding light on the realities of the struggles adults with Aspergers face. May I ask how you have coped with the challenges over time, and what methods you have used to minimize the struggle? And have you found that, over time, you have developed some coping mechanisms to make this less exhausting?

  • http://www.personal-success-factors.com/ SteveBorgman

    Lady Bren (above) Thank you for your kind input :)