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How to Spot a Liar’s Verbal Misdirection

Liar nose

When a magician makes a girl disappear, she’s not really gone. Spoiler alert – she’s usually hiding in some tight, cramped spot out of sight. That’s part of the reason why magicians hire petite assistants. (The other reason is the fact that petite women draw the eyes of the audience. That’s called misdirection.) Sometimes the word “not” pulls a similar disappearing act.

Very often, we take out one of its three letters and attach the other two to whatever word came before it. It hides. “Do not” becomes don’t. “Is not” becomes isn’t. “Have not” becomes haven’t. The “not” is still there, it’s just hidden. It’s almost as though contracting the word “not” so often is a reflection of how the horse brain tends to remove its meaning from sentences.

When we’re lying, however, we don’t want the “not” to be hidden. Interestingly, we’re much less likely to contract our “nots” when we’re lying. According to Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting, an intentionally deceptive denial will feature extra emphasis placed on the word “not”. It will rarely be hidden within a contraction.

“I am NOT a crook!” and “I did NOT have sexual relations with that woman…” are both well-known examples of deceptive statements in which the speakers, in these cases, past Presidents of the United States, both avoided using contractions. I’m sure you can think of dozens of examples from history or even your own life where this was also the case – especially if you’re a parent.

On some level, liars know the word “not” is prone to vanishing so they shine a spotlight on it to make sure it doesn’t go anywhere in hopes of making their statements seem more truthful. See? Misdirection.

Does this mean that everyone who uses the word “not” is lying? Absolutely not. Deceptive denials will show up out of the blue and without any prompting from you. When your teenage daughter says, “I don’t have anything!” even though you didn’t ask, or when your coworker says, “I’m not racist,” despite the fact that the conversation had nothing to do with race, then – contracted or not – it’s a good sign that there might be some deception going on. When they come out of the blue like that, “nots” should raise a red flag. However, when you ask someone a direct question, whether or not they contract their “nots” hints at the truthfulness of their answer.

For example, you might ask an employee the direct question “Did you claim any non-work expenses on this report?” If they respond with a contracted statement such as, “I didn’t falsify my expense report.” then that’s an indication that the statement is more likely to be true. However, if they come back with, “I did NOT falsify my expense report” then you’re more likely to have a liar on your hands.

Of course, no one thing is 100% accurate when detecting deception. Be sure to keep in mind all factors* in a given situation if you ever attempt to distinguish truth from lies.

* For a crash course in detecting deception taught by Tim David, visit:

Magic Words Named a Top 10 Psychology Book of 2016 by Blinkist! – Help Me Share!

What a nice Christmas surprise!

Especially because the book came out over two years ago. (Shhhh….)

Here’s what I really want for Christmas – a world with more human connection and understanding.

Okay, so you can’t give that to me, but maybe together, we can make a dent.

Share this top 10 list with your friends. ALL of the books on this list will create more human connection and understanding IF people actually read them. So share it everywhere.

You can use the share links to the left.

OR, you can visit: and use their share links.top10That’s what the share links look like. They are small circles with different logos inside. It takes all of 5 seconds to share and knowledge is the best Christmas gift you can give.

Thank you for being the best readers an author could ask for! And have an amazing holiday season! I’ve got some exciting things planned for you in 2017! Can’t wait.


How to Be Confident Without Being Cocky


“Where do you see yourself in five years?” asked the interviewer.

“I’ll have your job in three,” replied the millennial applicant.

Confidence is a good thing, but this wasn’t confidence. It was arrogance.

This is a true story I heard from an attendee of one of my leadership seminars (The Highly Connected Leader: Human Connection Strategies for Busy Bosses)

Needless to say, he didn’t get the job. In fact, the interview ended right there. “Thank you very much. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

This is a balance so many people struggle with – How can you have confidence without being seen as cocky or arrogant? Continue reading