Pamela Meyer: The Lie Spotter

Fraud examiners are learning the art of lie-spotting from the best in the business the “human lie detector.”

My wife has this relative who likes to tell stories.  Actually, they’re really good stories, but they’re the same ones we’ve been hearing for years, and he forgets that we’ve already heard them …  five or six times.  It’s as if we can fill in the blanks.

Except for one thing.  The stories change each and every time!  I’m OK with that, it’s harmless and there’s no mal intent. But it makes me think.  What about those who lie for a reason — to deceive others for their own profit or advancement?

What if you could tell if someone was lying to you?

Think about it in the business world alone — unqualified job applicants, fraudsters seeking to victimize insurance companies, lowlifes like Bernie Madoff creating ways to victimize investors.  And, outside of the world of business — spies, criminals, and unfaithful spouses, to name a few.

There are so many liars in our society, who can you possibly trust?  Lying has become an epidemic.

Liars’ Bane

And that brings us to Pamela Meyer, described by Reader’s Digest as “the nation’s best-known expert on lying.”  Meyer was a successful entrepreneur in the world of social media when she attended a workshop at a Harvard Business School reunion and learned about how people behave when they’re being deceptive.

As it turned out, Meyer learned that “there is a robust, well-funded body of research housed in academia, law enforcement, and intelligence that had never been brought in a systematic way to the business world.”  She was so fascinated that she invested the following three years into learning about advanced interviewing and interrogation techniques, facial micro-expression reading, body language interpretation, statement analysis, and behavior elicitation techniques.

Armed with this information, she decided to shine a light on the problem and authored Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception, for three reasons:

  • she believes there is a deception epidemic in society today
  • she wanted to communicate the telltale signs of deception to everyday people
  • she feels that society, as a whole, needs to get closer to one another, face-to-face, rather than relying on email or social media


I find Meyer to be absolutely fascinating.  I’m obviously not alone in that observation, as her 2011 TED Talks presentation remains one of the most popular ever, having been viewed more than 22 million times!

In her presentation, Meyer talks about the dangers associated with lying.  “Deception can cost billions.  Think Enron, Madoff, the mortgage crisis, or in the case of double agents and traitors like Robert Hanssen or Aldrich Ames, lies can betray our country, they can compromise our security, they can undermine democracy, they can cause the death of those who defend us. Deception is actually serious business.”

How to Spot a Liar

So, you might ask, how can you tell if someone is lying?

Actually, there is no sure way to determine whether a person is lying.  However, there are a variety of actions that are indicators of deception.


Watch the speaker’s face for the following indicators of untruthfulness:

  • changes in expression that last for an instant, called micro-expressions
  • when a person smiles without engaging their eyes


Listen for these words:

  • repeating the question they were asked
  • overemphasizing their truthfulness
  • hedging their statements


Watch for these physical indicators, as “just 7% of how we communicate with each other is through words.”

  • the speaker nods their head “yes” while saying no
  • nervous tics, for instance nose scratching, ear tugging or mouth covering
  • partial shoulder shrugs, crossed arms or locked ankles
  • a tapping foot, or feet pointed towards the exit


As you might guess, Liespotting quickly became a bestseller, convincing Meyer that there was a critical need for deception training in the business world. Naturally, Meyer established her own organization, Calibrate, which provides Advanced Training Solutions to human resource professionals, accounting and law firms, insurance companies, and financial institutions.

Got it? Now you know how to spot a liar?  OK, I recommend taking the Lie-Q on Meyer’s website to test your knowledge (http://liespotting.com/liespotting-basics/quiz/).

Integrity Matters

Meyer presents staggering statistics that most of us probably never even considered such as nearly a trillion dollars a year in corporate deception occurs here in the United States. She points out studies that reveal we are lied to nearly 200 times a day and leaders are lied to more often, especially when high stakes are involved. Meyer’s team customizes their workshops to an organization’s needs, breaking down the science of lie detection and interrogation in an easily digested way. Participants take away practical tips and are equipped with the necessary skills to quickly identify deceptive behavior, make right decisions, and create a circle of trust that drives success.

Pamela Meyer, via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

“It’s really about getting to the truth and getting beyond liespotting,” she says. “When you lie, you do your part to undermine trust in our society.” Meyer is doing her part by helping people and organizations arm themselves to take back the truth.

Visit Meyer’s website at liespotting.com and learn more about this fascinating field and read her great tips on detecting deception. Click here to read our exclusive Q&A with this inspiring woman.