Spotting a liar in a deposition, negotiation, or mediation is an important skill to learn. There are many ways to help you better detect a liar. Some require significant training such as trying to detect micro expressions made in a fraction of a second. Others, like, listening to the “exact words” carefully can be trained fairly easily.
Before identifying some of the words that liars use, it is important to know that when listening for specific words, you must make sure that you are at a heightened sense of awareness. Many times people can lie to you, make it obvious, and you may still not notice because you are not watching. That is one of the reasons an attorney should never have his or her head in notes when taking a deposition.
Second, just because a word is used is not the smoking gun of lie detection. It is a clue. But it is not the entire picture. You must evaluate all the clues.
Words Used By Liars
“That” when stated before a person, thing, or place, can suggest that a person is trying to distance himself from a person or comment. Someone proven to be a liar famously stated, “I did not have sexual relations with That woman, Monica Lewinsky.
“Never” is usually used to overemphasize a negative phase. The answer could easily be no, but there is a reason why the person is using Never. She wants to emphasize the negative; perhaps to take you off the trail of the lie. “Did you have sex with her? Never.
“Would” when answering a question in the past avoids the actual question. Did you have sex with her? I would not do that to you. The use of “would” is making a statement about the future and not the past. That person might be thinking, I won’t do it in the future, but I did do it in the past.
“Sir” or “Ma’am” when used out of the blue is generally a an attempt at being overly polite and suggestive of being a nice person. Just as the word “never” is designed to create a ruse, the use of “sir” or “Ma’am” is designed to take you off your path of questioning. Did you have sex with her? No, Ma’am. Be aware, however, that if a person uses that phrase regularly, he or she may just be polite or culturally accustomed to such phrases.
“Per Se” generally implies that a person is playing with the words to try and find a way to answer truthfully. Did you have sex with her? Sex, Per se, No.