It is sad but true – some people are good at pulling the wool over the eyes of others, and many get away with it for a very long time before being caught out. And while it is possible – in the words of the old saying – to fool some of the people some of the time, it is usually very difficult to fool all of the people all of the time. How can you tell? Lack of authenticity is likely to “leak out”, particularly when emotions run high or the situation is stressful. The tell-tale signs are to be found in inappropriate word choice or non-verbal signals that indicate what is really going on in someone’s mind.

Here are some signs you can watch for. Many of us are instinctively alerted by them without needing to raise our conscious awareness. Taken individually, they may mean very little but if they stack up and come at you in groups of three, four or more, then there is likely to be some foundation for feeling uneasy.

  • Unnatural repetition and emphasis of the same words: this happens almost as if someone is trying to convince themselves as well as others.
  • Talking excessively and providing too much information: elaboration is sometimes thought to be convincing but too much is suspicious.
  • Mismatched words and non-verbal signals: a disconnect here should sound the alarm bells – the non-verbals are likely to be more trustworthy than the words alone.
  • Too many pauses or delays in responding: we all need a bit of thinking time occasionally but the delay needs to be appropriate in the context.
  • Too much hand to face gesturing, eye or mouth covering, fidgeting, throat clearing: all of these can be signs of internal spikes in anxiety.
  • Atypical breathing, skin tone changes, perspiration: under stress, these physical responses are difficult to regulate.
  • Standing too still, not saying anything, not breaking eye contact: sometimes signs are to be found in what people don’t do, rather than what they do.

Our recommendation is to plough your efforts into being the real, wonderful authentic you. Tap into this and unleash your potential – you are much more likely to achieve WIN-WIN communication with integrity on all sides.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read The power of rapport