I recently attended a presentation on the value of knowing body language. The speaker was well known from her book and frequent guest appearances on talk shows. She was bright, entertaining and absolutely convincing that knowing body language would allow the audience to know when an applicant was lying. She showed films of answers with shoulder shrugs, sucked in lips, eye movement and the like.
By her concluding statement, I was convinced that sharing a few body language secrets with you could help you with your tenant screening or employment screening. I had already made my list of the best things to look for. I was particularly interested on how she explained the art of asking questions to expose lies.
Then I did some research. I found that her statements were often accurate, but there were large caveats First, I learned that shy people often exhibit the same behavior as people hiding information. I learned that each movement, on its own, is relatively meaningless. Finally, I learned that untrained, unpracticed individuals don’t do a very good job at reading body language and even the FBI admits they are imperfect.
So there you have it. Another miracle cure to a problem you need to solve. It sounds great. It sounds simple. It sounds accurate. It just won’t work.
Keep in mind the people who are telling us how well the system works want us to buy their books, newsletters and attend their lectures and training sessions. At least for them, the system works quite well. It also feels like it works for anybody using the system.
It doesn’t really matter if a person tells a lie; if you believe the person is lying you will act accordingly. You will congratulate yourself on your skills in lie detection as the qualified and honest applicant leaves the building shaking his head.
There is a better way. It is quicker, easier, more reliable and more meaningful. Run a Criminal Background Check. A basic National Criminal Background Check will let you know the basics and you can get an inexpensive personal investigation report for detailed information. The reports are inclusive, from almost all jurisdictions in the country and include all criminal activity, including sex offenses.
I always become suspicious when a person has a vested interest in selling their program. Unlike body language evaluation, these reports tend to be accurate and reliable. They are produced by a criminal justice system with nothing to gain when you get a report.
When it comes to lying, check the data, not the crystal ball.