5 Common Cues to Deceptive Nonverbal Behavior

  1. Facial expressions
  2. Body language
  3. Psycho-physiological responses
  4. Thought processes
  5. Written communication

Darting eyes, crossed arms, and flushed necks are all signs of deception, right?  That is absolutely, positively not always the case.  Mounds of research pinpoint specific cues to deception, yet most researchers agree multiple cues compared to baseline behaviors are needed to suggest acts of deception.  Behavior is unique to individuals.  Similarities exist, but unique identifiers, combined with content and contextual associations, are key.

Deception detectors often focus on cues for deception, while ignoring the truth bias approach.  Assume everyone is telling the truth unless convinced otherwise.  Know your subject’s truthful nonverbal expressions.  Open-ended conversation with verifiable questions interspersed is a helpful exercise.

Truth-tellers sometimes exhibit deceptive cues in their attempt to convince others of their veracity.  The lack of continuity, when recalling incidents, can be perceived as deceptive when in fact it is often quite the opposite.  Non-spontaneous deceptive behavior is a rehearsal of determined incidents including temporal (time) details. Whereas, truthful comments can be sprinkled with spatial and temporal details, not always mentioned in the correct order.  In other words, backtracking is common in truthful statements, where anxiety and cognitive load are factors.

Lastly, in a world of touch screens and laptops, handwritten communications are sparse.  Recent research points to benefits of tell-all written statements and structured cognitive-behavioral interviews.  Handwriting is brainwriting.  Cognitive dissonance is not just for verbal communication anymore!  Verbal pauses and various types of deception are not only visible but measurable in handwriting.



First impressions are mind imprints which occur within microseconds.  Unfortunate for some, not all impressions elicit a wave of emotions.  Language content, voice speed and inflection, facial expressions, and body language may impact your career or love life, more than you know .  Is this possible when we retain approximately 10-30% of what we see and hear? Oops! Don’t forget about your other senses.

Verbal and nonverbal behaviors are communicated and received consciously and unconsciously.  Our senses never take a coffee break.  Descartes said “I think, therefore I am.”  Not to pick on the great 17th century philosopher and mathematician, but perhaps, “I sense, therefore I am” would have been more accurate.  My first reading teacher told me to use all of my senses to memorize my spelling words.  I laughed when I imagined sniffing my spelling book!  Little did I know, by using both sides of my brain to process and interpret information, I could boost my memory and recall.

Wow your receivers with facts and figures, splashed with sensual cues.  Analytical and creative minds alike depend on the right side of the brain to interpret nonverbal cues, along with feelings and visualizations.  Excite their whole brains and make a lasting impression!