Pamela Meyer Q&A on Portfolio.com: How to Catch Those Lying Liars

How many times a day do you think you get lied to? Ten times? Fifty? More? According to Pamela Meyer, the correct answer could be as much as 200 times a day. And some of those lies can seriously impact your business.

Meyer, the founder and CEO of the social networking company Simpatico Networks, worked with a team of researchers to develop a series of exercises and tests to determine when someone is lying to you. Her work is presented in the new book, Liespotting (St. Martin’s Press). And she took part in an e-mail interview with Portfolio.com:

Portfolio.com: What is the biggest lie spread in today’s business world on a regular basis?

Pamela Meyer: Actually there is one: It’s the big lie we tell ourselves.

It takes millions of forms, depending on our particular Achilles Heel, but all forms of self deception make us vulnerable to the scam, the con, the false promise, the bad hire, the unwise promotion, the faulty new product. Whether our greed leads us to fall prey to an oversold and ultimately costly investment, or whether we hire someone based on his good looks and verbal dexterity, or on his bristling but overstated confidence, or his falsely inflated resume, or his devastating but false smile and bonhomie, we have let our own wishful thinking and our own delusions lead us up the garden path to regret, and self-recrimination.

In my book I stress the value of knowing oneself, just as the ancient Greek philosophers did, and part of that is assessing our weaknesses and learning to protect ourselves against them.

Our own delusions generate self-deception that can in turn prompt us to believe someone when it’s foolish and against our own best interests to do so—like a mother refusing to believe that her teenager filched money from her purse to buy drugs when she knows, based on previous patterns, that the teenager most likely did just that.

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