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What Secret Weapon is Hanging in the Air?

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Scientific American cites some shocking news about time. The more quickly you have to respond to a question or report results, the more likely you are to lie. Or, consider the reverse. The more time you take, the less likely you are to lie.

Lying is in the air. Literally, the fewer breaths you take, the more lies come out of your mouth.

Mentally hitting pause is your secret weapon!

Want to tell the truth, so you don’t have to remember what you pretended to know? To quote Faith Hill: just breathe.

That is the only way to avoid the “lying bias.” That is the tendency to lie when put on the spot. Keep in mind, lying undermines everything else about your personal brand. I’d rather have an employee who’s slow, mediocre and annoying, than a liar who’s fast, talented and charismatic.

So, take your time before responding to your boss or a co-worker who appears to be pressuring you for something. The question might be as simple as: “Do you want to go to lunch with us?” “Do you want to put in $25 for Penelope’s baby gift?”

The question might have bigger ramifications for our trust in you. Your boss might ask: “Did you visit all of competitors when you were at the trade show?” “When was the last time you called on your prospects?”

The problem with lying is not just a moral one. The problem with lying is what happens to you when we find out the actual facts. You aren’t just wrong, you might be fired. Demoted. No longer sent on those special projects. Experience a seriously stalled career.

How do you prevent a neuro-chemically induced, reflexive lie?

I advise my clients to frame their brain before responding to ANY question. I use two techniques:

Silently repeat this mantra when you know you’re about to be questioned: “Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it.” That gives your brain ready to open its file cabinets and come up with the true answer.
Have a trigger word or phrase that allows you to speak while you are thinking. “On trigger” is an expression I use to describe automatic words and phrases that come out of your mouth with no thought at all, so it appears you are responsive, and not just stalling.

When you are asked a question, say aloud, “Let me think for a moment.”

This not only lets people know you heard them, it also commands your brain to do exactly what you said. After all, your brain only needs a moment to actually find information that it stored awhile back.

There’s an old expression. When in doubt: deny, deny, deny.

Let’s change that. When in doubt, breathe.

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