"My mother used to tell me when I was young, 'Billy Forde, I always know when you're lying to me because you never look me in the eye when you do.' She was correct in her observation as it is harder to lie and get away with it when you look a person directly in the eye. In my later life as a Probation Officer, I never forgot this truth and used it as the first step in building up my repertoire of body language signs that reflects dishonest and stressful responses.
For over twenty five years I researched and studied patterns of human response in order to assist my work in 'changing the behaviour' of offending clients. At first, I focussed upon 'what they said' in interview to help in my assessment of them. Then, I eventually came to understand it was just as important, if not moreso, 'how they said it.' I finally settled upon allowing their 'body language' to become the predominant instrument of my assessment; using it as my visible measurement of truth and stress level within their overall response.
Over the years I became so proficient at being able to suss out someone who was not telling the truth within a minute of meeting them, simply by observing various factors about their body language as they spoke to me. It mattered not if they stood looking directly at me or were standing with their back to me; if they lied, I knew instantaneously. I would know because any one or more of a number of factors would indicate the presence of stress and deceit in their responses. Their shoulders and overall body posture would show it, along with the pace and pattern of their breathing and the tell tale signs of their unconscious gesticulations, whether a scratching of one ear, a toss of the hair, a nervous cough or whatever their tell-tale-sign of dishonesty and stress their body automatically adopted.
Learning to read body language not only helped me perform my work much better many years ago in a professional capacity, but it still helps me enormously today whenever I play scrabble or cards with my wife, Sheila. Let me explain. Sheila is every bit as good a scrabble player as me. We are very keen in competition and we tend to win as many games as each other. Where she does have one distinct advantage over me however, is whenever using words that I have never heard of, particularly in the culinary and cooking areas. With cooking her penchant and area of expertise, she knows the words of foods and cooking ingredients I've never heard of, let alone spell. Consequently, when she plays such a word, I cannot be sure of the accuracy of her spelling of it and could lose five penalty points for an incorrect challenge, or indeed gain five penalty points if I correctly challenge its spelling.
I needed to even up the odds in our evening games, so instead of depending upon my own knowledge of such food words and their spelling, I now rely instead, upon my assessment of her body language when making her play. I still may not know if she is being accurate in her word spelling, but I do know with 100% certainty, whether or not she believes herself to be accurate! If her body language reveals that slightest shadow of doubt exists in her mind about the spelling of the word she has played, I challenge the word and if it doesn't, I let it pass instead of forfeiting five penalty points for an incorrect challenge. As we are often very close in our eventual points score, the odd five or ten points lost or gained can make one winner or loser.
At this precise moment, I am the king of the household as I hold both the scrabble and rummy titles under my belt. My current taunt to poor Sheila as I pass her is to smile and say, 'Make way, make way, make way for the King. Make way for Billy the King, Billy the King of everything. Make way!'
The suspicious mind always has one eye turned towards the unexpected." William Forde: March 13th, 2016.