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I have really enjoyed the TV series Lie to Me for a number of reasons: it is good, glossy American entertainment yet stars the brilliant aging punk Tim Roth as Cal Lightman the deception specialist and also because it is based on the real sound science of Dr Paul Ekman who discovered and mapped micro expressions, i.e. the small and subtle indicators of emotion. Most unconscious signs of emotion are universal, i.e. emotions like disgust, shame and fear tend to look the same wherever you are.

People talk a lot about body language and emotional intelligence yet somehow manage to ignore many of the messages coming at them daily. Take any meeting in any business. Round the table participants are leaking emotion all the time. It may just be a flicker of disdain at a foolish idea, a flash of surprise at someone’s comment or a definite deception when someone agrees that your idea was a good one! All this data goes to waste if you are amateur in your reading of others. In business settings we are not, like the tv show attempting to detect deception in the context of crime, but rather needing to understand what is really going on with people before making time wasting or costly mistakes in the management of others or in the deciding on ways forward. Lie to Me is not a bad place to start in honing your detection skills.

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