Have you ever been speaking with someone who is in a perceived authority position and thought to yourself, does this person really know what they are doing or talking about? Earlier in my career I would have rarely questioned someone’s authority or professional knowledge. I also presumed those who held a higher-ranking position knew what they were talking about and or doing, and earned their way into this role. News flash! I was wrong, and boy was I naïve as I thought everyone earned their way into their position and had the battle scars to prove it. Unfortunately, my early career reasoning about authenticity was so far from the truth, and I realized through experience there are many people in the proverbial business world and other professional industries who are faking it every day.
Over the years, I have learned and honed my “bullshit” (BS) meter to properly detect who is the “real deal” and who is wildly “faking it”. How did I learn to do this? One of the ways is by asking multiple questions and not accepting all information shared by the presumed authority as being the truth or credible. By asking multi-faceted questions about the information they are sharing, you will either intrigue them by your curiosity, or annoy them because they were not expecting you to question them. If the person gets annoyed with your questioning, there is a strong chance they are “faking” or misrepresenting the information they are telling you. They may also get defensive, try to change the subject or tell you they have to do something else immediately to avoid being caught by your “BS” meter.
There are a number of other ways to detect if a person is the “real deal”, and recently a friend of mine told me about a Netflix show called “Lie to Me” which has some fascinating ways in each episode to see first-hand how you can detect if someone is a “faker”. The show is about a guy and his colleagues who have mastered the art and profession of detecting if someone is telling the truth. Several ways they do this is by reading the person’s facial expressions and body language which includes where they look (e.g., looking down or away from the person you are speaking with often indicates they are misrepresenting the truth). Excessive swallowing, clinching their hands, speaking rapidly, fidgeting nervously and potentially sweating or having a difficult time expressing themselves verbally are also signs your BS meter should be going off.
Relying upon your intuition and emotional intelligence skills should not be overlooked as additional strategies to spot “fakers”. Another simple questioning technique you can leverage is to ask the person “Why did you say that?”, or to ask them for proof about where the source of their information is from. If you detect they are continuing to spin their web of deceit during your conversation, they probably are.
Naturally there are people who are professional BS artists, and we have all encountered them. There are also people who have sociopathic tendencies and are simply perpetually always misrepresenting the truth. Realistically this is a small portion of our population, and if you come across such people, you will likely be fooled by them, as they have mastered the art of deception. However, sometimes they do get caught, but not often. More often, people who are “faking it” are doing so to preserve their professional reputation or to avoid embarrassment for not knowing what they should know.
Over the course of time in anyone’s career they will inevitably come across a person or multiple people who are “faking it”, but the next time it happens, you will now have some methods to establish whether the person is credible, or if you have come across a “faker”. I hope you are able to benefit from these simple, yet effective methods of preventing you from being misled by false information which could be harmful or put you in a compromised position professionally. Good luck with refining your BS meter, and don’t be afraid to put it to the test.
Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at firstname.lastname@example.org.