HomeManagementLie Detection Expert Trains Transportation Director Summit Attendees

Lie Detection Expert Trains Transportation Director Summit Attendees

RENO, Nev. — Student transporters at the Transportation Director Summit got a training course in body language, verbal cues and lie detection from Traci Brown, who was recently ranked as the No. 5 body language expert in the world.

Are They Lying?

Brown encouraged attendees to use the techniques she shared to build sensory acuity, or sharpness. She told them that noticing body language and verbal cues helps them enter a new level of awareness about the people around them. “People are broadcasting exactly who they are, what they feel, and what’s going to happen next,” she said.

In addition to sniffing out a bad player, Brown said her information can be used to know when students or staff are uncomfortable and, as a result, make their day a bit better.

Brain biology and unconscious human tendencies continually came into play during the day’s teachings. Words can lie, Brown said – in the forms of fabrication, exaggeration, minimization, omission, or deceptive denial – but the body can’t lie.

She showed video interview clips and involved the audience in analyzing nonverbal and verbal cues like the following to determine whether someone was lying:

  • Nodding while denying/disagreeing or shaking their head “no” while agreeing
  • Removing a contraction (saying “I did not” instead of “I didn’t”)
  • Repeating themselves
  • Closed/disengaged body language (leaning away, arms crossed, etc.)
  • Facial cues (eye movement, crooked smile, eyebrow positioning, etc.)
  • The use of words like “never,” “just,” or “no” repeatedly
  • “What I can tell you is…” or “honestly,” indicates there is more to the story
  • Using impersonal or generalized statements, or attempting to distance oneself from the situation at hand

Using the Information

Compare people to themselves, Brown taught. “People have patterns. When they deviate from those patterns, that’s when you can have deception,” she noted.

If a transportation staff member is talking to students after an incident, Brown encouraged observing if the child’s emotions seem to change abruptly or be switched on and off. When being truthful, emotions tend to flow together, she said.

She used more video clips to give analysis of how people’s actions and words didn’t match up, which indicated deception. Lack of clarity is also key, she shared. Whether it’s stress causing vocal organs to lock up or mumbled words, it’s a sign that there’s untruth.

While shifty eyes are often seen as a sign of lying, Brown debunked that myth, saying that intense eye contact may be more of a sign that someone is trying to convince you that they are genuine when they are not.

Unconscious movements like shrugs, head shakes, or wrinkled foreheads can indicate someone is uncomfortable, Brown stressed. It may not necessarily mean they are lying but taken together, the signs of deception may be there.

Related: STN EXPO Reno Keynote Speaker Identifies Risk Factors Onboard the School Bus
Related: Power of Many, Relationships Shared in TSD Opening Keynote Address
Related: No Such Thing as Privacy in Today’s Online World, Advises Speaker
Related: Keynote Speaker Discusses Importance of Nonviolence in School Settings, School Buses
Related: STN EXPO Reno Panel to Discuss Electrification Experiences
Related: STN EXPO Reno 30th Anniversary Celebrates with Unique Experiences

She also gave positive examples to use for better communication and interpersonal relationships. Mentioning something negative or telling someone what not to focus on (e.g., “Don’t think about a blue palm tree”) only guarantees that they will focus on it. Using three small nods periodically helps one connect better in a conversation.

She answered various attendee questions, such as confirming that marijuana and other drugs will keep users from exhibiting normal control functions, making their “tells” more obvious. “If you look, it’s going to be there,” she advised.

At the end, Brown brought up two volunteers and practiced the techniques taught that day with the attendees, giving them a chance to determine if a statement was a lie or the truth.

Brown takes the STN EXPO main stage Monday morning with a general session keynote.

Photos by Philicia Endelman.

May 2024

This month's issue features articles on how technology can further student safety and optimize transportation operations. Learn more about...

Buyer’s Guide 2024

Find the latest vehicle production data and budget reports, industry trends, and contact information for state, national and federal...


Is your district on a 4-day school week?
135 votes