“I’m sure it will work out perfectly,” I said.
“No you aren’t,” she instantly shot back.
I’m discussing some potential hiccups in our upcoming travel plans with my wife. I made a mistake with our booking, and I’m trying to reassure her it’s no big deal. She’s not buying it.
“What, how can you say that? You don’t believe me?”
“You’re pulling on your collar.”
I was pulling on my collar. What does that have to do with this exchange? If you don’t know me well, it’s a good question. But if you do, you’re already laughing and saying to yourself, “Ah, yes. She caught you, you liar.”
My collar, more specifically me touching it, is my tell—a behavioral clue that I was trying to hide something.  My wife knows my tell better than anyone. She can spot even the smallest display of it the way a master poker player can instantly tell if you have a great hand or not.
I wasn’t lying. I did think everything was going to be okay. But I wasn’t certain of it. More like… 80%. That minor difference caused me some nervousness, and I was displaying it clearly by rubbing my shirt collar.
We all have a tell. In fact, we have lots of them and we put them on display every day.
When you think about this, your mind probably goes directly to lying. But that’s just one example. There are lots of times our tells come out when we’re not lying. In fact, you might be telling the absolute truth, but find that people don’t believe you. Why? Because your tells are a giveaway that you’re uncomfortable. When this happens, you undermine your own words.
If you’ve ever encountered a situation where you felt weak, nervous, or uncomfortable but wanted to appear strong and confident, learning to manage the signals you put out is critical part of the equation.
Here’s your cheat sheet for looking on point and in control when you’re feeling exactly the opposite on the inside. Continue Reading →