Being Honest Up On The Roof

by Sherry Riter in Communication,Self-Development  

being honest up on the roof

Alyssa has me hooked on short videos put out by TEDTalks:

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk…

The Roof In Delaware

While in Delaware a couple weeks ago (I’ll tell you where, why and what happened in another post), I had a really nice view from my hotel room. Since I’m not a party girl, don’t really venture out on my own alone especially in a strange city and because the bed was so comfortable, I was in my hotel room all night starting at about 6:00 p.m.

Of course, I took my camera on the trip as well as my new phone, so I had the means and location to take lots of photos. While looking out across the street at the rooftop of a red brick building, I could see there were people on it. Since it was so far away, I couldn’t distinguish much other than the fact that I was pretty sure they were human.

I wanted to get a better view, so I grabbed my camera and zoomed in on the rooftop. There were four men:

  • Orange Man – orange shirt, blue jeans, tan work boots, bald, Bluetooth in his right ear, sometimes sat and sometimes stood, sometimes had a black bag of some kind
  • White Hair Man – white shirt, blue jeans, white hair, didn’t move much, sat on the edge and I was afraid he was going to fall off
  • Suit Man – navy suit coat, khaki Docker type slacks, light blue dress shirt, brown shoes, brown hair, remained sitting in a chair the whole time and seemed to be in the center of the conversation
  • Vest Man – black vest, black slacks, black tie, black shoes, white shirt, brown hair, never sat down

The men had no idea I was watching them, but I watched them for a long time fascinated by the scene and unable to hear a word they were saying to each other. Well, I was unable to hear any verbal communication, but I was able to read a bit of their body language. Obviously I took pictures of the scene.

roof of a tall office building

TEDTalks With Pamela Meyer – How To Spot A Liar

While surfing through the TEDTalks, I landed on one video with Pamela Meyer called How To Spot A Liar. This title caught my attention because I have been gullible to lies in relationships with people that made lying an art form. So I’ve watched it three times this week and finally decided that I would share some of the highlights of what I’ve learned and explain what it has anything to do with the men on the roof in Delaware.

Pamela Meyer taught us a little bit about lie spotting.

She said:

Lying is a cooperative act – A lie has no power all by itself. A lies power emerges when someone agrees to believe the lie.

At first I disagreed with her core statement, but by the end of the talk, I agreed with Pamela.

Some lies are not harmful. They include secrets that should be kept secrets and lies to retain social dignity (No dear, those pants don’t make your butt look fat.) On the other hand, we are sometimes unwilling participants in deception which cause a loss in money, compromises security and can even cause death.

Everyone is willing to give you something for whatever you are hungry for. If you don’t want to be deceived, you have to know what it is you are hungry for and where you are the most gullible. Lying is an attempt to bridge the gap, to connect our wishes and fantasies about who we wish we were, how we wish we could be, with what we’re really like.

Including the “white lies,” we are told 10-200 lies each day. They break down like this:

  • strangers lie to us an average of 3 times within the first 10 minutes of meeting each other
  • we lie more to strangers than co-workers
  • extroverts lie more than introverts
  • men lie 8 times more about themselves than other people
  • women lie to protect other people
  • married couples lie 1 out of every 10 interactions
  • unmarried people lie 3 out of every 10 interactions

People are against lying, but covertly for it – we are hard wired to become the leader of the pack and that requires different forms of lying.

Our society is filled with lies in spam, fake social media friends, identity thieves and Ponzi schemes to name a few. So how do we spot a liar? The two ways to spot a liar is in their speech and body language. Some of the body language tells for lying include:

  • liars freeze the upper body
  • a liar looks you in the eyes too much
  • the smile is fake on a liar- the cheeks and lips can fake a smile, but it won’t contract the same muscles around the eyes
  • during speaking, a liar will pause, give too much detail, and tell the lie in chronological order
  • liars look down often
  • liars have contradictory movements between body and language – For example, a liar will say “no” while nodding “yes”
  • a liar exhibits “duping delight” which means they smile briefly with delight because they feel they are getting by with the lie
  • a liar shows contempt with lip pulled up on one side
  • liars blink too often
  • a liar often sits with their feet pointed towards the exit
  • liars alter their vocal tone lower
  • a lair places barrier objects between themselves and people interviewing/talking to them

These actions alone do not guarantee that the person is a liar, but clusters of the actions at the same time should shoot up a red flag about the person’s behavior.

When Pamela said, “Character is who you are in the dark,” it hit me HARD this time. Our lives are very public with Instagram, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, texting and the list just goes on and on. We put ourselves out in the world to be seen and so much of our life is totally transparent. Hiding behind a computer gives people a voice to not only be accepted, but to lie and/or be lied to and ridiculed.

So how do we spot a liar in all the noise of our modern world? We have to combine science with the art of looking and listening to recognize deception. By doing this, we exempt our self from collaborating in a lie because our verbal and non-verbal message is that my world is honest. It will also declare that falsehoods are recognized and not tolerated.

roof of building wilmington delaware

Being Honest Up On The Roof

What does lying have to do with the men on the roof?

The men on the roof represent the people we talk to on the internet, but do not know or have not met face-to-face. We can see them when they are on the roof, but we can’t see or hear everything that happens on the roof. We only know what we are told. In many ways, we have to trust people somewhat blindly or not trust them at all.

In our everyday lives, the men on the roof exist. They have jobs, transportation and families. They sleep, eat, get sick, laugh, cry, etc. I know all those things about the men on the roof without even speaking to them. However, the differences between us would be very apparent after getting to know them face-to-face over the course of the next ten years.

After watching the men on the roof for a considerable amount of time, it became apparent that Suit Man was either the boss or held a job of higher authority. I could also tell that Orange Man was basically a quiet guy and White Hair Man didn’t like drama nor did he want to be up on the roof. That left energetic and talkative Vest Man who was very expressive with his body language. He laughed, smiled and made all kinds of faces while talking to Suit Man. The dynamics of the relationship between the men on the roof was fascinating.

So it is equally fascinating that we are all online with a relationship that is transparent yet secret, honest yet deceptive and real but fake. Like I said yesterday, I didn’t know the truth until six months into the relationship, and by then my personality flaws held me captive. Honesty is vital in a relationship or the relationship is false and where does that get us? Who knew I could learn so much by watching strangers on a roof or talking to strangers on the Internet?

This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joan April 28, 2013 at 3:09 pm

This whole explanation you gave for spotting that someone is lying to you is much too complicated for me. As I have gotten older, I have found a simpler and what I consider a surefire way of knowing it someone is lying to me. I have learned to trust my inner voice, known as my intuition. When I was younger, many times I would find myself trying to ignore my inner voice in hopes that it was wrong. But with age comes wisdom borne out of experience. After many experiences in life, I have learned to trust my intuition. So far when I have listened to my inner voice and not ignored it, I have to say that my inner voice has never steered me wrong and that’s no lie! 🙂


2 Sherry Riter April 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I love the way you ended your comment with, “and that’s no lie!” You are a very clever woman, Joan. I believe that intuition, Holy Spirit or conscience, whatever you want to call it, is truly a priceless gift and we should all listen to it more. 🙂


3 Young Werther April 28, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Hmmm… Miss Marple, all you’re missing is a directional mic or maybe take up lip reading lessons 😉

Orange Man: I’m a little teapot, short and stout…..
Suit Man: Next!
Vest Man: I’m a little teapot, short and stout.


4 Sherry Riter April 29, 2013 at 12:41 pm


Thank you! 🙂


5 teresa1944 April 29, 2013 at 4:01 am

The man in the chair is a hostage from the bank. The man in the suit is the crime boss and the man in the orange is the hired gunman. The old guy is the bank mans dad and he has to save him form the kidnappers by giving them the safe combination. The gunman has a phone in his ear to talk to the rest of the gang down stairs so the roof stays clear. Their bag of tools are to the left of the gunman and the old guy has a clip board to write every thing down . Now the sun is setting looks like maybe around 5 or 6 by the shadows on the building so the robbery will take place at dark since the man in the chair can access the bank.

PS–I do not lie, I hate a lie!!!! I feel there is no excuse to do so of course you already know this,lol. good night


6 Sherry Riter April 29, 2013 at 12:42 pm

You are so silly! Me and Alyssa always make up strange stories about people we see when we are out together. Your story was hilarious! 😛


7 teresa1944 April 29, 2013 at 4:04 am

The best way to know if someone is lying is it will not be logical!! It will not add up and it will have no logic what so ever. It will sound too good to be true and besides like Joan said you already know the answers and the lie will sound like a LIE


8 Sherry Riter April 29, 2013 at 12:43 pm

The lie does not always sound like a lie. Often it sounds like the truth. The physical traits of a liar are real! Just because you and Joan think they are too complicated to remember doesn’t mean they don’t exist! You both are nuts. LOL 😛


9 teresa1944 April 29, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Joan and I are not nuts. We just trust our gut more than our brain!!!! If you will observe a liar will leave a trail of doubts behind them. The trail will not be logical with what they are saying and because your brain is seeing this, it sends that signal to your gut saying—-lie lie lie lie, lol When this part of my brain kicks, I stand back and assess the story told. There will be at least one thing that has happened to tell you, “Hello! They are lyinggggggg.” lol


10 Sherry Riter April 29, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Ha! Ha! I don’t have that “gut” thing, so I have to rely on science. 😀


Leave a Comment

"How rare and wonderful is that flash of a moment
when we realize we have discovered a friend."

~William E. Rothschild~

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.
I respond back to all comments.


Previous post:

Next post: