How to Tell If Your Engineering Boss is Lying

This will give you an idea if something fishy is going on at your workplace.


One of the most awful feelings, even on matters outside of work, is being lied to. Nobody wants to hear lies from another person especially if it concerns you. So what more if your engineering boss is the one who is lying?

But before you ponder upon what you can do with the lying nature of your engineering boss, of course you have to identify first at times that he or she is lying. Some would ask, “Is that even possible?”

Well, there are indications that an engineering manager is lying, according to two researchers from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

Professor David Larker and PhD student Anastasia Zakolyukina have checked over 30,000 conference calls made by CEOs and CFOs over a span of 4 years – from 2003 to 2007 – to study their word choices and delivery. Through this, they have discovered the signs of a lying manager especially when speaking to shareholders, whether or not the firms just “materially restated their earnings.”


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Here are the findings:

  • The lying CEOs used more general words and fewer specific words.
  • They referred less to shareholder value.
  • They used more extreme superlatives, like saying “fantastic” instead of “good.” This was observed to be a technique to be more persuasive.
  • They used “I” less and the third person more. Basically, this is to distance themselves from the lies.
  • They say “um” and “ah” more. As the authors hypothesized, they have rehearsed their lies.
  • They swear more. There is no direct explanation to this but some would assume that people who are lying are more tense or emotionally overloaded.
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The next time your engineering manager shows any of these engagement styles or behaviors during talks and meetings, do not dismiss right away that he or she is lying. Although you can think that there is something fishy going on.

Note that these findings are patterns among CEOs who habitually lie, but do not necessarily apply to all managers. Lie detection is complicated business after all.

Source: Psychology Today

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How to Tell If Your Engineering Boss is Lying

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