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Twitter versus Chatter

by Darren Stanton

I guess I'm one of those people you see holed up in well-known coffee chains, typing away on my laptop, whilst people watching. Believe me coffee shops are great places to see all manner of human behaviour.

With only 7% of communication being verbal, the emphasis is not so much on what we say, it’s more to do with what we don't say that’s important.

Reading the tells and gestures of others plays a massive part of communication that very few people actually know how to do, or it’s a skill that is eroding over time as we embrace technology more and more.

Don’t read me wrong, I love social media and the fact that information and communication can go viral around the world in seconds, whilst still acknowledging the importance of being able to read others both on a professional and personal basis.

As an avid frequenter of coffee shops, I use them as both my office and Social Laboratory.

As I write this article my attention is drawn to three men drinking coffee, all are sat heads down with their phones out engaged in furiously typing away in a trance like state.

There is little physical verbal interaction at all, except for the odd times they raise their heads momentarily to look around before returning to their slumped positions. I look on mesmerized; as a communications expert I find it both hilarious and fascinating to behold.

Even though, I wouldn't consider this to be communicating, on some level for them it clearly is.

I’m amazed when they eventually get up to leave and one of them says, “good catch up boys, see you soon”!

We seem to be in the midst of a big shift in how we communicate, if you care to raise your gaze, you will see others walking along in the same kind of trance, noses buried in their phones.

As fast as technology and trends shift, I believe there is nothing more important than having the experience, skills and ability to connect with someone else.

Have you ever sent a text message or email to someone only for them to either take offence or miss the point of your communication completely?

That’s because they are missing a very important part of the communication altogether.

My own particular interest and expertise lies in that of deception detection.

If I asked you in which form of communication you were most likely to be lied to, what would you say?

Face to face

Telephone call


Text or IM

Facetime or Skype

You are most likely to be lied to in an email or text message because the other person has time to compose what they are saying in their own time whereas face to face or on the phone, they don't have time to think. The communication is instantaneous. In a real-time face to face interaction you get the full picture.

So if you are in business or a relationship and want to address a particular issue or some other situation, it’s generally best to talk to the other person face to face or at least on the telephone so you can pick up on the nuances.


  • Liars tend to give you too much detail that is not relevant. Contrary to public perception, liars will often over compensate their eye contact, normal contact lasts 3-5 seconds unless you are in a deep relationship with a person or about to engage in aggression with that person. Breaking eye contact is considered to be a signal of submission.

  • They will often use distancing behaviour and language so may turn their body at a right angle or block you by holding a coffee cup or folder up as a subconscious barrier.

  • Liars will want to get away as soon as possible so will use any excuse to get away quickly.

  • They may make statements that are totally disproportionate to the situation in an attempt to make you think a liar would never say that e.g “ I swear on my child’s life or I swear to god “.

  • Their lips or tip of their nose may go very pale as the body reacts to the stressful situation.