When determining your options in an emergency, those who trust the all-knowing God can pray for wisdom to know the best course of action and maintain composure. Additionally, there are skills you can practice to evaluate character in a crisis.
Make mental notes of the demeanor and behaviors of anyone that attempts to take charge. Observe these things closely while discussing a topic that is not controversial. What is the tilt of the head, the posture, the position of the shoulders, arms, hands, legs and feet? How does this person stand or sit? Notice the eyes, the lines around them and the lift of the eyebrows. Notice the thickness of the upper lip and whether it suddenly becomes thinner when certain topics are broached.
Which way is the torso facing? Individuals are more likely to turn their abdomen towards someone they care for or trust. Face the person trying to persuade you and observe his stance. If he turns his shoulder towards you, this is known as giving someone the ‘cold shoulder.’ It can be an indicator that the person is uncertain of his words, or he may be hiding something. Someone who suddenly leans backwards is displaying a desire to retreat from a topic. Alternately, leaning forward during a topic can mean that the person is very interested in the subject and the person to whom they are speaking. A turn in the conversation that results in hands clasped in front can mean that the person is trying to appear smaller and retreat from the discussion.
Any change or movement away from the established baseline could indicate that you aren’t hearing the whole story.
If poor lighting prevents you from seeing, use your ears to help determine a person’s truthfulness. Listen for verbal clues that reveal the true intent.
Use of the word ‘but,’ can indicate something is hidden. Statements like, “Some people might think I’m wrong, but” raises questions about who would disagree and their reasons for doing so.
How does the person answer yes or no questions? Do you get a solid yes or no followed by an explanation? Or does the person lead with qualifications? An example might be – Question: ‘Are you telling me the truth?’ Truthful answer: ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ A suspect answer would be: ‘I would NEVER lie to you. You know that.’
A third verbal indicator is when someone laughs when asked a serious question. ‘Are you certain this is our best course?’ followed by a chuckled ‘YES!’ is a reflexive way to cover doubts, allay fears and try to encourage the group. A more honest answer might be a sober ‘I’m as certain as I can be with my limited experience under these conditions.’ Keep in mind that a group is more easily led when a person displays confidence, so the first answer may not be a deal breaker.
A fourth verbal indicator to watch for would be the choice of words used by the individual. ‘I realize you aren’t convinced that I’m being honest with you,’ contains the phrase ‘I’m being honest with you.’ The statement, ‘I understand it’s easier for you to think that I would lie to you,’ has the phrase ‘I would lie to you.’ These are unintended keys to the truth. The first statement is likely a truthful one while the second statement is suspect.
These helps aren’t comprehensive. Used alone, they aren’t enough reason to ignore sound advice – even if it comes from a less than honest person. Like doctors delivering bad news, an individual may simply loathe to tell you the full story, believing it best not to worry you. Consider the whole picture and what you know of the character of the person before deciding whether to follow. Nevertheless, it helps to know when a person is being forthright.