Deception Tip 75 - How To Detect Deception - A Guide To Deception - Author Spencer Coffman

Deception Tip 75:

Steepling fingers mean confidence. Liars may display this when they believe they have fooled the target.


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Podcast Transcript

Hello and welcome to the Deception Tips podcast where you will learn amazing cues to detect deceit that will help you read people like never before. I’m your host Spencer Coffman, let’s get started.

Hello and welcome to deception tip episode number 75. Last week, we talked about a sign of deception related to sighing, remember sighs can be two ways, they can either sigh before something is going on, or in contemplation. 

So, they’re thinking about whatever is about to happen, whatever they are about to talk about or deliver, anything like that, it is a sign of preparation.

The other type of sigh that can happen is one after the fact, this is a relief sigh after they’ve delivered whatever they’re going to deliver. They’ve said their piece, whatever the case may be, the situation is over, they sigh a sigh of relief, so those are the two types.

Within those sighs, there are other types of sighs, so within the preparation sigh, they can be sighing to give themselves a little bit more time to think about what’s going on, to think about what they’re going to say to clean out their mind, prepare themselves, it is a time buyer. 

They are using it as a stalling tactic, similar to things like rephrasing the question or repeating the question which are other tips that we have discussed in past episodes.

In addition, they can also do it ahead of time in an effort to show people that they have something on their minds. They might sigh to solicit someone else’s sympathy or their advice or something like that. They may let out a sigh and then they’re hoping that other people will say what’s going on or what’s wrong or what’s on your mind, things like that?

They are soliciting assistance from other people is what it is, they are asking for help in the use of a body language gesture or a verbal gesture is what it is. So, those are the two ways that it can happen before, that is with the introductory sigh or the before something happens, the contemplation of a thing.

Then we switch over to after, so as we’ve said, they sigh in relief. This would be typically after they have either made a big decision or they have delivered their speech or maybe they’ve delivered their lie and now they’re sighing in relief that it’s done with. Usually, you may see this after someone takes a big test, they sigh like, I’m glad that’s over, that kind of a thing.

So, keep in mind, there are two different types of sighs and there are a couple of different types within those types that you will see. For a recap of all of that and more detail about it, I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to listen to episode number 74, which was last week’s episode. 

If you just want a quick recap, you can watch the video on the deception tips videos, which is on the Body Language YouTube channel or on

So, you can check all that out and get a better idea, I also encourage you to touch on all of the past episodes that we’ve mentioned leading up to that. As I said, sighing is very closely related to breathing and we’ve had quite a few breathing episodes such as people taking a big, deep breath of relief or letting out an exhale, almost like sighs of breathing, they aren’t sighs but they were related to breathing.

Today, we have another tip, this one is a confidence gesture, it is something that people do when they feel superior when they are in charge. So, if you see somebody doing this, hopefully, they are in charge and hopefully, they are the boss of that situation. 

If they’re not, then they may have some kind of contempt toward the boss or toward authority. They may wish that they were in charge or they may believe that they are better than whoever is in charge.

So, a little tip here, if you are a boss and you see your employees or your underlings or whatever you call them, doing this type of a gesture or other confidence type gestures at some form of meeting or interaction then you may want to consider that their attitude may not be correct for what you want them to be doing. 

If that’s the case, then you need to have a little conversation with them and determine what’s going on, why they are behaving like that, why they think that way because something is a little bit off.

So, here it is, this is deception tip number 75. Steepling fingers mean confidence, liars may display this when they believe they have fooled the target. Here it is again, deception tip number 75. Steepling fingers mean confidence, liars may display this when they believe they have fooled the target.

So, as I said, this means confidence, they are confident in whatever they have done or whatever they are about to do. They’re confident in who they are, but it’s related to the situation, so this is different than overall confidence. People can be confident in who they are and in what they’re doing, they’re typically not going to be flaunting it, this is like a direct show.

When someone is steepling their fingers, they are alerting everyone else around them that they are in charge. They are confident people and they want other people to know it, they are demonstrating their superiority in this situation. They’re showing people that they know what’s going on, that they are the best and that whatever they do is superior.

It’s like a narcissism complex, they’re not really narcissistic personality disorder but if you see the steepling of fingers, they may have narcissistic traits. Keep in mind, that a lot of big leaders and great leaders have narcissistic traits. 

Why? Well, because in order to be a great leader and in order to be confident and in order to not let your failures get you down you need to have that narcissistic traits or tendencies in you.

So, keep that in mind, this isn’t entirely negative, but it is something to watch out for, so keep that in mind because it is important. When you see this, as I said, it is something that people will do to just simply show off. They want to show other people that they are the ones who know what is going on, they may be feeling contempt for the boss.

We talked about contempt in episode 19 and if you ever see contempt going on then you definitely need to have some kind of conversation with that person. Again, that was episode 19, so I encourage you to review that one because that is something that if you ever see that then you know that there’s trouble, this could be a precursor to that contempt.

If the boss is talking in a meeting and this person is steepling their fingers thinking that they’re superior to the boss. You may want to watch for contempt to come out when the boss says certain things, that person may give a contemptuous look. 

So, we’re going to talk a lot more about this and a lot more about the other tips that are related to this that we’ve already covered coming up right after this.

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Welcome back to deception tip episode number 75 where we are talking about steepling fingers and when people steeple their fingers they’re most likely a little bit more confident than the other people who aren’t. These are their people that are the showy confident, they’re a little bit arrogant if you will or pompous, that is the correct term, arrogance.

These guys believe that they are better than whatever else is happening, that whatever they have in their mind, they know what’s going on and everybody else is fooled. 

They’re better than being in this meeting or they don’t need to be here because they already know this and it’s a waste of their time. They’re thinking in terms of this arrogance and that their time is more valuable than everyone else’s, they are better than other people.

This isn’t really what happens all the time, remember there are exceptions to every rule. People could steeple their fingers simply for something to do or fidget, you don’t always know that this is exactly what it means. 

It’s like any one of these lying behaviors, you need to look for the patterns and clusters, but typically steepling fingers are a part of this behavior. It’s a part of this mindset, it’s a part of the arrogance or cockiness that goes on.

You can see the boss do this, you can see people in charge do this because they’re rightfully in charge, they rightfully know more than everyone else just due to their position. 

So, another tip that was related to this, remember that people who are less confident tend to take up less space. They don’t want to take up a bunch of space, they don’t want to flaunt everything that’s going on, they are going to shrink down.

We talked about taking up less space or taking up space in episode 40, that was typically how liars tend to shrink because they don’t believe in what they’re saying. We talked about the opposite of that in episode 60 with dominate space, how confident people will dominate the space they occupy.

Go into a board meeting sometime and you take a look at the people around the table and see who has their stuff sprawled out. Table space is personal space and is perceived as important. 

So, whoever occupies the most table real estate generally is going to be the one controlling that meeting. That’s a little tip for you if you’re in a meeting and you’re an employee or you’re just there to attend, take your papers, and then spread them out a little bit.

Put your coffee cup a little further out, put your pen a little further out, and don’t just keep it all in a neat little stack. Occupy a few feet of that table and people will think you are more important, it’s just how it works, look at the person presenting, they’ve got half that table covered with all their stuff. It may be an end, it may be a quarter of the table, area wise they have quite a bit of table taken up.

You look at the boss, the boss of the table, he’ll be at the head of the table, he may be leaning back in the chair, may have the feet up, they’re taking command presence of that table. They may have their stuff spread out, it’s a very common thing to see when someone is in charge, so you look at that dominating space.

Now, add the gesture of steepling fingers, where would that go? Well, it fits perfectly with the person who’s leaning back in their chair, feet up on the table. Why? Well, because it just goes with that, it’s part of a natural cluster of behaviors. 

When someone leans back in their chair, their fingers go to that steepling, what does it look like? It looks like praying hands, but they’ve separated the fingers and there’s a gap like they have a little snowball in their hand.

They’re packing that snowball together, their fingers are steepled, they may be tapping them together or they may just have them together but they’re steepled fingers. Why is it steepling? 

It’s like a church steeple, a little background on it, probably should have covered that long before but that’s okay. So, it’s like a church steeple, every one of their fingers is that church steeple and it is a display of confidence and authority.

So, when you see that, if you see it by your boss it’s perfectly normal, that is fine. If a boss or if you are in charge and you see it by somebody who is technically lower on the totem pole than you then you need to pay attention to that. You either have a problem with that person in terms of their behavior and their attitude or if that person has been a great employee, they are doing really well then, that person may be a natural leader.

You can groom them to become someone in charge and lead the people and be a supervisor or a manager or a boss or whatever the case may be. That means that that person has those natural leadership or confidence tendencies and characteristics. So, pay attention to that, look out for the patterns and the clusters that go with it, and watch for it.

Remember it’s not a problem unless you start seeing contempt, if you start seeing contempt or disgust or disrespect then it becomes a problem. You need to have a serious conversation with whoever that person is because they are going to have a disregard for your authority. They probably will be very disrespectful and that’s something that you want to handle right away.

So, I want to thank you for listening to this week’s episode of the Deception Tips podcast. I hope that you’ll share it with your friends, subscribe to the feed, check out the deception tips videos, the blog, and take a look at the books I have available and as always, tune in next week for a new deception tip.

Video Transcript

Hey guys, my name is Spencer Coffman, thank you for watching the deception tips videos. They’re all about teaching you how to read people and detect deception so that you will be able to tell if someone is lying to you. Today, we are talking about a gesture of confidence, this is something that people do when they are certain or they are sure they know that they have either won, they fooled someone, they have the best position, they know their right.

This is a confidence gesture that is going to be displayed after someone has convinced themselves that they have fooled the target or that they are right in a situation or it’s been proven that they’re right. Maybe there was a disagreement, or an argument and the other person found out that this person was actually right and now they have that feeling of arrogance, more confidence, they’re like a pompous type person.

This gesture is something that we have talked about before, we’ve mentioned it, but we’ve mentioned it within the context of another tip, Deception Tip number 60. It was Dominating Space, how confident people tend to dominate the space they occupy, again pompous. They puff up a little bit like a peacock and they are dominating that space they’re in.

This is more of a subtle confidence gesture that we are going to talk about more today. So, here it is, this is deception tip number 75. Steepling fingers mean confidence. Liars may display this when they believe they have fooled the target. One thing that’s important is that when liars believe they have fooled the target, they may also display another sign which is contempt.

We’ve talked about this in Deception Tip number 19 where contempt is one-sided, it’s the only asymmetrical facial expression. Contempt is like if they believe they fooled the target, it’s like they are showing that they think they’re smarter than the target and that person is so stupid, and they believe they fooled you. So, confidence could also be a part of that, if someone is displaying, not really confidence but it becomes arrogance.

So, if they’re becoming arrogant, now they’re going to become contemptuous because they believe they’re smarter or they believe they’re better, they fooled the target, they fooled you. So, if you start to see that, beware, you may have missed something but the steepling fingers is like this. If you see someone steepling their fingers, it could be nothing, remember clusters and patterns of behavior. 

It could be that they’re just going like this as fidgeting or some type of time passing behavior but if someone is steepling the fingers, generally you’re going to see that pattern and that cluster of behaviors. For example, a typical thing that’s going to go with that is usually it’s displayed when someone is sitting. 

It’s also displayed when someone may be leaning back in their chair, they may put their feet up on their desk, they’re going to show all of those signs of typical boss behavior, they are the boss. So, if you’re the boss in the workplace and you see an employee in the board meeting displaying all of these behaviors, you may want to take an examination of that.

That person may think they are superior to everyone else or to you and they may need something put in check or maybe they need to be dusted. They might not be the right person for your team if they think they’re better than you or if they think they’re better than everyone else because you want people to work together, not against each other.

So, pay attention to that, steepling fingers is a confidence gesture, it’s something that people display when they are feeling competent. So, if it’s a lying type situation or a deception situation then you need to watch out because if they are feeling confident that means they might feel like they have pulled one over on you and they are getting away with their lie.

If it’s part of your tactic, maybe you’re trying to believe something or you’re letting them think you believe something in order to get some other detail, that’s fine. But if it isn’t, if all of a sudden, you see them displaying a lot of confidence then you need to watch out because what happened that they’re so confident. If it’s not in a lying situation, if it’s in the workplace or if it’s in your home then you need to look at something like what has them so confident, what has them feeling so good?

If it’s one of your employees, then that relationship of boss/employee relationship may need to be looked at because that employee may be thinking that they’re better than the boss. If they are, great, but if they aren’t then something needs to happen from that. So, a boss, if the employee does do a better job than you, then maybe you need to do a better job.

Whatever the circumstance is, that whole scenario, when you see confidence being displayed, you have to start thinking about that. Are they fooling you, are they thinking they’re better than you, what’s going on? Something needs to be found out, could be nothing but it could be something very important.

So, if this is your first time watching these videos, I’d love to have you subscribe to the channel on YouTube. Feel free to comment with any questions you may have as well. Also, if you’d like some more information, we’ve got bookspodcasts, and blog posts all available on that are dedicated to teaching you exactly what every body is really saying.

Until next time.  

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