“A–hole!” That was what Jeff Skilling, the boss of Enron, called an investor who challenged his rosy account of his firm’s financial health. Other bosses usually give less obvious clues that they are lying. Happily, a new study reveals what those clues are.
Deceptive bosses, it transpires, tend to make more references to general knowledge (“as you know…”), and refer less to shareholder value (perhaps to minimise the risk of a lawsuit, the authors hypothesise). They also use fewer “non-extreme positive emotion words”. That is, instead of describing something as “good”, they call it “fantastic”. The aim is to “sound more persuasive” while talking horsefeathers.