How To Spot A Liar

By | March 6, 2013

Looking for some clues about whether the person opposite you is lying. Here are some ideas that might help.

Evasive Answers: This is one of the best giveaways. The person doesn’t answer the question directly but instead formulates the answer in such a way that it seems as though the question is being answered but it isn’t. Some call it sly diversion.  Often someone who is lying will add many details and words to hide the non-responsive answer. The person may not expect you to believe the answer but the expectation is that you will not challenge it.  Then you have to decide what do you do? Do you start giving the third-degree? A liar may act hurt and surprised that you do not believe the story, turning the tables on you.   You may apologize for not believing the story.

Diversion. When people are trying to avoid telling the truth, they often pick some obscure point and talk about it instead of focusing on the key issue. The person may start answering questions that are not asked. They may start defending themselves without be accused of anything. All of this to divert attention away from the questions being asked.

Repeating the question: This is a good tell of a liar, as the liar seeks more time to formulate an answer. The answer is normally evasive using many qualifiers and sometimes even rephrasing the question in a manner that the question is not answered directly.

The Eyes: Watch the eyes. An amateur liar finds it very difficult to look someone right in the eyes. The head and eyes will move away and stay away until you respond. A habitual liar will go in a completely direction and virtually stare you down, almost daring you to call their bluff. The body becomes very stiff and challenging. Extremes in the eye contact one way or another is a red flag.

Folding Hands or legs: This one is a but tricky. There are many reasons to fold the hands in front, creating a barrier. Sometimes the person just doesn’t like what they are hearing and therefore creates this defensive barrier. But sometimes, it is to create distance to protect the lie. Use this clue in conjunction with other body language.

Fake smiles: We all have seen fake smiles but what makes a smile false? Usually you can tell that the eyes are not in accordance with the mouth. The mouth muscles seem to be forced while the eyes are doing nothing like lighting up. The mouth may be dry caused by the tension in the mouth muscles. They will often have to reach for or ask for something to drink.

Story changes: A liar cannot repeat their story and is constantly changing. Often the lie is revealed when trying to retell the story backwards, starting with what happened and then explaining why it all happened. The story line just doesn’t fit and make sense.

Body reactions: Sometimes someone who is lying will reveal it in changes in their body such as sweat, flushed face, or tense motions. However, these are usually the reactions of someone who is not use to lying. A person who lies often is quite comfortable with what they are saying and will probably not show any outward signs other than possibly anger when the story is challenged. Someone who is telling the truth rarely gets angry at first. However, they may get uneasy if they are not believe even when telling the truth.

Uses certain words: Someone who begins a sentence saying “to be perfectly truthful” or “in all honesty” is probably not. Another sign would be, if they get particularly defensive and accuse you of not “believing”. Someone who is lying will get very offended if you don’t believe the lie.

Body motions: Someone who is lying will sometimes change their body, head or eye direction so that it is in an angle. This might be an attempt to minimize the amount of body that you can see by creatinge a defensive posture. Another form of covering up and hiding is putting hands over the mouth. Touching nose. Research shows that when people lie, they tend to touch the base of their nose a lot.

Delaying speech: Someone who is lying will look for ways to create more time in order to think of the story. Some of the ways to create more time are by interrupting the speech and story by pausing, throat clearing, stuttering words such as huh and er, coughing, etc. Other techniques might be using lots of filler words, repeating the question, talking slower, or frequently drinking water. Or another sign might be using humor or sarcasm to avoid a subject.

Avoiding words: Someone who often lies will avoid the world “I”. Instead the person may refer to herself/himself in the third person. It is awkward way of referring to oneself and you may notice politicians using this type of self-reference.

Obviously, just because someone exhibits one or more of these signs does not make them a liar. The above behaviors should be compared to a persons base (normal) behavior whenever possible.

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