Advertising
Advertising

How to Tell If Someone Is Lying: 12 Signs to Check

How to Tell If Someone Is Lying: 12 Signs to Check

Being able to spot a lie can keep you from falling prey to cons and scams. People lie for many reasons. Sometimes, they wish to avoid speaking the truth to take advantage of you, and other times they see dishonesty as a means for survival.

Unfortunately, most of us aren’t very good at detecting lies. Research shows that without training, most people have odds slightly better than chance when it comes to spotting a lie.[1] To put it another way, you may as well flip a coin to determine if someone is swindling you.

Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to determine whether or not a person is lying. By using the power of observation, you can become a human polygraph test and identify a fibber right away.

Below are a few techniques that can help you avoid being a victim of deceit.

Liars are less likely to smile at you

When you see someone smiling too much, you may get the sense that they are being disingenuous. Some seasoned liars, have taken the opposite approach in an attempt to foil their audience. According to Paul Ekman, liars, especially men, don’t smile as much as they would when they are telling the truth.[2]

When a con artist does smile at you, it may be a fake smile. False smiles are easy to spot because the individual controls the shape of their mouth, but they aren’t able to smile with their eyes.[3]

Advertising

Look at their feet to see if they’re grounded in the truth

Foot movement can offer clues about a person’s trustworthiness. When people lie, they tend to restrict the movement of their feet.[4] This may give the liar a stiff appearance.

When a person is lying, they orient their feet toward the exit. A subconscious discomfort with dishonesty causes their feet to seek an escape. Since our feet are so far from our brains, we don’t always notice that our feet reveal our innermost feelings.[5]

Look for quick changes in facial expression to understand how someone truly feels

Your face reflects your thoughts and feelings. When someone lies, their expressions may flicker between the facade that they want you to see and their true feelings. These micro-expressions, which may last for only 1/25 of a second, are subtle indicators that a person is masking their intentions.[6]

The person who says “honestly” repeatedly is worried that you think they aren’t telling the truth

Liars may exhibit verbal tics whenever they feel the need to reinforce their trustworthiness. Over-using phrases like “to be honest”, “believe me”, and “to tell the truth” are clear indications that person is insecure about their believability. Using these phrases once in a while is okay, but if someone’s speech is peppered with such reinforcers, they’re hiding something.

Liars lick their lips because they are stressed

Lip-licking is a nervous habit that can betray a lack of confidence, but it can also show you that someone is lying. When we are under stress, we may unconsciously resort to repetitive physical behaviors, such as lip-licking, to relieve our jittery feelings.

Advertising

    If the person won’t look at you or maintains eye contact for too long, they may be worried that you’ll catch them in a lie

    If eyes are mirrors to the soul, then dishonest people tend to be nervous about what their eyes reveal. A misleading person may avoid eye contact all together, or they may try to maintain eye contact for an extended period to attempt to prove their trustworthiness.[7] When eye contact seems forced or nonexistent, look out!

      Long pauses indicate that the person is working to make up a story

      Generating a believable story out of thin air takes time and talent. When someone is telling a tall tale, they may pause frequently to create a sequence of events. The person may also have to work out the logical progression of a story as they go, which means that they’ll have to stop and think.

      You’ll only see this pause if you catch the liar off guard. If they have time to prepare a statement or story, they will work out the bugs well before they tell it. They may do such a convincing job that they believe their own lies.

      Sweating profusely can signal that a person is stressed about lying

      If you’ve watched an interrogation on a popular detective show then you might have noticed that the person being questioned often sweats profusely. That sheen across the liar’s face, neck, and palms is the body’s response to the stress of lying.[8]

      Advertising

        Liars fidget excessively

        A person who is lying usually has to do something with their hands. Liars tend to adjust their clothing frequently, touch their noses, fidget with their hair, and squirm in their seats. Lying is uncomfortable business for many people, and their mental discomfort can lead them to addressing minor physical annoyances with greater frequency.

        Dishonest people have trouble fabricating a story with good posture. They may shift their weight or fuss and readjust for no obvious reason.

        Understand how a person usually acts so that you can tell when something is off

        It’s easy to catch someone you know in a lie because you have an understanding of how they normally act. You’ll have a mental image of their baseline, which you can use to determine when they are acting strangely.

        You can still establish a baseline even if you don’t know someone. Ask the person simple questions for which you already know the answers. They should be able to answer without lying, which can reveal how a person behaves when they are telling the truth.

        This is why when someone takes a polygraph (lie-detector) test, the initial questions are all based on basic information such as name and date of birth.[9] These establish the baseline to which other answers will be compared during the final analysis.

        When the story doesn’t add up, you might be dealing with a liar

        Even if you have the slightest doubt that the other person is taking you for a ride, ask him to repeat the story after discussing a couple of things in between. Of course, if a person’s response seems canned, then they may have rehearsed this tale several times before telling it.

        Advertising

        Liars tend to add or remove details from the original telling. Major deviations and logical leaps are red flags that a person is lying to you.

        Changes in speech reveal a dishonest person

        Stammering, stuttering, and speech that is either faster or slower than normal often indicate that a lie is in process. In this case, you can actually hear the person struggling to take their lie from their brain and out into the world.

        We’ve already seen that symptoms of stress and signs of lying go hand in hand. Rapid speech indicates that the person may be nervous about what they are saying because it isn’t true.

        Use all the clues available to you to catch a liar

        Determining whether or not someone is telling the truth can be tough, but if they exhibit several of these signs, the likelihood that they are being dishonest is high. Use context, your instincts, and these visible indicators of dishonesty to avoid being fooled.

        Reference

        [1] Quartz: Research shows how you can tell if someone is lying
        [2] West Side Toastmasters: The Allure of Laughter and Smiles
        [3] Business Insider: A neurologist explains how to spot a fake smile
        [4] The Telegraph: Our feet can talk, says study
        [5] Wonder How To: Mind Hacks: Look down to tell what others are really thinking
        [6] Paul Ekman Group: Catching Liars
        [7] Psychology Today: How to detect a liar
        [8] North American Investigations: The physiology of lying
        [9] The Law Dictionary: Common questions asked during a lie detector test

        More by this author

        Brian Lee

        Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

        7 Best Project Management Apps to Boost Productivity 100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier 10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About Book Summary: The Power of Habit in 2 Minutes 1 Minute Book Summary: How To Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less

        Trending in Communication

        1 10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life 2 9 Things to Remember When You’re Having a Bad Day 3 5 Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude 4 How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts 5 How to Deal with Failure and Pick Yourself Back Up

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on December 3, 2019

        10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

        10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

        There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

        Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

        1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

        Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

        There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

        Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

        2. Pace Yourself

        Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

        Advertising

        Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

        Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

        3. You Can’t Please Everyone

        “I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

        You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

        Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

        4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

        Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

        Advertising

        We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

        Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

        5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

        “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

        No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

        We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

        6. It’s Not All About You

        You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

        Advertising

        It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

        7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

        No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

        We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

        Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

        8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

        That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

        Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

        Advertising

        Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

        9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

        Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

        The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

        10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

        We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

        When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

        Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

        This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

        More Inspiring Lessons

        Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

        Read Next