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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]

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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.

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    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]

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        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.

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        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

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        Brian Lee

        Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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        Last Updated on August 19, 2019

        How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

        How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

        We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

        When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

        In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

        Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

        If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

        According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

        No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

        When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

        Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

        1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

        When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

        Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

        When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

        Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

        In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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        It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

        You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

        Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

        What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

        You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

        That’s where we all should be.

        So, answer me this:

        How are you, really?

        And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

        Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

        Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

        Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

        Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

        It’s taking control.

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        2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

        You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

        You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

        In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

        Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

        You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

        Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

        But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

        It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

        In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

        It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

        Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

        Change will happen.

        Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

        You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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        And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

        You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

        That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

        You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

        When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

        There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

        3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

        Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

        In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

        If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

        Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

        Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

        How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

        Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

        “Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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        Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

        Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

        It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

        Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

        “If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

        What would you do if you felt you were enough?

        By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

        So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

        Final Thoughts

        By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

        Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

        When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

        You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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        Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

        Reference

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