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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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        The Gentle Art of Saying No

        The Gentle Art of Saying No

        No!

        It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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        But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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        What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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        But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

        1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
        2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
        3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
        4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
        5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
        6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
        7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
        8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
        9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
        10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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