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

        10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About 100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier Book Summary: The Power of Habit in 2 Minutes 1 Minute Book Summary: How To Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less 2 Minutes Book Summary: Thinking Fast and Slow

        Trending in Communication

        1 What Is Your Destiny in Life? How to Mindfully Achieve Your Purpose 2 7 Signs of an Unhappy Relationship That Makes You Feel Stuck 3 10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever 4 Meditation Can Change Your Life: The Power of Mindfulness 5 Understand Your Love Style & Learn to Love: Co Dependent Relationship

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on September 17, 2018

        7 Signs of an Unhappy Relationship That Makes You Feel Stuck

        7 Signs of an Unhappy Relationship That Makes You Feel Stuck

        Relationships are complicated and when you’re unhappy, it can be difficult to tell what’s causing it and what needs to change.

        Sometimes it’s as easy as opening up to your partner about your problems, while other times it may be necessary to switch partners or roll solo to get your mind straight.

        When you’re in the thick of things, it can be difficult to tell if you’re unhappy in your relationship or just unhappy in general (in which case, a relationship may be just the cure you need).

        Here’re signs of an unhappy relationship that is possibly making you feel stuck:

        1. You’re depressed about your home life.

        No matter what you do in life, you’re going to have good and bad days. Your relationship is no different.

        However, no matter what you’re going through at home, you have to feel comfortable in your own home.

        If you constantly dread going home because your significant other is there, there’s a problem. Maybe it’s something you already know about, everyone has an argument or just needs some alone time.

        Advertising

        When that yearning to be alone becomes an insatiable obsession over the course of months and years, it’s time to realize you’re not the exception to the rule.

        You’re unhappy in your relationship, and you need to take a look in the mirror and do whatever it takes to make yourself smile.

        2. You aren’t comfortable being yourself.

        Remember all those things you discovered about yourself when you first got together? The way your partner made you feel when you met that made you fall in love with him or her in the first place.

        If they don’t make you feel that way anymore, it’s not the end of the world. If your partner makes you uncomfortable about being you, then her or she is only dragging you down. It’s up to you to decide how to handle that.

        You need to be comfortable with who you are. This means being comfortable in your skin and with the way you walk, talk, look, breath, move, and all the other things that make you uniquely you.

        If the person who supposedly loves you doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, know that you can do better. They’re not even one in a billion.

        3. You can’t stop snooping.

        Mutual trust is necessary in any relationship. The only way to get that trust is with respect.

        Advertising

        I can find you anywhere online, no matter how private and secure you think you are. The odds of you having a password I can’t crack are slim. If we’ve met in person, I could install a remote key logger on your device without even touching it.

        Finding your information online hardly takes a clandestine organization. Any idiot with a Wi-Fi-enabled device can cyberstalk you. I’m just the only idiot in the village admitting it.

        So now that we know everyone snoops, it’s time to address your personal habits. Governments snoop because they don’t trust us. If you’re snooping on your partner, it’s because you don’t trust them.

        It’s ok to have doubts, and it’s perfectly normal to look into anything that looks weird, but keep in mind that data collection is only half of an investigation.

        If you find yourself constantly snooping and questioning everything, clearly there’s a trust issue and the relationship likely needs to end.

        4. You’re afraid of commitment.

        If you’ve been dating longer than a year and you aren’t engaged, it’s never going to happen.

        Commitment is important. People will come up with a million ways to describe why they can’t be committed.

        Advertising

        No matter who you are if you like it, you need to put a ring on it. Find an engagement ring, stick a gemstone in it and marry the person. If you’re not legally able to get married or you don’t believe in it for one reason or another, have a child (or adopt one, however you’re able to) or treat your partner’s family like your own. It’s a huge financial and mental commitment.

        If you’re not ready for one or the other after some time, don’t waste anymore of your precious life on the relationship.

        Your relationship should be something that propels you forward. If it’s not going anywhere, make it an open relationship and call it what it is—dating multiple people.

        5. You imagine a happier life without your partner.

        If all you’re doing is imagining a happier life without your partner, it’s a sign that you’re in the wrong relationship. You’re unhappy and you need to get out.

        Your partner should be included in your dreams. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a future with someone.

        Try to remember what you dreamed of before you got your heart broken by the realities of life, love and the pursuit of human success.

        Remember when you would crush on that cute kid in class? You would secretly imagine marrying him or her and going on an adventure—that’s the way life should be.

        Advertising

        If you’re not at least imagining adventures together, then why are you in that relationship?

        6. You resent, rather than love your partner.

        When a relationship starts to crumble, you begin to resent your partner for all the things you once loved about him or her.

        When you’ve reached this point, your partner has reached at least No. 2 on this list. From your partner’s perspective, your unhappiness with them is picked up as bashing them for being who they are.

        If you’re both unhappy in the relationship, it’s better if it ends as quickly and painlessly as possible.

        7. You chase past feelings.

        It’s okay to reminisce about the past, but if all you do is wish things were like they used to be, it’s a sign you’re not on the right path.

        You’re unhappy and, at the very least, you need to have an open dialogue about it. This isn’t necessarily a sign that the relationship should end, but it definitely needs a spark.

        When you talk to your partner candidly about what it is you’re looking for, you never know how they’ll react. The risk alone is worth it, good or bad.

        Final thoughts

        If you’re feeling stuck in your current relationship, it’s time to reflect about it with your partner. Don’t ignore these signs of an unhappy relationship as they will slowly go worse and harm both you and your partner in long-term.

        Featured photo credit: josh peterson via unsplash.com

        Read Next