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You Know That Someone Is Lying When You See These…

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You Know That Someone Is Lying When You See These…

Whether it’s Ricky Gervais discovering that he’s the only one in the world who can tell a fib, or the entire spectrum of lies that everyone deals with every day (everything from little white lies to stonking great ones), humans are a species and a culture for whom lying is despised and yet something virtually everyone does at some point every single day.

Is it an evolutionary instinct? A psychological response? Or maybe people just don’t want to admit they cheated on their New Year’s resolutions and binged on an entire KFC meal. Whatever it is, humans have lied and lied and lied for centuries, ever since Adam turned to Eve and implied they should keep the old apple-eating on the down-low.

Lying is such a mainstream fascination of daily media – consider all the TV shows, films, and media devoted to catching unfaithful spouses or philandering partners – that it’s no wonder that more people than ever are desperate to discover the truth about how to weed out the truth. There’s so much to be garnered from learning to read people and how to tell when they’re trying to pull the cotton over your eyes.

So, if you fancy brushing up your lie-sensing skills in order to become a human guilt detector, or if you want to learn what you might be doing when you’re trying to get away with something, then check out this list of the ten sneakiest, smartest ways to tell when someone is lying.

1. Shifting Eyes

It is such a cliche it has been parodied in every single movie genre you can think of – and The Simpsons. However, cliches aside, there is plenty of reason to use the old ‘shifty eyes’ technique to assess if someone is lying to you. A lot of analysis and research into how humans lie as a species has found evidence that people find it hard to make eye contact with people they’re lying to, possibly as a throwback to a survival tactic.

In our evolutionary past, homo sapiens learned the power of group dynamics and that surviving in a pack of people was much smarter than trying to survive on your own. However, group dynamics found that telling the truth to your pack members – about the environment you were living in, the food you were gathering, what you found out when you were scavenging – helped keep them informed and alive, and helped your pack survive. We still subconsciously feel ‘wrong’ about lying – hence why you can find it incredibly hard to look the other person in the eye; perhaps because you feel that they can ‘sense’ when someone is lying.

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Facing someone eye-to-eye and lying right to their face can be an incredibly daunting and difficult task. Keep that in mind when you’re trying to interrogate someone. After all, sometimes the old cliches are the best ones.

2. Sweating Palms

No longer just the feeling that you get from being too close to that rather attractive person you like, having sweating palms is one of the biggest indicators out there. Okay, so a lot of it can be rooted in the kind of common-sense logic that anyone with a functioning computer can Google with success, but there is a genuine scientific basis behind why sweating palms equals lying.

Sweating palms are usually caused by a change in the body’s metabolic rate, in turn caused by the person’s heart rate starting to increase. Think of it like this; when you’re running, your heart is clocking up some serious BPM mileage, causing you to sweat in order to cool your body down. When you’re lying, your heart rate increases and you start to sweat from your palms. This method of observing guilt is so well-known that polygraph detectors measure it when someone takes a lie detector test. That’s something handy to note when you’re trying out a lie, or bingeing out on several episodes of Jeremy Kyle back-to-back…

3. Too Many Unnecessary Details

The devil really is in the details, then, huh? It turns out that one of the best ways to check to see if someone’s lying is to actually listen in deep to their story and see how much they’re actually telling you. Why? Well, because unless your friend/lover/spouse/relative is one of those rare but especially verbose and chatty people who seem to populate every conversation with details, when someone is elaborating, unprompted, with details about their day… it usually means they’re lying their butts off.

Something in human behavior seems to trigger this, suggesting that humans need to cover their tracks by creating such a watertight alibi or imaginary day that is so plausible and believable that the victim of their lie will never suspect. Cheating on a partner? You spent the day at work, and give them an hour-by-hour account of what you and the annoying guy in Accounts did. Lying about not quitting your smoking habit? You spent your lunch hour with your work friends discussing a myriad of topics you’re able to accurately recall. Keep an eye out for an abundance of details; it might just be the case that someone’s recycling the truth with you.

4. Gesturing Too Much

Okay, some people are naturally adept or inclined towards gesturing when they talk. It’s fine, it’s a quirk that a lot of people have to demonstrate what they’re saying. However, going over the top with gesturing or fidgeting is, in fact, an indicator that someone is overcompensating for lying throughout their speech. Research has found that rather than the stereotypical image of a twitchy liar unable to stop with the little movements, a liar is much more likely to rein in those smaller moments and go for the big, unconscious guns.

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Anything and everything from using their hands to convey every single point, to over-emphasizing even smaller details with physical gestures and details, can be a tell-tale sign that the person in question is telling a big fat fib. So, if you’re trying to get away with a hell of a lie, maybe try and keep your physical gesturing down to your usual amount. Sure it might take a little more concentration, but isn’t it worth it compared to flailing and being caught almost instantly?

5. Responding Incorrectly To Leading Questions

One of the more proactive and more dangerous ways of trying to discover a lie is to try your hand at some leading questions. Leading questions are, in of themselves, methods examined through psychological research, and are ways that people can consciously or unconsciously lead others on in conversations. However, one of the best ways that can help you uncover the truth is to use leading questions to try and catch the suspected liar in a trap.

In a situation when you know certain things, try dropping a leading question such as ‘Boy, you must have hit all that traffic coming home’, when you know that their route home was very clear and easy. If they lie to your face and go along with your falsehood, it can suggest that they are attempting to go along with you, rather than provide an accurate re-telling of events. Does that necessarily mean they’re out-and-out lying? Well, it’s not looking good, let’s put it that way.

6. Reduced Use Of First Person Pronouns

Me, me, me. No, this isn’t the Twitter biography – or, hell, let’s be honest, the actual autobiography – of some of the world’s stars. It’s one of the best ways to check to see if the person you are having a conversation with is actually being straight with you. Studies into lying and the way humans do it have found that, etymologically, there’s one major thing that occurs when humans are trying to pull of a lie: the liar doesn’t us first person pronouns as much.

Basically, they stop saying ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’, and ‘mine’ as much when they’re telling a lie. The reason behind this? Psychologists have suggested that humans stop using the first person pronouns when they’re lying in order to try and distance themselves mentally from the lie they’re telling themselves. Human beings tend to try and think of themselves of good people; so rather than deal with the fact that they’re lying, they try to make it about other people, or from a more objective point of view. It does explain why there are so few ‘I totally slept in’ excuses, and tons more ‘the traffic was insane’ ones that you probably run into on a daily basis.

7. Check Their Head Position

Okay, now you’re moving into more expert territory here, but if you can crack these babies, you’ll be a veritable lie detecting machine. One of the best ways to spot someone lying is to check their head position. Seriously, watch their head.

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When someone is lying, they’re much more likely to keep shifting or changing the position of their head, much like when you’re trying to avoid the subject of why you haven’t settled down with that special someone, or why you haven’t called your parents in a month. Lying induces a subconcious feeling of guilt in the vast majority of people, and so they adjust their head more often as an unconscious way of not having to face their guilt head on. Look at how so many people, when lying, don’t even look at their victims in the eye. A lot of power lies in unconscious movements, and the way your face and head react are telltale signs that you’re guilty as charged.

8. Microexpressions

Microexpressions. They’re the stuff of Sherlock Holmes, ‘Lie to Me’, and every pseudo-psychological publication worth their salt. A lot of modern research has been conducted into just what microexpressions are – although the name does give you a massive clue. Microexpressions are the tiny, fraction-of-a-second-long expressions that are, more often than not, done unconsciously . In the grand scheme of things, this can give you a premium, VIP seat into what even the most stoic individual is feeling at any one time.

Examining these microexpressions may seem a little bit too advanced for any basic lie detector in training, but they’ve been proven to be a useful tool in examining what people are really thinking when they let their guard down. Isn’t that worth doing a little bit of hard work and practice in? The best thing? Training in recognizing and analyzing microexpressions is becoming rapidly popular all over the world – and an hour’s worth of good training is probably coming to a city near you.

9. They Cover Their Mouth

One of the most well-known ways of examining someone’s you believe is telling a fib is to examine what they do with their mouth when they’re talking. Yes, alright, aside from talking that is, which, in itself, is important. However, when someone covers their mouth a lot whilst telling you a story, it can be a massive indicator that they’re spinning you a none-too-reliable yarn.

What is it about covering your mouth that means ‘lie’?” Psychologists have suggested that this behavior comes from an unconscious desire to close off information in case it turns out to lead to the lie being found out. Basically, it boils down to the liar wanting to shut down their information channel (i.e. mouth) and trying to avoid the situation altogether, particularly when the person they are lying to insists on bringing up more questions and information that can potentially threaten the integrity of the lie. Next time your partner tells you about their day with half their hand covering their mouth, you can begin a bit of investigation. After all, they might just be trying cover up one heck of a lie.

10. Trust Your Gut

All platitudes aside – this lie detecting technique is one of the most underrated, and yet most innately valuable.

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Trust. Your. Gut.

Okay, so it is a little bit of a cliche, but still, when you’re trying to suss out a lie, sometimes you already know the answer. Your gut instinct isn’t a thinly-veiled euphemism for your spiritual essence or soul; it’s a biological instinct developed through generations and generations of survival. Humans have this instinct in order to understand, analyze, and consider threats to themselves and those they care about. While lying might have evolved somewhat since the days of kill-or-be-killed, it’s still a threat rooted in biology.

When you’re facing off against someone you suspect of lying, listen to that little voice in your head telling you that something is wrong. More often than not, you have a reason, unconscious or otherwise, that you think that someone is lying. You’re much better at reading people and intuitively knowing that something ain’t quite right than you even know. It doesn’t mean you should go in all guns blazing. After all, everyone’s wrong at one time or another.

So, the real question is whether or not you can trust your gut when you’re dealing with a potential liar. It might just be worth trying out sometime – after all, you can’t rely on wooden noses growing all the time.

Featured photo credit: summer, holidays, vacation, happy people concept – smiling girlfriends having fun on the beach via shutterstock.com

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Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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