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These 7 Ways Can Help You Recognize a Liar

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These 7 Ways Can Help You Recognize a Liar

There are two types of signs that occur when a person is lying. There are the blatantly obvious or conscious signs, and there are the hidden, unconscious signs that are far more subtle. Whether the sign is obvious or not, the best way to recognize a liar is to use your mental skills.

Mental skills are derived from the conscious, the subconscious and the unconscious mind. If you don’t have strongly developed mental skills, sometimes the signs that someone is lying fly right over your head. The good news is that they’re easy to develop and they seldom fail as long as you’re really tuned into them.

Research by Dr. Leanne ten Brinke, a forensic psychologist at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, supports the fact that our instincts for detecting liars can be fairly strong. However, the racing thoughts of our conscious minds sometimes cloud these instincts.

“A man when moderately angry, or even when enraged, may command the movements of his body, but … those muscles of the face which are least obedient to the will, will sometimes alone betray a slight and passing emotion.” — Charles Darwin

It’s safe to assume that what Charles Darwin was referring to are subtle, unconscious signs. The best way to begin recognizing these types of signs is through mental skills. If you’re not sure whether or not you use your mental skills, this may help clear it up. Think about a decision or task you’ve made in the past. Was there a time that you weren’t sure you were making the right one? Were you second guessing yourself? This is because your conscious decision, or action wasn’t in correlation with your unconscious, or subconscious thoughts — your ‘gut instincts.’  You only used your conscious thoughts to make the decision. In order to best recognize a liar, you have to listen to your unconscious thoughts as well. A great guide to knowing whether you’ve used your mental skills is when your head and your heart are balanced after making a decision.

With every sign the experts have out there for detecting lies, there are always exceptions. The best ways to recognize a liar are by watching their unconscious body language and honing your mental skills. As you observe body language, facial expressions and voice intonations, also pay attention to what your mind is saying. Listen carefully. There are your conscious thoughts: these are the loudest and the most immediate that come up. Everyone is aware of their conscious thoughts. But listen to your subconscious as well. What is it saying? These are the thoughts that crop up, sometimes only for a millisecond. It’s that flash you get that suggests a person is lying, or that something isn’t right, or that they’re leaving part of the story out.

Use the following clues, and combine them with your mental skills to better enable yourself to recognize a liar.

1. Eye contact: Either none or way too much.

The most obvious sign is when there is little to no eye contact. But you also have to look for forced, or purposeful staring, with infrequent blinking. Professional liars use deliberate, unbroken eye contact as a subtle intimidation tactic. They’re also going to feed off of the verbal and nonverbal cues from you.

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The truth teller is likely going to fall in between the extremes. Use your mental skills as a radar. Pay attention to not only your conscious thoughts, but your subconscious ones as well. This is where your expertise in detecting deception resides.

2. Sudden head movements.

Dr. Lillian Glass, in her book The Body Language of Liars, discusses head movements. When you ask a question and the person’s head jerks back, or glances away and then back at you suddenly, tilts to one side or looks down before answering, Glass suggests these are unconscious signs of deception. The mouth can lie. The body, however, cannot.

3. Fidgety versus very still.

Our nervous system has a natural defense mechanism sometimes referred to as ‘the fight or flight system.’ Lying promotes stress and anxiety, so naturally, the fight or flight reaction will take place. Liars use both. Some examples of using the ‘fight’ mechanism are when they become highly offended at your questions, intentionally stare you down, or, if standing, freeze themselves in a very stiff, intimidating stance.

Some examples of a liar whose ‘flight’ mechanism has kicked in are when they’re restless and can’t be still, they’re touching their face, mouth, ears, head and other body parts, when they continually say they have to go, and when their feet continuously shift, even while sitting.

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4. Nervous Nellie.

It’s natural for anyone who is being questioned to be a little nervous. A ‘Nervous Nellie,’ however, cannot be still. This is the person who will turn their body away from whomever they’re speaking with, have their arms crossed, or unconsciously blink more than they usually do. They either don’t smile at all or display half smiles that aren’t their usual smile. Another unconscious action is when they touch their face, rub their eyes, itch or fiddle with random objects just as a question is asked. These objects may include keys, a pen, earrings, etc.

5. Stalling tactics.

The obvious stalling tactic is when the liar changes the subject, usually with a compliment or a question. The less obvious is responding to a question by saying, “Where did you hear that?” This gives the liar a few extra seconds to fabricate his or her answer.

They can also get very squeamish during extended periods of silence.

6. Offense versus defense.

The obvious liar embellishes on explicit details regarding unimportant information. The not-so-obvious liar makes statements such as, “I did not …” instead of using the contraction didn’t. They may also make statements such as, “Well he did/said this, so I … but I did not …” Anything done or said to deflect blame or attention off of them, or any anger are always red flags. A truth teller will assume more of an offensive position. This means they’ll be cooperative and do everything they can to provide the information in a natural, relaxed disposition that isn’t aggressive, or leaning toward defensive.

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7. A story that changes.

Liars tend to either forget what they said or the order of events when they’re making the story up. Therefore, if you ask similar questions that mean the same thing and get conflicting sequences, this is a strong sign of deception.

Even lie detector machines aren’t considered 100% accurate. This is probably why they don’t hold up in any court of law. In a study that was performed in 2004, the results indicated that a liar is detected a mere 53% of the time. Experts on lie detection continue to explore technology that increases this percentage. Chances are, they will succeed. However, until then, the fastest, and most reliable way to recognize a liar is by combining the use of your mental skills with the aforementioned signs. This article by The New York Times is an excellent way to practice detecting the liar. So put your God-given mental skills to good use and become much more able to recognize a liar!

Click here for more information on detecting a liar.

Featured photo credit: http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/uJCyZh8ApyP/Lindsay+Lohan+Mugshot+Collection/6fmm_Im2xuP/Lindsay+Lohan via publicdomainpictures.net

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Lynn Silva

Lynn Silva helps solo and entrepreneurs develop mental skills for business.

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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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