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Four Things To Notice As You Learn How To Detect Lies

Four Things To Notice As You Learn How To Detect Lies

People’s fascination with lie detection has been demonstrated by the popularity of TV shows and movies such as Lie To Me and The Negotiator, where complex concepts such as micro-expressions and eye movement patterns are reduced to sound-bytes that make them easy for public consumption. While it is true that the more time and energy you put into studying lie detection techniques the better a “people reader” you will become, you can also pick up some fast and easy techniques to help you learn how to detect lies.

To begin detecting dishonest statements, it is helpful to get a feel for the overall landscape of lie detection. The broad areas you will want to pay attention to are body language, emotional signals, interactions which reveal guilt or discomfort, word choice and physiology.

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You may want to watch this video to have a brief idea first:

Body Language

When noticing body language for the purposes of learning how to detect lies, start contrasting someone’s non-verbal communication by establishing a baseline of veracity. One way to do this is to make a statement that you know to be true and then mentally record how the subject’s body looks when they respond. For example, if you know the person went to Hawaii for vacation, state firmly, “So you went to Hawaii last month for a week. Fantastic!” Then state something that you know to be false: “And you took a cruise there. What an experience!” Watch as they non-verbally disagree and then watch their body language as they correct you. Now you have two mental snap shots of their “yes” and “no” that will give you a baseline for further calibration. In the future, when you make “yes” or “no” statements or questions, you should see the same physiology as the baseline that you established. If not, there could be deception involved.

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Here is some general physiology people display when they are lying:

  • Stiff or limited hand and arm movements
  • Decreased eye contact
  • Increased hand contact with face
  • Body language does not match words

Emotional Signals

The way people express emotions can reveal whether they are being honest or not. In this category, simply becoming aware of abnormal expressions of emotions will help you learn how to detect lies.

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  • Watch for delayed emotions
  • Notice emotions that last longer than what is natural for the person
  • Emotional expression is limited to one area of the face rather than the whole face

Word Choice

Our choice of words can reveal dishonesty as well. When a person is creating a deception, they need to distance themselves from the lie due to the cognitive dissonance created by the deception. To do this, they alter how they represent the lie to themselves, and this representation will cause a waterfall effect on their language.

Of special and recent interest, even our pronoun usage can reveal whether we are lying or telling the truth. According to Dr. James W. Pennebaker of the University of Texas at Austin, pronouns such as “I,” “me” and “my” show ownership of a statement. Therefore, when someone is lying, they will use these pronouns less, as they are further linguistic signs of distance from the lie.

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  • A person being dishonest will make less direct statements.
  • They will often repeat your exact words.
  • Unnecessary details are added to the deceptive statement.
  • A statement with a contraction like “wouldn’t” or “didn’t” is more likely to be truthful than the uncontracted form.
  • Liars will interject words like “actually,” “to be honest,” or “frankly.”
  • An abrupt change of subject is another sign of dishonesty.

Physiological Symptoms

Much of what has been written previously about how to detect lies is within the conscious control of the deceptive person. There are, however, “tells” that are generally outside a person’s consciousness that are harder to repress or control.

  • Sweating can be a sign of lying.
  • Lying can cause an increase in the secretion of the hormone adrenaline. This causes a fluctuation in saliva production, which causes the person to first have to swallow more and later clear their throat due to dryness.
  • Since the heart is usually beating faster, a person being dishonest will breathe faster.
  • Decreased blinking of the eyes can also be a sign of lying.

While lying is prevalent, it does not come naturally. Deep down, most people want to tell the truth, even when they feel they need to lie. To accomplish this feat, the brain goes into cognitive overload in order to provide the resources necessary to pull off the lie. Since the mind and body are connected in various ways, it makes sense that when the brain has an increase on its cognitive load, the body will show symptoms. The single key to becoming good at lie detection is to look at the big picture (all of the above indications) in relation to the person you are observing. Make sure you account for cultural norms and personal idiosyncrasies by gaining rapport with the individual you are studying. Keep an open mind and stay relaxed, and you will be on your way to becoming a master lie detector!

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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