You can never completely tell when someone is lying. Not even a lie detector can do that. Do you understand what that means? That means that not a single one of the tips we are about to give should ever be used to determine that someone is lying without reservation. Even if someone does all of these things they still may be innocent. The power of circumstance cannot be overestimated and people have even been known to give false confessions because they were being pressured to “tell the truth”.
Lying in written form
- Lack of or fewer first-person pronouns. We generally are not the stars of our lies, distancing ourselves from our untrue stories.
- More negative emotion words. Liars feel more negative and use words such as “hate” and “sad.”
- Fewer exclusionary words. According to Pennebaker, words such as “except”, “but” or “nor” are not often seen in written lies.
It’s written on their faces
Here are a few of those clues that may indicate someone is lying to you:
- They avoid eye contact
- Their body is angled away from yours.
- They fidget
- They touch their faces, especially their nose. Your nose heats up as you lie.
- They have fewer hand movements. Hand movements illustrate actions. Liars may not use hand movements because they didn’t’ do what they are saying they did.
Having said that, we do those things when we are not lying, so judge carefully.
How liars say what they say
When a person is lying they can add or omit information to stories. Here are some verbal clues:
- Selectively answering questions
- Omitting critical information
- Too much detail indicating they have created a complicated lie
- Liars generally take longer to answer questions, unless they have had time to plan, then the answer comes quickly.
- Repeated words and phrases. (Hey, it sounded good the first time you made it up, why not bring it out again.
How do you spot a lie?
There are a few things to look for that would indicate that something you heard is not the truth.
Inconsistencies: Look for stories that just don’t add up.
- Ask the unexpected: There is only a small percentage of people who are accomplished liars, the rest of us aren’t that good at it. If you want to trip-up a liar, asked a question that will throw them off their game.
- Gauge against a baseline: You have to know the person for this one to work. Pay attention to whether a normally clam person is agitated, a loud person quiet or an anxious person calm. Changes like that could mean a lie is on their lips.
- Look for insincere emotions: Fake it until you can make it probably won’t work for you if you plan to lie – at least not for long. Look for smiles that don’t seem full and natural, or looks of anger with a smile on top.
- Pay attention to gut reactions: Going “with your gut” is, really, a pretty good idea. How many times have you said, “I KNEW that guy was lying, why didn’t I listen to me.”