Sadly, people probably lie to you far more often than you realize. Plenty of people lie constantly, and many times a day. People tend to wear masks for a variety of reasons. A lot of it has to do with being accepted in society. A study conducted in 2002 found that 60 percent of people will lie during a 10-minute conversation. The average number of lies they tell in that brief conversation is two or three.
Doesn’t it drive you crazy when you can’t tell if someone is being honest? Liars work hard to avoid detection, so how can you tell if they’re duping you? While you can’t fight every battle of dishonesty, you probably would like to know if those closest to you are lying. Knowing the signs can help you get rid of the people in your life who aren’t being real.
There are many reasons people lie, but at the core, they are hiding a part of themselves. It might be that they are ashamed about certain aspects of themselves. In a way, it’s kind of sad. Telling the truth even when it’s not something to be proud of sets one free. In the end, you can’t argue with an honest man. Liars may be hiding important information. Read on to determine whether someone is being dishonest with you.
18. They Give Vague Answers
If you ask someone a question and they hem and haw without giving a straight answer, you may want to pursue further questioning. Often a sign of telling lies, vague answers indicate they are trying to dodge your questioning. It isn’t hard to tell the truth. It’s creating the story in one’s head that causes someone to spew a bizarre bunch of dialogue with no real answers. Getting a yes or no answer might be challenging, but anything other than that is just dancing around the truth.
When someone makes excuses without answering the question, they’re likely trying to pull the wool over your eyes. They aren’t necessarily telling you a lie, they’re just avoiding the truth. They are hiding something from you. Isn’t that the same thing, though? If these vague answers are like run-on sentences, this is also a clue they are scrambling to find words you will believe. You should feel satisfied with an answer when you walk away from a conversation, not confused.
When you ask someone a legitimate question and get a laugh in response, it’s likely they’re lying. You’re probably not going to feel good about your questioning if a liar laughs at you. This is a manipulation tactic. It makes you feel dumb and that may cause you to back down. Then you’ll never get the answer you seek. Laughing at a question is one of the tools someone uses when lying. The goal is to distract you so you’ll forget you asked the question. This is just one of the many tools that liars utilize to disarm others. Many times, the question you ask threatens to shine a light on someone’s dark side.
A weaker person will run from the truth. By laughing, they can deflect the question. If the person you’re questioning wants to avoid a real conversation, you may feel that vibe and unconsciously appease them. However, this is not the right way to manage a relationship. Don’t let someone try to make the conversation less serious by laughing it off. It will eat you up inside because you’ll keep wondering what they’re hiding.
Exaggerating innocence means exaggerating honesty. When someone swears they are innocent, this is a sure sign they are hiding something. For one, they are not answering the question at all. This avoidance and smoke-and-mirrors dance has no other purpose but to get out of telling the truth. When someone pulls exaggerated honesty out of their hat, they aren’t in the midst of a little white lie. They have done something they know will hurt you. They are ashamed of it unless they are a narcissist. But that’s a whole other topic. Don’t believe the person who puts their hand on their heart and swears they have nothing to do with the situation.
They are trying to prove to you as quickly as possible they’re someone you can trust. They may say they were certain it was someone else, or ask you to recount a time when they’ve lied before. In reality, they are panicking and trying to convince you as quickly as possible that they didn’t do what you think they did. But, chances are, they did.
This is one of the tactics that involve throwing your question back at you. They take the opposition to get you to back down. You will probably feel like backing down is the right thing to do, because you feel weak and unsure. They will make you feel as though you are the one in the wrong. When the liar offers you sympathy, your whole demeanor will change. They want to defuse whatever conviction you wanted to confront them with in the first place. When in this situation, you may begin to feel stressed. If you feel they’re deceiving you, you will want to know for sure. You may also want the answer to a question that was important enough for you to ask about. The pieces of the puzzle you put together are what prompted your question in the first place.
Your mind is always trying to solve puzzles and problems. If it doesn’t receive information that fits into reality, you may become frustrated and confused. This is where the liar will see in your body language and facial expressions that you are under duress. Their sympathy will come out as another way to deflect. You may even feel grateful for their kindness and compassion toward your bad feelings and weaknesses. It may not be until after you’ve gone your separate ways that you realize things still aren’t fitting together. After all, they never answered your question. If you’re getting the sympathy treatment after trying to determine the truth about something, they are deceiving you. Keep pushing forward with your questioning and ignore their comments. This should be an easy sign to see through.
This is another deflection technique. While it may be challenging for you to see, anyone else can observe the manipulation. When you ask somebody a question and they don’t want to give you the truth, they may ask you a question in response. They might say, “Why would you ask me that?” You will immediately question yourself, and that is the liar’s goal. This evasion of truth is based solely on someone not wanting to be direct with you. They will continue to ask more questions, diverting conversation from the foundation of your inquiry. This is a clear, obvious sign someone is lying. They are dancing around your questions so they don’t have to lie.
This type of evasion can cause you to become incredibly frustrated because it defuses your commitment to truth. That is the goal. Your brain is automatically going to try to problem-solve and answer the questions they’re asking you. This can easily derail the initial conversation. Bring it back to the original question. Let them know you are looking for an answer, not a question to your question. Stand your ground and watch them squirm.
When you’ve asked someone a question and they take a long pause, it indicates they’re making up something up in their head. When they make sudden head movements and pause when you ask them a question, it is likely there is a lie in the room. It will be quite noticeable, too. A liar’s head will bow, jerk back, or tilt over to the side. Their body will freeze, and they will often put their head down. This body language is a clear sign of lying. This is especially true if your question was a yes or no answer. If there is a pause that lasts a few seconds, they are trying to figure out how to evade the truth.
Have you ever watched the interrogation of a guilty suspect? Notice that, through the process of questioning, it gets increasingly more difficult for them to talk. The scientific reason is that the nervous system reacts to stress. Having your lies discovered and having to pay the price is a source of stress for anyone looking to hide something. The nervous system will decrease the flow of saliva when over-stressed. This ends up drying out the mouth, which makes it hard to talk. In the pause of answering questions, they may bite their lips or purse them.
An interesting fact is that our emotions tend to change every six to 10 seconds. This is our natural flow when we are relaxed and not feeling defensive. When someone is lying, they tend to act surprised, defensive, or angry far longer. Why would they go to such great lengths? So they can convince you how wrong you are. This is a tell-tale sign of someone who isn’t being sincere. A liar may state how sincerely honest they are being. This type of deceit will also include over-information. You will get a bunch of information you didn’t ask for in the first place. The details will be over the top.
This information overload is in hopes the talking will make you think they are being open with you. Therefore, you’ll be more likely to believe they are being honest. In the end, they are just throwing random, shallow words that provide no clarity to your original inquiry. You may walk away thinking you had a heart to heart. It may feel like a deep, long talk about the whole thing. Sometimes, it takes months to realize that they didn’t clear the air about your original question. In this game of theater, they may accentuate certain movements, like putting their hand on their heart. They may throw their upper body forward as a gesture of their sincerity. If you pay attention to this entertainment, you will see they just filled your mind up with empty words.
This move is like mind-messing warfare. The liar may become hostile in their tone, as well as in their body language. They may insult you, or try to make you believe you’ve done something wrong. They are like a cornered cat that’s ready to fight. This can be a type of abuse, so don’t fall into the trap of getting into an argument if a liar pulls these moves on you. When you ask someone a question and they become hostile or defensive, they are trying to turn the tables. Another method of deflection, the liar is mad because you’ve uncovered their lies. Their body language indicates this hostility will often end with finger-pointing.
Someone who lies to you probably feels like they have a lot to lose if you expose their lies. They are dealing with their own personal battles and will protect themselves to the end. What this means is that they won’t give up their truth easily. When they get angry, you’ll want to try to calm the situation down. Once you do that, ask the question in a non-aggressive way. Don’t try to get the truth out of them in the heat of anger. You have two choices with people who are willing to get hostile with you. First, you can give up and never talk to them again. Or second, you can continue to address the situation in hopes they will tell you the truth. Handling a hostile person because they can’t be honest is a whole set of other problems beyond lying.
Some people may just try to not answer your question at all. You must wonder why anyone would do that unless they were lying. They are trying to get away from the scene of the crime through their words and actions. However, if they ran out of the room randomly, that would be a giveaway they were hiding the truth. By avoiding the answer, liars have a chance to pull the wool over your eyes. Liars will give you irrelevant information that has little to do with your question. They may also try to change the subject.
Be mindful and recognize whether you’re still on the original topic, or if they started talking about something completely different. For example, when you ask a liar if they ate your chocolate bar, they may respond by asking, “Did you get it down at the corner store? They’re actually on sale right now.” While they are still on the topic of the chocolate bar, you can see the diversion from a simple yes-or-no answer.
Most liars are known to break eye contact during their deceit. But some are such seasoned veterans of lying, they go the opposite way. Psychologists believe that people who tell big lies will stare you down. In fact, pathological liars will engage in greater eye contact than normal. They will continue to look into your eyes to illustrate they aren’t lying. The thing is, they won’t blink. Their stare is not natural and it’s likely they don’t even see you. They are busy within their own minds while concentrating on standing their ground. This is a form of manipulation. They know what you’re looking for when you look into their eyes.
Liars who are smart enough to look straight at you and lie are professionals. You may want to question their motives. Studies on con men show they overcompensate eye contact and can look at people longer without blinking. When someone is being honest, they will shift their eyes from time to time. Honest people are relaxed and probably thinking about other things, instead of focusing hard on a lie. Liars use a cold gaze to not only hides their dishonesty but also intimidate. In the end, liars are trying to mimic what they think is honest behavior. If you’re conscious of it, you will see they are over-embellishing it. On the other hand, beware of rapid blinking as well.
Lying is hard work, so sometimes the body will automatically take over. When someone shuffles their feet when you’re talking to them, you have just made them feel extremely uncomfortable. They are nervous from your questioning. Shuffling feet indicates a liar wishes they could walk away from the situation. People who study body language say you can learn a lot from people’s feet. If someone increases their foot movements, this can indicate stress, anxiety and nervousness. The direction of a person’s feet is another indication. If their torso is facing you, but their feet are in the opposite direction, it’s a signal they don’t want to have the conversation.
There are a lot of subtle signs that might occur when you suspect someone is lying. For instance, looking up at the top right corner of the room when you ask a question indicates they are making something up. If a liar puts their palm near their face, neck, or forehead, they are subconsciously trying to hide from you. If they put their fingers in their mouth, they have something to hide but desperately want to tell you. When a person coughs a lot, they are in distress about being caught in a lie. When their eyes move from side to side, this is a sign of lying. If you’re trying to get to the truth of the matter, knowing these signs can help you. A liar may not show their hand, but at least you know you can’t trust them. This can save you a lot of grief in the long run.
If the person appears to be thinking too hard to fill in the details of the story, they may be trying to deceive you. Telling a lie takes more mental energy than telling the truth. Liars always have to monitor their words and the response of the listener to what they are saying. They are concerned about their credibility and want to ensure their story is believed. Research has shown that if people are asked to repeat their story in reverse order, it can increase the accuracy of lie detection. This is because it puts more cognitive load on the brain. It is already expending more mental energy than if the truth was being told. Behavioral clues tend to become apparent when people have to think harder. In a study, 55 police officers who watched taped interviews detected lies better in reverse-order interviews than in chronological discussions.
In day-to-day situations, researchers believe that trusting your gut instinct is helpful. Why do so many of us fail to detect lies if this is the case? They think that instead of relying on our gut instincts, we tend to look for stereotypical signs of lying such as lack of eye contact and fidgeting. This may affect the ability to distinguish between truths and lies. The next time you’re trying to figure out whether someone is lying, learn how to spot the more subtle behavior associated with lying, such as signs the person is thinking too hard. Most importantly, trust your instincts. You may have a great intuitive sense of whether someone is lying or not, and you need to learn to trust that sense.
If a person is making up a story, they may eliminate sensory information and will have a problem when you ask them to supply extra information. Say, for instance, a friend tells you that she ate at a well-known fancy restaurant. She says she went to the restaurant but leaves out any details such as the food choices and the décor. You suspect she is lying, but how do you know for sure? It helps to pay attention when stories are missing details. Someone telling the truth will often add in more information, like what music was playing, the decor or what happened when they arrived. Liars will omit details like this because it’s hard to stay consistent, especially when it comes to timing. Someone who is lying is aware that using fewer, simpler words and not going overboard with details can prevent them from being caught.
Answering additional questions and having to make up more details becomes stressful for them. When it’s least expected, ask your friend who said she ate at the fancy restaurant details about the décor, what the tables looked like and what she ate. She will probably become flustered if she was lying. She may even become annoyed if she suspects you know she’s lying. You don’t have to call your friend out on her lie if you want to keep the friendship. If the lie is a harmless one, instead just let it go. If the lie is not a harmless one and it affects other people, pressing for all the details may rattle the person enough for the truth to come out. It’s hard to keep adding details without slipping up.
Eye movements can be revealing because we are hard-wired to look in certain directions depending on our thoughts. It is generally accepted that anyone who looks to their left is using the logical side of the brain and anyone looking to the right is using the more creative side. Typically, a right-handed person should look up and to the left if they recall actual events, feelings, sounds, and memories. If they are lying, they will need to access the creative side and their eyes will look to the right. For example, you may ask your partner what he was working on at the office the previous night. If he was working on a new marketing plan, his eyes will go up and to the left as he recalls what he was working on. If he looks up to the right, he’s formulating an answer and not recalling an actual event.
Researchers began investigating this method of catching someone out in a lie after realizing that it was being taught in seminars and behavioral-training courses. They found no correlation between eye movements and telling the truth. That suggested it was time to abandon this method, and many experts believe that detecting a lie is far more complicated than looking at eye movements. It isn’t as easy to detect a lie as some TV shows make it seem. The direction of a person’s eyes might mean that they are jittery or nervous about something. However, perhaps seeing where a person looks when asked a question, added to other clues, could confirm a person is lying.
When you ask a question and you get way more information than you asked for, you may not be hearing the truth. When people ramble on, they may be hoping to deflect attention from the question. They appear to be open because they’re talking and talking, but they are hoping you will forget what you asked. When asking someone, “Where were you?” or “Why are you so late?” and they reply with a detailed rundown, they are likely lying. They give themselves away by making up a complex, highly detailed story to convince you they are telling the truth.
The next time you ask your significant other what he was doing while out with his friends, and he tells you in great detail all about what his friends did and doesn’t mention anything about himself; you may have cause for concern. Some mothers say when their teenagers supply too much information when they are confronted with a question about their behavior, they’re pretty sure they are being told lies. Any unique information included in an explanation, such as an unexpected encounter along the way, usually means the person is overcompensating and adding false elements to make you believe the lie. One lie usually begets another lie, and before the liar even realizes it, they have concocted a whole web of lies, and it’s much easier to find them out.
3. They Provide Script-Like Answers to a Question That’s Repeated
In the military, the following method is used to identify liars. They are asked the same question three times in three different ways. You might think this is done to help to reveal any inconsistencies in the answers. In fact, it has been found that those who provide the same rote answer every time are likely to be lying. The same response word for word may mean they are concealing something, and following a script helps them to sell it. It allows them to answer the question without revealing what they are trying to conceal. If the response feels as though it is prepared or scripted, it’s a sure sign that you’re being told a lie, or at the very least, not hearing the whole story.
People who aren’t lying may give essentially the same answer all three times, but it will vary slightly and sound more natural. When people are truthful, they tend to remember more details when asked to repeat a story. The story won’t necessarily come out the same way as it did the first time, even though the essential elements will be the same. In response to closed questions, people will often say less for fear of revealing their deception so that they will answer with a “yes” or a “no.” People who are telling the truth are not afraid of having all the facts out there, so they will usually respond to a closed question with more than a one-word answer.
If someone seems obsessed with how they look when they are speaking to you, they could be lying. The person may keep adjusting a tie or shirt collar. A woman may keep brushing her hair behind her ears or straightening a skirt. People who sweat are not necessarily lying, but if they wipe away the sweat with a handkerchief, you may have a liar on your hands. Cleaning glasses obsessively, retying shoelaces, or performing another random physical action will often indicate a person is lying and the guilt is making them restless. This can be particularly true if the person is lying to a loved one. A wife may start tidying the room or washing dishes if she’s lying to her spouse. A lying husband may place a newspaper, coffee cup, or some other object directly between himself and his spouse as a symbolic barrier.
Psychologists and students of body language will look for “hand-to-head” movements as an indication of lying, such as touching or rubbing the eyes, tugging at an earlobe, covering the mouth or even scratching inside an earlobe. Liars will often psychologically protect one of the most vulnerable spots on the human body situated just above the sternum (suprasternal notch). A liar may cover it with a hand, or people wearing neck jewelry will play with it to cover up the area. Other hand movements to watch for are rubbing the neck, crossing the arms, picking at imaginary lint on a jacket, clenching the hands, opening and closing the hands or placing the palms downward. Bill Clinton, for instance, famously touched his nose numerous times when he was questioned about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
1. One Aspect of Their Demeanor Contradicts Another
Ever hear anyone say they are “just fine” when their body language indicates the opposite? Anything people do with their voices or gestures that don’t fit with their words can indicate a lie. Sometimes a person may lie, saying “Yes, she took the money,” but will make some gesture that contradicts their words, like a slight shake of the head indicating “no.” If the pitch of someone’s voice changes from what you usually expect, they could be lying. When the timing is off between expressions, gestures, and words, this also indicates a lie. For example, if a person says “I love it!” when receiving a gift and then smiles after making the statement instead of while making it.
It may even be in a micro-expression that lasts less than a second, but one that indicates a concealed emotion. The face has more than 40 muscles that can be used to form thousands of different expressions. It’s not easy to fake emotion, and this will often trip up a liar. A person may be acting happy, but a subconscious flash of anger will indicate the true emotion. Many people won’t notice, but it is possible to catch it. The contradictions can be between words and voice, words and gesture, or face and words. Some aspect of a person’s demeanor contradicts another aspect. For instance, liars may lean back to create physical distance between themselves and the person they’re lying to. This is because the discomfort caused by their lying makes them want to distance themselves from situational anxiety.
These 18 simple ways can help you determine whether someone is deceitful. However, due to the vast variations in human behavior, there is no fool-proof form of lie detection. The best way to detect a lie may still be to trust your instincts.