Ever wonder if someone is being honest with you or if you’re being fed a bunch of lies? Did you know we are often able to sniff out a liar by observing body language, eye movement, and speech patterns?
Everybody lies. It’s a (sad) universal human trait…From when your friend asks a question and the truth will hurt her so you tell a lie to make her feel good, to telling your boss you feel sick when you’re actually doing great just because you don’t feel like gong to workfor the day, to saying you’re busy when you’re not so you don’t have to go to dinner with your crazy family, to fibbing to your partner when you know you’re cheating, to even denying that you were the one who passed gas in the meeting.
People lie for many different reasons, sometimes with mean and misleading intentions and other times with good intentions. It could be to uphold a secret, to protect someone that’s in danger, to help someone’s feelings from getting hurt, to avoid getting in trouble, to just mess with someone, to damage someone’s reputation, and on and on it goes. Whatever is going on or for whatever reason, no one appreciates being lied to.
All lies are not the same so first let’s go over some different types of lies. Here are a few:
- White lie – a insignificant, tactful, or well-intentioned untruth
- Bluff – pretending to have or to not have something (poker players do this to throw off other players)
- Half-truth – a false statement that includes some element of truth
- Fabrication – making a statement as true despite knowing whether it is actually true or not
- Noble lie – an untruth intentionally told to maintain social harmony or to advance an agenda
- Plagiarism – both stealing and lying, consisting of copying someone else’s work and calling it your own
- Omission – lying by either leaving out certain facts or by failing to correct a misconception
- Exaggeration – enhancing a truth by adding lies to it
- Perjury – the willful giving of false testimony under oath or affirmation
- Bold-face lie – an obvious and outright lie
- Compulsive lying – often caused by low self-esteem and a need for attention; constantly telling lies even when telling the truth would be easier and better
- And this list goes on and on….
Liars usually give off certain signs or act differently when lying. Pick up on these signals and you have a good chance of spotting a liar:
- Avoiding eye contact (this doesn’t always mean someone is lying because truthful people can do this too once in awhile)
- Unusual eye movement (right-handed people usually look to the left when coming up with a lie and reverse with left-handed people)
- Liars might glance away (or place something between you) when asked a question
- Stiff gestures and body movements (arms kept close to body)
- More than average sweating (but this could also just be a sign of nervousness from shyness)
- Verbal and facial expressions don’t match up
- Give too much information (telling too much may be a desperate attempt to get you to believe them)
- Avoid direct answers (like politicians sometimes do)
- Answers are flat and emotionless (trying to sound convincing using logic and reason, not emotion)
- Avoid responding to your question by redirecting it with a truth (Q: “Did you take my soda?”… A: ”I hate soda, why would I take yours?”)
- Go on the defensive when asked a question (trying to convince you of their “honesty”)
- Answer very quickly (they were already thinking of what to say before you asked) or very slowly (they are making a quick mental review to come up with a lie)
- Use your exact words in their answer (Q: “Did you kiss my girlfriend?”…A: ”No, I did not kiss your girlfriend.”)
- Joke around to ease the tension
- You can also attempt to trap a liar. Try some of these suggestions:
- Ask leading questions, not loaded questions (Instead of asking “Did you meet Mark last week?” ask, “Mark said he talked you last week. What day was that?”).
- Have awkward silences in your conversation (it will make the liar nervous).
- During the conversation change the subject all of a sudden. It will confuse a person telling the truth, but a liar will be relieved to get off the subject.
- Listen to their voice. If the tone is high or the pitch changes that is a signal that the person is not telling the truth).
Using all or a combination of all of these approaches to fib finding can help you become a human lie detector, but they aren’t scientifically proven methods (of course the more familiar you are with a person will help in spotting dishonesty). Every person is different so each will have his or her own tell tale characteristics that expose their deceitfulness.
Readers, what are your thoughts? Do you have anything to add that helps you detect a liar?