Being lied to can be a serious insult to your intelligence and your ability to trust. When it’s the guy you care about who’s giving you the business, it’s even worse. When you catch someone feeding you BS, you can go through a lot of emotions: betrayal, disappointment, sadness—it’s a mess of a time. The liar will often do their best to make sure that you don’t catch on. If you’re with someone who’s gotten too good at lying for their own good, they may still be offering up some subtle signs that you could miss if you weren’t looking for them. Here are just a few.
Ask a question you already know the answer to.
The best way to spot a liar is to know how they tell the truth. When it comes to certain behaviors, a person generally sticks to the same mannerisms. If you know that he looks you directly in the eye and gestures with his hands while he’s being honest, chances are he won’t be doing the same thing during a storytelling session. Unless he’s a complete sociopath and he’s made lying a hobby, he won’t stray from his normal body language clues while lying.
Check his eyes.
Direct eye contact isn’t the usual standard when liars are trying to get one over your head, but pay close attention to the specific eye movements he’s making. They could be selling him out. If his eyes are darting cartoonishly from side to side or he looks up and away from you, it’s a good sign that what he’s saying may not be entirely true.
His mouth may give it away.
One study done at UCLA found that liars tend to purse their lips or roll them inwards, almost as if they’re trying to the truth from spilling out. They will literally seal their mouths shut. This action may not be a giveaway all on its own, but if it goes along with body language that is typical of lying, it’s something to pay close attention to.
There’s some Obvious fidgeting.
A classic way to tell if someone is lying is to watch for fidgeting, shaking legs, or trembling hands. This nervousness can happen when someone who is generally an honest person gets uncomfortable during the omission of the truth. Of course, many people fidget as a habit or due to social anxiety, so it may not be the confirmation you need to tell whether or not he’s lying.
He raises his voice.
If he answers your question with a higher pitch than normal or even raises his voice so that he’s talking louder, it’s an obvious tell. The tightening of the vocal cords is an innate human response to elevated levels of stress in the body, and when good people tell lies, they tend to stress themselves out.
He answers a question with a question.
The ‘answering a question with a question’ tactic is one of the oldest tricks in the liar’s handbook. If someone’s lying, they may ask you a question like “Do you really think I’d do that?” to try and pull the attention off of them and onto you. This way, you’ll feel bad about being accusatory and they’ll get off scot-free.
There’s the dreaded pause.
If it takes him more than a few seconds to answer your question, he’s not trying to remember what happened. He’s trying to think of a good story to tell in place of what actually happened. People don’t tend to think before they speak especially when they’re comfortable with someone. If he’s giving his response too much thought, it’s probably because he’s making one up.
Watch his hands.
It used to be said that someone who uses grand hand gestures while talking was more likely to be lying, but recent studies have shown that’s not actually the case. People who are lying will use their hands far more after they’ve finished talking. This is because their brain can’t process hand gestures, covering up the truth, and making up a story that you’ll believe all at the same time.
He’s an over-explainer.
Liars tend to embellish. When telling someone a fictional story, who wouldn’t want to add in more details to make it seem more realistic? If you’re talking to him and he’s telling you every single detail down to the type of sandwich he had for lunch and how much he tipped the waitress, something is off.
He doesn’t say quite enough.
On the other hand, many people who have gotten used to lying in their lives will stick to the minimum when answering questions. Instead of going off on an elaborate story, they’ll use one-word answers and give the least amount of information possible. This tactic has been found to be used by prisoners in interrogations to avoid accidental self-incrimination.
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