How to Detect Lies
Knowing how to detect lies is an incredibly useful skill that can help you: gain a greater appreciation of your loved ones around you, correctly assess a sales situation, or even protect yourself from fraud.
1- A holistic approach. Knowing the person to a reasonable degree, understanding the context of their situation, and appreciating their level of emotional arousal, are all required before testing for any of the below suggested ‘tells’ of lying. These tells need to be appreciated en-mass before you can evaluate, with reasonable confidence, whether the subject is lying or not. Build a rapport with this person before enquiring into whether they are lying or not. This will give you an indication of their ‘natural state’ before you place them under stress,
2- Micro Expressions. Micro expressions are the tiny, subtle changes in our facial features that hint that we may be being untruthful. Some people are subconsciously more in-tune with reading these kinds of queues, however with a little practice and know how, those of us who are less socially sensitive should begin to pick them up. Typically speaking, eyebrows will draw up slightly, Their eyes will move to the right (if they are right handed- the opposite is true for lefties), they will blink more, and will touch or slightly cover their face (nose, eyes or mouth), if they are lying. It helps however, to know this person and have interacted with them many times before, in order to have an ‘honest baseline’, with which to compare.
2- Body language. Some things to watch out for include: Leaning away- this suggests disinterest or an unwillingness to disclose the truth. Disengagement- when people are truthfully interacting, they tend to ‘mirror’ each other’s actions. If one is reluctant to do so, they may be lying. Disjoint between body language and what they’re saying- is the person saying something with a positive or affirmative slant yet is shaking his/her head? Also, is there a delay between the delivery of your question and their nod prior to their response? Are they gesturing with their hands less than they usually would? Are they keeping their hands still by gripping an object- are their knuckles white? Are they distracting their hands by playing with their hair or fiddling? Are they looking away only briefly when asked a difficult question?
3- Observing the throat. Are they swallowing lots or gulping? Breathing slightly faster than usual?
4- Sweat? People tend to sweat more when they’re lying.
5- Eye contact. Do not use lack of eye-contact as a suggestion that someone is lying. Some liars may deliberately increase eye-contact time in order to appear truthful.
6- Pitch, tone and pace. Is the pace of their responses changing dramatically? Are they talking in a higher pitch? Is there tone softer and calmer than you would expect in response to your line of questioning? Did they reply a little too quickly i.e. were they expecting to be challenged? Perhaps they may be stalling in order to allow time to come up with an answer if your question was unexpected? If they are doing as above, this is an indication of that person lying.
7- Content. Have certain aspects or pieces of information been delivered in much more detail than required, whereas things of more relevance have been omitted? Are they on the defensive (being in shock is an exception here), when they should really be angry or offended that you don’t believe them? Are they repeating your words rather than their own? Are they avoiding the subject through the use of joking around? Are they avoiding the use of contractions i.e. are they saying things like “they are”, rather then “they’re”? Are they avoiding direct responses? Are they leaving out pronouns such as “they”, “he”, or “it”? Are they jumping between sentences? IF yes to the above, they are most likely to be lying.
8- Adjust your line of questioning. Ask open ended questions and leave silence for the response. Liars often find it difficult to not fill silence.
Some people are naturally shy, nervous, or will exhibit the signs of lying when deliberating over complex subject matter. Be sensitive to this and don’t judge too quickly.
A lie told over and over is essentially being re-lived by the liar, and in time, they will comfortably tell the lie from memory, making it very difficult to determine whether they are lying or not.