Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where all we had to do was watch someone’s nose to see if they were being truthful? If you’re like me, you’ve had that sinking suspicion at one time or another that you were being deceived.
The only trouble is that we often don’t have the proof to call the person out. While I can’t give you a crystal ball to look into, I can give you something almost as good. There are a few signs to look out for when you think someone is telling you a big fat lie. But first let’s get into white lies vs true lies, and why we lie.
White Lie Vs. True Lie
First, you need to understand the difference between these two particular types of lies. This one is particularly important since it revolves around major lies and the tiny ones we all tell every day. It’s crucial to understand the difference between the two. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a white lie is “a lie about a small or unimportant matter that someone tells to avoid hurting another person.” In this sense, a white lie or a fib is told with the best interests at heart for the most part.
Of course, with white lies, we often find ourselves telling more and more of them throughout the days or weeks just to keep up with our original story. That can get a little tedious from time to time. You may get away with the first few, but over time, they become harder and harder to keep track of. This is especially true if you’ve told one to avoid any kind of responsibility or commitment.
A true lie, ironically enough, is just something that straight is not true whatsoever. Trying to get out of a sticky situation by claiming it’s something it’s not only for the truth to be easily verifiable is a true lie, the kind that can get you in serious trouble.
Why Do We Lie?
This is the part that many forget when they focus on a lie. The important part isn’t the lie itself — it’s their reasoning, their why. This is critical to know and understand if you want any hope of discerning lies from truth. Consider the possibilities. Some of us lie in order to get out of some kind of commitment or responsibility. Others lie to make themselves look better in the hopes of impressing those around them. It’s a means of building themselves up.
More dangerously, some people lie in order to try to manipulate others in the hope of acquiring something in return. It doesn’t matter so much what they want — the point is that they want it and are willing to attempt to deceive you to get it.
Is the Polygraph Test Really Accurate?
This one is a bit iffy since the results are more often mixed at best. Some swear by it, others are doubtful. You can usually tell what’s going on — on your own since people are often surprisingly bad at lying and give off signs. But people are also often equally bad at detecting them. This is why, in extreme cases, a suspect who may be lying can be strapped into a polygraph machine, which reads signals coming off the person’s body to determine whether or not they’re lying.
The lie detector aims to measure physiological reactions like respiration, blood pressure, pulse and skin conductivity to determine if someone is being deceptive.
In reality, though, studies have shown that polygraph tests can either be tricked or stumped with certain behaviors, such as calming the heartbeat and breathing. This is what leads to so many inconclusive results. So we wouldn’t say they’re totally accurate. More like they depend on the person and situation.
How to Tell if Someone is Lying
Questions You Can Ask Yourself to Determine if Someone is Lying
1. Do They Look Right?
If someone is lying to you they are apt to look left and slightly towards the sky. If someone is looking directly at you or to the right, you can feel secure that they are probably telling the truth.
2. Are They Anxious?
If a person acts a bit uneasy around you, it can be a sign that they are fibbing. Lying triggers a rush of adrenaline in our brains causing us to appear nervous, jittery and irritable.
3. What Separates You?
Ask yourself this question when you are arguing with someone. A person who is lying will subconsciously place objects between themselves and you as a way to “remove” them from the situation.
4. Are They Easily Upset?
Someone who is lying to you might get easily offended by simple questions. They might respond to the question “Where did you go for lunch today?” with “Why are you always on my case?” Be wary of the easily angered person especially when the anger results from a simple inquiry.
5. Are They Frozen Stiff?
A liar will often restrict their body movement as a subconscious “guarding” mechanism. Watch for other clues such as a body turned away from yours or very stiff, unnatural arm movements.
When someone lies to you, it’s a big deal. Of course, we all do it — little white lies here and there to help us out when necessary. But bigger lies, ones that actively harm you or your life are a major issue. Learning to tell when someone is lying to you is a major skill to have in this day and age, especially if you’re working in the business field or any other competitive market. So we’ve compiled a list of means to help you pick up on the subtle key hints that will clue you in when you’re being taken for a ride.
If you’re still stumped on how to tell, here are 11 common signs or behaviors that most lying people exhibit when they’re struggling to fool you. Body language most comes into play here, so paying attention to these crucial signals is your best bet at catching them red-handed.
11 Specific Behaviors that Someone is Lying
1. Hand Gestures
This one is especially helpful because most people become animated during the story they’re regaling to you. People who are lying or fibbing tend to take advantage of their hand cues once the story has concluded. This is because so much of their mind is spent weaving this intricate story that their hands don’t receive the memo, as it were. Too late to respond, they often don’t.
2. Facial Cues
Research seems to show that someone who is lying might not be all too willing to make eye contact with you. This research was performed at UCLA and was corroborated, seeing that people will occasionally look away when lying, whereas most truth-tellers focused on the face of the person they were speaking to.
3. The Mouth
It’s been observed that liars tend to roll their lips back until they just about disappear, indicating the possible shifting and suppressing of emotions that might give them away. By pursuing their lips, you can effectively tell which questions are more sensitive than others, giving hints to the lie.
4. Sweating or Dryness
If you see sweat building on the face, such as upper lip or forehead, or else see sweat disappear entirely, that’s a classic indicator of a lie in progress. These are signals caused by the automatic nervous system under stress and worry, which happens without the liar even knowing.
5. Change in Complexion
Someone who goes white as a sheet during questioning might be lying since nervousness can cause blood to rush rapidly out of the face.
6. Itching or Fidgeting
Unusual movements in the head, feet, hands, and body can indicate untruthful words since they’re often a clear sign of nervousness. The nervous system begins to act in overdrive, causing extreme timidness which can lead to a confusion of physical signals, creating the classic fidgeting in various fashion.
7. Tone of Voice
Someone who is untruthful might have a mellower voice that suddenly goes much higher in pitch when answering a question could very well have just ousted a lie. Similarly, if someone’s voice creaks or cracks while speaking, that’s also a good indicator of a lie in progress. The same is true if their voice suddenly changes in volume.
8. Content of Speech
If the person is assuring you constantly that they want to be honest with you, it means they’re probably trying to put you at ease that you’ll get the utter truth from them. This makes it easier for them to weave the lie together. Similarly, if they’re using a lot of non-words like “uh” or “um”, which is vocal fill, this could be seen as buying time for their brains to finish concocting their stories.
This is one of the easiest. If you catch a detail that’s gone slightly off from what you were told before, this means the person might not have committed their lie entirely to memory and they’re struggling to keep up with the finer details.
10. Providing Few Details
If the person is being incredibly vague about what happened, it’s entirely likely that they haven’t got a full story together at all and might be buying time until they do. If they’re vague, then they won’t have to reveal the whole thing right now and can wait until they’re more confident of themselves.
11. Providing Too Many Details
On the contrary, be wary of those who offer up too many details. In an effort to convince you that they’re telling the truth, liars tend to embellish, such as providing specific information, sometimes not even relevant to the story.
Ultimately, people are bad at lying for the most part. Unfortunately, people are also often bad at figuring out what’s a lie versus what’s the truth. That’s why it’s important to pick up on social and physical cues right away. This can save you a lot of trouble if you’re dealing with a finicky friend or an untrustworthy partner. It may take a little studying and memorizing, honestly. But even if it’s not a close acquaintance, learning to discern a lie can help you in your day to day life as well. Learn the differences and make decisions for yourself.
While all of these signs are great ways to tell when someone is playing you for a fool, they aren’t always written in stone. If none of these signs applies, your gut instinct can be your best indicator. If you think something is fishy, chances are it is. Try these tips out and please leave a comment with some of your own.
What other telltale signs that someone is lying? Please share in the comments.