Of course you’re not going to get a fire signal or a growing nose alert to tell you if a person is lying and most people in today’s world are pretty good at covering it up as well, but if you pay close attention, a few telltale signs can help you become quite the lie detecting expert.
1. Panic like a Madman on fire – The most obvious thing a liar fears is getting caught. And the most apparent reaction of fear is panic. So look for a change in tone, a change in position and body language. If they start fidgeting around with their fingers or start biting their nails, you know there’s something fishy going on.
2. Why are you smiling so widely? So, an important point to note here is that this change in behaviour and body language does not necessarily have to be a panicky or a negative one. In some cases, people change their mood and start acting overly jovial or friendly as overcompensation for the lie they’ve told or the incident they’re trying to cover up.
3. Mr Know it all? Not really! Ask yourself what you did last week and you’re going to have to pause for a few seconds before answering, even to yourself. This is the reaction most people would have to a question probing about the recent past. So if the person has an instant answer with zero amount of hesitation, you know they’ve been rehearsing it so it’s probably a lie and you should take it in from one ear and throw it out the other.
4. Would I ever lie to you? It is like one of those things that people try too hard on. If a person is trying to validate their statements over and over by saying things like “would I ever lie to you?” or “don’t you know how I pride myself on honesty?” and other such supposedly reassuring things, chances are they definitely would lie to you and they’re doing it right now.
5. The guilty play defense, the innocent play offense – What do people do when they are about to be caught? They defend themselves to every last bit they can. So when a liar is asked questions, everything about them is going to go on the defense. From their eyes turning away, to the tip of their toes facing another direction, everything is going to change. And of course, the tone of the conversation and their way of answering things shall change as well while in contrast, an innocent person will be offended upon accusation.
6. Standing still as a tree – Some people might do the opposite of panic. They’d become very still and stiff in their movements, if at all there are any. This is considered to be a primitive form of the “fight” reaction as opposed to “flight.” Observe that while normally talking, people tend to move around their hands a lot as well as their body so when someone is being overcautious, they’re going to try and stay still which is a red alert for you to pick up on.
7. Can’t hit the pause button – Often, when people are lying, they feel the need to create a detailed and elaborate story that sounds believable enough. This leads to them going on and on about things, giving out unnecessary information just for the sake of validation. They also keep repeating the things that they consider to be a core part of the lie they have fabricated. Again, this stems from the need for overcompensation.
8. Run as fast as they can – What is the most common coping mechanism we use, not just for lying but for things in general? That’s correct, escapism. Liars are no exception to this. They will try to change the topic and steer clear of the subject all together instead of discussing about things and moving with the flow. You can use this to your advantage and try out a little test in this case. If after changing the topic of the conversation, the person’s mood changes to something a little more enthusiastic, it’s clear they were lying earlier.
9. Closing off communication – Since they want to steer clear of the topic, they’re going to try all sorts of things to do it, consciously or subconsciously. They might put their hand on their mouth or their lips, trying to muffle their tone or signalling silence, all in all, closing off communication, quite literally.
10. Staredy cat alert! A common observation made was that liars often break eye contact in order to not deal with the guilt of it. But recently, it has been discovered that just to manipulate you and try to convince you of their honesty, they might start staring at you without blinking. This is again, overcompensation.
Though these signs have been observed and reported by most people, it is not a Holy Grail. These signs are only effective when the behaviour of the person in a stressful situation is compared to the baseline behaviour. But still, if you’re smart enough, you’ll figure it out! It is all a lie anyway. Or is it not?