Whether we like it or not, our body is always sending off signals about what we’re really thinking or feeling. If you’re aware of a few common tells, you can practise how to tell if someone is lying.
It’s not a hard and fast science – it all depends on the person’s natural body language, habits and reactions. Just because someone is displaying some of these signs isn’t a guarantee that they’re lying but they can be helpful when trying to read other people.
Here are common signs that can help you tell if someone is lying:
Both too much or too little eye contact can be an indication. Too much, with very little blinking, that comes across as staring could be a sign of the person is trying to convince you that they’re being truthful when they’re not.
Someone looks down or around often or is blinking too much can be a sign of deception as subconsciously they’re avoiding eye contact because of their dishonesty.
Widening eyes and lifting eyebrows are used to convey innocence and convince the other person that what they’re saying is the truth (even if it’s not.)
Too much information
A sign of someone who is fabricating a story will add excessive amounts of detail to the event. This is a distraction technique, they’re hoping to bombard you with information so you don’t realise they’re fibbing.
The extra information will often be unnecessary to the story. Some detail is normal but if it’s starting to sound like an episode of Days of Our Lives, it’s probably because it’s not the truth.
The way you hold yourself can be a dead give away for how you’re feeling.
Open body language, such as squared shoulders, relaxed arms, feet facing forwards are all signs that the person is relaxed and comfortable. This means that they’re probably being honest.
Closed body language; crossed arms, hunched back, feet turned away, can all be indicators that the person is uncomfortable and/or being deceptive.
Someone who is being dishonest may subconsciously touch, or even cover, their mouth or their eyes. Biting their lip may be a result of increased anxiety.
Touching their neck, rubbing their hands or fiddling with jewellery, particularly rings, are other giveaways. This is known as ‘self petting’; when someone is uncomfortable with what they’re saying, they will try to reassure themselves through touch.
Pay close attention to how the other person is speaking, they may drop a few clues.
Someone who is lying will often use formal language instead of conversational language e.g. saying ‘do not’ instead of ‘don’t’. They might try to distance themselves from the topic of the lie by referring to a person that they know well as ‘that man’ or ‘them’.
If you’re familiar with the potential liar, keep an ear out for words or phrases they don’t commonly use. It could be a dead giveaway that they’re telling a lie.
Standing too still
You would think that a liar is twitching with nerves because of their dishonesty but often the opposite is true. They may be making an effort to stand still – unnaturally still.
A relaxed person naturally shifts positions now and then but someone in a high-stress situation will try to limit all body movement.
If the other person is looking stiff and uncomfortable, it’s the body’s way of telling you that they’re not relaxed in the situation.