Being lied to isn’t fun, and it can also be bad for our health, as it can hurt us emotionally, mentally and financially. Unfortunately, there’s no way to be 100 percent sure if someone is lying, but if we are already suspicious or have some evidence, there are some signs we can look out for.
They don’t refer to themselves
Liars tend to want to remove themselves from their lies, so they might say something like: “Nothing happened with her,” rather than: “I didn’t do anything with her.”
They tend to be negative
When they describe an event they are lying about, liars might be overly negative, discouraging or cynical. For example, if they were supposed to call you and they didn’t, they might say something like: “I forgot my stupid charger in the car,” or: “I fell asleep before I could call you. I’m such an idiot.”
They repeat words
In an attempt to convince both themselves and you of their lie, liars might repeat the same word, phrase, or idea over and over again until you both believe it. For example: “I absolutely, positively, 100 percent did not take it.”
They provide too much information
When someone provides extra details, more information than you asked for, and doesn’t stop or slow down to let you digest the information or ask more questions, it might be because they’re lying. This is especially true if this person isn’t usually a big talker. Liars will sometimes talk more because they believe their willingness to speak looks like openness and honesty.
They change their head or body position quickly
If you see someone make a sudden, unexpected movement when you ask them something, they may be preparing to lie to you. This can include the head retracting or being jerked back, tilted sharply to the side or bowed down. It can also include suddenly moving their hand to certain areas of their body, including the neck, chest, throat, mouth or abdomen.
Their breathing changes
The person’s shoulders may tense up or appear to raise, and their breath may become quicker and more shallow. These changes happen because when we become nervous or tense, our heart rate and blood flow changes. This can happen when we feel anxious or nervous about telling a lie.
Overall, the biggest indicator of a lie to look for is any sudden change in a person’s behavior. This can include a sudden movement, a change in voice pitch or tone, talking speed—anything out of the ordinary.
Although none of these signs are by themselves proof that someone is lying to you, if you already have reason to believe that someone is being dishonest, looking out for these signals could help protect you from unnecessary pain or hurt.
Gregg Prescott, M.S.
As a Child & Family Therapist, I was trained to look for signs of lying. Here are a few more not mentioned in the article:
Eye direction. When we think of the truth, we tend to focus our eyes either to the right or to the left. We tend to gather factual and fictitious information from different hemispheres of the brain. To tell if someone is lying, ask them questions you’re sure they know, such as their birth date, astrological sign or town they were born in, and look at what direction their eyes are looking when they’re answering. This will be the truthful direction. If they look in the opposite direction for any subsequent questions, then they may be lying.
Flaring nostrils. As mentioned in the article above, breathing plays an important role. One thing to pay attention to is whether the subject’s nostrils are flaring or not. When we lie, our breathing rates change and these subtle changes can be observed through the flaring of the nostrils.
Pupil dilation. When a person lies, there pupils become very large as they’re using the creative side of their brain to think of anything other than the truth. the dilation of the pupils is an uncontrollable involuntary action that is extremely difficult to fake, if at all possible..
If you know these signs, it makes it easier to analyze people’s integrity, but please keep in mind that these are generalizations. Not everyone is the same. For the most part, they’ll give you an accurate analysis, as evidenced by my experience as a child & family therapist. I’ve even used these techniques while playing cards and can tell whether an amateur card player is bluffing or not!