How to Spot a Liar (and Truth Tellers)

by Michael Corthell

Let's start by saying that we are all liars by definition. If you tell me you have never lied once in your life, then you are a liar. Okay, we have that important point out of the way.

You might be interested to know that more than 80 percent of all lies people tell go undetected. But does that surprise you? We all learn to lie early on. Think back to when you were very young, and it shouldn't surprise you that lying is such a common behavior. When asked about eating a piece of candy before a meal, most children are guaranteed punishment if they admit to it. Lying, they reason, gives them a much lower probability of being punished—that is, if they don't get caught. Lying is part of being human—it is a defense mechanism.

''The essence of lying is in deception, not in words.''
—John Ruskin

So then, people tell lies all the time, that is a fact and many are very skilled at it depending on psychological makeup, as well as their cognitive and verbal abilities—therefore it can be very difficult to tell if someone is lying to you.

Can you learn to recognize the signs that someone is lying to you? Yes. Some of the signs are obvious, while others are more subtle, but there are ways to catch someone in a lie, you just need to know what they are. Here are some easy ways to recognize liars and catch the lies:

The nose, knows. If you suspect someone is telling a tall tale, watch out for face touching and nose wiping. A persons nose often begins to itch, so they start touching and rubbing it all the time. because when we are nervous, blood rushes to the nose. It is called 'the Pinocchio effect.'

Eye Contact. A person who is lying won't make eye contact with you or they make too much eye contact. If a person is lying will look down at the floor or away from you. Others will deliberately stare at you because they are practiced liars.

Contraction Overemphasis. A practiced liar will often avoid using contractions…. ''I did NOT have sex with at woman''. This is a 'nice try' by the liar to be absolutely clear by what they mean but it ends up making the story seem like a fair tale.

Strange Body Language. Liars often fidget, turn away from the person to whom they are speaking, blink rapidly, smile less and even have changes in their tone of voice. They cross their arms to block you off trying not to reveal too much information.

Too Much Info. Liars provide too much information without being asked for it. They seem to think that by 'flowering up' their story, you will find it more believable. But in fact, that makes the story more complicated and less believable. The more elaborate the story, the more likely it is mostly a lie.

You Don't BELIEVE Me! A liar will often get quite defensive. They will do everything in their power to deflect your attention away from themselves and will get angry that you are questioning their innocence. People who are telling the truth tend to go the opposite way and go on the offense. Look for this key difference.

It's the Little Things That Matter. If a person is lying they tend to highlight small details while avoiding the bigger, important ones. Exaggerated details a liar feel safer, but when you are hearing the story you will start to get the feeling that ''something is definitely wrong here''.

Look Into My Eyes. Liars have to and are compelled to remember other lies. Look closely at the person's eye movements. If a person is remembering something they tend to move their eyes up and in a left or right direction. Also look for rapid eye blinking or flutter. and hand movements towards the eyes can be a lying 'tell'.

No Sweat Baby! Some people sweat when they are telling a lie. Some sweat A LOT. Some people sweat more when they are nervous or when they are bashful. Sweating, along with blushing, shaking and difficulty swallowing can be a clear better indication that someone that is lying to you.

Don't All Twitchy. Look for micro expressions. These are 'subliminals'. The true nature of a person’s emotions (and intent) will flash across their face at the beginning of a conversation. It could be a half smile that lasts for two seconds or a brief worried look that lasts one second. These micro expressions are noticed by people subconsciously and they tend to know right away that a person is lying. Your intuition is turned on by these brief expressions. Practice noticing these fast changes in expression. Practice this when you watch politicians give speeches. It is very interesting and will help you spot a liar.

Tell Me True. Tell the suspected liar to repeat their story again. If the story is false it will be very difficult to remember the details that they gave to you the first time it was told. You may see that the person looks worried and maybe even upset.

''Unless they’re professional actors or psychopaths, 
liars tend to stutter and hesitate when they are speaking.''

All of us have different lying behavior so our lie detection should be comprehensive. It's most important to be able to judge a person's baseline behavior. Also remember there are 'run of the mill' liars (most of us) and the pathological, practiced liars who may or may not be sociopaths. Beware.


How to Spot a Liar  

by Pamela Meyer

On any given day we're lied to from 10 to 200 times, and the clues to detect those lie can be subtle and counter-intuitive. Pamela Meyer, author of ''Liespotting'', shows the manners and "hotspots" used by those trained to recognize deception—and she argues honesty is a value worth preserving.