Are you being lied to? People stretch the truth when talking to one another every day, but how can we tell if an untruth is a fib or a deal-breaking whopper of a lie? The following 10 tips will help you gauge the magnitude of lies and deal with dishonest people.
Establish What Is Normal for This Speaker
Spend some time talking to the person you suspect is lying to you, but talk about things about which they have no reason to be untruthful. Once you know what they look and sound like when they’re telling the truth, it may be easier to see a difference when you get to dishonest territory.
Listen for Inconsistencies
The best way to determine if a person has told you a lie is to find proof. This may come in the form of inconsistencies in his or her story. If you’ve ever watched a police drama on TV or read detective fiction, you know the hero always divides suspects and interrogate them separately. This is to check their stories against one another. Some inconsistencies can be explained by a poor memory or a difference in opinion (was his shirt blue, green or turquoise? That may depend on who you’re asking). But if you suspect someone has lied to you in the past, any new inconsistencies you uncover may convince you that you’re speaking to a liar.
Change the Subject
If you believe you’re being lied to, change the subject long enough to relax the person. Then, bring the topic up again suddenly. People who have nothing to hide might be puzzled, but people who are lying may have a hard time keeping up the lie. You can also ask rapid-fire questions and see what answers you get.
Watch for Changes in Demeanor
While they’re talking, pay attention to see if the person changes demeanor when they touch on the subject you think is a lie. Do they get more aggressive or do they smile more? These changes may tip you off that they are covering something up.
Look for Anxiety
In the United States, people place much importance on if someone looked them in the eyes while telling them a supposedly true statement. However, it’s natural for people to shift their gaze when they’re trying to remember the answer to a question or if they’re trying to phrase something in the best way. In some cultures, it’s not appropriate to stare at someone in the eyes while talking to them. Just because someone shifts their eyes doesn’t mean they’re lying to you, that is unless they normally maintain a steady gaze with you. If you think the discontinued eye contact is due to anxiety, then they could be lying or omitting something.
Fidgeting fingers or restless limbs may not be good indicators either, experts say. Some liars actually exhibit less movement when they’re pulling a fast one, possibly because they’re concentrating so hard on what they’re saying.
Listen for Changes in Voice and Tone
Experts have noticed that liars raise the tone of their voices when telling a fib. This may be a subtle change — and it may happen gradually, especially if the lie is a long one. But if you’re wondering if someone you know well is lying to you, this may be a significant point to notice. Of course, other stressors can also cause a voice to rise or fall.
Notice if They Give You Too Much Information
Sometimes liars go overboard with details trying to convince you to accept their version of events. If you’re getting a forest-for-the-trees sort of feeling, you may be being lied to.
Check for Negative-Emotion Words
Software has been developed that can screen written materials, such as resumes, cover letters and reports for honesty. Apparently, many liars include more words that convey a bad feeling, such as “shame” or “embarrassment,” in their writing.
See if They Distance Themselves From the Topic
Some liars will avoid using the words “I” or “me,” subconsciously creating a distance from the lie. Instead of “I broke the glass,” they may instead say, “It broke.”
Ask Yourself if Their Gestures Match Their Words
When someone says, “I’m sorry,” while grinning, you may rightly suspect it is anything but a heartfelt apology. Some liars can say the words, but their bodies betray them. Watch out for people who smile when they say something bad, frown when they’re telling you they’re overjoyed, shake their heads when they say “yes” and nod when they say “no.”
About the Author:
Linda Sandhorne is a licensed therapist who works with the courts as an expert witness. She recommends that if you’re interested in pursuing a similar career, to click here for forensic psychology degree information.