They fiddle with their hair or hands
Fidgeting is the first telltale sign of a liar. Lying creates an anxiety response in your body, causing blood to be withdrawn from certain parts of the body. Subconsciously trying to up their blood flow, liars fiddle with their hands – usually touching their hair or face – in order to lower their rising anxiety levels.
They keep details vague
A liar will often offer little to no details about their lie, keeping their tale short and sweet. This is because the less they say, the less likely it is that they’ll trip up. Omitting details means that you’ll have less information to go on. If you’re unsure, ask questions and see if the liar squirms.
They repeat questions before answering them
Repeating a previously asked question is a common tactic for liars. The few seconds it takes to throw the question back at you gives them a chance to think on the spot, delaying their response time so that they can come up with a whopper of a lie.
There’s a change in their voice
Sudden, high-pitched tones are a giveaway that someone is lying to your face. Other vocal features of liars include constantly their throat, changes in volume, and lowering their intonation out-of-the-blue. Keep an ear out if you suspect you’re being lied to – you may be able to decipher the truth from their voice alone.
Their gestures show their true motives
Non-congruent gestures can be a liar’s biggest downfall – and they won’t even know it. These are motions that don’t align with the words that are coming out of their mouth. For example, a friend may say that they’ll put in a good word for you but slyly shake their head. This instantly reveals their true intentions.
They fail to make eye contact
A common belief is that if a person doesn’t look you directly in the eye, they’re lying. While there could be a multitude of reasons why they’re not staring at you, it can often uncover some hidden truths. If they’re glancing around more regularly than usual, unable to settle on a particular spot, it’s likely you’re being deceived.
You feel it in your gut
Your gut is usually right on the money. If you feel that someone is being dishonest with you, they probably are. Police officers claim that sometimes they just know when a suspect is lying, despite having no evidence to convict them. Nine times out of ten, that feeling turns out to be correct.
They say too much
A liar may attempt to confuse you by creating an elaborate, over-the-top tale that you can’t keep up with. This throws the listener a curveball, unable to distinguish between fact and fiction. The lying party may also embellish their tale with lots of unnecessary detail, thinking that anyone who was being dishonest wouldn’t include such precise features.
They cover their mouth or eyes
Covering the mouth or eyes is a common method of disguising a reaction to something, preventing the onlooker from seeing their raw, unfiltered response. Liars may choose to resort to such tactics to cover up their true feelings on a subject, hiding hidden smirks or narrowed eyes.
They become aggressive
Liars can become aggressive when you begin to find flaws in their stories, entering fight or flight mode. The liar’s hostility shows that they are attempting to turn the tables on you, painting you out to be the bad guy for asking too many questions.
Details don’t line up
A liar may be unable to keep up with their tale. Ask them to repeat specific details of their story – gaining clarity about key aspects. For example, ask “What was the restaurant you said you went to, again?” and gauge their response. If the details don’t line up, they’re lying to your face.
Their body language is defensive
Liars will often put up a physical wall between you and them. Putting items between the two of you, crossing their arms, or placing a hand between you are all telltale signs of someone who is being dishonest. It displays a subconscious need to barricade themselves.
They’re fake smiling
A fake smile tells a thousand words. Spot a fake smile, and you’ve found yourself a liar. What’s the best way to tell whether a smile is fake or not? Check their eyes. If their eyes wrinkle when they smile, they’re being sincere. If not? You may have a liar on your hands.
They ‘can’t remember’ details
It’s a funny thing – liars will often encounter sudden bouts of memory loss. If you ask a liar to clarify something from their tale, or push for further details, they may claim that they “can’t remember” the specific thing that you asked. Hmm.. funny! If this is a reoccurring theme, it’s likely that you’re spending time with someone who is frequently dishonest.
Their pupils dilate
The eyes are the window to the soul, or so they say. Your pupils dilate (get bigger) when there’s an increase in brain activity. This means many people’s pupils enlarge when their brains are working overtime to think of a lie. This behavior can’t be altered, so it’s a prime trick to sniff out a liar no matter how convincing they think they are!
They continuously pause
Keep an ear out for any pauses or unnecessary hesitations as these are the key moments when liars are plotting their next deceit. Slowing down their elaborate story, they may take a few fleeting moments of silence to gauge your reaction, deciding which mistruth to deploy next.
They don’t use filler words
In normal conversation, filler phrases such as “um”, “err”, and “like” frequently pop up. When a liar is weaving their dishonest web, however, these words may be few and far between. This is because their story has been highly rehearsed, leaving little room for filler phrases.
They speak very fast
Liars frequently speak very quickly, rushing their words to get their lie out of the way. It’s a panic response – the brain kicks into gear, pumping them full of adrenalin. In turn, their words and behavior can both come across as erratic. Pay close attention to how fast their speech is – it could be the key to figuring out their deceit.
They stammer or stumble over their words
If you’re well acquainted with the person you’re talking to, chances are you’ll be able to pick up on any strange speech patterns. If they’re usually well-spoken but – in this particular instance – are constantly stammering, stumbling over their words, it may be because they’re being dishonest with you.
They keep glancing at the exit
If the person you’re conversing with is facing the door or the exit, they could be lying to your face. Subconsciously planning their escape, liars will continuously be peering in the direction of the exit. This is a huge telltale sign that they’re not being completely honest with you!
They add a lot of exaggerations
Exaggeration is the most-used tool in a liar’s repertoire. Liars constantly embellish, taking someone else’s story and claiming it as their own, or pretending something they saw on TV happened to them. Keep an eager ear out for anything that sounds like it’s been exaggerated. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
They keep repeating themselves
Repeating words and phrases is a common stalling tactic. The repetition gives the liar a chance to think, coming up with their next elaborate lie. The repetition also may be a sign of them repeatedly trying to convince you, and even themselves, of their own lie.
They try to control the conversation
Somebody who isn’t telling the complete truth is likely to be avoidant around certain subjects. Changing the conversation topic is something liars often do – it keeps the heat off of them and their lies, putting them in a position of complete control of the conversation.
They don’t speak in full sentences
A failure to speak in full sentences is a big red flag. Liars fragment their sentences more than those who are telling the truth, giving broken answers. Typical liars will tell a mistruth, back up their point, but fail to do so through the means of full sentences.
They start sweating
The body’s response can ultimately be the biggest downfall for a liar. Psychological sweat can be triggered by increasing levels of stress and anxiety – both of which can be caused by excessive lying. While their words may seem true enough, if they suddenly seem like a sweaty mess, it’s probably because they’re telling tall tales.
They don’t use personal language
Not using phrases that include words like “I” or “me” is a clear indicator of someone who’s lying. Using broader terms such as “we” or “they” takes the onus off the speaker, subconsciously removing themselves away from the lie. Truthtellers, on the other hand, will stick to personal pronouns.
They turn pale
Emotions can lead to changes in our nervous system which, in turn, can lead to our skin turning pale. When we’re stressed, our fight or flight response kicks in – pumping our blood to our vital organs, while our blood vessels narrow, turning us pale. If a liar is under pressure, their skin may give them away.
Their breathing changes
When we feel stressed or fearful, our breathing changes – usually becoming more rapid and shallow. This prepares our bodies for a greater oxygen intake, ready for that last-minute bolt toward the exit. As lying can significantly increase stress levels, it can also affect breathing patterns.
They’re as still as a statue
For some, staying perfectly still can be a clear giveaway of a lie. This is because lying increases cognitive demand, which can lead to fewer hand and arm movements. Essentially, a liar’s brain is too busy coming up with elaborate tales to do much else.
They point at themselves
A classic Freudian slip, a liar may subconsciously point at themselves when they’re telling you a falsity. This is because they’re battling with a guilty conscience, feeling bad about lying to your face – leaving their body to give your small clues about their deceit.
They move their body back and forth
Shifty body language is usually due to shifty behavior. Strangely, being off balance can be a sign of dishonesty – the liar may rock back and forth, or put more weight on one leg. This is because they’re feeling mentally uncomfortable, so they’re reflecting what’s going on in their inner world through their body’s actions.
They scratch at their skin
Scratching, tugging, and scraping the skin are key signs that someone is feeling deeply uncomfortable. Scratching when there isn’t an itch present is usually an indicator of high anxiety levels. Of course, anxiety can be triggered by trying to keep up with an elaborate lie.
They turn their head or body to the side
Putting up some distance between you both, a liar will frequently turn their head or body to the side. This is a form of self-protection, feeling safer with some form of barricade between the two of you. Worse still is if they move their body to purposely hide things, like their cell phone.
They look down at the floor
Blink and you’ll miss it! Liars will often glance down at the floor mid-convo. The reasons for this are twofold: Firstly, it gives them a brief break from keeping up the facade they’ve been portraying – allowing a second of true emotion. Secondly, it gives them a chance to think of their next move and plott their next big lie.
They jiggle their leg
Our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for. While a liar may be cool, calm, and collected vocally – their body language can be their undoing. Liars often jitter their leg, bouncing it up and down on the spot. All of the anxiety caused by lying has to go somewhere, and sometimes it can result in the classic leg jitter.
They mix their lie with the truth
Celebrities and politicians use this tactic when they’re presented with a particularly difficult question that they don’t wish to answer. Instead of fabricating everything, liars will often mix their lie with the truth, hoping that the known truths amidst their lie can make them come across as being more trustworthy.
They pause before they respond
Keep a keen eye on how a suspected liar responds to you. If they frequently take long, drawn-out pauses, their eyes filled with fear – it could be that they’re lying straight to your face. Long pauses give the person time to think about their response, rehearsing the lie in their head.
They use humor to avoid responding
A classic way of trying to deflect a lie is through the means of humor. A liar may crack jokes in order to relieve the huge amount of stress and tension they’re carrying on their shoulders – while simultaneously changing the subject, preventing you from cottoning on to any suspicious behavior.
They slouch forward
Slouching forwards is a way of keeping our body close to us – which, mentally, makes us feel safe and secure. When we’re telling a lie, anxiety levels can drastically increase – so our bodies kick into overdrive to do anything to make us feel more comfortable. Sometimes, that comfort comes in the form of leaning forwards.
Microexpressions are hard to spot, and only last for a few moments. If you’re quick, however, you may be able to catch them. They come in many forms, ranging from a twitch of the eye, a smirk on the lips, or a tilt of the head. Put these behaviors in context with your suspicions, and you may discover if you’re being taken for a fool.