Everyone’s told a lie– you, your friends, your boss, even your perfect “role model” mother. But the only reason you’ve ever told a lie was to help someone else, or yourself for that matter, out of a very sticky situation…right? Or are you just lying to yourself now? Either way, considering the fact that almost everyone on the face of the earth has lied at one point or another, we sure are lousy at picking out the most malicious liars among us. You might think you have a good sense of when someone is telling a tall tale, but you’ll find that when you know how to read the signs, spotting the falsities in your perpetually late co-worker’s excuses or even the faults in your spouse’s multiple cover-ups can really save you some strife in the long run. So, without further ado, here are 10 habits shared by Lying Larry’s and Fibbing Franny’s around the world.
1. Averted gaze: It’s not normal to expect someone to maintain full eye contact for the entirety of a conversation…unless they have some sort of disorder, and that’s another story in and of itself. However, if you notice any difference in the amount of eye contact the suspected liar is making, that could be a clue that they’re not telling the truth. In fact, even the direction of the gaze makes a difference when trying to figure out someone’s intentions. It has been noted that when trying to recall a fact, most people with avert their eyes upwards and to the right. A person who is trying to come up with a lie, however, will usually look down.
2. Too much eye contact: Just as a liar may avert his or her gaze to keep someone from looking into their eyes (it’s been long said that you can see the truth in someone’s eyes, therefore liars may try to avoid this result by looking away altogether), someone trying to cover up a lie may also make too much eye contact. This comes as a result of a reverse train of thought by the person in question. More experienced frauds may know that people are expecting them not to make eye contact and therefore counteract this by making prolonged eye contact, to the point of abnormality.
3. Stuttering: Telling a lie, especially a more in-depth one, takes a lot of effort on the fibber’s part. So much effort, in fact, that in the process of telling it, people tend to get tripped up. Think about it– if there’s something big at stake, it takes enough effort to remember and relay an actual string of events. Liars charge themselves with the duty of not only coming up with a fake string of events, but also coming up with it on the spot as well as double-checking every word they say seconds before they say it, meanwhile paying strict attention to every word they say for fear that they’ll be asked to repeat the same story later. Makes you almost feel sorry for them doesn’t it? Nah.
4. Sweating: It’s a natural nervous reaction. Most people sweat or get sticky palms when speaking in public, making an important decision, waiting on significant results, etc. But if someone is sweating during an everyday situation, that could be a tip-off that they fear getting caught in their lie.
5. Abnormal expressions: As in the case of liars making too much eye contact, they may also go too far when it comes to showing they are at ease to throw you off. If someone holds a facial expression for too long, such as a smile, or other expressions/gestures, take that into consideration.
6. Fidgeting: This may be a person’s way of diverting your attention, therefore breaking your concentration on the facts of the story they’re telling you. It may also be an uncontrollable nervous habit. Whether someone fidgets with an outside object or takes up a nervous habit such as tapping their feet or twirling their hair, these are all signs that your culprit may not be fully at ease and in the midst of spinning a tall tale.
7. Changes in pace: Beyond the obvious stuttering through sentences, more experienced liars might try to disguise this dead giveaway by pausing excessively. You can watch for this by noticing where in the sentence or story the person pauses. If it’s right before an important detail, or maybe before a detail they have relayed to you previously, this could be a sign that they are trying to straighten up their story in their head before it comes out of their mouth. Also, if the person pauses at irregular times such as the middle of a sentence (in the absence of a transition), they could be trying to let their voice catch up with their mind.
8. Changes in tone of voice: When someone is spinning a story, they are usually concentrating too hard on coming up with the details for their body to focus on what it is normally able to focus on. This may cause a person’s voice to crack, which is almost a dead giveaway of a lie being told.
9. Any other changes in bodily functions: As noted above, people actively engaged in making up a story that isn’t true, while also trying to double-check the details of this story in their mind, while also trying to remember the details in case they have to recall them later…don’t usually have time for much else. As a result, functions such as blinking, swallowing and breathing may become abnormal. For the most part these changes will manifest themselves in the form of increased levels of all of the above (all going back to “fight or flight” reactions—also known as modern day nervous reactions).
10. Being overly vague: To lighten the load on themselves, fibbers will often not tell too many details of any story they’re asked to recall. And wouldn’t you do the same? Given the difficulty of telling a solid lie (noted several times thus far), it is much easier to keep it simple until further request. So give these people a run for their money—if they’re too simple, ask for further explanation, and then look for the signs noted above.
For the most part, pegging the aforementioned signs as a tip-off of a lie comes down to knowing the person in question. On any given day, any given person could show any of these signs, while also remaining perfectly innocent. But if you know someone’s normal tendencies, it becomes that much easier to peg these signals for what they really are, therefore catching their insincere act and taking proper actions. Ready to try it out but have no one to try it on? First, thank whatever higher power you might believe in…or your mom and dad for teaching you not to hang around liars. Then, go record the daytime court TV sensation of your choice and have at it.