How to Spot a Liar
If you told the whole truth and nothing but the truth the entire time, you could possibly end up lonely and you may well receive plenty of slaps around the face! Have you seen the film ‘Liar Liar’ with Jim Carey? In short he gets into all sorts of trouble because he cannot lie.
There is a time and a place for lying. Simply lying for the sake of it, or making promises you so not intend to keep, is sure fire way of alienating yourself from others. People do not like to be deceived for your personal gain, and they will quickly spot this and have you labeled in their mind as someone they cannot trust. Then again, telling someone in a lift that their breath stinks might be taking the honesty thing too far!
Everyone lies at some point, and if you disagree, then you’re lying! It is fine to lie occasionally. It is part and parcel of leading a normal well adjusted life. However there is a balancing point that we must all choose. Some people do not get this balancing point quite right. Probably most of us have been on the receiving end of someone’s deception in the past.
When people lie, especially when they are lying about something that is important, you get a gut feeling that all is not right with the other person’s words. This is perhaps your first and best sign that you are dealing with a liar. Something just doesn’t ‘feel right’ about what they are saying. Their story somehow does not ‘add up’, or make complete sense. There are many body language cues that also indicate someone is not being entirely truthful, and confirm these feelings.
When someone tells a lie, they often attempt to cover their mouths, eyes or their face in general. A child will often do this quite obviously, reacting instinctively as they don’t want to be seen. As a person matures and becomes more sophisticated, they tend to be better at hiding this reaction, but the reaction is still there, albeit more subtle. A person may for example pretend to cough or yawn in an attempt to cover this up. Men tend to rub their eyes, whilst women tend to look away. However it is also a fairly common tactic to look too much into someone’s eyes, overcompensating in an attempt to hide this.
In a similar way, people sometimes touch or rub their ear when telling a lie. This is a subtlety of when, as a child, we cover up our ears with our hands because we don’t want to hear the response.
A person when lying also tends to scratch their noses more. There is some truth in the story of Pinocchio, whose nose grew bigger every time he told a lie. A person telling a mistruth becomes under stress, and their blood pressure rises in response to this. This can make the fine capillaries in the nose feel a little hot and irritable.
A person may also blush a little as their blood pressure rises. This increase in blood pressure can also cause a persons’ neck to get hot a sweat. This can cause them to scratch their necks or pull at their collar. Hence the saying ‘hot under the collar’.
Often a persons’ first reaction is the actual truth, then they quickly conceal it. For example a person tasting your freshly baked pie may subtly screw their face in disgust, then quickly smile and say how fantastic you pie is. If this happens, then better get a new recipe!
The police often observe eye cues when questioning a suspect. If the suspect looks to their right (your left), this indicates that they are constructing or making up the visual description. If they look to their left (your right), then they are generally regarded as recalling the details from their visual memory. So if you ask them what they did last night and they look to their right when thinking of the answer, then they may be fabricating the events.
Another give away is that a person who is not telling the truth tends to want to change the subject quickly when pressed for more information. They feel relief and welcome a sudden change in the conversation. Displays of anger are also not uncommon as the pressure is on. They fear slipping up and inconsistencies. They consequently stutter and stammer their way through what they are saying, as they need to talk from their conscious mind, deliberately censoring what they are saying, rather than using their more powerful and flowing unconscious part.
People telling mistruths sometimes attempt to avoid lying by hinting indirectly at something with vague statements. They are usually reluctant to say the lie directly when pressed for more clarity.
Here is a quick summary of the signs that someone is lying. There are many more, but these are some of the most common and easiest to spot.
Covering mouth, eyes, face
Not enough or too much eye contact
Touching or rubbing nose
Scratching their neck
Initial reaction quickly changes
Looking up to their right (your left)
Wanting a quick change of subject
Anger or irritability
These signs are merely tools for spotting a liar. They certainly do not prove conclusively that someone is not telling the truth, so be very careful who you accuse. It is possible that a person may just have an itchy nose, or a habit of stuttering occasionally. However it is fun to try and spot these signs when dealing with people in everyday life, and you can significantly build up your skills and intuition in reading people. This can be very useful in all aspects of your life, both at home and at work. Now go ahead and enjoy!
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