Is Someone Lying To You? How To Tell


I don't know about you, but I'm a huge fan of the show House. In it, Hugh Laurie plays a nice-looking but very misanthropic doctor who seems to always have something snarky to say. One of his favorite phrases seems to be, “Everybody lies.” As much as we'd like to think he's just being cynical (which he is), it's true. Even the most truthful of us have told the occasional 'little white lie' to save someone else's feelings or said, “I'm fine” to end a conversation. Even if these lies are harmless, it still pays to be able to tell when someone is lying in case something they say isn't so innocent. Of course, this isn't an exhaustive list, but here are some of the basic signals that someone is lying to us:

-Giving either too much or too little eye contact. We've all seen the person who avoids your gaze when lying to you, but some people will make an extra effort to look you in the eye and end up staring you down.

-Giving more information than is requested. Instead of, “No, Mom, I wasn't snooping in my sister's stuff,” a liar might say, “I wasn't snooping! I was trying to find the X she borrowed from me and never gave back...” in an effort to be more 'convincing'.

-Stalling. Someone who is lying might repeat your words or question back to you in an effort to buy some time. When they *do* answer, it's not uncommon for a liar to use words like 'um' or 'ah' more than usual or to speak in rushed sentences. Using more formal language (for instance, “I did not” instead of “I didn't”) than usual could also point to a lie.

-Distancing themselves from the subject. Rather than her name, former president Bill Clinton referred to Monica Lewinsky as 'that woman'. A person might also make indirect statements or focus on smaller details in an effort to avoid the actual question. A statement like “why would I do something like that?” or “that's not something I would normally say” might sound like an answer, but it's really an effort to turn things around on you and distract from whatever it is you're asking about.

-Body language. Is the person being more rigid or fidgety than usual? Similar to eye contact, an overly-stiff demeanor could signify a lie because it shows that a person is actively trying not to fidget. Also, studies have shown that people who lie tend to touch their faces-particularly the nose or ears-more than usual.

-Facial and verbal expressions. Is the person's tone of voice or facial expression inconsistent with what they are saying? Most fake emotions (such as smiling) only involve the muscles around the mouth, while real ones involve both the mouth and the eyes. This is important because, while the motions of the mouth are voluntary, the eyes are not. It's also possible to tell if someone is lying if their voice changed pitch suddenly. I'm not talking about the way a teenage boy's voice cracks at times because that's not linked to anything other than puberty.

These are only a few signs that someone could be lying to you. I'm not suggesting that we should be mistrustful of everyone the way Dr. House is, but it helps to know what to look for in case someone ever does try to deceive us.

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