In the TV show, Lie To Me, Dr. Cal Lightman leads a team of experts assisting federal law enforcement, government agencies and local police with their most difficult cases. These experts on the show study the involuntary movements, facial expressions, and vocal tones of suspects to determine who is lying and why. It’s pretty interesting!
The show claims that in a 10 minute conversation, the average person lies three times. While that may or may not be the case, here are 15 different ways that may indicate someone is being less than honest with you. Realize that any single indicator may not be reliable, so be sure and look for multiple indicators and consider the whole context.
1. Lack of eye contact.
One of the classic signs of deception is little to no direct eye contact. If someone is telling the truth, she’s likely to give you her full attention and look right at you.
2. Too much eye contact.
Sometimes liars are aware that they’re not making enough eye contact, so they compensate by giving you too much eye contact. It kinda feels creepy when this happens. It’s like you can’t get away.
3. Looking up and the right.
Some brain scientists believe that looking up and to the right triggers the part of the brain linked to the imagination. Conversely, when someone looks down and to the left, he’s stimulating the section of the brain associated with memories. That’s HIS left, not yours!
4. Lack of gestures.
The less someone gestures, the more likely it is that he’s keeping a secret or telling a lie.
5. Robotic movements.
Someone who’s truly emphasizing a point will gesture with her arms and hands in a fluid or firm way. Someone who’s withholding the truth may use her arms, but the movements will appear stiff instead of natural.
6. Too much detail.
When someone’s made the decision to lie, they will work out many details of their story. Many times, there will be incredible detail with their story, but if you quiz them, there will always be some discrepancies. Wait a few hours and then ask for some detail again. You may be surprised!
7. Hey! Where are their hands?
Observe whether the person you’re talking to:
- Places his hands on his lap or clenches them
- Covers his mouth when speaking
- Touches or covers his face when listening
- Rubs his eyes
- Scratches on or behind the side of his ear
Any of these could be a signal that you’re being deceived.
8. The one shoulder shrug.
Observe whether the person you’re speaking with raises one shoulder slightly. That could be another indication of deception.
9. Crossed arms and legs.
Folded arms, crossed legs, and limbs kept close to the body indicate a need to protect something … sometimes. I cross my legs all the time and it doesn’t mean anything! It’s just how I sit. In general though, when you’re feeling relaxed and have nothing to conceal, you look relaxed, with your arms and legs in a natural position.
10. Tilting the head away.
Tilting the head away generally indicates discomfort with the situation. On the other hand, tilting the head toward you implies that someone is trying to get closer to the information.
11. Bad posture.
Standing or sitting up straight is an indication of confidence whereas slouching with hands buried deep in the pants pockets suggests insecurity and uncertainty. See, your mom was right, so sit up straight!
12. Inconsistencies when speaking
This is a dead giveaway. Pay attention to conflicting details and contradictions. “I thought you said you were out of town that Friday … ” BINGO!
13. Changes in vocal pitch.
When you’re familiar with someone’s normal speaking voice, you notice when it raises in pitch. This is usually a sign that the person is uncomfortable … or going through puberty.
14. A distinct pause.
When someone is making up a story as they go along, they will have to pause to think about the details. When they have to stray from their rehearsed story, they have to regroup. Pay attention to what’s said after the pause. It might be a lie.
15. A change in the rate of speech.
Again, depending on how well you know the person, you could notice not only a change in their vocal tone but also in how fast or how slowly they begin to speak.
These are just guidelines, none of them are written in stone. Just use them to help you make decisions and never be afraid to start asking questions to determine whether someone is lying or not. There are times you’ll need to push and times you need to let it go. Just make sure you consider the context when someone exhibits one of these actions before immediately assuming they’re lying.