Hey there, Steve here and welcome to this week’s private eye post which is all about how to spot a liar.
We’ve all seen the program, “Lie to Me” and how the smallest of signs can indicate a lie. The truth is that you can become just as good at lie detection—but remember, it’s so much harder to do when you’re emotionally invested in the liar in some way. So, you want to figure out if someone is a liar early on in the dating game before you ever fall for them.
This week, I’m going to answer the most common questions I get asked about lying whenever we take on a new client.
Clients often have a gut feeling something isn’t quite right with their marriage or relationship. In most cases, they can’t put their finger on precisely what is triggering this feeling. When I present evidence to them, they have usually noticed the same behaviour I show to them on video before. They just weren’t sure what it really meant.
That said, not everyone is the same, and sometimes it’s difficult to interpret a liar’s language correctly. So, please read the disclaimer below before you get into the questions on how to spot a liar. Don’t hesitate to seek our help if you need to.
Disclaimer: This information is for general educational purposes only and may not apply to all situations — everyone is unique after all. For help with an individual case, please contact us or use the live chat feature [when available] on this page—the first call is free, and we may just be able to put your mind at rest!
Question #1 — Is touching your face a sign of lying?
This is by far the most common question I am ever asked.
You know what, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, “almost certainly.”
Now, this does come with some caveats…
First of all, the face touching has to come as a direct result of being asked a question just prior to the person answering. Secondly, they have to make the movement involuntarily. Thirdly, they have to “kind of” change their movement as they’re doing it, e.g. from a hand covering their mouth to touching their nose. Fourthly, it needs to look slightly awkward.
Lastly, this is really a sign of discomfort in answering the question. So, if you’ve asked a personally tricky question of someone, they may simply feel some embarrassment when talking about it.
Question #2 — Will a liar look you straight in the eye when lying to you?
Sometimes they will and sometimes they won’t. It really depends on the liar. What I can say is that people who have rehearsed what they’re going to say are much more likely to look you straight in the eye. Liars who are forced to lie on the spot are not so ready and are much more likely to look away as they concoct their stories.
Question #3 — Do liars look left or right before telling a lie?
They do both. But this is not a cop-out on my part. You simply need to establish a baseline for the person you’re talking with.
This stems from something called “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” or “NLP” for short. If I ask you a series of questions where you need to remember something you’re likely to look left to “access” that information. (As long as you’re right handed that is.)
But you may look right. That’s OK. You’re likely to be consistent in how you access your memory. So, if I ask you what colour your front door was in your childhood home, you’re likely to look to the left as you remember that information.
Now, if I ask you to imagine something you’re likely to look to the right. (Again, as long as you’re right-handed.) This is how you get your mind in a creative state.
Same thing for lying. People look left (usually for right-handed people) when recalling something and look right when they’re getting creative. In other words, left for truth and right for lies.
This is a relatively reliable indicator of lying, but you must establish baseline behaviour first.
Question #4 — What’s the best body language to look for as a sign of lying?
I’ve written lots of posts about specific body language behaviours of cheats and liars. But the number one question people ask me is, what is the single most likely body language behaviour to discover a liar?
Is it microexpressions? Is it the hands? Is it the feet? Is it the eyes?
I used to tell people it all depends on the person and that it was impossible for me to answer. But actually, there is something that’s reasonably reliable—it’s just not a specific body part.
When someone is telling a big lie, they usually stay unnaturally still. And if they do move their movements are often jerky. This comes from our freeze response (fight, flight, freeze), and I observe it in about 80% of cheating and lying cases.
Question #5 — What’s the easiest way to detect a lie from how someone talks?
OK, there’s no one word which is going to prove someone a liar. If someone is put on the spot and hasn’t had the chance to rehearse their lie, then stalling the conversation is the thing that alerts me to the possibility of lying.
Liars stall conversations so they can think up their lies. They often repeat back the question asked and say things like “um” and “er” at much higher frequencies than usual.
There you have my lie spotting top five. Master the basics, and you’ll start to notice additional things that seem out of place compared with someone’s baseline behaviour. You’ll become a lie detection machine in no time.
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Until next week,