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Lying Body Language, How to Tell When Someone Is Lying to You...

Updated on May 13, 2020
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Rebecca loves sharing what she knows about alternative medicine, health, frugal living, fun, animals, and how to live a better life!


Why do people lie?

Actions speak louder than words, and this is no different for lying. You don't always need someone to verbally lie to know something is untruthful.

Why do people lie?

When someone tells a lie, it is often to protect an interest they have in someone or something, to avoid shame or embarrassment, and to avoid taking ownership for an action or choice they decided to make. Lies are usually hurtful and damaging to relationships. Chronic lying will destroy the trust in any relationship, and repeated offenses may deteriorate the relationship to the point where it is not repairable.

Everyone has told a lie before!

Sometimes you just know someone well enough to tell when they are telling a lie, verbally or with body language. No human being has been 100% honest in their lifetime. We've all told lies before, even if they were just little baby white lies. But other times, detecting a lie (short of becoming Sherlock Holmes) is not always the easiest thing to do. But with a little info, you can spot it by someone's actions.

Spotting a liar begins with watching a person’s base behavior under relaxed or stress-free conditions so that you can detect changes (preferably for as long a time period as possible). Once you understand someone's normal behavior, you can usually pick up on things that are off if they attempt to tell a lie. One of the strategies that police interrogators use is to ask a list of non-threatening questions while observing how the person behaves when there is no reason to lie. Then, as more difficult issues come up, officers watch for changes in nonverbal behavior that indicate a lie is being told.

Non verbal body language

Nonverbal Communication, or "body language" is the way the subconscious speaks without words. No matter how much you want to control your subconscious, it gives clues about how you are truly feeling. This makes body language a perfect tool for detecting a lie.

There are up to 10,000 body language cues packed in every minute of communication. When someone is trying to tell a lie, their nonverbal body language speaks without them needing to. Body language cues are undeniable.

The body language of a liar...20 most common signs

  1. They don't make eye contact- A lot of times when someone lies they will divert their gaze. However, an experienced liar my overcompensate for this and make to much eye contact. To much eye contact can feel awkward and uncomfortable and downright domineering.
  2. Delay in response time- If the liar has had ample time to rehearse their lie, they will generally answer abnormally quick. If they have not had time to rehearse, their response will be markedly slower. It takes time to deceive!
  3. Their pupils will dilate- it is almost impossible to fake pupil dilation. The larger pupil size that most people experience when lying can be attributed to an increased amount of tension and anxiety. So if you can see their pupils, pay attention to them. And if they suddenly seem bigger, they may be fibbing!
  4. Verbal signs of a lie- A person’s tone of voice will usually rise to a higher pitch. Other verbal signs include rambling, blabbering, stammering, stuttering and it has also been reported that liars use fewer contractions in their sentences: “I did not have sex with that woman . . .” rather than “I didn't . . . ”
  5. Less blinking- When someone tells a lie, the rate at which they blink gets extremely slow, after the lie is told, blinking returns to normal, or they blink excessively.
  6. Body twitching- When someone tells a lie, it is very common to note twitching or jumpy movements in their legs and feet. They may also wrap a limb around a nearby object, such as a chair. Lying is stressful, and therefore usually appears as a sign of tension. The liar may also play with things around them, play with their hair, or be doing some other meaningless movement. It's as if they can't sit still, and they get very nervous.
  7. Covering the eyes, mouth, or nose- As the liar tries to convey the lie, they may cover their mouth or eyes, and they will at a lot of times rub or touch their nose. They’ll often unconsciously rub their nose. (Most likely this is caused by a rush of adrenaline that opens the capillaries and makes their nose itch.)
  8. In-congruence- When a person believes what he is saying his gestures and expressions are consistent with his words and body movement. When you see a mismatch — gestures contradicting words – an example would be side-to-side headshake while saying “yes”, or nodding yes when saying "no" is a sign of deceit or at minimum, the sign of inner conflict between what is being said versus what is being thought.
  9. A quick-check- Liars will usually immediately look down and away, then back at you again in a brief glance to see if you bought into their nonsense. They may also suddenly change their head position.
  10. Forced smiling- Another facial gesture nearly impossible to fake realistically is a smile. When someone naturally smiles their eyes and mouth change, their entire expression changes with a genuine smile. When a liar smiles, the smile will only involve their mouth.
  11. Follow eye movement-People tend to look up to the right to visualize or create a new response. Spot a liar by listening for long pauses and right eye movement.
  12. Hiding hands- When someone is relaxed and being honest, they have no problem showing their palms. Hand gestures are a natural language of the heart. Liars tend to hide their hands and especially palms, putting them behind their back, or tucked into pockets.
  13. Being overly still- An experienced liar knows that too much movement can seem very obvious when telling a story. So they overcompensate by staying much to still.
  14. Excessive confidence- Being confident is a good thing, but when it's over the top, the person may be telling you a fib.
  15. Shoulder shrugging- After the liar has told their lie, it is also common to see them shrug one or both shoulders.
  16. Breathing changes- Breathing may become heavier and labored. Again this is a stress response that the body cannot hide.
  17. Repetition- Liars will often repeat the same phrase 2-3 times. "How dare you accuse me of cheating when I didn't. I didn't cheat on you. I did not cheat on you", this is internal validation of the lie.
  18. Lip biting- A liar may make to much movement with their lips. This can include biting, lip pursing, lip licking.
  19. Finger pointing- A liar will want to divert your attention. They may point a lot, mainly to take the attention of the lie off of themselves!
  20. Boundary lines and more body diversion- A liar may subconsciously place items between you and them. This can include books, cups, or other silly objects. They will also turn their bodies slightly away from you.

Quick trick to trap a liar

Here is something you can try to quickly trip up the liar in action. If you suspect someone is lying, change the subject of a conversation quickly. Someone lying follows along willingly and becomes more relaxed. Someone guilty of lying wants the subject to change quickly; an innocent person may be dumbfounded by a sudden change of topics and will want to circle back to the previous subject.

© 2013 Rebecca


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