One of the greatest talents you can acquire is the ability to pick up on signs that you're being lied to. It's helpful in all situations — from work situations to personal life. I always say I should have been in the FBI, as I have what I like to refer to as a gift of lie detection. It comes very easily to me with the people I know well. However, with those who aren’t as close to me, I find it a bit more difficult to pinpoint the lies unless I’m paying very close attention. The good news is that there are sometimes very obvious signs that someone is lying to you, and they might even realize they’re displaying them.
Many times we might think someone is lying to us, but we’re secretly praying they’re not. This denial can set us back from getting the truth we deserve. Next time you’re curious about whether someone is trying to pull a fast one on you, be aware that they might be secretly telling you they’re fibbing just by their physical actions and verbal cues.
Here are 10 little signs you’re being lied to, and ultimately some thoughts on how to handle it. Of course, these aren’t completely foolproof, as some people have mastered the art of lying and trained themselves to avoid tell tales giveaways. However, at least being armed with these tips might make it just that more simple for you to get to the bottom of any potential lies.
1. There’s Constant Movement Of Hands And Feet
According to Warning Signs, a book on detecting if your partner is cheating written by Anthony DeLorenzo and Dawn Ricci, because liars tend to get tense and nervous, they’re likely to fidget their body around. Particularly, they tend to move their hands and feet frequently, and often in jerky, awkward ways. Another sign of the hands? According to DeLorenzo and Ricci, the liar might open and close his or her hands rhythmically, or place them in their pockets.
2. They Cover Their Face Or Rub Their Nose
Building off the likelihood of liars to continually move their hands around, according to DeLorenzo and Ricci, the liar might use their hands to touch or cover their face and mouth. Also, Pinocchio wasn’t so far off with the connection between liars and their noses. According to Dr. Alan Hirsch of The Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, when a person lies, certain tissues in the nose usually engorge, releasing histamine and making the nose itch. That said, touching one’s nose is a blatant sign of lying.
3. The Words Are Accompanied By A Fake Smile
According to a study discussed in The Telegraph, one of the body movements associated with a lie is a fake smile. According to the research, this is due to liars having an “increased activity of the ‘zygomatic major muscles’, located around the mouth,” which forces the face into a smile that isn’t a result of actually being happy (I mean, after all they’re lying to you, they shouldn’t be happy!).
4. They Purse Their Mouth
In addition to giving a fake smile, when people are lying to you, they are likely to purse their lips, according to body language expert Patti Wood. According to Wood, this can indicate anxiety and withholding information and aggression.
5. The Person’s Pupils Are Dilating
According to Women’s Health, a nonverbal cue that is impossible to fake is pupil dilation. Pupils enlarge when your brain is hard at work, just as it is when you’re trying to come up with a lie. Since the person is also likely to be holding unusually long eye contact (we’ll get to that in a moment), it should be fairly simply to tell how their pupils are reacting throughout the conversation.
6. The Person Is Holding Unusually Long Eye Contact
It’s often thought that when someone is lying they’re unable to maintain eye contact. However, it’s become more commonly agreed upon as of recently that this is not completely valid. In fact, according to research discussed in Psychology Today, “liars maintain more deliberate eye contact than do truthful people.”
7. Blinking Is Super Slow
According to research reported in Daily Mail, when a person decides to lie, their blinking will inherently slow and will remain slow throughout the lying process. It will then flurry up to eight times faster than usual following the lie.
8. The Person Is Using Plenty Of Denial Words
These include “trust me,” “honestly,” “to be perfectly honest.” According to Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception, this could be an obvious sign that the person is trying to sincerely convince you that they’re telling the truth. Meyer said if the person in suspect is using these types of phrases, “there’s a good chance they are hiding something.”
9. They Use God’s Name
In addition to the other denial words, they may do a lot of swearing to God that something did or didn’t happen. Similarly, they might say something like, “I swear on the Bible.” According to Stan Walters, author of The Truth About Lying: How To Spot A Lie and Protect Yourself From Deception, you can be pretty certain someone is lying to you if — in addition to some of the other things previously mentioned in this article — the person is constantly using these kinds of religiously phrases.
10. They Cross Their Arms Over Their Chest When Speaking
According to DeLorenzo and Ricci’s book, liars often feel they need to create a physical barrier between themselves and the person who they’re lying to. To do so, the person lying might cross their arms over their chest in a defensive motion. Aside from the crossing of arms (or even legs), to create this sense of barrier, the liar might also opt to place an object — like a newspaper, folder, or glass — between themselves and the other person.
According to LiveStrong.com, once you’re certain you’ve been lied to, it’s time to decide how detrimental the lie really is. Is it a significant other who’s been cheating? That’s huge. Is it a friend who lied after forgetting to feed your fish one morning? Not the end of the world. Once the severity has been assessed, you should bring the issue to them and talk about it privately, giving them a chance to explain. If the sense of trust between you has been completely lost, explain this to them, and figure out a way to move on from the relationship. If the lie is mendable, figure out ways to collectively move past it and save the relationship, while letting them know you won’t be OK being lied to again in the future.
Now armed with these tips for lie detection, hopefully you’ll be seeing things much more clearly when it comes to anyone questionable in your life. The lesson here isn’t to anticipate the worst in people, but rather to expect the best while managing to keep your guard up when necessary.