Wouldn’t you love to be able to recognize the signs of a liar? I’ve researched them extensively and assure you it’s a useful ability in any situation. Lies and the liars who tell them are usually easy to spot when you know what signs to look for. A liar betrays him/herself in any of a number of ways with verbal and body language. By watching for certain body language and by listening for specific spoken signs while a liar spins his/her web of lies, you’ll be wise to it in no time.
As a disclaimer, none of the verbal and body language signs discussed below are proof that lies are being told. Verbal and body language can provide signs that you’re dealing with a liar, but every listed quirk of verbal and body language also surface in other situations. However, if you suspect you’re being fed lies, one of these signs can bolster your doubt; if you’re already suspicious that you’re hearing lies and you notice two or more of these signs, you can be fairly confident that you’re interacting with a liar. Conversely, a lack of these tangible signs doesn’t mean lies aren’t being told. There is such a thing as a practiced or gifted liar who flawlessly conceals his/her lies.
Following is an overview of 11 of the most common 21 verbal and body language signs that lies are being told. In two articles, all 21 liar signs are covered (in no particular order).
#1 – To start, the most common and well-known of body language signs that lies are being told: everybody knows that a liar avoids eye contact. Even the liar–which is an important consideration. So, just as often as eye contact is avoided during the telling of lies, a liar will often make too much prolonged eye contact while telling his/her lies. The body language can go the traditional way, or the liar may overcompensate to the other extreme when trying to hide the lies.
#2 – A liar often subconsciously seeks a symbolic protective buffer between him/herself and the receiver of the lies. Consider it a sort of liar shield. One of the more prominent body language signs, this usually takes the form of a liar absent-mindedly placing an object between him/herself and the other person.
#3 – When someone’s body language assumes a defensive position, it can indicate lies. Most commonly, a liar will fold his/her arms or legs. A small step or two backwards falls into this category of defensive signs as well.
#4 – Lies are easiest to tell when they’re not told per se. Evasive answers and statements (i.e., “Why would I do that?”) can be a good indicator that the truth is being avoided by a frightened liar. Similarly, incredulous repetition of accusatory questions in lieu of responses can also point to forthcoming lies.
#5 – Watch for body language indicating a dry mouth. Commonly, the signs are frequent licking of the lips, swallowing, or sipping a beverage.
#6 – Silence is particularly uncomfortable to a liar. It provides opportunity for the other person to think over what’s being said and to possibly detect the lies. At the very least, follow-up questions may arise. A liar will try to fill all pauses, often resulting in pointless or odd conversation and non-sequiturs, both telling signs to look for.
#7 – Body language that is reserved and stiff, as if to avoid drawing any attention, is one of the key signs of lies. This often takes the form of the liar holding his/her arms straight down and his/her head and legs rigid. This can even be looked at as a lack of body language.
#8 – A liar will usually be deliberate about gestures and expressions in an attempt to make the lies come across as believable. With attention to his/her body language, you should be able to pick up that the gestures and expressions are slightly misaligned with the statements. If the body language doesn’t quite flow in a natural manner with the verbal language, it’s being forced-probably for a reason. Such signs also include expressions that appear inauthentic (often a fake smile, notable because it doesn’t narrow the eyes or wrinkle skin all around the face the way an authentic smile does).
#9 – Lies require thought and attention to detail, especially when they have to be told on the spot, unrehearsed. Body language indicating excessive or seemingly uncalled for thought processes (you can “see the gears turning”) can be one of the more telling body language signs of a liar. Also–and there have actually been body language studies on this–when someone is trying to recall something that happened, they will usually gaze upward; conversely, when someone is pretending to recall something, they will usually gaze downward.
#10 – One of the more visible signs of lies is sweat. Most commonly, a liar will sweat on the forehead and palms. Forehead sweat is the easier to spot. However, watch for body language signs of sweat too: wiping the brow or drying hands on pants, a tablecloth, etc.
#11 – Two signs of an adrenaline rush can be indicative of lies as well. While sweat can fall under this category, which isn’t so much body language as physical body changes, the two key signs to watch for are a flushed face and dilating pupils. Both together should definitely raise your suspicion that you’re dealing with a liar.