How to detect a lie | 6 things that liars do to convince you that they are telling the truth
Wouldn’t it be awesome if you knew how to detect a lie?
Lies are more common than you think. 40% of adults lie at least once a day. Of course, it includes harmless lies like,
“What do you think of my new haircut?”
But, the shocking fact is that 50% of all lies are told by 5% of people. These people are pathological liars and their lies are far from harmless.
So, knowing how to detect a lie is crucial in our day to day life. It can prevent us from making a risky investment or buying something useless.
Moreover, it will help you stay clear of pathological liars and manipulators that are out to get you. Being in a relationship (or even a simple friendship) with such a person can make your life difficult as hell. Keeping that in mind, let’s look at some ways to detect a lie.
#1. Liars distance themselves from the situation
To illustrate this point, let me use an example from a 2005 interview in which Lance Armstrong denied that he took performance-enhancing drugs. He said,
“OK, You know a guy in a french Parisian laboratory opens your sample, you know, Jean Francis so and so, and he tests it. Nobody’s there to observe. No protocol was followed. And then you get a call from a newspaper that says we found you to be positive six times for EPO. Well, since when did newspapers start governing sports?”
Can you see how he has distanced himself from the story? You can use this to detect a lie. If a person tries to tell a story from another person’s point of view instead of his own that is a big red flag. When they do it they avoid using the pronoun “I”. Can you see how Lance never used the word I when he lied? Contrast it to his interview in 2013 where he admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs.
” I lost my self in all of that. I am sure, there would be other people that couldn’t handle it. But I certainly couldn’t handle it. I was used to controlling everything in my life.”
Statistically, when you compare his interview from 2005 in which he denied using performance-enhancing drugs to the 2013 interview where he admitted it, the personal pronoun usage increased by 75%. That is a huge difference.
#2. They use Complex Language Patterns (Convoluted Phrases)
Liars use complex language that doesn’t sound natural
Let’s jump right into an example,
This is what the former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards said about the allegations of an extramarital affair and fathering a child.
“I only know that the apparent father had said publicly that he is the father of the baby. I also have not been engaged with any activity of any description that requested agreed to or supported payments to the woman or to the apparent father of the baby.
Now let’s look at what he said later in an interview admitting that he is the baby’s father.
“I am Quinn’s father. I will do everything in my power to provide her with the love and support she deserves”
Can you see the difference between the Lie and the truth? When he is lying he is using unnecessary words and statements that make the sentence complex. It’s almost like he is trying too hard to convince others of what he is telling.
Just for fun, try to figure out who is telling the truth here.
John: I saw Sara kissing Eric.
Zack: I was with Eric all day. I can absolutely tell you without any doubt what so ever that no kissing happened in the party.
Obviously, John is telling the truth and Zack is lying. Can you see how Zack’s language pattern sounds unnatural and unnecessary? On the other hand, what John says is clear and to the point. Now you can use this to detect a lie in your life.
#3. Lies are more negative.
When you are telling the truth you say “I am sorry I am late. my car broke down”
If you are lying you will say “I am sorry I am late. My stupid car broke down again. I hate that thing”
Can you see that the second statement is more negative than the first? So what does this tell you? If someone is being more negative than usual then maybe he is lying.
But what if his car really broke down and he is in a bad mood because of it?
If you have doubts, ask him about it again when he is in a good mood and see if he displays any patterns of deception.
#4. Liars bombard their lie with unnecessary details
Either Jane or Alice is lying. Who do you feel is telling the truth?
Jane: I saw Jack stealing from the mall.
Alice: I was on the way to my piano lesson when I heard someone call my name. It was Emily. And right behind her, I saw John with a tall blond girl. They were kissing.
Most people would say Alice is telling the truth. Apparently, the more details we receive about something the more likely we believe it’s true. Liars take advantage of this fact and add way too much detail into their lie.
Refer back to the Lance Armstrong example and look at how much unnecessary details he put into the lie.
#5. Liars exhibit nervous behavior.
This is not something they do to convince us that they are telling the truth. But, it’s worth mentioning anyway.
Lying makes people uncomfortable. So they exhibit nervous behavior unconsciously. These include touching their face, scratching their neck or nose, avoiding eye contact, biting or licking their lips, fiddling, etc.
Just to make sure they are lying, change the subject. If they look relieved they were probably lying.
#6. Their smiles are Fake
As I mentioned before lying makes people uncomfortable. That’s why when they smile it does not reach their eyes. Real smiles create crow’s feet around the eyes. Fake ones don’t. So look for crow’s feet to detect a lie.
If you are not close enough to the person this might be difficult. However, any kind of tension around the eyes is an indicator of a real smile. so look to see if the smile reaches the eyes.