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How to Tell When Someone is Lying

How to Tell When Someone is Lying

How to Tell When Someone is Lying.

Here are some tips to spot if someone is lying to you:

  1. Body language alone will not help you.
  2. Evasion is better than lying.
  3. Extreme emotional outbursts.
  4. Missing things out.
  5. Changing the order of events.
  6. Contradictory statements.

1. Body language alone will not help you.

There is much talk about watching for body language cues, that are supposed to tell you when people are lying.

But there are many dishonest people who can tell incredible lies without a moment's hesitation, nor a single flinch. They give NO sign that they are lying.

Equally, there are honest people who flush, squirm and become stressed whenever they are questioned about an incident.

So, don't be seduced into thinking you can look into a person's eyes and "tell" whether they are lying or not. You can't.

Instead, you will have to focus and listen carefully to what they say and what they don't say.

2. Evasion is better than lying.

Everyone should know that good liars don't like to lie. They prefer to evade. Evasion and lying are not the same thing.

Lying is fabrication of false statements. Evasion is not fully answering the question.

Fabricating false statements (lying), is dangerous because false statements can be disproved by checking the facts.

Therefore, liars prefer evasion; they tell semi-truths.

They distort reality rather than fabricate new ones. And they have numerous ways of evading the truth.

3. Extreme emotional outbursts.

One method people use to evade the truth is to react to a question with an emotional outburst. This may take the form of crying, or getting angry, or offended. The purpose of the emotional outburst is to put you on the defensive and back-off the topic that they are trying to keep secret.

Countermeasure: Ignore the emotional outburst and repeat the question.

4. Missing things out.

Is it possible to lie by telling the truth? Yes, by telling an edited version of the truth.

By leaving out vital elements of the narrative, one can distort the truth, without actually telling a lie.

This is the most common way people lie. It is done all the time by the media, by politicians and in court rooms. You need the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Countermeasure: Look for gaps in their narrative.

5. Change in the order of events.

Rather than omit events, another way to lie is to change the order of events.

In reality the sequence of events was A, B, C. The liar lies by changing the sequence of events to become B, A, C.

This is quite a common form of deception.

Countermeasure. Verify the sequence by talking to other people.

6. Contradictory statements.

Ultimately the most conclusive indication that someone is lying is that they make "self-contradictory statements".

A self-contradiction occurs whenever one both affirms and denies the same statement.

They may affirm something, and then later deny it.

They may say, "A was B"; then later say, "A was NOT B"

For example: At 10am they say, "The money was on the table, when I left". Then at 11am they say, "The money was in the safe, when I left."

Whenever a person self-contradicts, you know that either they are mistaken, or they are lying.

Since the facts are what they are, any contradictory statements made about the facts, reveals either an error in thinking, or an attempt at deception.

Countermeasure: Strive to identify any and all contradictory statements, and then put the contradiction to the speaker. Ask them to explain their contradictory statements and carefully note their response. You will find that one of their statements was wrong, or they both were.

For example: The money was neither on the table, nor was it in the safe, it was in the man's pocket, when he left!


Forget looking at people and trying to tell when they are lying by their body language. Honest people are stressed by being questioned; Dishonest people can lie without a qualm. Consequently, body language will give you no reliable information. Focus instead on the content of what they say.

Listen out for and identify:

  1. Explosive emotional responses of high anger upset, or offence.
  2. Gaps in their narrative.
  3. Reordering of the sequence of events.
  4. Self-contradictory statements: A is B, later becomes A is not B.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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