Lie Spotting; an elusive skill?

2 years ago, one of my clients tried to play me for a sucker. In truth, I have been a sucker before, but had this one played out, I was going to be an uber-sucker! I would have lost quite a chunk of dough. Let me just say that I was lucky. The most infuriating thing was the [later] discovery that I had been dancing to his deceptive tunes for months while all the signs were there the whole time. I set out soon after to learn and discover the tell-tale signs of liars; given their increasing numbers. I quickly discovered that I had to go through hundreds of books, thousands of websites, videos, and research papers; I almost gave up.

2 years later, I can conclusively say that catching liars is not that hard after all. May God bless those who have undertaken extensive research on lie-spotting. Given the vast amount of [sometimes contradictory] information available on the subject, here are some simple ways that can help you catch a liar.

Before you begin, there are two things that you need to take into consideration. First off is the motivation; that is, do they need to lie? If the person has a reason to lie, they will likely go for it. If the stakes are high and the lie would work in their favor, they’ll likely take it! Human beings are insanely attracted to the easy way out. It’s the low-hanging-juicy fruit [slurp!]. The second thing is to consider is the baseline. These are the usual mannerisms, behavior, and the personality of the individual. You can establish a baseline by asking obvious and simple questions that both of you perhaps know the answers to. Any sharp variations and fluctuations therefore should then be red flags for lies.

The indicators:

  1. Classic signs of deception include the “Uhm’s” and the “Uh’s that characterize hesitation. The first alarm bell is hesitation. This may sound a little obvious but, we instinctively doubt anyone who hesitates in responding to questions. It could be a lie.
  2. Lying is difficult. You’d have to practice for a long time so as to be able to do it with ease and calmness. Look out for a dry mouth which also causes trouble in swallowing.
  3. Many people get away with lying by manipulation of verb tenses e.g. “have you ever smoked weed?” Answer: “I don’t use drugs”.  Or, “did you sleep with her?” “I would never do that”. Liars will always instinctively try to beef up their lies e.g. by flashing around their ‘good’ reputation.
  4. Deflection: People find it very hard to answer direct questions, especially if they are lying. Therefore, they find ways to avoid the question altogether by either responding with a question or trying to answer some other question [probably of their own choice]. In extreme cases, liars will try to avoid the discussion in its entirety.
  5. The use of unnecessary words is also a classic sign of deception. If their sentences begin with unnecessary phrases like “I’ll try”…, “the truth is …”, “honestly…”, or “to be honest…”, they are probably lying. That goes for those sentences that end with “…actually” or “…really”. For instance if someone says, “we had a lot fun, too bad you weren’t able to make it. It’s ok really”. You have probably just heard a lie.

Lastly, never underestimate your gut. If you get a bad stomach about it, you may just have been slapped with a big one.

One thought on “Lie Spotting; an elusive skill?

Add yours

  1. Insightful article, given me a whole new perspective on the subject…learning to read beyond the spoken and the unspoken.Thought provoking.


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