There are very clear tell tale signs that we can use in order to spot a liar ... but we know what to look for.
Why do we lie?
We are programmed to trust, it’s one of the evolutionary skills that we’ve developed as humans, it’s key to our survival and amongst other reasons we lie to make others like us and it seems contradictory, but to gain their trust. We lie:
- To make ourselves feel better
- To protect ourselves and others
- For the hell of it! Thrill seekers love to lie; it puts them in the limelight and gives them the attention they seek
When we lie, there are certain things that we do that give it away, no matter how we try to cover up our lies, our body language will always give us away. As I mentioned in my previous post in this series (Body Language & Communication) if we are trying to cover up a lie, our physiology (body language, tone, intonation, facial expressions etc) won't match what we are saying verbally. They will be incongruent, this is known as body language ‘leakage’. That incongruence is not always immediately apparent, we tend to notice it on a subconscious level which tends to manifest itself in a feeling - a gut feeling that something isn't quite right.
Here are the signs to look out for when trying to spot a liar from what they do rather than what they say – this is the kind of 'leakage' you’d typically see:
- Clamping the mouth shut (this can actually be a tiny movement, pursing the lips or pressing the lips together tightly) it’s a subconscious attempt to stop the truth from escaping
- Covering the mouth with a hand or scarf etc., again it’s an attempt to halt the truth from coming out
- We tense up, our body tightens and we look stiffer than usual
- We overcompensate for the lie and make very few movements – gesturing is reduced to a minimum in an attempt to control any potential ‘leakage’ of our lie
- Eye movements are unwavering and unnatural – often we will avoid eye contact
- We adjust/pull down our sleeves as if we have something to hide
- We push our tongues out whilst generally keeping our mouth's shut. This is a gesture that we use when trying to push away a question or a comment that we don’t like. It comes from being babies and we pushed away the breast after feeding. I saw an excellent example on TV. I was watching The Voice and Will I Am made a joke at Tom Jones' expense, Tom laughed but he did this tongue movement which was a dead giveaway that he wasn’t happy
- We tend to lean forward in an attempt to push our version of events on the other person
- We shrug, subconsciously disowning what we’re saying
- We close our eyes or tend to blink more rapidly in an attempt to separate ourselves from those around us. It’s also an indication that the brain is thinking quickly. The more you think, the more rapidly you blink as your brain will be going into overdrive trying to remember what you’ve lied about. It allows the brain to concentrate more
- We hide the palms of our hands or completely keep our hands out of view – people who have something to hide, will always try and hide the palms of their hands, that’s where the term, ‘showing your hand’ comes from, not from playing cards which is a common misconception
- Women can sometimes be seen to flick their hair (if it’s long), which indicates that they are getting a private thrill from fooling people
- Cheating partners manipulate to get what they want on their own terms – we tell the most lies at the beginning of a relationship when we think we are least likely to be found out
- Liars are masters of repetition, they say the same things over and over again because they don’t have the where with all to create new facts!
Always take notice of your gut feeling, it’s there for a reason and is an inbuilt mechanism to keep you safe. If your gut feeling tells you that someone is lying or that something isn’t quite right, it probably isn’t!
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