How to spot a lie in five simple steps

How to spot a lie in five simple steps

Learn how to tell if someone is lying to you

Lying is something most people will do in the course of their lives, many on a daily basis. Lies can come in big or small packages, from white lies meant to spare hurt feelings or avoid conflict, to large lies intended to cover up a greater issue or cause someone harm, and all manner of lies between them. Toddlers learn to lie in order to practice a certain amount of control and, ultimately, to get out of trouble, and it only gets worse from there. The question is, how can one tell when someone is lying? Believe it or not, there are ways to tell by judging body language, expressions and behaviors. Here are five simple steps.


Step 1

Sit down face-to-face with the person

You need to be able to observe their expressions and mannerisms while you talk in order to interpret their behavior and see if they’re lying to you. If you can sit in chairs facing each other, you will have the optimal view of any body language they may exhibit.

Step 2

Ask them what you want to know

Ask them what you want to know in as non-threatening a manner as possible. Don’t make it a confrontation. Just ask. Make your question to the point and on topic.

Step 3

Observe them as they answer

You want to look for the following signs that they’re lying:

  • They avoid making eye contact
  • They get defensive
  • They avoid answering your question or repeat it back to you
  • They turn from you or put objects between the two of you
  • They fidget, twitch or keep their bodies unnaturally still
  • They over-explain or talk too much
  • They lack facial expression or tone of voice
  • Their voices may change, such as becoming higher
  • They may mumble or be hard to understand
  • They may pause to think for longer than seems necessary
Step 4

Change the subject

This may seem counter-intuitive, but if you change the subject, an innocent person will want to go back to it to be sure they’ve proven their innocence. A guilty person will show relief and relax once you change the subject. Observe their reaction and see which way it goes.

Step 5

Take a moment to put it all together

Now is the time to put all of your observations together to determine whether they’re telling you the truth or deceiving you. Did they show several of the cues that they were lying? How did they respond to you changing the subject? Were they defensive or did they go on the offense, as an innocent person would do. Compile the visual and verbal data you’ve put together and decide whether it was a lie or the truth.

How often do you lie?
NeverRarelyMore often than I’d like to admitOn a regular basisFrequently

Things Needed
• Previous acquaintance with the person in question
• Personal observation
• A quiet setting to talk to them

Tips & Warnings
• Be sure you’re prepared to find out the truth — it may be painful
• Put all of the data together before making a decision — only showing one sign, for instance, does not necessarily indicate guilt
• Judge their reactions based upon what you know of their typical behavior — changes in behavior are your biggest clues


Comment: 2
    Olley  13.08.2015 17:53

    Thank you for the positive feedback, Perry! I hope it turns out to be helpful to you.

    Tartt  23.11.2015 21:25

    Great job in presenting a clear, easy-to-understand guide to tell if someone is lying. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and learned a couple of new indicators myself. I even have someone in mind to use it on. Great job!

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