5 Tips: How To Tell If Someone Is Lying To You

Some people believe they are effective liars, but their body language usually betrays them. Here are 5 ways to spot a liar.

Someday modern science might perfect Wonder Woman's patented Lasso of Truth and lying would become an outdated practice.Court cases could be settled within minutes and cheating spouses would be 'outed' after the very first offense. Unfortunately, the practice of lying is not necessarily illegal, and many of us could not get through an average day without some minor deceptions.In fact, activities such as card games and theatrical performances actually encourage participants to portray lies as truth.

But in general, lying causes more harm than good in most situations.People make decisions based on the veracity of the information they are given, so a single deliberate lie can cause irreparable harm as consequent decisions are made.Some lies may ostensibly protect others from social embarrassment or mental anguish, but ultimately lies undermine the character of those who tell them.

Some people can become talented liars who rarely get called on the carpet, but most liars give themselves away through body language or slips of the tongue.The trick is to recognize these signals in order to judge if a person is speaking the absolute truth or some degree of deception.Here are five tips for determining if someone is being completely honest or is being deliberately deceptive:

1. Body language.Most honest people form relaxed body positions as they speak.Their arms are held naturally at their sides or are used to animate the discussion.Dishonest people tend to cross their arms across their bodies, forming a shield from scrutiny.They rarely leave their arms in a relaxed position or use their hands to emphasize a point.Lying causes the body to tense up, which results in stiff arm motions and loss of animation.

Honest people also tend to form strong stances while speaking.They will face people directly and rarely fidget or shift their weight from leg to leg.If seated, honest people will often maneuver their chairs in order to face the other person squarely.Liars tend to form closed positions with their lower bodies, angling away from their audience and shifting from side to side as if ready to run away quickly should their lie be exposed.If seated, liars rarely position themselves squarely in front of their audience.They may not face their audience at all, preferring to remain facing a computer screen or file folder.This gives them an 'out' if the situation gets too uncomfortable.Some find it easier to lie if they are seen as representatives of a larger organization, rather than an individual expressing a personal opinion.

2. Eye contact.Honest people have few problems maintaining eye contact with their audience.Some practiced liars may also maintain steady eye contact, but they are most likely searching for signs of acceptance.If someone seems to be avoiding direct eye contact, there is every chance he or she is hiding something.Telling a deliberate lie often creates a moral dilemma within a person.The benefits of the lie must outweigh a lifetime of ethical programming in order to work.Eyes are often seen as the connection between the physical and emotional realms, so direct eye contact may betray a liar. It's far easier to tell a lie if there is no direct connection between the speaker and the audience.Deceptive people may also roll their eyes as they speak, appearing to read new lines from a mental teleprompter.In essence, liars are creating an alternative reality on the fly, so they may very well be 'reading' their lines as they form.Liars may only make direct eye contact with confederates sharing the lie, so it also pays to keep an eye out for these connections.

3. Lapses in logic.Being honest does not necessarily make someone a good storyteller.Stuttering, stammering and needless repetition is not necessarily a sign of deception, but it should be seen as an early warning.Honest but nervous people may not be able to recount a story in a linear way, but they generally have a solid timeline to follow.Liars tend to pick and choose the moments to recount after an incident. Describing an experience that didn't actually happen is very difficult, because there are always minor details a liar will forget.Liars try to avoid providing specifics because of this.

A liar will usually keep the details of a fictional story to a bare minimum or else become too elaborate for credibility.The best way to spot a liar is to allow him or her to tell the complete story until he or she is satisfied it has been told.Once their version has become public record, it is much easier to point out specific lapses in reason or logic.A dishonest witness may claim to have seen a suspect in an alley, but won't remember how she arrived on the scene.A lying spouse may suggest he or she had a late business meeting, but cannot recall the name of the client.Liars also tend to 'remember' important details as their stories begin to unravel.Honest people may forget minor details, but they rarely have sudden flashes of memory while being interrogated.

4. Motivation to lie.Another way to tell if a person could be lying is to evaluate his or her motivations.Is this person an uninvolved bystander or very close to the situation?Could this person benefit financially or socially by making false statements?Some honest people may feel the need to color their story to fit a specific point of view, but the basic facts are not in dispute.An employer might be described as

'demanding' or 'motivational' by two different employees, but neither would be lying.An employee who could benefit from the boss' removal, however, might be motivated to describe him as a ruthless dictator.Most liars have ulterior motives that prompt them to be dishonest.

In order to determine the truth, it pays to research the background of anyone who provides vital information.Some basically honest people may have a reason to spin their stories in a certain direction, but most liars have definable benefits from lying.

5. Physical and mental responses.Professional lie detectors use a variety of measurements to determine honesty.Lying puts stress on the body, so a dishonest person tends to breath differently and excrete more sweat while lying.These changes are usually indetectible to the naked eye, but careful observation may yield a few clues.Is this person touching his or her face excessively?This may be a sign of nervousness caused by the stress of lying.Liars may also feel a sense of dryness around their lips, causing them to drink more liquids or lick their lips compulsively.As the stress of telling a lie builds, blood pressures tend to rise as well.Liars may become very defensive or snappish as their blood pressure rises.Breathing may become more labored or the rate may change.Most people who lie would rather be doing something else, so they may appear very uncomfortable physically.When a person is under severe stress, the body's natural reaction is to find an outlet for that stress.This may be observed as nervous fidgeting with objects, excessive hand-wringing or constant glances towards exits.It takes years of conditioning and training for people to lose the stress associated with lying.Professional actors or undercover agents may be able to mask their true emotions, but few untrained people can avoid revealing the effects of stress on their bodies.Watching for these signs of excess stress can help you determine if the information you've been given is credible or not.

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