Some people are terrible liars. They stammer and give inconsistent replies to your questions. But not everyone is that openly dishonest. Some people are better at lying than others, which makes it harder for you to spot when you’re being sold a yarn.
So how do you know when to trust a person and when to call them out on a lie? The following are seven signs that you are being lied to:
1. The Person Keeps Redirecting Your Questions
Generally, when people tell the truth, they’re more direct in their response to accusations. They’ll give you a straight answer and then do their best to clear the issue. They may even voluntarily offer proof of their innocence. But if you ask a question and the person merely asks you other questions or tries to change the subject, there’s a very good chance the person is trying to wiggle his or her way out of a lie.
This evasion is a delay tactic to buy enough time to construct a believable lie. Watch out for that. If a person keeps redirecting your questions instead of giving you a straight “Yes or No” answer, that person is most likely lying.
2. You Hear a Lot of Nothing
You ask a question. They laugh. Make a joke. Tell you it’s a funny story. They do everything but give you a direct answer. When that happens, be on your guard. Deflection is a common strategy used by liars as they try to change the subject and avoid the confrontation. If you ask a question and the person responds with a long, unrelated preamble, you may be about to walk into a lie.
3. The Person Becomes Overly Defensive
Denial is a common reaction when an innocent person is accused, which is why liars will sometimes attempt to deny your accusations. The catch, though, is that because they’re acting, their denials tend to be over the top. A trapped liar may become very loud, get physical, or make a pointless scene to draw unnecessary attention. Liars may yell at you, spout some babble about how they don’t believe you don’t trust them, and walk away in mock fury.
It’s all an act. If a person becomes overly defensive after you ask a question, there’s a lie hovering around somewhere.
4. They Distance Themselves
Liars try to avoid confrontation by attempting to put distance between themselves and whoever is questioning them. For instance, a person may turn to walk away after you ask a question or make up some excuse to leave the room. If the person can’t leave, he or she may put an object between the two of you as a sort of physical buffer. All of these are signs that the person has something to hide.
5. Deep, Heavy Breathing
Pinocchio was partially onto something. A liar’s nose doesn’t exactly get longer, but it does begin to work overtime. When people are lying, their breathing becomes focused and heavy. That’s partially because they’re trying to provide their brains with more oxygen and energy to create the lies. Lying takes a lot more effort than telling the truth, hence the need for extra energy. If a person begins to breathe deeply when you confront them with a question, they may be about to spin you a tale.
6. Their Eyes Turn Left
This is a popular technique used by detectives and law enforcement officers. Watch the eyes. It is an involuntary reaction tied to the brain’s neural activity. When people lie, their eyes typically veer to the left as they access the creative part of the brain, which is located on the left side. But when they tell the truth, their eyes flicker to the right, which is where the recall part of the brain is located.
7. They Break Out in a Sweat
Watch out for those beady brows. The body doesn’t handle lies very well and will display this in some way. Some people begin to sweat when they are under pressure or nervous about something. If someone is in the hot seat and suddenly develops sweaty palms and armpits, it may be because he or she has something to hide.
You’ve Spotted a Liar—Now What?
So what do you do when you spot a lie? You have three major options: you can ignore the lie, point out the inaccuracy, or stay silent but do your own investigation. Of course, your actions will depend on the lie. If it is something trivial, then you could just ignore it. But if someone lies to you about something important, that’s a different matter. For instance, if your partner gets home late and tells you he’s been at work when, in truth, he has been somewhere else, that’s something that is too big to ignore.
In this situation, your best approach would be to conduct an investigation to get the proof. Very few people own up to their lies unless they are presented with cold, hard evidence. Investigations are even more important if you plan to take legal action against the liar. If this is your intention, try to avoid tipping your hand to the other party until you have the proof you need.
Of course, none of these signs serve as foolproof confirmation that a person is lying. For instance, people may sweat because the weather is simply warm, and a person may be nervous around you because he is shy. Still, if a person is displaying several of the signs above and your gut is throwing off alarm signals, there is a very good chance that you may be staring at a liar.