Michael J.


How can you tell if someone is lying?
How can you tell if someone isn’t telling you the truth? Today there seems to be no shortage of incredibly skilled liars. There aren’t only the Bernie Madoffs, Ulrich Englers and Jeffrey Skillings of the planet. Rather under most circumstances, we don’t know whether people are right or wrong. We all have a little larceny in us and tend to tell those "little white lies".

According to a University of Virginia study conducted in 1996: Lying is part of the human condition. Over the course of one week 147 participants, aged 18 to 71, were asked to record in their diaries all of their social interactions and all of the lies they told. On average, each person lied just over 10 times and only seven people claimed to have been completely honest.

Michael J. Franklin

Let‘s look at it this way, most of the time we're just trying to be thoughtful. If your wife, girlfriend or partner asks if you enjoyed a dinner she cooked, most husbands, boyfriends and partners who know what's good for them…say, "It was very good!" It’s these "false positive" lies that are delivered 10 to 20 times more often than the truth that the meal sucked. Another study indicted that men and women tend to lie with equal frequency, though women are more likely to lie to make other people feel a good, while men tend to lie to make themselves look better. We lie less frequently to the people that are closest to us. So, the burning question is: How to know when someone's trying to sell you a can of fresh mountain air? Traditional polygraph tests have been around since the early 1900s. The technique uses sensors to detect fluctuations in blood pressure, pulse, respiration in response to direct questions. There are fundamentally two problems with polygraphs: one, they only work about 80 per cent of the time, two and most importantly, it's not like you’re going to carry all that hardware to a meeting or to a

Michael J. Franklin

bar. Hence, you’re going to have to rely on your own skills and warning signals. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, chances are…well you know! While there actually is no 100 percent way to expose a liar, there are some very helpful tactics for uncovering people who probably aren’t telling the truth. Some valuable tips to realize that you’re not getting the truth are:
• •

Liars tend to give short or one-word responses to questions, whereas, people telling the truth are more likely to talk a lot more about the question that was asked. In other studies, liars tend to provide much fewer details and use fewer words than an honest person and liars tend to talk for a smaller percentage of any conversation time. Skilled liars don't break out in a sweat, but the rest of us tend to get fidgety and uncomfortable.

Michael J. Franklin

There are some possible "give aways" for those who aren’t being truthful:

Shifty and constantly moving eyes. The person can’t maintain a fixed eye contact with you. Their voices have a higher vocal pitch. They start to perspire. Their breathing becomes heavier. Warning: Not everyone who can’t look you in the eye is a liar!




There are some behavioral traits, like averting eye contact that could be cultural and not indicative of a liar Liars tend to be reluctant to admit storytelling mistakes. When honest people tell stories, they may realize halfway through that they left out some details and might backtrack to fill in holes. They also may realize a previous statement wasn't quite right and go back and explain further. Liars, on the

Michael J. Franklin

other hand, are worried that someone might catch them in a lie and are reluctant to admit even the slightest imperfections. Other important clues are: liars tend to use imprecise pronouns. To psychologically distance themselves from a lie, people often embellish their tales with second and third-person pronouns like "you," "we" and "they". Liars are also more likely to ask that questions be repeated and begin responses with phrases like, "to tell you the truth, " "honestly" and "to be perfectly honest”. When people are telling the truth, they tend to make hand gestures to the rhythm of their speech. Gestures emphasizing points or phrases are a natural and compelling technique when they actually believe the points they're making. The less certain tend to keep their hand gestures to a minimum. The mode of communication matters as well. Studies show that we are less likely to lie face-to-face than over the phone or the Web. We only have to look at our own Internet and email exchanges to see how often we tell those little fibes. According to the study, would we ever come clean if we had the chance? Not likely, because 75 percent of those studied stated that they would lie again if given the opportunity and the chance of being caught was reduced.

Michael J. Franklin

Six ways to catch a liar:
1. Stalling curious questions

Liars are more likely to ask that questions be repeated and answer questions with, "to tell you the truth,", "honestly" and "to be perfectly honest." You should be alerted at those who give extremely evasive answers to direct questions.
2. Long stories and the telephone

There is something about the phone that seems to bring out the liar in us all. In a one week long study of 30 college students, the phone was the most popular choice, with 37% of the lies told in this time, versus 27% during face-to-face exchanges, 21% using web-based messaging and just 14% via email. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as most phone calls don't leave a record behind. Go figure.

Michael J. Franklin

3. Very thin facts

Liars, most amateur ones, haven’t had the opportunity to think through all the particulars details of their stories. If you suspect you're being lied to, make more direct inquiries…but try not to let them know that you’re on to them.

4. Uncomfortable gaps or pauses in conversations

When people are lying, the gaps between their words often increase. While honest people have the truth locked and loaded, liars tend to take more time between points. No doubt they’re looking for an approach that will be the most convincing.
5. A liar’s lack of cooperation

Used car salesmen, politicians, insurance salesmen and bankers notwithstanding, people generally don't like to lie. It makes them uncomfortable, even aggressive. A truthful person is concerned, composed and sincere; a liar is often defensive, guarded and much less cooperative.

Michael J. Franklin

6. A liar needs to be right

When honest people tell stories, they may realize partway through that they left out some details and backtrack to fill in holes. They also may realize a previous statement wasn't quite right and go back and explain further. Liars, on the other hand, stick to their stories as they are worried that someone might catch them in a lie.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful