Have you ever lied? Just between you and I, you’d probably say yes. I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t lied. Whether it is a white lie or a complicated web of deceit, people lie. But of course I can only speculate on the statistics. But suffice to say, it would probably be close to everyone.
With that in mind, how do you know if someone you are talking to is simply conjuring imaginative tales for you? Moreover, is there such a thing as a perfect liar? Deceit is a part of our everyday life. I know it sounds cynical but I haven’t had a day where I heard complete truths. Before we get into the debate of whether white lies or half truths are moral accepted or not, let’s focus on how we can identify someone who is telling you untrue information.
After years of conducting job interviews, resolving employee conflicts, investigating and other instances where truth is paramount, I have noticed similar traits and behaviors of liars. Let’s look into them one at a time.
Inconsistency of information
You won’t believe how many job applicants lie about their experiences, education, skills and knowledge. Some exaggerate to astounding proportions while others try to down play their skills to hide the lie. Moreover, I’ve encountered numerous situations where the person says one thing and say another only in a span of minutes. Suffice to say, inconsistencies in the information that they provide is a good indicator of a lie.
What you should do:
- Rephrase questions – this will aid your inquiry about the person’s information. It will help ascertain the veracity of the person’s statements. Many people who get caught in their lie is because their information is inaccurate or inconsistent.
- Get more details – It is wise to explore details and not just the general information. Moreover, it is beneficial to take not of these details so that when you rephrase your questions, you can verify the information.
Language and speech patterns
Another tell tale sign of lying that I observe is the choice of words of the person. Whether it is in a formal setting such as an investigation or in a casual conversation, certain language patterns occur. When someone deviates from the pattern, it can raise a red flag.
When a person deviates from his/her language and speech patterns, you should be curious. Suppose you are talking to someone who talks in a well-paced and articulate manner. Then suddenly he/she stammers or hesitates with a retort. Likewise, when you speak with someone then suddenly changes his tone, pitch or any other para-linguistic cues, then you should inquire further. Also, if the person you are talking prefers certain words or group of words to use, then suddenly uses something different, you should be wary or at least be curious why the change occurred.
You can easily identify these speech and language patterns especially for people you talk to often. Of course changing these patterns or norms does not automatically suggest that the person is lying. Instead, it is curious point of interest you may explore.
Behavioral experts as well as deception experts can identify people who lie because of their behaviors. Whether it is brought about by the physiological effects of lying or the unconscious behavior to cover up a lie, signs can be seen. Lying creates stress no matter how small it may be. This stress translates into physiological manifestations that we respond to.
- Increased blink rate – deception experts say that when we say a lie our blik rate increases. Of course you don’t count blinks per minute when engaging in a casual conversation. But do try to experiment and see what happens.
- Sweating – another physiological reaction to lying is an increased in sweating. Unless the person you are talking to is really terrified and probably has some sweat glands issue, you won’t see readily see armpit sweat stains. Instead, you may want to look at the the hands of the person, forehead and around the neck. Dampness may indicate increased sweating.
- Increased heart rate and breathing rate – increase in heart rate and breathing rate accompanies lying for most people. As such, you may want to observe how the person breathes. Surely you don’t want to talk to your boss with your finger on his carotid artery when you talk about your possible salary increase.
Because of the physiological reactions to lying, our behaviors change when we lie. For example, people who lie tend to be uneasy so they move a lot or fidget around. Likewise, some people scratch their noses when they lie because there is an increase in the blood flow in their nasal area. Looking up to the right or up to the left is an unconscious behavior when we try to retrieve information.
Out behaviors can betray us when we lie. The connection between the physiological effects of lying and our behavioral response is undeniable.
A word of caution
Observing just one of these may not be enough to say a person is lying. However, when numerous signs of lying is present be wary. Moreover, the reason for lying varies. Although it is not my intention to justify lying, some people opt to shade the facts than lay it all down. We must tread carefully as it can strain relationships.
People lie and some do it really good. Some have mastered the art of deception and prey on people. Arming yourself with the tools in identify a lie is essential. I’m not here to quash your idea of trust. Rather, I’m putting forward a tool to strengthen your senses in a world where lying is common. Learning how to spot a liar is a skill worth having. How you use what you know is your discretion. But use it wisely.
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