How to Tell If Someone is Lying to You

In most conversations, roughly eighty percent of lying goes undetected. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to spot lies as they’re being spoken? Here are a few detailed ways to pick up on lies. There are questions that you can ask to reveal the truth value of their statements. There are also a few tricks that help to detect lies such as suspicious behavior and facial expressions.

Simple and Straight-forward

Make sure that you ask your questions in as least of an ambiguous way as possible. For example, ask a binary question, or one that you know the answer to. If the other person throws a lot of words around that don’t add value or justification to their answer, then it signifies a possibility that they are lying. You should push back a little and see if they will give you a straight-forward answer. It’s difficult to tell a straight lie without giving away signs that a lie is being told. Usually liars chatter a lot instead of providing an answer. Ask them to stick to the point and see how they react to your request.

Redirecting with Humor

If the other person laughs a lot at things that are apparently not funny, then chances are they are attempting to use humor to evade a lie (or convince you that it’s the truth). If they attempt to use humor as a way to ignore the question, laugh along with them to disarm them and then reassert the question. The other person will probably not be expecting you to reciprocate the laughter and it may cause them stress. This is exactly what you need to determine the truth. You may even go as far as to make your questions sound like it’s meant to be funny, but then reaffirm your seriousness to the other person.   

Over-bearing Honesty

Another sign of lying is too much honesty, or exaggerated honesty. If the other person is constantly reassuring, promising, or swearing that their words are truthful even though you didn’t display any disbelief in their words, then the person may be lying. It’s best to ask them why they are trying so hard to convince you that they are being truthful if you believe them anyway. Questioning in this way should make them feel discomfort which is exactly what you need to find the truth.

Deceitful Sympathy

There is a difficulty when sympathy enters the picture. It’s very difficult to disbelieve somebody that is acting sympathetic toward you. This is, however, a rather easy way to deceive someone. If the other person tries to reassure you of your feelings and regurgitates what they believe you are feeling as a way to evade your question, then they are most likely lying to you. If you ask an easy question and the other person focuses on your feelings, then you should ask your question again and tell them to focus on the conversation. 

Avoiding the Question

Lying is difficult to do well and it often makes people feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. Most people will attempt to avoid the question altogether by either changing the subject or countering your question with another question. The key strategy here is to not answer any of their questions. They will be in control of the conversation if you do. As a last resort, you can indicate directly you would rather have had the conversation go in another direction and you can deal with their question afterward if you wish.

Long Pauses

Another way to sense that a person is lying is to gauge the length of their pauses relative to the difficulty of your question. If you ask a very simple question (a binary question for instance) and the person pauses for a very long time, then this shows that they are probably lying. You could be patient and ask them the questions again as if you didn’t suspect that they were lying. If the pause continues, then the person is most likely trying to make up the answer on the fly, which is a solid indication of a liar. 

Tension and Stiffness

Liars tend to be very tense. Try to spot forced stiffness in their demeanor. These are signs of deceit and displeasure. Emotions pass on quickly with no one emotion usually lasting more than six to ten seconds. If the person is insincere but attempting to be sincere (trying to act surprised for a longer time) to convince you of their honesty, then they could be lying. With practice, you will be able to see that the other person’s acting is flawed and you can detect their lies more easily.


A person on the phone in the middle of a conversation

Hostility is a straight give-away that someone is lying. Hostile tones or even insults are clear signs of a lie. The most important thing for you to do in this case is to not get angry back at them. You could risk forgetting what you asked and then the conversation will end up going nowhere. Keep yourself calm and repeat the question. If the other person is not lying, then they should have no reason to get angry with you. They will only get angry if they know that they are guilty.

Repeated Question

Another way to pick-up on a lie is if the person continues to repeat the question that you asked. If they repeat your question multiple times, then chances are they are lying. Most likely they are trying to think-up a convincing story and delaying you by repeating your question while they do it. Telling lies take much more effort than telling the truth does. Watch out for an elevated pitch in their voice when they repeat your question. Generally, when people lie, their voice tends to get a little higher and they may start talking more rapidly.

Avoidance of the Answer

Trying to avoid the answer altogether is a dead giveaway. If they are avoiding your question by giving you a lot of irrelevant information or trying to change the subject, then they are most likely lying. Focus on whether they are still talking about the question or end up talking about something else like the weather. This indicates that you are being lied to. 

Facial Expressions and Body Language

Facial expressions play a large role in telling if someone is lying. A stiff facial expression usually means that a person is worried. An asymmetrical face is a sign of lies because when you are calm your emotions are the same on both parts of your face. If their eyes are moving from side to side, and you know that this person is usually not shy they are probably lying to you. Eyes looking to the top right corner mean that the person is making something up on the fly. If the person is covering his or her face, head, or neck with their palm, then it means that they are trying to hide their real emotions from you.

Here are some effective ways to tell whether someone is lying to you or not. Use these methods with caution, however, because they can also read the same article and tell whether you are lying to them.