In the course of our entire lives there will come times when we would want to know if someone is lying to us. You might even wish you had the ability to read the thoughts of those around you, at least that way, you won’t ever have to worry about being the victim of deception or betrayal. But you’d know by now that such wishes are mere make-believe since there is not one single person among the 7 billion plus people on the face of the earth with the ability to read people’s mind in order to tell whether someone is telling the truth or not. While it would be impossible to read minds, you can however spot a liar just by reading their body gestures. But note that there might be exceptional cases where this technique might not work because our liar is too schooled in the art of lying. Nevertheless in the majority of cases, reading people’s body language does yield results. So here are the 7 hacks to help you catch a liar.
(1) Apply the base line technique
What this means is that each time you meet someone new, you try to study their normal behavior to establish a baseline. What this does is that it will help you understand their exact pattern of behavior when they are telling the truth. So whenever you see a deviation from their normal behavior when they are being questioned, you can interpret that to mean they are lying. Note too that this only presumed and might not always be definitive in every scenario. But the hack is still worth a try.
(2) Repeating a question verbatim
When someone repeats a question they are asked verbatim, this can often be a telltale sign of lying. Often people repeat questions verbatim to buy time to cook up a dishonest answer. In normal conversations, it is commonplace for people to repeat part of a question but when someone goes to all the trouble of repeating the entire question, then that is a giveaway since they obviously heard you the first time. Let’s give an example here. Assuming you ask someone the question “Hey Jane, did you send Mike the email?” and then she replies with “Did I send the email to Mike?” this might qualify for stalling and would mean Jane is trying to make up a lie.
(3) Speaking in guarded tones
When someone uses an apprehensive or guarded approach to a straight forward question you put to them then that could well mean they are concealing something. “John, where were you yesterday?” and John replies with “what do you mean?” then know whatever John tells you after that might be a well thought up lie.
(4) Ask the suspected liar questions they wouldn’t have anticipated
This approach is based on the premise that liars take time to hatch their stories beforehand. So let’s give an instance. Money gets stolen at home and Jim and Drake the two people last seen at home before the money went missing are called in for questioning. Assuming the two stole the money, they might both have an alibi that they were having lunch together at a nearby restaurant at the time of the theft. Additionally, they could also have taken the time to ensure the accounts of their whereabouts would match up – such as the name of the restaurant where they had lunch, what they both ordered, and anything else they consider relevant to their collective lie. So applying the “unanticipated question approach” you might ask them separately where the bathroom was located. It is unlikely they would have thought of this detail ahead of time. This question would catch them off-guard and there would be discrepancies in the answers they provide. Always try to ask a liar a very intelligent question.
(5) Feeling anxious or uneasy
This method might work only on persons I would describe as amateur liars – those who are not given to telling lies. Chances are, it might not work on any liar who has got game – those good liars who can tell a lie with remarkable aplomb without the faintest trace of anxiety or uneasiness. But the method is still worth a try. Usually anyone who isn’t given to lying all the time might feel anxiety or unease when first telling a lie. Often they might fidget in their seats, avoid eye contact, breathe heavily, and in some cases shift their feet towards the door or exit. These are signs of unease which might be possible signs of lying.
(6) Use what you do know to detect truth or deception
This method requires that you give nothing away as to the evidence you have on the liar’s wrongdoing. You simply keep mum, not telling the liar what you know about what they’ve done. It happens that when you question them systematically without letting on what evidence you have, liars may naturally be more evasive, while truth-tellers will be more forthcoming with details.
(7) Stare at the liar without saying anything
This is a very useful method for catching a liar. All you need to do is get the liar into a room, have them seat directly opposite you where you can both look each other in the eye as you talk. The trick is that once you have them seated, just look across to them and say nothing in a space of two to three minutes. Ask them no questions on the matter at hand but be very stern in your gaze. Usually this would frighten or make the liar uneasy and as you maintain your gaze accompanied by your eerie silence the liar will be forced to talk and volunteer more information that incriminates them.
Bonus: Extreme face touching
When someone who doesn’t usually touch their face a lot starts doing it all of a sudden, it might be an indication of deception.
Don’t also forget to trust your guts.