How to Tell If Someone Is Lying

She is definitely defensive.

1. On the Defense

People who are lying go on the defense unwarranted and often overreact to any perceived slights. A liar is easily offended and will put up the defenses and become obstinate when challenged. Defensiveness is an emotional reaction to a problem rather than a logical one. And, a liar will use it consciously or subconsciously to shift the focus of the conversation from the facts to a pointless argument.

Example: There was once a manager who would become very defensive at well-intentioned, constructive criticism or any perceived challenge to his authority.  He felt that any questioning of his tactics implied that he was incompetent.  Why did he get so defensive?  Because he was incompetent.  And anyone who was not in complete agreement with him was met with emotional outbursts.

2. No Eye Contact

Liars shy away from direct eye contact, because they are afraid that the person that they lying to will see through their lies. Shifty eyes are a sure sign that someone is lying. Look for a person who talks directly to you, but who constantly avoids eye contact with you after giving you information. Some professional investigators state that gaze aversion is the sure sign of lying. When pressed with a difficult question to answer, people that look up and to the left may be lying because that means that they are tapping into the creative part of their brain rather than the memory. Lack of eye contact can be damning.

3. Listen for the Echo

Liars consistently repeat the question that you ask them. It is a defense mechanism that buys them more time to make up a suitable lie for the inquiry that you have posed to them. Be wary of any person who never gives a straight answer without any added verbiage. And, be careful with people who answer your question with a question.

Example: What were you doing at 5 o’clock yesterday?

What do you think I was doing at 5 o’clock yesterday?

4. Watch Their Hands and Feet

A person who is lying to you may become fidgety and restless. A person’s feet always move before they try to get away from you, so if the person who is telling you a story begins moving side to side inexplicably while explaining themselves, it is sure sign of nervousness and a possible indicator of a lie. The hands are even more telling of falsehoods. A person who touches themselves above the shoulders during an explanation is probably lying. Touching the mouth and the ears with the hands are signs of distress and betrayal. Rubbing the head is a sign of uncertainty. On the other hand, beware of a person who does not use their hands when describing an event too. Stiff hands and a stiff torso indicate lying behavior as well. Truthful people use hand gestures and touch their torso with open hands.

5. Study the Face

People, in general, give nonverbal cues to their emotions. Liars, in particular, give nonverbal leakage of their emotions even when they are attempting to deceive someone. There are seven basic, universal facial expressions, happiness, surprise, fear, sadness, contempt, anger, and disgust. People relay these emotions in facial expressions and in microexpressions. The Federal Bureau of Investigations describe microexpressions as fleeting expressions of concealed emotion, sometimes so fast that they happen in the blink of an eye (sometimes as fast as one-fifteenth of a second). When there is an emotional connection to an event, a phrase, etc., then there is typically a reaction to the event that is shown on a person’s face. Even liars give away their intentions through facial expressions.

6. Know the Baseline Behavior

The largest indicator that a person is lying is any behavior that is in direct conflict with their normal behavior. If a man or woman who is normally animated and loquacious is suddenly quiet and contemplative after being asked a tough question then he or she may be lying. Human behavior usually follows set individual patterns. When people display behavior that is in contrast to their baseline behavior, then they may not be acting honestly.


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