10 signs someone isn’t a very honest person, according to psychology

There’s a stark difference between someone who’s genuinely honest and someone who’s just faking it.

This difference often boils down to their behaviors. A dishonest person may try to fool you with their words, but their actions often give them away.

According to psychology, there are certain signs that can help you identify if someone isn’t as honest as they may seem. And believe me, knowing these signs can save you from a lot of trouble.

I’m here to share with you these 10 telltale signs of someone who isn’t a very honest person.

Let’s dive in. 

1) They’re masters of evasion

Dishonest people have a knack for dancing around the truth.

When asked a direct question, they might respond with an unrelated or semi-related answer to avoid answering truthfully. This evasion is one of their biggest giveaways.

Take it from world-renowned psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, who once said, “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”

Actions speak louder than words, and if someone’s actions and words don’t line up, it’s a clear sign that they may not be as honest as they claim.

When you’re dealing with someone, pay close attention to how they respond to direct questions.

If they constantly dodge or give vague answers, it might be a sign that they’re not being completely honest with you.

2) They make too much eye contact

While it’s true that maintaining eye contact is a sign of honesty, there’s a limit to it. Too much eye contact can actually be a sign of someone trying too hard to appear honest.

I remember a colleague I once had. Whenever he talked, he would maintain intense eye contact, almost to the point of discomfort. It didn’t take long for us to realize that he often did this when he was trying to cover up a lie.

The famed psychologist Paul Ekman, known for his work on lie detection, suggested that people often make excessive eye contact when they’re being dishonest as a way to overcompensate.

If you notice someone maintaining an unnatural amount of eye contact, it might be cause for concern.

Always remember, honesty is about balance. Trust your instincts and beware of those who try too hard to seem truthful.

3) Their stories are too detailed

Ever had a conversation with someone where their story seems a little too…perfect? Every detail is in place, every moment accounted for, and it feels more like a rehearsed narrative than an honest recounting.

A few years back, I had a friend who had a habit of spinning tales that were just too detailed to be true. There was always an elaborate backstory, a dramatic twist, and a perfect ending. It wasn’t long before I realized these tales were far from the truth.

Lao Tzu once said, “The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.”

When someone’s stories are consistently too perfect or overly detailed, it could be a sign that they’re not as honest as they appear.

Real life is messy and unpredictable. If someone’s stories always seem too good to be true, they probably are.

4) They’re uncomfortable with silence

Truth-tellers are comfortable with silence. They don’t feel the need to fill every quiet moment with chatter. However, those who aren’t very honest often squirm in the face of silence.

I once knew someone who would get visibly uncomfortable during silent moments, and would often use that time to spin a new tale or deflect from the topic at hand.

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, once said, “He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.”

If you notice someone constantly trying to fill the silence or change the subject when things get quiet, take it as a possible sign of dishonesty. They might be avoiding something they don’t want to confront or discuss.

5) Their body language is too relaxed

Here’s a counterintuitive one – sometimes, people who aren’t honest might appear overly relaxed. This doesn’t mean that all relaxed people are dishonest, but it’s something to consider.

Remember, dishonest people often rehearse their lies. And part of that rehearsal can involve controlling their body language to appear more believable.

I recall a former classmate who would lean back and cross his arms whenever he was fabricating a story. He thought that by appearing relaxed, his lies would seem more credible.

It’s important to remember that a lot of communication is conveyed through our body language and tone of voice.

If someone seems unnaturally relaxed when they’re sharing sensitive or significant information, it might be worth questioning their honesty.

6) They tend to shift blame

Dishonest people are often experts at shifting blame. Rather than owning up to their mistakes, they’ll deflect responsibility and point fingers at others.

This pattern of blame-shifting is a classic sign of dishonesty. It shows an unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions, which often goes hand-in-hand with deceit.

Dr. Robert Hare, a psychologist known for his studies on psychopathy, once remarked,

“Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets.”

Of course, not all dishonest people are psychopaths. But the tendency to manipulate situations and shift blame certainly aligns with this lack of honesty.

Keep an eye out for those who never seem to take the blame – they might not be as truthful as they want you to believe.

7) They overcompensate with humor

Humor is a great way to lighten the mood, but sometimes it can be used as a cover. I’ve noticed that people who aren’t very honest often use humor to deflect from the truth or to avoid answering uncomfortable questions.

There was this guy in my neighborhood who was always the life of the party, cracking jokes and making everyone laugh. But when it came down to serious matters, he’d use humor to sidestep the issue, making it hard to trust his words.

Making light of things that are serious isn’t just about having fun. It’s also about avoiding what’s not fun.

If someone consistently uses humor to avoid serious conversations or to dodge questions, it might be a sign that they’re not being entirely honest.

8) They’re quick to make promises

Dishonest people often make promises quickly and without much thought. They use these promises as a way to gain trust and to distract from their dishonesty.

I’ve come across individuals who promise the moon and the stars, only to fall short when it’s time to deliver. It’s a clear sign of their dishonest character.

Psychologist Jordan Peterson has said, “A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very dangerous man who has it under voluntary control.”

In the same vein, an honest person is not one who makes grand promises but one who keeps them under control and fulfills them when required.

Always be wary of those who are quick to promise but slow to deliver. Their haste might just be a smokescreen for their dishonesty.

9) They’re overly defensive

Here’s another counterintuitive one – sometimes, dishonest people can be overly defensive. It seems odd, right? After all, shouldn’t someone who’s lying be trying to blend in and avoid attention?

The thing is, an overly defensive person might be trying to protect their lies. They get defensive because they’re afraid of being caught.

People deceive for a variety of reasons: to protect themselves, to harm others, to create a positive impression, or to gain materially. An overly defensive attitude often aligns with these motives.

If you notice someone frequently getting defensive, particularly when there’s no apparent reason for such a reaction, it might be a sign of underlying dishonesty.

10) They often change their story

One of the most telling signs of a dishonest person is a constantly changing narrative. I remember a friend who would often change small details in her stories. At first, it seemed like simple forgetfulness, but over time, it became clear that these inconsistencies were a sign of dishonesty.

People lie when they think the truth will impose on their freedom. Those who aren’t honest often change their stories to avoid the consequences of their actions.

If you notice someone’s story constantly shifting, even in minor ways, it could be a sign that they’re not being completely honest with you. It’s those little inconsistencies that often reveal the bigger truth.

Conclusion

Recognizing the subtle signs of dishonesty can be crucial in safeguarding yourself from potential deception.

By paying attention to behaviors like evasion, excessive eye contact, and shifting stories, you can discern between genuine honesty and mere pretense.

It’s essential to trust your instincts and remain observant, as actions often reveal more than words ever could.

As Carl Jung wisely stated, “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”

This insight underscores the importance of aligning words with actions.

By being mindful of these telltale signs, you can navigate your relationships with greater clarity and confidence, ensuring that the people you trust are truly worthy of it.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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