The body speaks.
Whether or not somebody opens their mouth, learning to understand what their body language is saying can clue you in on many things.
If you’re tired of people being dishonest or hiding things from you, there’s a more effective way to find out than to keep asking or pressure them.
Learn to read their body language, especially the small cues they don’t think anybody notices.
Let’s put on our detective’s hat and figure this out.
1) Nervous tics
Nervous tics are a classic sign of lying or hiding something.
- Repeatedly clearing the throat or nose
- Coughing and breathing oddly
- Tapping the fingers or feet rapidly
- Shaking or bobbing the head strangely
- Clucking the tongue or pulling and messing with hair a lot
- Adjusting jewelry and accessories when they don’t need to be
Of course, all of these can be simply signs of anxiety as well and don’t always mean somebody is hiding something from you.
But if you suspect somebody might be not telling you the full truth, these signs can be at least partial evidence of that.
2) Scratching a lot
On a related note to fidgeting and nervous tics is scratching a lot.
This is a classic sign of nerves and potential dishonesty.
Liars and smooth talkers can often talk a good game verbally and say all the right things, even smiling and having good posture and other body language.
But they start scratching a lot:
The back of their head, their cheeks, their forearms, their thighs, their ankle, their biceps, their nose, and so on…
If you see somebody who’s treating themselves like a scratch-n-win ticket and looks like they’re hoping to hit the $10,000 jackpot, you may just have a liar on your hands.
3) Hiding hands
Sometimes those who are hiding something try to literally hide their nervous body language.
Indeed, another common behavior of those who are hiding something is to literally hide their hands (or try to).
You may notice this person overlapping their hands and shifting them around a lot.
They may also hold one hand with the other as if trying to stop it from trembling or moving spasmodically.
We evolved historically to shake hands and display them as a gesture that we aren’t a threat to anybody and aren’t holding weapons.
Hiding the hands can be a sign of both a hidden threat or dishonesty on the instinctive level.
Short of having a central nervous system or muscular disorder or an anxiety attack, this is usually a sign that they’re not being fully truthful, or are very stressed about whatever is going on between the two of you.
4) Sweaty palms
If you can see or feel somebody’s hands, it’s not just their movement you should be watching for.
If they feel clammy and sweaty that’s another sign of anxiety and potentially hiding something from you.
All is not well on the nerve level when somebody’s palms sweat while the rest of them is dry as a desert.
If you feel or see somebody’s palms get shiny and sweaty while they’re talking to you, there’s a good chance they’re not being fully on the level with you.
5) Over gesturing
When somebody gestures a lot it’s a classic sign that they may be trying just a bit too hard to convince you of something.
This is often because they’re hiding or misrepresenting something to you.
It’s like a magician’s trick in some cases:
Arms and hands flying as they try to distract you from their verbal juggling.
But if you watch carefully and pay attention you’ll see that something seems to still just not be quite right.
It appears you may not be getting the full story, and if you’re suspicious don’t forget that sometimes your suspicions are indeed justified.
6) Constantly adjusting clothes
When it comes to shifty behavior, this is another one that ranks right up there.
If somebody has very ill-fitting clothes or is a bit itchy, it’s understandable that they want to adjust them a bit.
But when it’s constant and kind of odd, it’s usually a sign of nerves or hiding something from you.
The next time a person is tugging their shirtsleeves like crazy, keep in mind that it might not just be the bedbugs:
It might be their guilty conscience that’s come to call.
7) Checking watch all the time
The time of day crosses everyone’s mind at times.
But using your watch (or phone) as a constant get out of jail card is a typical tactic of a liar or somebody who’s obscuring their intentions or what they want.
If you are talking to somebody who’s doing this a lot, beware:
They may be trying to think of an excuse to leave as soon as possible or make you feel guilty for taking up their time.
This is a classic diversionary tactic, so be aware of it.
If they’re truly so busy or need to get somewhere, they can tell you about it.
8) Shifting body weight a lot
There’s a reason that shifty is a word for untrustworthy.
It’s not just about a person who shifts what they say, do and believe:
It can also be seen by someone who literally shifts around a lot while talking to you.
Are they practicing the foxtrot or lying to you?
My money’s on the second possibility.
Speaking of shifty…
9) Shifty eyes
Lack of eye contact or shifty eyes is a classic sign of lying or hiding something.
When somebody won’t meet your gaze or does so but their eyes are flitting all over the place beware:
They’re either highly insecure and anxious, hiding something from you, or both.
Either way, they’re not doing A-OK by any stretch of the imagination.
We all have a different capacity for eye contact and maintaining it, but when somebody’s being straight with you, you’ll be able to see that they look at you head-on.
Skilled liars and con-jobbers are good at maintaining eye contact falsely and accompanying it with a shiny (fake) smile, so beware. This sign is one of various but is not sufficient in and of itself.
10) Blinking a lot or not at all
When it comes to eye movement, it’s not only shifty eyes to watch out.
Also look for unusual blinking patterns:
Granted some people blink more or less than others.
But if you’re dealing with someone who seems to be blinking incredibly often and rapidly, or someone who’s looking at you almost catatonically, there’s a chance they’re being less than honest.
When eye activity is unusual it usually tells us a lot about mental state.
If you’re dealing with somebody who can’t stop blinking or has dead eyes, watch your back:
They may not be dealing with you in a fully forthright manner.
11) Shady microexpressions
Detecting microexpressions is something that interrogators, lawyers, intelligence operatives and forensic psychologists are well trained in.
Microexpressions are the small facial expressions that somebody has prior to their chosen or “official” expression.
For example, upon seeing someone, a person’s mouth may briefly grimace but then quickly (and almost imperceptibly) shift into a broad smile.
While talking about what they did today, a person’s eyes rapidly shift (almost imperceptibly) before they answer.
Microexpressions matter and make a huge difference! Watch for them and you’ll begin to see how much you can read in people around you, even in casual situations.
12) A pallor and ghostly expression
People who are hiding something often get a kind of pallor and sickly expression and look to them.
Regardless of skin tone, they appear to be somewhat weak looking and clammy.
It’s like you’re watching somebody get the flu in front of you in real-time.
“Ever notice someone go white as a ghost when speaking? That could be a sign of untruthfulness.”
When you’re untruthful, the blood rushes out of your face, leaving you looking a bit sickly or anxious.
Unmasking liars through body language
The above tips will help you unmask liars using body language.
If you ask a person whether they’re hiding something from you, they’re likely to become even more defensive and determined.
But by watching for the above signs you can glean your own insights without having to be confrontational, giving you huge benefits in your personal and professional life.
When you know who you can trust and get a better handle on when they’re being honest with you or not, you can make better decisions in your personal life and career.