How do you know if someone is lying?
Do they look up and to the left?
Do they bite their fingernails, touch their nose, shift in their seat, or scratch at invisible insects?
This is a question people have wanted to know the answer to since the invention of lying, and I’m not talking about the 2009 Ricky Gervais movie.
Kids start to learn that they can deceive others even before the age of three, and by mid-childhood are already experts at it.
So, wouldn’t it be great to be able to know when someone is lying?
Well, there’s certainly no magic bullet. However, if someone is being deceptive, they’ll usually display these 17 behaviors.
1) Touching their nose or face
People tend to fidget more when they’re lying.
One of the biggest tells that many people share is touching their nose or other parts of their face repeatedly.
This is also a great way to encourage zits!
Many people get this nervous energy, and some psychologists have also theorized that touching the face is a way of hiding. You bock off at some of your face from view, at least for a short time, and this may feel like you’re blocking the other person from seeing the truth.
2) Gesturing more than normal
Deceiving someone else makes most people nervous.
Knowing that act, we can pick up on a lot of strange behaviors that people display when they’re lying, and one of them is not knowing what to do with their hands.
That nervous energy can go into their arms, hands, and fingers, making them fly about like startled birds.
Liars can gesture a lot more than normal, but don’t mistake them for regularly highly animated speakers.
3) Hiding their hands
If someone is a little more practiced at deception, on the other hand (pun intended!), they might have found a way to compensate for their nervous movements.
Rather than let their hands run wild, they tame them in different ways.
They can jam them in their pockets, keep them behind their backs, or lock them together.
Any of these strange hand-hiding solutions can be a clue that they’re not giving you the whole truth.
4) Not making eye contact
If lying makes someone nervous, they might display some other nervous behaviors.
Looking someone in the eye while telling them a fib is something most people find pretty hard to do.
So, someone who’s being deceptive may try to avoid this and not make as much eye contact as usual.
Just remember that you need to know how much they normally make to have something to compare to.
5) Making too much eye contact
Or they stare at you way too much!
Making way too much eye contact may be a way of overcompensating. They may force themself to look you in the eye so that you don’t doubt them.
Except once again, they’ll be doing something odd, so if you know their baseline, you can judge if they’re making a lot more eye contact than normal.
6) Speaking too fast
If someone is speeding along when they talk to you and tripping over their words, it can be a sign that they’re lying.
Basically, when you’re telling someone what you really think or relating a true story, all you have to do is speak and give them the details.
But when someone is being deceptive, they have to make up details as they go along. This is harder work, and sometimes their mouth can’t keep up with what their brain is doing.
So they slip up, trip over their tongue, and seem generally nervous when they talk to you.
7) Getting their story confused
If the person you’re talking to is trying to deceive you, they may get their details all mixed up.
Once again, this is because their brain has to work in overdrive to weave a credible narrative together, and sometimes it’s too much to handle.
So they might get mixed up and have to backtrack or retract some of the things they say.
If you catch this, the person you’re talking to is either a terrible storyteller or is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.
8) Avoiding you
Someone who’s being deceptive is obviously going to worry about being found out.
If I was worried that someone would find out I was lying to them, I’d definitely go out of my way to avoid them.
I wouldn’t want to give them any more opportunity than necessary to notice the physical clues and nervous tics that show I’m deceiving them.
I’d hope that our paths never crossed!
9) Turning their phone off
These days, everyone is hooked on their phone.
We’ve become inseparable from these devices I like to think of as our external brains.
So, just how likely is it that a person you suspect of being deceptive has forgotten their phone, run out of battery, or switched it off by accident?
Yeah, I don’t think so.
If you’re trying to get a hold of someone and their phone is off time and time again, this is a pretty clear sign that something is amiss.
10) Being undependable
If you can’t get a hold of the person, they’re not going to be someone you can depend on.
And this goes even further and shows up in aspects of their behavior.
They’re impossible to get a hold of. They’re no longer around when you need them. They blow you off or forget about commitments they’ve made.
All of this can add up to a sign that they’re hiding something.
11) Making you speak first
Isn’t letting you speak and express yourself first a sign of someone who’s generous and a good listener?
Sure, it could be.
But it could also be a sign of a sneaky and manipulative person who’s trying to deceive you.
The strategy works like this: they let you give your thoughts and opinions first so they can then agree with you, no matter what they really think.
Simple yet elegant! And definitely deceptive.
12) Avoiding intimacy
I’m not talking specifically about physical intimacy or sex here, though this could be a part of it.
If someone you’re normally close to, emotionally, physically, or both, starts to avoid that intimacy, this can be a big warning sign.
It’s so hard to deceive someone who’s so close and who knows everything about you. Therefore, the answer might be to distance yourself from them to give them less to go on.
Interesting strategy, isn’t it?
It’s also one that’s used so often by people when they’re lying and being deceitful.
13) Having poor communication
Clear, direct communication is the enemy of deception.
So when someone is being deceptive, they’ll usually top communicating with you as well as normal. They might be hard to reach or slow to respond to you.
Or they might just start being intentionally vague or non-committal in a further attempt to confuse and trick you.
14) Surprising you with gifts
Gifts are great. Surprises are super.
But when gifts come out of the blue for no reason, you can see, they could have something behind them.
What could that something be?
Either a really emotionally intelligent person who can read your needs even better than you can by yourself or a deceiver.
Gifts can be used to manipulate you and to distract you from something else they’re doing.
15) Acting stressed out
It’s not all that easy to be a deceiver.
It actually takes a psychic toll, and that can tire and stress the person out.
So, if you think that you’re being fooled or lied to, keep an eye out for signs of stress.
The person can get tired, jumpy, frazzled, and quick to anger, and this might help you catch them in the act.
16) Accusing you of being deceptive
Here’s one behavior that a lot of people love to use when they’re being deceptive. They flip the script and accuse YOU of being deceptive!
Yes, that old gem.
They say that offensive is the best defense and this is exactly what people do when they use this behavior.
They knock you off balance with their accusation and that takes the focus and suspicion off them.
Unless you know all about this trick, that is.
17) Their habits change
Isn’t this what I’ve been talking about the whole time?
Yes, but I’m also talking about their activities and schedule as well.
If someone starts doing different things at different times, or at least saying that they are, they could be using these changes to be deceptive and cover something up.
If someone is being deceptive, they’ll usually display these 17 behaviors either individually or in combination.
Now that you know what to look for, you’re armed against this deception and you’ll be better able to realize when you’re being hoodwinked.