5 phrases only fake people use, according to psychology

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There’s a stark contrast between genuine individuals and those who put on a façade.

And you might be surprised at how common putting on such a façade is.

One study, for instance, found that the top 1% of liars average a whopping 17 lies a day. Is it just me, or is that shocking?

Needless to say, we’d be best aware of how to identify these fake individuals. But most of us are simply not very good at identifying deception.

As the American Psychological Association puts it, “Research has consistently shown that people’s ability to detect lies is no more accurate than chance, or flipping a coin.”

Want to increase your chances of identifying such insincerity and potentially save yourself a lot of headaches, stress, and possibly heartbreak?

You can. Trained lie spotters get to the truth 90% of the time!

You see, fake people tend to hide their true selves, often adopting certain catchphrases that can be dead giveaways of their insincerity.

Luckily, psychology offers a wealth of insight into these patterns, helping us identify phrases such inauthentic people use. 

Today, we dive into five such phrases. 

1) “Honestly”

Have you ever had someone repeatedly preface their statements with “Honestly”? 

It may initially appear innocent, but often it’s not. 

As noted by the author of Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception and Certified Fraud Examiner Pamela Meyer, using qualifying phrases like this is a dead giveaway of someone faking it.

When phrases like these are overused, it often indicates that the speaker feels the need to reinforce their honesty, which could imply a struggle to convey sincerity through their words alone.

Similar phrases to watch out for:

  • “To tell you the truth…”
  • “Believe me.”
  • “In all honesty..”
  • “Truthfully..”

2) “I don’t recall that”

You’ve probably heard “I don’t recall that” in conversations where details are crucial yet curiously absent. I sure have, at least. 

It’s another big red flag that someone is not being real with you.

As noted by Professor Jack Shafer, a former behavioral analyst for the FBI, deceptive individuals often claim a lack of memory as a tactic to obscure the truth. 

This phrase, particularly when used in important discussions, should raise your suspicions about the speaker’s sincerity and reliability. 

As an added note, more formal language like “I don’t recall” is also a sign someone is not being real with you.

It’s often a strategic way of neither confirming nor denying the facts, thus keeping the actual truth shrouded in uncertainty.

If you encounter this phrase, it’s beneficial to probe further or consider the broader context of the conversation, as it might reveal more about the speaker’s intentions than they intended.

Similar phrases to watch out for:

  • “That doesn’t ring a bell.”
  • “I can’t say for sure.”
  • “It’s all a blur to me.”
  • “I have no recollection of that happening.”

3) “If you really cared for me, you would…”

So let’s say a friend wants you to do something and says, “If you really cared for me, you would come to my party,” or “If you really cared for me, you would lend me that money.” Sound familiar? 

Well, it’s a bad sign, a very bad one, in fact.

This is what’s known as guilt-tripping, and as noted by the folks at Very Well Mind, it’s a key sign of a fake friend.

Guilt-tripping manipulates your emotions, making you feel obligated to act in a way that serves the other person’s needs, often at the expense of your own well-being.

Recognizing this tactic is crucial.

Real friends simply don’t do this.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of such phrases, it’s essential to set boundaries.

Politely but firmly explain that genuine care and friendship should not be conditional or come with strings attached.

Similar phrases to watch out for:

  • “If you were a true friend, you would…”
  • “If you loved me, you would…”
  • “A real friend would…”

4) “Do you really believe I would do that?”

This is another technique highlighted by Professor Jack Shafer.

In one of his posts on Psychology Today, he notes that responding to a question with another question is another indicator of deceit.

When someone answers an accusation with a question like “Do you really believe I would do that?” it not only sidesteps the original question but also forces the accuser to justify their suspicion.

This tactic redirects attention from the potentially deceptive behavior and shifts it back to the person asking the question, effectively avoiding a direct response.

Honest people generally provide straightforward denials when faced with accusations they believe are false.

Similar phrases to watch out for:

  • “How could you even think that?”
  • “Why would I do that?”
  • “What makes you think I was involved?”
  • “Are you accusing me?”
  • “Why would I ever want to do that?”

5) Overly detailed stories

Okay, okay, I know this isn’t a specific phrase, but it is so important. 

So what do I mean by “overly detailed stories”?

Well, we’ve all been in situations where someone recounts an event and suddenly goes into an excessive amount of detail—down to the color of the napkins at a dinner party or the exact number of steps they took to the car.

I think we naturally know that there’s something up when this happens. And we’d be right.

As acknowledged by expert Pamela Meyer in her TED Talk, overly detailed stories are another red flag. 

When someone provides an excessive amount of detail, it can be a tactic to make their story more believable or to distract from the core issue.

It’s often a way to cover up lies by overwhelming the listener with so much information that the truth gets buried in the noise. 

If you find yourself listening to an overly detailed account of something, take a step back and question why all these details are necessary.

It might reveal more than the speaker intended.

The bottom line

That just about wraps it for today, folks. 

But before we go, it’s important to note that we humans are complicated, and sometimes, people who are not faking it will say some of these things on occasion. 

It’s, therefore, important to watch out for what Meyer describes as “clusters” of these signs.

As always, I hope you found this post useful. 

Until next time.

Mal James

Mal James

Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business.

As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys.

In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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