14 things highly observant people instantly notice about a liar

Lying is inherently human, and we all do it. Yet some of us are better at it, while others suck.

Likewise, some people are better at detecting lies and liars, while others can be easily fooled even by a terrible liar.    

Today, I’m focusing on the first group. The highly observant people who instantly notice many things about a liar.

So, let’s see what these things are and what we can learn from them!

1) Nervousness

This is a big one, right? Many people get incredibly nervous when they need to lie. They get awfully anxious, too.

But, anxiety manifests differently in each person. For example, some start fidgeting. They start tapping their fingers, shifting weight from foot to foot, or playing with objects. 

Excessive sweating, on the other hand, particularly on the forehead or palms, can also be a result of nervousness when someone is lying.

There’s also getting red in the face, and so on. 

A highly observant person will catch on to these signs very quickly, and they’ll know something’s up. 

2) Avoiding or making intentional eye contact

Then, we have inexperienced liars avoiding eye contact. They’re so uncomfortable with lying that they can’t even look you in the eyes for more than a few moments.  

Conversely, studies have found that some liars seek deliberate eye contact. They do this to convince you they’re telling the truth and to gauge whether you believe them or not. 

That means that keen observers need to consider both of these opposite signs in relation to other cues. Like this one:

3) Inconsistent stories

Liars often have a problem maintaining consistency in their stories. They change details, dates, or events to fit their current story or avoid being caught in a lie. 

That’s why detectives will question suspects over and over again to see if their story is consistent. They often do this over the course of many hours, asking the same questions time and time again.

Liars inconsistency becomes more evident when you compare their statements over time.

Highly observant people will catch on pretty quickly that something’s off when they compare the two stories. Will they call out the person they’re talking to or not is up to them. 

4) Lack of detail or too many details

To avoid getting caught in a lie, a person may also give vague responses that lack specific details. And this strategy works. It makes it more challenging for others to fact-check their statements if they simply say they don’t remember.

On the other hand, they may even give too many details to make their story more believable. They might add a very specific time (it happened at 7:34), describe places with too much detail, know precisely what the person was wearing, etc. 

People don’t typically remember small details when something’s happening. That’s why we’re so terrible and unreliable eyewitnesses

So whether someone adds too many details or not enough, a keen observer will pick up on it, especially if they know the person well and know how they’re typically behaving and talking. 

5) Overexplaining

Many liars also feel the need to overexplain or justify their actions in an attempt to rationalize their deception. To themselves, the person they’re lying to, or both. 

They give lengthy explanations for their behavior to make it seem more reasonable. And that’s what you can easily pick up on if you’re highly observant. 

I mean, this is lying 101, right? Kids do it all the time to justify something they did. 

6) Changes in tone of voice

Stress has many interesting effects on our bodies. When people lie, their vocal cords can tighten due to stress, leading to changes in pitch. Their voice becomes higher or lower than their usual tone.

They may also experience other vocal fluctuations, with their tone becoming more monotonous or robotic as they try to appear calm and collected.

For someone who’s detail-oriented, picking up on that won’t be too hard. This, and some other clues, will help them see through a liar. 

Which brings us to something most people won’t notice. And that’s microexpressions. 

7) Microexpressions

Microexpressions are brief, involuntary facial expressions that betray genuine emotions. 

They can include a momentary frown of sadness, a flash of anger, or raised eyebrows indicating surprise. 

All of these can appear despite someone’s efforts to preserve a neutral expression.

You can have a poker face all day long, but if you aren’t an experienced liar, your true emotions might find a way to surface. 

Maybe try hiding behind a newspaper while lying to someone. But don’t do this:

8) Defensiveness

Some liars become defensive when questioned in an attempt to deflect suspicion. This defensiveness means they’re reacting with hostility, evading questions, or attempting to shift the focus of the conversation away from their deceit.

For example, you ask your spouse where they’d been last night, and they respond defensively, saying, “Why do you always have to question me? Can’t you trust me for once?”

That’s very sus, isn’t it? 

9) Inconsistent emotions

Another sign of lying highly observant people might pick up on is inconsistent emotions. But what does that even mean?

You see, when someone’s lying, their emotional expressions don’t always match the situation. 

For example, they laugh when discussing a sad or serious topic, or they appear indifferent when sharing something emotionally charged.

Either way, it could be a clue they’re not being completely honest. 

10) Unusual pauses

A good clue that keen observers instantly notice is prolonged pauses before responding. That could mean that the person is carefully crafting a response to avoid revealing the truth. 

They’re buying time to come up with a believable story. 

You can see this most blatantly in politicians. They’re calm and composed, and many of them take huge pauses when speaking to the press.  

11) Grooming gestures

Subconscious grooming behaviors, like touching their face, adjusting their hair or straightening their clothing, signal apparent nervousness. 

These simple yet noticeable actions may be attempts to soothe anxiety while lying.

Highly observant people definitely won’t let these slip past them, especially if the liar is also doing other things from this list. 

And if you ever tried telling a serious lie to someone, you must have noticed how your breathing changed as well. 

12) Changes in breathing

Changes in breathing are typically more evident in high-stakes or high-pressure situations where the person senses a risk of being exposed.

The stress of lying results in changes in your breathing pattern. They start to breathe more rapidly, shallowly, or irregularly as a result of heightened anxiety.

Keen observers will notice audible sighs, deep inhalations, or loud exhales. These sounds show a person’s struggling to manage their anxiety while lying.

However, it’s just one piece of the puzzle when assessing whether someone’s lying. Consider the following, too:

13) Excessive use of qualifiers and filler words

Have you ever noticed how liars may overuse certain phrases and qualifiers, such as “to be honest,” “frankly,” or “believe me,” to emphasize their credibility and reassure you of their honesty?

While some people use “uh” and “um” naturally, a liar might use them more frequently as they struggle to construct their false narrative.

These are the things we don’t think of, but highly observant people notice them fairly easily. 

14) Overemphasising 

This is something I personally heard many times. A liar did their best to highlight they would never do this. 

They repeatedly emphasized their truthfulness with phrases like “I swear on my life” or “I promise,” etc., attempting to convince others of their sincerity. 

They crank it up, especially if they sense doubt.

Final thoughts

All in all, it seems like it’s relatively easy to spot a liar, right? In some cases it is, but in most other cases, separating natural nervousness from similar signs of lying can be difficult.

You have to be smart, look at the situation as a whole, and take into consideration the person’s typical behavior. 

Adrian Volenik

Adrian has years of experience in the field of personal development and building wealth. Both physical and spiritual. He has a deep understanding of the human mind and a passion for helping people enhance their lives. Adrian loves to share practical tips and insights that can help readers achieve their personal and professional goals. He has lived in several European countries and has now settled in Portugal with his family. When he’s not writing, he enjoys going to the beach, hiking, drinking sangria, and spending time with his wife and son.

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