Detecting a lie is far from an exact science. However, certain aspects of conversation and body language can raise red flags that someone is telling a lie. While not definitive proof, these telltale signs are hints that an employee, hiring manager or colleague is not being entirely truthful.
Blinking Slower or Faster Than Usual
Since avoiding eye contact is an common sign someone is telling a lie, some people may take the opposite route, keeping consistent eye contact with little blinking. This could be an unconscious attempt to exert control. On the other hand, some people may blink excessively when being dishonest.
Over-sharing and Repeating Information
In an attempt to seem open, some people may provide excessive details when telling a lie, even when they're not asked for it. They may also repeat words or phrases, which may signal they are trying to convince you to believe something or even trying to convince themselves of a lie. It could also be because they are trying to buy time to think about what to say next.
Changes in Posture
Telling a lie may trigger a person's fight-or-flight response. If the response is "flight," liars may fidget or shuffle their feet as they itch to escape the uncomfortable situation. If they are in "fight" mode, they might stand unnaturally still, readying themselves for a confrontation.
The nervousness that often comes with lying can spark physical reactions. As the heart rate and blood flow change, liars may begin breathing more heavily than normal while telling a lie. Look for rising and falling shoulders, and listen for the person's voice to rise in pitch.
Covering the Mouth and Other Areas
People may instinctively cover or touch their lips when they are being dishonest, revealing that they are holding something back. Biting or pursing the lips is also common. They might also touch vulnerable areas of their body, such as the throat, head, abdomen or chest, as a protective reflex.
Quick Head Movements
A fast head movement immediately before answering a question could signal the person is about to lie. Liars may bow, jerk, tilt or cock their heads just before giving a response.
Literal finger-pointing, as well as other aggressive gestures, are common when a liar wants to escape blame. This type of defensive behavior is common when another individual confronts the dishonest person about a lie.
When people become stressed or nervous while telling a lie, their bodies may slow down their saliva production. This can cause dry mouth, which makes speech more difficult.
While these body language and conversational hints may signal someone is telling a lie, they can't always be trusted as accurate indicators. How can business professionals best use these or other telltale signs to detect when someone is telling a lie? Share your ideas in the comments.
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