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Lying has been a part of human nature since, well, the beginning of humans. The choice to lie was more often a survival technique to protect oneself in whatever way possible. Being a part of a social group was essential to survival, which means lying may have saved someone from being killed or left behind. Although it may not be morally right, it’s still our human instinct to save ourselves.
Nowadays, with less of a life threat on the line, our lies are more often associated with self-gain, social status, or even to make someone else happy with what we call a “white lie.” Even if you’d like to think you’re an honest person, you’ve still probably made up an excuse to get out of something or skimmed over the truth to avoid a fight.
Because we know we’ve lied before or we’ve been through difficult situations in which we discover someone else has lied to us, many people can become paranoid when wondering if someone is lying to them. More often than not, we’re picking up on clues that we subconsciously noticed, following intuition rather than facts. We can’t prove anything thus driving ourselves crazy with fear but trying not to be overly suspicious. If you’re feeling paranoid about whether someone is lying to you but can’t pinpoint why, here are six effective ways to know when someone is lying:
Their body language doesn’t match what they’re saying. Our bodies have a much harder time lying than our brains, so look to see if their fiddling or if their face matches the story. If someone is talking about something exciting but wringing their hands or if they’re telling a sad story but can’t stop smiling, there’s definitely something else there.
They cover their mouths. Whether simply touching their lips or putting their hand up over their mouth, this motion subconsciously signals cutting off real conversation. Also, if the person is covering up any other vulnerable body parts like the neck, abdomen, or head; they’re instinctively avoiding being exposed. Rather than being relaxed, they look guarded and tense.
They fidget. Everyone has experienced nervous fidgeting, so we know what it looks like. However, if someone is fidgeting when simply having a conversation with you that wouldn’t normally induce nerves, take notice. They might be playing their hair, twirling jewelry, tapping their feet or fingers, or shuffling around.
They look for an escape. If you notice the person you’re talking to has situated themselves near or facing towards an exit, they keep looking at the exit, or they’ve gathered up their things like they could run at any minute, they’re clearly uncomfortable and probably lying.
They provide too much detail. If the person is repeating their story and adding in more detail than you’re used to hearing, they’re probably rambling to make their lie seem more believable. Repeating phrases allows them to overcome their stress to pull together their thoughts. Let them speak without interrupting and you’ll notice that they’ll go on and on.
They get defensive. When someone is lying, they already feel vulnerable out of fear of being found out. If you start to question what they’re saying, even innocently, they can turn defensive and aggressive. If you feel they’re overreacting, these emotions are a telltale sign of lying.