How To Know If Someone Is Lying

know when someone is lying

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Ever wish you could strap someone to a chair, and wire them up to a lie detector to get to the truth? If your spidey senses are tingling, and suspect someone is misleading you or up to trouble there’s some ways to spot a lie. Here’s how to know if someone is lying to you, and some stuff that isn’t reliable enough to be useful.

Stuff That Is Unreliable

Avoiding Eye Contact

This is one of the first clues you learn, and it’s surprisingly unreliable. It’s believable because avoiding eye contact would convey deception or shame. So, on the surface, it kind of makes sense.


People who are practiced liars know the rule, and the associated belief with avoiding eye contact. They’ll make a point to look you dead in the eye, to further support their statements. The correlation between lies and eye contact has also not to been proven or supported in large studies.

Changing Minor Details

I thought you said the car was red? Now it’s blue? HA! Gotcha! Your story is made up.

Right? Not really.

While contradictory statements are often used during interrogations to get to the truth, a change in minor detail is not reliable enough to spot a liar. Most people don’t have anything close to a photographic memory, and your mind will often fill in the blanks of what isn’t remembered.

It’s also why an eye witness isn’t always the best evidence in court. We simply don’t recall, and remember minor details, as well as we’d like to think.

Buying Time

When you ask someone a question, and it feels like they’re stalling and buying time to think of a good answer it sure feels like they’re about to lie.

But that’s not always the case.

If they’re trying to distract and change to a completely different topic, you may be onto something. But trying to search for the right words, or phrasing, isn’t a reliable indication of an incoming lie.

See Also: How to deal with difficult people

Stuff That Works

Deviation From Normal

When you hook someone up to a lie detector you’re first asked some sample questions before getting to the good stuff, because they want to establish a baseline. What they’re looking for is a deviation from the normal response.

The same can be said for behavior, and changes to what someone normally does.

Is their behavior noticeably different from what you normally encounter? Rapid blinking, wringing of the hands, fidgeting with hair – behavior that is a deviation from normal behavior is what you’re looking for.


Our words are much easier to falsify than our facial expressions. And when you’re lying, your facial expressions can often reveal your deception. There are facial muscles you literally cannot manipulate, and are only activated as a response to true emotion.

Microexpressions are involuntary, split second, facial expressions that give you a window into someone’s true emotion.

Contradicting Emotion

If someone is telling you a sad, devastating story, their facial expression should be consistent with their words. When you’re lying it can be hard to keep your words, emotions, and facial expressions all on the same page.

And they can often contradict one another.

It’s not unusual for someone to smile, or joke, while telling a lie which should invoke feelings of grief.

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Know when someone is lying

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