Here are ways to sniff them out:
- Look for sweating, lack of eye contact, higher vocal pitch and harder breathing. Experienced liars don’t lose their cool but the rest of us get fidgety. Still, remember that just because people don’t meet your gaze doesn’t make them liars.
- Listen for imprecise pronouns. To gain some psychological distance, liars lean on second- and third-person pronouns like “you” and “they.”
- Notice if they stall for time. Liars are more likely to ask you to repeat questions. They also may start their answers with misleading phrases such as, “To tell you the truth” and “To be perfectly honest,” that double as delaying tactics while they grope for an alibi.
- Watch the hands. Honest talkers often use hand gestures to the rhythm of their speech. Their hands naturally emphasize points they’re making that they really believe in. Liars keep their gestures constrained, maybe because they’re less sure of themselves.
- If you suspect lying, stay off the telephone. In one small study, college students lied more often on the telephone than face to face. Lying dropped off considerably, though, in instant messaging and e-mail, maybe because those media leave a record.
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