Most people feel uncomfortable lying. Body language can show the stress of concocting a “story” and clue the listener in to a lie.
Some people are very perceptive and can spot a liar almost instinctively. There are many things that indicate when a person is lying. Some of these signs of a liar involve behaviors can be controlled, and some are unconscious reactions to telling a lie. Here are body language behaviors that may tip off a listener to a lie.
Eye movements and changes in the eyes are one category of body language that tell a person is lying. If a person was previously using eye contact, and suddenly looks away, it can be a clue to prevarication.
Voice changes can also reveal a lie. Voice may go up in pitch, showing stress, or it may go down in pitch and slow down, as if the person is thinking hard about what is being said. A person may stop to clear her throat, or take a long pause while deciding what to say.
People will also make nonverbal body movements when lying. Rubbing the face, nose or chin is common. Touching legs, feet or arms can also give away a lie. A very obvious give away is when a person shakes her head “no” while saying “yes” to an answer.
Understanding the body language of lying is useful. However, it’s important to know a person’s normal “baseline” behavior before making any judgment on whether an individual is lying. Some people might engage in body language behaviors when they are nervous or tired that could be misinterpreted as lying. Some people might simply have bad habits that give the impression of lying, even when they are being truthful.
Ten Signs of Lying
Determining a person’s conversational habits during a truthful encounter is called a baseline. All of the following behaviors should be compared to the baseline. Deviations from the baseline can signal that someone is lying.
These ten signs are only a beginning of what to look for to tell if someone is lying. They are not always accurate since many experienced pathological liars learn to control these signals and replace them with nonverbal body language that encourages trust. That is why it’s important to know how a person acts under normal circumstances before judging their truthfulness.