Most human beings are innately trusting, until something happens to them that changes that.
Generally, and especially if we’re truthful ourselves, it’s in our nature to believe what other people tell us, particularly those close to us.
The more cynical amongst us call it being gullible, but, for me, there’s nothing wrong with trust being your default setting.
There is, however, a line.
Although we should trust people, and most people are inherently trustworthy, we’ll all come up against a serial liar at some point in our lives.
Being able to spot one can save you some serious heartache and grief, whether in a personal situation or in a work environment.
We all tell white lies every day, whether it’s for the sake of convenience or because whoever it is really doesn’t need to know.
It might even be to make the other person feel better about themselves, although that’s been proven to be more of a female trait, whereas men are more likely to lie to make themselves feel better.
Although it’s a good policy to try and be honest as often as possible, all-out honesty can, at times, just end up hurting people’s feelings or causing problems.
However, it’s when bigger lies begin in an important relationship, whether with a partner, a close friend, or a family member, that things can start to unravel pretty quickly.
Lies can also be a big problem in business situations and professional environments.
We’re normally fairly good at detecting the signs of lying naturally, but we push those instincts to one side and convince ourselves we must have got it wrong.
If you’re worried someone’s trying to pull the wool over your eyes, here are a few signs you can watch out for that will confirm they’re being less than honest with you:
1. They Start Fidgeting
When we lie, we get nervous, no matter how many times a day we do it.
Nervous energy can be detected when someone plays with their hair, shuffles their feet, taps their fingers on the table, or suddenly shifts around a lot in their chair.
That’s because they’re unconsciously getting ready to run away, in case their lies are detected.
2. They Repeat Themselves
An excellent way of telling if someone’s telling porky pies is that they repeat things they’ve said, and volunteer far more detail than you asked for.
In their desperation to prove to you that they’re telling the truth, they’ll go too far.
A good test is to stay quiet longer than you usually would to see if they keep talking, finding silences awkward in their uncomfortable state. Your silence will make them think you don’t believe them, so they’ll try harder to convince you.
Repeating what they’ve already said is a sign that they’re filling time whilst they try and get their lies straight in their head, or embellish their story further.
3. They’re Inconsistent
All that talking they’re doing? If they keep changing small details about their story, then that’s your clue.
True, none of us have amazing memories, but if there are glaring inconsistencies in their story and it keeps changing and evolving, then you can be pretty sure that they’re not being straight with you.
4. They Cover Up Vulnerable Body Parts
As you’ll probably know, lying can make you feel exposed and vulnerable.
The feeling that you might be under attack can mean you cover your head, neck, or abdomen to protect yourself.
You might also spot them covering up their mouths, ashamed of their words and trying to close off communication.
5. Their Body Language And Words Don’t Tell The Same Story
Are they telling you a sad story, but smiling and being animated, their body language showing them to be in a state of high alert?
Alarm bells should go off.
It’s very easy to lie with words, but it’s only the pro-liar that will be able to stay aware of their body language to the extent that they can give off signals that match up with their lie.
When we lie, our bodies respond. Our heart rate and blood flow changes, which means that we breathe more heavily.
Obviously, if they’ve just walked up a flight of stairs, this isn’t an indicator you can rely on, but if they’re sitting on the sofa or behind their desk and their breathing changes, you’ve got grounds for suspicion.
7. They Don’t Make Eye Contact
This is a pretty obvious one.
Some people are terrible with eye contact anyway, but if someone that is usually happy to look you straight in the eye is suddenly avoiding your gaze, they may be lying through their teeth.
On the other hand, if they make too much eye contact or more contact than they normally would, then it could be a deliberate and quite aggressive attempt to convince you that they’re being entirely honest with you.
8. They Look For An Escape
There’s more to their eyes than just whether or not they look directly at you.
People’s eyes will look in a certain direction when they’re lying, but unfortunately, this might be up and to the right, or it may be down and to the right.
You need to know their typical eye pattern before you can tell, so you’ll probably only pick this up in people you know well.
It normally doesn’t matter precisely what they’re looking at, unless they look at the door. That’s a sign that, although they’re not aware they’re doing it, they’re checking out their escape route should they need It.
No one sane actually enjoys lying or feels comfortable doing it, so their unconscious is looking for the fastest exit from the conversation.
9. They Prepare To Escape
It’s not just their eyes that will give you a clue. Their whole body will probably be angled towards the door, and if they’re standing up you might notice them slowly and gradually moving toward it.
If they were relaxed when you started speaking to them and then become tense as a certain subject comes up, or if they tense up as soon as they see you, it’s also a sign that unconsciously they’d really rather be anywhere else and their body is getting ready to flee.
10. They Behave Aggressively
If someone gets angry or confrontational toward you, that’s a real teller. If someone starts behaving aggressively with no provocation, then that’s their unconscious defense mechanisms kicking in.
Look At The Big Picture
Not all of these signs will be true for all people you’ll come across in all circumstances.
If it’s someone close to you, use what you know about their normal character before you decide on whether or not you think they’re lying.
If it’s someone you’re not so close to, make extra sure you take the context into account.
Psychopaths, for example, don’t get twitchy when they’re lying because we only show these signs if we actually feel guilty about the lies we’re telling.
At the end of the day, just as you instinctively act in certain ways when you lie, you’re also capable of instinctively picking up the signs in other people.
Katie splits her time between writing and translation. She writes about travel and self-care and never stays in one place for too long. She’s currently based in beautiful Cornwall, England, after long stints in Brazil and Mexico. She spends her free time trail running, exploring and devouring vegan food.