We thought since it was the middle of an election cycle we would cover a topic we deal with every day – how to tell when someone is lying to you. Every interview we have whether it’s with a client, suspect or witness, we as private investigators have to assess the credibility of that person.
So if you are talking to a work colleague or friend or even watching the candidates on the news, here’s some tips to see who is fibbing and who is telling the truth.
Demeanor or Voice Radically Changes: You see how they answer questions that you know to be true. Is there a shift at some point in their demeanor or does their voice change with later questions you don’t know the answer? If someone goes from calm to agitated or lively to mellow for no reason there’s a good chance the truth is not in play.
Answer for Everything: Ask most people what they were doing sometime in the distant past and they’ll have to pause and think about it. So if someone starts answering questions you haven’t even asked and in a way that seems rigid and rehearsed…there’s probably a lie in there somewhere. If they can’t offer any context other than the same lines over and over again, consider how you tell a story about something that has happened. Details get added and left out. The story is usually not told exactly the same way twice. When a person is lying…they don’t have this same context.
Not straight forward: We see this a lot in politics but most people just hear the fluff. Really listen to the question being asked and then how it’s answered. Do they really answer the question or is it just fluff? Is there meat to their response? Does it actually answer the question being asked? For example, when asked did you cheat on your wife? Most people that have not cheated simply say no. Those lying…dance. How could you think that? I would never do something like that? They give you a lot of fluff to something that is really a straightforward question.
Proclaiming Honesty: Honest people don’t have to convince you they are being honest. They don’t have to tell you how honest they are. Sometimes (but not always) a liar might preface a statement with “To tell the truth..” or “I swear to God…”
General Body Language: Is a usually calm person suddenly fidgety? Are they turning and shifting away from you as they respond or are they closing down arms folded, moving away from you. A deceptive person will often hide their mouth or eyes with their hand while telling a lie. There is a subconscious desire to hide while lying. Also lying can cause anxiety which can trigger responses in the face so be on the lookout for excessive biting or licking the lips or pulling on the lips or ears.
Deflection: These are usually lies of omission – something a person just isn’t saying. They can turn to name calling, putting down others, questions about why you’d want to know that and just generally doing everything possible to avoid answering a usually direct and simple question. Really listen to how people are responding.