Ten Tips to Tell if Someone is Lying to You

Understanding and Recognizing the Signs of a Liar

Catch a liar by knowing what body language to look for.

Body language forms a large part of communication. Those with social anxiety disorder (SAD) tend to have limited experience with conversation and therefore less exposure to different types of body language. When learning how to read others' body language, one useful skill is the ability to tell when a person is lying.

As you develop personal and work relationships, being able to read these subtle clues will help to guide who you can trust.

Below are ten tips to spot when someone is lying.

  1. Repeat the Question. Someone who is lying will tend to repeat the question that is asked, to give themselves more time to come up with an answer. For example, if you ask "Who were you with last night?", the other person will parrot back your statement: "Who was I with last night?"
  2. Pause. The liar will pause after being asked a difficult question, in order to gather his thoughts and develop a response. If you catch someone off guard with a question, and believe that person is lying, watch to see the immediate reaction and if there is a pause.
  3. Give Less Details. Although you might think that a liar would give a more elaborate story, research has shown that instead they tend to give fewer details and are vague in their responses.
  4. "To Be Honest". A liar will qualify statements with descriptions made to sound them more truthful. Listen for words like "Honestly" or "To tell the truth".
  1. Variable Rate of Talking. Someone who is lying might slow down her speech at the beginning of a lie to gather her thoughts and to gauge your reaction to the story. Variable rates of speech can indicate that someone is lying to you.
  2. Speak Formally. Bill Clinton said "I did not have sexual relations" instead of the more familiar contraction "I didn't have...". This is typical of people who are lying; to avoid contractions and use more formal language to distance themselves from the lie.
  1. Speaking in Fragments. Liars tend to speak in fragments or omit pronouns; as though leaving themselves out of the sentence means it is not really a lie.
  2. Trouble Backtracking. Police interrogators will often ask interviewees to recount a story backwards. Most liars have practiced their story in a chronological fashion and have difficulty picking up from a random part or working backwards.
  3. Change the Subject. If you suspect someone is lying, try quickly changing the subject. In general, a truthful person will be confused by the topic change and want to go back to the original subject. The liar, on the other hand, is happy to follow along and avoid talking further about the lie.
  4. Post-Interview Relief. Police interrogators also use a technique that invokes post-interview relief. Generally someone who is lying will relax if they believe the tough questions are over. Jump back to another tough question and the person will stiffen up again.

In general, if you are not sure whether someone is lying, think about how that person would think or feel if he was lying or telling the truth and compare that with how he is acting.

Also consider what you want to believe versus what really makes sense; often times we fall victim to lies because we don't want to know the truth.


Forbes. Dectecting Lies. Accessed April 24, 2013.

Chatelaine. How to Tell if Someone is Lying. Accessed April 24, 2013.

Science Daily. How to Tell When Someone's Lying: Psychologist Helps Law Enforcement Agencies Tell Truth from Deception. Accessed April 24, 2013.

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