7-Point Guide to Knowing a liar
April 18, 2018 | 5:28 PM
by Antara Bose

There really is no denying it; we’ve all lied at some point in our lives. We have probably lied at multiple points. Sometimes we lie for the greater good; to save someone from feeling bad, to prevent things from escalating, or to keep a secret that’s best left untold. At other times, however, it’s to hide our own mistakes. It seems like the easiest route to take to avoid taking the blame for a wrong we have committed. However, from being dishonest about smaller, harmless mistakes, lying eventually becomes a habit — a pretty bad one. If you’re trying to decipher the truth behind some rather fishy tales, here is our 7-point guide so you can act as a human lie-detector.

Catch them by surprise: Let the suspect drop his or her guard. If they are already wary of the fact that they might be questioned, they’ll have their answers ready. Start the conversation with neutral topics and even light-hearted humour. But don’t give the impression that all the small talk is only to get to something bigger — that doesn’t classify as a buildup.

Don’t let them read you: If you are trying to catch a lie, know that the liar is trying to read you as much as you’re trying to read him or her. In the process of trying to understand their body language, don’t give away your own.

Test with ‘sure-lies’: The best way to gather body language cues is by testing the waters with lies you are already aware of. There may be certain things you know the suspected liar would always lie about — capitalise on those lies. Ask the suspect a couple of those questions at intervals and watch out for cues. There will be certain things the suspect will tend to do repeatedly, like scratching his nose, coughing, or raising his voice to a certain pitch while delivering those fake lines.

Standard cues: Things like perspiring (that’s a straight giveaway), excessively licking of lips, unusual fidgeting or even being stiff, do qualify as standard indicators. A guilty will also try to avoid eye contact, might stress on obscure details of the story, and could even try to tell an extended version of the story while throwing in fancy words to appear wiser. If the suspect is trying too hard to prove a point, or making uncalled-for promises, take that as a cue too. And yes, the most popular one — repeating the question you asked in an attempt to buy more time. Trust me, they heard you loud and clear the very first time itself.

Get some assistance: Request others to ask the suspect the same story. If it’s a lie, you will end up with stories that vary slightly from person to person.

Golden tip: At some unsuspecting point, ask them to tell the story backward. The liar would have rehearsed the story in a particular sequence only — which is from beginning to end. Narrating it backward is a lot harder when you’re lying.

Defences: Liars tend to go more defensive than offensive, though seasoned liars do know exactly how to sound offensively compelling too. But in most cases, you will see them taking a rather defensive stance — not just verbally, but even physically. Crossed hands are a sign that they aren’t comfortable with their space being encroached upon. Another sign is that the body or head will face away from the person asking the questions. Most often, it will turn towards an exit. Even if they are facing you, one foot may be pointing towards the door. It’s the subconscious mind making the body lean towards an escape route. Watch out for a sudden paperweight, mug or book being shoved in the middle of you and the interrogated; it’s a subconscious way of trying to create a shield to protect them. It’s a good idea to not hang around doors; you wouldn’t want that being slammed in your face.

Be aware of counter behaviour from pro-liars: Everything gets better with practice; even lying! That’s how some people are better at it than others and can tell a lie almost effortlessly. However, if you know the tricks they might try to pull, you still stand a chance at seeing through the lies.

Avoiding eye contact is one thing, but pro-liars know that too. Therefore, in an attempt to not look away, they’ll try to stare harder at you. Don’t fall for that ‘he looked at me in the eye’ gimmick.

They’ll try to be abnormally calm and show off increasing confidence because theoretically, that’s how the innocent are supposed to behave. But the truth is, even an innocent if accused, will probably be flustered with an accusation. So anyone appearing a bit too calm is fishy.

The guilty might even suddenly have an emotional outburst (there’s not much you can do when someone is wailing, can you?) or try to establish close contact to show that they aren’t trying to keep a ‘wall’ in between. This is more common when the people involved are close family or friends. If you aren’t in a situation that needs physical comforting, or if this isn’t something the person usually does, this is also another subtle cue.

Those guilty of lying often find comfort in half truth and half lies. In this case, we tend to give in because we feel that most part of the story is believable. If you know you’re dealing with a smooth telltale, get down to verifying the smallest details - don’t take it for granted.

Sometimes, the guilty come clean without you making an effort. They’ll tell you they lied, and put forward the ‘real’ story. Red flag! Yes, they did lie and they are being honest about that part, but the ‘truth’ is probably not what they are proposing. It’s most likely much worse. Just saying.

Antara Bose is a model turned fashion and beauty consultant. A popular blogger, anchor, and voice over artist, she maintains a deep connection with the local fashion industry and is passionate about discovering and celebrating aspiring talent as well as promoting animal rights. For fashion updates with a side of humour and sarcasm follow Antara on Instagram @antarabose and on Facebook: Antara Bose.

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