Being a human lie detector is not a difficult thing. You simply need to understand the tale-tell signs and tactics that are inherent of every liar. Here are five basic signs that are common to most liars:

  • They Relax & Become Happier When You Change The Subject

A topic in which the person is deceptive on will cause them to be tense and haveanxiety. If you think that they are being deceptive, then you should switch topics on them to something different and watch how they react to the change. If they suddenly appear to be more happy and relaxed, then this can be a sign that they were trying to be deceptive before you switched topics on them.

  • They Stall for More Time

Someone who is sure of themselves or honest will usually have an honest answer for an honest question and it will come to them with little thinking involved. Not true with the liar. When a liar is caught off guard, they require time to formulate a response that sounds legitimate. Therefore, they might employ a stall tactic to buy more time. One commonly used way a liar buys more time is by employing rhetoricalquestions such as:

“Can you repeat the question?”

“What do you think?”

“Could you be more specific?”

They repeat the same question back to you

Recognize these kinds of questions as delay tactics, used to buy more time to create a believable lie.

  • They Use Absolutes

Absolutes should be a red flag to you when a person is trying to be deceptive because absolutes are most often lies in and of themselves. Absolutes are words like, “always,” “never,” “every time,” “everyone.” Listen carefully for absolutes because they are used in two main functions: when the person is trying to persuade you to do something, or when they are getting defensive about something they did. It’s a known fact of life that there are no absolutes. Even the cleanest person has gotten their hands dirty at one point. No one is perfect and we learn from our mistakes–that is why absolutes are often associated with deceptive behavior–because they are untrue to begin with.

  • They Don’t Defend Their Honor

When a person is faced with a false accusation, the normal tendency is to become outraged and react aggressively towards that accusation because it’s an attack on their reputation and their honor–both of which an individual has a psychological need to defend. “How dare you say that to me,” would be a typical honest response to a false accusation. The liar, however, will not protest the accusation, but rather be focusing more on what to tell you in an effort not to sound as guilty. They might use stall tactics such as blurting out a “NO….” and then pausing to follow it up with some type of rational explanation.

  • They use “Just Kidding”

While most of us use the phrase, “Just Kidding,” as a common part of our conversation to playfully jest at another person, there is a psychological aspect to this phrase. “Just kidding” is a minimizer phrase, meaning that it downplays the harshness of what was said before it. Even if we are innocently joking, there is at least some partial truth in what we just said, otherwise we wouldn’t have said it in the first place. We then slap on the minimizing phrase, “Just Kidding,” as a way to show the other person that it was “all in good fun.” It might be all in good fun, but remember that when someone says this phrase, they probably believe it–at least a little.

Tristan Loo is the founder of Alternative Conflict Resolution Services, a consultancy based out of San Diego County, Calfornia. Tristan is a former police officer, conflict expert, professional mediator, and negotiator. Tristan gained his experience by actively engaging conflict out on the streets, honing his knowledge and understanding of conflict during hundreds of dangerous encounters with hostile and violent subjects. Tristan is the author of Street Negotiation–How to Resolve Any Conflict Anytime.

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