From potential employees to potential lovers, nearly everyone lies about something. And while little white lies are normal and can even help maintain social order, big lies can quickly cause huge problems and even place you in danger.
Although there’s no surefire trick for determining if someone is lying, there are plenty of behavioral cues liars give if you watch closely enough. Here are the most common signs of a lie:
It is much easier to tell that someone is lying if you know them well. This allows you to weigh everything going on in that person’s life against any strange or new behavior. Whenever someone acts dramatically differently from normal, it’s a glaring red flag that they might be lying.
But don’t jump the gun too quickly. Many people get so nervous talking about stressful topics that they act strangely, so the weird behavior might be the product of nerves rather than lying.
Too Little or Too Much Detail
When people lie, they tend to either give way too much detail because they’re trying to convince you that their story is legitimate or way too little detail because they don’t want to face follow-up questions.
This is another area where knowing someone’s normal behavior can be helpful. Talkative people who suddenly become reserved and quiet people who begin talking incessantly both might be lying.
Changing the Subject
People change the subject for a variety of reasons, including boredom and anxiety, but a sudden change of subject along with several other signs of lying is a big red flag.
Several body language cues may indicate that someone is lying. Frequent nose-scratching, averting of the eyes, or rustling of papers are all telltale signs. Any body language that is designed to divert attention from the face, such as pacing or stretching may also indicate a lie.
However, the most important factor in assessing body language is to know a person’s normal body language. Some people are naturally twitchy, and for these people, still and stoic behavior might indicate a lie. Watch for any departure from the person’s normal way of moving.