Can you tell if someone is lying?
What do politicians, advertisers, con artists, little kids, and random people you see in the street have in common?
They all have probably told a lie at one time or another. Some of them lie a lot.
How can you protect yourself from people telling you things that just aren’t true? These clever techniques are all validated by scientific research.
Try them out, and you should see an improvement in your ability to distinguish truth-tellers from liars — and that’s no lie!
Ignore Your Emotions
Skillful liars often know how to play on your emotions. They want you to let down your guard.
They know how to get you to like them, and once you do, your natural impulse to trust the people you like will kick in. They can make you excited about what they are saying, so that you get filled with emotion, and rational thought will go out the window.
Good liars can get you to trust them at a distance. You don’t necessarily have to be talking to them face-to-face. They can exert their influence on your emotions from the podium at a rally, via a video posted online, or through words and images on a printed page.
To thwart the liars, keep a cool head. Tap into the logical part of your brain and analyze what the other person is saying. Remember, liars are counting on you not examining their statements too closely. By simply paying attention to what they are saying, you may find their lies become obvious.
Strain Their Brains
This technique is most effective when you are talking to someone directly. The technique works because, while lying may look easy, it is hard work. People telling lies have a lot on their minds. They have to remember what they said before, and they have to make sure their stories stay consistent and their tones are convincing. It’s a lot for their brains to have to handle all at once.
If you can give them even more to think about, you may be able to overload their ability to think clearly. When that happens, they are likely to start making mistakes in their stories and give themselves away.
How can you get them to strain their brains? Try asking them questions they don’t expect, hard questions that will make them stop and think. Ask them to draw pictures or diagrams of the things they are talking about, or to write down timelines of events.
Don’t Give Too Much Away
Liars have to try to make sure that their stories are consistent with the facts as you, the listener, know them. The more you tell them about what you know, the better the liars are able to tailor their stories to fit your knowledge. So keep what you know to yourself.
When liars don’t know how much you know about the event they are describing, they have to guess. That makes them work harder, and when liars strain their brains, they may unintentionally give themselves away. Keeping mum about what you know has another advantage. Liars may fall into your trap by saying something happened when you already know that it didn’t. Then you’ll have caught them, and the game will be over.
Practice these techniques the next time you talk to someone or hear someone who you suspect may not be telling the truth. Some lies may be trivial and harmless, but many lies can have serious consequences when people fall for them. Don’t let a polished liar take advantage of you.
Use these techniques to outwit them and to increase the control that you have over your life.