Written by: Cally Worden
I tend to try and see the best in people. Most of the time it works out just fine – people are lovely and my faith in human nature is borne out. But there are times when the person you’re dealing with is not entirely honest with you. And when that happens, I’m rubbish at spotting it and tend to get burned. Not nice. So how can you tell when someone is being sincere? And more importantly, when they’re not?
A person can be very clever at fabricating stories that bear no resemblance to the truth, body language doesn’t lie. True, you can train yourself to mask certain gestures, it’s virtually impossible to be so in control of yourself that your body doesn’t do its own thing from time to time, despite your best efforts.
Genuine people don’t need to mask their body language, their movements and gestures may appear more fluid and natural. They won’t be afraid to look you in the eyes and remain at a respectfully close distance from you, their whole body will seem relaxed. Even those who are nervous and tense will seem more natural, unlike someone who is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.
Liars often appear nervous, eyes darting, with their body making small, anxious, involuntary movements. They may maintain a slightly-bigger-than-normal gap between you. Conversely, they may overcompensate and crowd you out, stare intensely at you aiming for interest, but coming across as creepy and unsettling.
Lengthy Replies to Questions
Those who are speaking the truth have nothing to hide, when they are asked a question their responses tend to be more direct. Someone who is lying is more likely to beat about the bush, putting off giving you a straight answer. They may offer justification where none is required, giving you a fleshed out, very long-winded version of what could have been a short and simple answer.
Liars do this because the lie itself is a fabrication. The person telling it often feels compelled to fabricate a back story to go with it, like a supporting cast. If someone is being sincere, they don’t need to do that. Their answer speaks for itself.
When a person is lying it takes energy and creativity to fabricate a response to the questions you may ask. Because answers that are made-up tend to be more elaborate. An insincere person may be reluctant to try to replicate what they have told you previously, they may not remember exactly what they said. This risk of being discovered in a lie leads dishonest people to avoid answering subsequent questions.
By contrast, when a person is being honest, there will generally be no hesitation if they are asked to repeat something they’ve just told you. And no inconsistencies in their answer either. If you suspect someone is not being entirely truthful in what they are telling you, then ask them to explain it. Again, this is a useful way to assess whether they would prefer to avoid the subject altogether, making it highly likely they are being insincere.
A Changing Story
Even the most adept liars find it hard to keep track of their stories. Over time, this can manifest itself as slight changes in the story, an event or set of circumstances. The clues will not often be big, glaring errors, more often small details that are omitted from subsequent versions, or elaborate additions that were inexplicably absent first time around.
It’s important to remember, people will have different motivations for being insincere. Often we just get a sense that something doesn’t quite stack up. In these instances, dishonesty may be no more than the other person seeking to fluff-up a tale, attempting to make themself feel or appear better. We’ve all done that, be wary of firing questions at someone, they may simply be feeling vulnerable. If getting to the whole truth is vital to you (finding out if your teen is taking drugs, for example) , use the clues above to help you identify if there is a problem, delve a little deeper with sensitivity until you get to the truth.