Secrets from the FBI: How to Spot a Liar
Signs of stress in body language? No. Avoiding eye contact? No. Touching the nose? No. These are myths of deception. You can never catch a deceit with his/her physical discomfort. There are behaviors that are indicative of psychological discomfort, anxiety, and distress that help nail a liar. LaRae Quy, who spent 23 years as a counter-intelligence agent for the FBI, shares 8 tips to identify people who are deceptive or perpetual liars…
- Build A Rapport
When it comes to spotting a liar, coming across as empathetic, matters. An empathetic person can read another person’s emotions, tricking the liar to open up more than an aggressive authoritative person who is cold and accusatory. It’s the classic case of ‘good cop vs. bad cop,’ and it always helps to play the one who cares.
- Surprise The Suspect
Basically, put yourself in the liar’s shoes to sniff out the truth. Compulsive liars with evil intent are mostly well-prepared to con and outsmart you. So when you ask them questions they don’t expect, they stumble.
- Go Backward
Heard this saying: When you tell the truth all the time, you don’t have to remember anything? And this: When you lie all the time, you support the first lie with a second lie, and before you know it, one small lie snowballs into a giant mash of lies? Truthful people are consistent with their facts and add more details when they repeat their stories – even backward. But deceitful people can never be consistent with their lies; they forget where they started the lie and where it ended. If you suspect someone is being deceptive, ask the person to recall events backward rather than forward in time.
- Keep Your Ears Open
Listening is as important as speaking. When you listen more and speak less, you tend to only say what needs to be said. But liars tend to listen less and speak more with unnecessary information to distract, convince, and sway others into believing them, as well as sound legitimate and win over their audience.
Keep in mind: Stress usually makes people speak faster. A stressed person often talks louder. Cracking in the natural tone of voice usually occurs at the point of deception. Repetitive coughing and clearing the throat are signs of tension.
- Pay Attention To How They Say NO
No means ‘no,’ but how you say ‘no’ is the key. So be cautious when liars: say “no” and look in a different direction; say “no” and close their eyes; say “no” after hesitating; say “noooooooo” stretched over a long period of time; say “no” in a singsong manner.
- Identify Deceptive Behavior
Be careful if a person: starts speaking formally (happens when the stress levels are high); starts giving exaggerated responses or extreme superlatives; starts forgetting critical things during a conversation; starts responding to questions with short answers, or refuses to provide details when cross questioned.
7. Be Wary Of Compliments
Good actors make good liars. Watch out for someone who is trying too hard to make a good impression. Inauthentic people: agree with you 24×7; shower praises constantly; laugh at all your jokes; keep reminding you of your qualities and talents.
- Question. Question. Question.
To force the liars to expand their story until they become entrapped in their own web of deceit, ask follow-up questions. Unanticipated, confusing queries make a liar uneasy; and an uncomfortable scenario is more likely to get you an outcome. For example, when you ask “Explain this gap in your résumé” from an applicant, you may get an answer “I was recuperating from hip surgery”. If you see the applicant as edgy or nervous, take the time to explore further and uncover the white lie.