Popular Lawyer Michael Mandell recently uploaded a TikTok video in which he shared simple tips on how to tell whether a person was lying or in fact telling the truth. It turns out that it is all about the way the retell the story. Knowing who is lying and who is not is an essential tool for attorneys and other professionals in law. Mandell’s first tip is to ask the person to repeat his/her story.
He says: “Truthful people add facts and remember more details as they repeat their story. While liars usually memorise their story and keep it the same. One trick is to ask them to tell their story in reverse; it will make them think harder and more trying equals more lying.”
Research in the field have found that an untruthful person is more likely to copy your body language while talking to you. Lying forces the brain to work overtime in a bid to ensure that the story has no holes or weak points. While lying, your mind runs through endless possibilities. The brain is so preoccupied with the lie that we start mimicking body language without even realising it.
Indifference could be another giveaway. Shrugging, lack of expression, and a bored, disinterested posture can be signs of lying. The person is trying to avoid conveying emotions. If the individual is working or thinking to hard to fill in the details of his/her story, that might be another warning sign.
Mark Bouton, an FBI agent with 30 years of experience provided us with a few other possible signs.
“There are a number of facial expressions and associated reactions that could indicate someone is lying to you,” he says. “Some are caused by nervousness, some by chemical reactions, and others by physical reactions.”
To start, he says it’s important to understand how the person in question normally acts.
“It’s best to observe someone for a while as you make small talk or ask innocuous questions, in order to see what his usual reactions are, including tics he may have. Then if he exhibits several lying indicators when you ask more pointed or suggestive questions, and these are not ones he previously performed, you can be confident that he’s likely lying.”
“When you ask a normal, right-handed person about something he’s supposed to have seen, if he looks upward and to his left, he’s truly accessing his memory of the incident,” said Bouton. “However, if he looks upward and to his right, he’s accessing his imagination, and he’s inventing an answer.”
Other signs mentioned by Bouton include sweating, pursed lips, dry mouth, itchy face, and a forced smile.
Dr Leanne ten Brinke, a forensic psychologist at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, suggests that our instincts for judging liars are actually stronger than we think. Our conscious minds however, often fails us. Dr Lillian Glass, who is a behavioural analyst, has published a book, “The Body Language of Liars”, in which she discussed the tell-tale signs in detail. She mentioned all the above signs but added that breathing may also change when a person lies. They may stand very still, or repeat odd words or phrases. Shuffling of feet, covering vulnerable body parts. difficulty speaking and pointing could also indicate that someone is lying to you.
The experts are however in agreement on one very important point. This is only a very rough guideline and many of the mannerisms could be part of someone’s personality too. So don’t go running around trying to catch everyone you know in a lie.