There are many ways liars betray themselves. Some of the signs involve spoken language and visible signs like sweat or a flushed face, but many of the most telling signs that someone isn't being truthful are found in body language. While reading body language isn't definitive proof that lies are being told, they can offer reassurance when you're already suspicious. In addition, consider how many indications are manifesting; when several of the following body language signals are apparent, it is likely there is a reason.
- Skill level:
Other People Are Reading
Pay particular attention to the eyes. When people are lying, they generally avoid eye contact. Frequently, liars will gaze downward and to the right (your left). Because this is a well-known sign, though, someone who's lying may force themselves to make eye contact. However, at the exact point of telling a lie, they will usually dart their eyes away briefly.
Watch for fidgeting. When people lie, they are generally uncomfortable and act out their nervousness by fidgeting with their hands or feet. This may involve playing with something, adjusting clothes, drumming fingers or just making fidgety motions. This also represents a subconscious attempt to divert attention away from the lie.
Notice any covering of the mouth or touching of the face. Liars will often try to "hide" the lie by blocking the view of their mouth. Almost as common is touching the nose or an eye in some seemingly innocuous fashion. These are all attempts to cover up the dishonesty, and it is also considered by some to be a subconscious expression of shame.
Look for any indication that the speaker has a dry mouth, a common side effect of lying. This can include lip licking, frequent swallowing or repetitious small sips of a beverage.
Pay attention to gestures. When people lie, they will try to divert attention and promote a false sense of enthusiasm with excessive gesturing. Often such gestures will appear exaggerated and deliberate, and sometimes they will not sync up naturally with the speech they accompany. Another indication can be the exact opposite, however. A person staying extremely still, often very stiff, may very well be lying too. This is a signal that someone is trying not to betray anything, akin to a bad poker face.
Watch for folded arms and crossed legs. These are defensive postures. They also reflect a desire to create some sort of physical obstruction. This same idea can be played out by a person who's lying moving objects between them and the person they're lying to.
Notice if the other person's body is pointed away from you. This is a subconscious attempt to hide a little and to avoid eye contact.