People lie — and there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s simply human nature to hide the truth from time to time, whether it’s a white lie or a bombshell of a secret. Even if we can accept this fact, no one really likes being lied to.
Luckily, according to Dr. Lillian Glass, behavioral analyst, body language expert, and author of The Body Language of Liars, some signs can indicate whether or not someone is lying to you. Here are 8 of the signs to look out for.
1. They can’t stop touching their mouth
Liars often put their hands exactly where the lie is coming from: their mouths. Glass claims, “A telltale sign of lying is that a person will automatically put their hands over their mouth when they don’t want to deal with an issue or answer a question.”
“When adults put their hands over their lips, it means they aren’t revealing everything, and they just don’t want to tell the truth,” she adds. “They are literally closing off communication.”
2. They shuffle their feet
Shuffling of the feet indicates discomfort and nervousness, which is exactly how someone telling a lie would feel. “This is the body taking over,” Glass claims.
“This is one of the key ways to detect a liar. Just look at their feet and you can tell a lot.”
3. They suddenly change their head position
If you ask someone a question, take note of whether or not they change their head position right before they answer. Glass notes, “The head will be retracted or jerked back, bowed down, or cocked or tilted to the side,” indicating they’re about to lie.
4. They get repetitive
If the other person starts saying something over and over again, this may be their tactic of trying to convince you of something that’s false. In fact they could even be “trying to validate the lie in their mind.”
This move also serves as a great way to “buy time” until they formulate what they’re trying to say (which could be a bigger lie).
5. They provide way too much detail
Some people might just like to talk a lot, but keep this in mind as a sign that someone’s lying. “When someone goes on and on and gives you too much information — information that is not requested and especially an excess of details — there is a very high probability that he or she is not telling you the truth,” says Glass.
“Liars often talk a lot because they are hoping that, with all their talking and seeming openness, others will believe them.”
6. They start breathing heavily
If you suspect someone of lying, pay attention to their breathing. Glass calls breathing heavier a “reflex reaction” to hiding the truth.
“In essence, they are out of breath because their heart rate and blood flow change,” she says. “Your body experiences these types of changes when you’re nervous and feeling tense — when you lie.”
7. They’re being very still
While some people might get fidgety while they’re lying, others do the exact opposite and get abnormally still. “This may be a sign of the primitive neurological ‘fight,’ rather than the ‘flight,’ response, as the body positions and readies itself for possible confrontation,” according to Glass.
“When you speak and engage in normal conversation, it is natural to move your body around in subtle, relaxed, and, for the most part, unconscious movements. So if you observe a rigid, catatonic stance devoid of movement, it is often a huge warning sign that something is off.”
8. They maintain too much eye contact
Some people might think that diverting their eyes too much will give away their lies. To compensate, they might maintain too much eye contact. “When people tell the truth, most will occasionally shift their eyes around and may even look away from time to time,” according to Glass. “Liars, on the other hand, will use a cold, steady gaze to intimidate and control.”