Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How to Tell When Someone's Lying Through Their Teeth

"The worst part of being lied to is knowing you weren't worth the truth."

Who's seen NCIS? Those of you who have, you know what-or who-I'm talking about here. Ziva. The walking lie detector. The interrogation goddess. Admit it, wouldn't you kill to have those mad skills?

Not everyone has the genetics, or the masochistic desire, to become an Israeli assassin (a reputation that's giving the Mossad's intelligence operations a bad rap). What they do have is the skills to tell when someone's trying to pull a fast one by lying through their teeth.

**Yes, I know "Lie to Me" is probably more meaningful here. I don't watch it. Sue me."**

The Eyes Have It

You know, I've heard it said that people who lie can't make eye contact. I'm going to say they're wrong, and here's why. People who can't look you in the eye feel guilty about something. They're also not very good liars. If they don't feel bad about what they're doing, they believe they have a reason to lie and there's no guilt involved, they're going to look you in the eye and tell you whatever it is you want to hear.

If you've ever had to convince a relative you loved the light-up Santa sweater they bought you for Christmas, you already know how hard it is to fake emotions. Most liars don't get it quite right. Their facial motions don't match up to what they're saying. The timing's wrong, the expressions are wrong, and they either hold it too long or not long enough.

Nothing says "I'm lying" faster than a school picture day smile. A smile that only involves the muscles directly around the mouth rather than the whole face and never reaches the eyes isn't heartfelt. It's there to placate you. The person is assuming that you have no idea what's going on, you're too stupid to live and you'll never know they aren't telling you the truth.

It's All in the Hips, It's All in the Hips

Unless they've taken public speaking classes, most people talk with their hands. When they do, their gestures are usually outward. They say the liar takes up less space.

It's true-sort of. Liars are more likely to touch their face, their ears and their neck rather than their heart or abdomen. They're also more likely to be still. Think about a talking head on TV. They're still. They're calm. They deliver the news without emotion. That's what a liar will do with a well rehearsed story.

It Wasn't Me!

Would you believe someone using contractions and bad grammar is more likely to be telling the truth? Liars gravitate toward much more formal responses-for example, "I did not" rather than "I didn't". The inexperienced liar is an English teacher's dream student. Does that seem horribly wrong to anyone else?

Disclaimer: A good liar already knows all this. These are probie mistakes no criminal mastermind is ever going to make. Confirm the lie one way or the other.

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