We’ve all been there, right? We’ve told a little white lie to our significant other to motivate them to get ready for dinner quicker. We’ve hidden the truth from our children to preserve their innocence. Heck, we’ve even lied to ourselves. But how to tell if someone is lying through body language?
When you want to become a pro at spotting liars, you need to be prepared to spend some time researching different body language signals that someone’s hiding the truth. Whether in your personal or professional life, you need to be able to protect yourself against liars.
With a little help from body language, there’s no reason you wouldn’t be able to do that. What is body language, anyway? It refers to conscious and subconscious nonverbal cues we use to communicate with each other. We tend to say much more with our bodies than we do with our words.
Mannerisms, gestures, expressions, body movements, and even the posture of the person you’re talking to can reveal information on whether they’re telling the truth. Learning how to distinguish a truth from a lie can help you make better deals, find the right partners, and stay on the right track.
Body language is telling because it’s a subconscious response to our thoughts. We can control our words, but it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to control our body language. When you know how someone acts when they’re being honest, you can spot when something is off, too. We’re bringing you the “how.”
12 revealing body language signals that someone is lying
1. They’re covering their mouth
Liars tend to cover their mouths because they’re trying to hide the fact that they’re lying. They know that what they’re saying is dishonest and they’re deliberately deceiving you. They’re trying to cover their mouth when they speak because they’re trying to cover their words.
Touching their mouth, fidgeting around their face, and playing with their hair can be signs that they’re lying, too, because they’re subconsciously training to hide themselves. Whether they’re sorry for lying to you or not, chances are that you’re going to notice a change in their body language, nonetheless.
2. They’re biting their lips
Nothing good ever comes out of biting your lips, right? Whether they’re nervous that you’re going to figure out what they’re doing or scared to make a mistake, liars bite their lips for many reasons. We’d argue that the act of lip-biting when lying can even be seen as some sort of impression.
When a person covers their mouth or bites their lips, they’re trying to keep the truth inside and not let a lie escape. Although they’re unaware of what they’re doing, liars cover their mouths because they’re aware that what they’re doing is innately wrong.
3. They’re avoiding eye contact
When you have nothing to hide, you don’t have a reason to avoid looking someone in the eyes. You’re open and honest, and your body language reflects it by the way you approach people around you. You’re comfortable around them because you’ve not done anything to wrong them.
Liars, on the other hand, aren’t comfortable around people because they know what they’re doing. When talking to a liar, you might notice them avoiding eye contact, staring at their feet, glancing at their phone, or even looking slightly above you to make you think they’re maintaining eye contact.
4. They’re completely still
We might take you by surprise, but people who lie are typically completely still when they’re lying. More times than not, we associate excessive body movements and fidgeting with signs of nervousness. When you’re nervous, you’re restless – that’s a fact.
That said, you might want to pay attention to people who are stiff and rigid when you’re talking to them. Gestures, expressions, and subtle body movements are an integral part of every conversation, and that’s why when they’re absent you know that something isn’t right.
5. They’re speaking quickly
While not technically body language, this telltale sign is too important to dismiss. When liars try to keep up with their lies, they’re known to start speaking faster.
They’re trying to figure out a way to keep you from uncovering the truth. They’re overthinking and overanalyzing your behavior, too, and that’s why they’re losing control over the tone and cadence of their voice.
Speaking quickly can be a way to divert attention from the lie, too. When magicians try to hide their trick, they divert your attention to something else to have the time to complete it. Liars are the same – they have a way of tricking you into thinking they’re telling the truth even when you have your suspicions.
6. They’re rubbing different parts of their body
We might be repeating what we’ve already mentioned before, but concealing the truth can be challenging when you’re someone who gets stressed out or nervous easily.
Observe the body language of the person you’re talking to and you’re probably going to notice them rubbing different parts of their body.
Why’s that? Liars aren’t always confident, and when they’re going through a nerve-racking experience, they need something to soothe them. Subconsciously, they might start rubbing their arms, wiping their sweaty palms, or stroking their throat to try to calm themselves down.
7. They’re fidgeting
We know that liars aren’t able to control their body language and the best way to tell if someone is lying to you is to observe their nonverbal cues.
When a liar’s body takes over, you might notice them moving from side to side, shuffling their feet, and fidgeting – they’re trying to focus on something else. Makes sense, though – liars are uncomfortable and nervous when they’re lying.
They might want to remove themselves from the situation, walk away from the conversation, or hide the fact that they’re lying. They might not know how to deal with their anxiety. They’re fidgeting because they’re stressed out and subconsciously trying to “get a grip.”
8. They’re tilting their head
If someone tilts their head when talking to you, pay closer attention to what they’re saying because they’re probably lying.
When someone tilts their head to the right, they’re generally telling the truth. When they tilt their head to the left, chances are they’re lying. Although not proven, it’s a theory that many people swear by.
Whatever the case might be, asymmetry typically indicates that something is off. When someone you’re talking to tilts their head or their entire body, there’s a chance that they’re uncertain of what they’re telling you.
9. They’re smirking rather than smiling
Smiling might not be a telltale sign that the person you’re talking to is telling the truth, but smirking is linked to the same asymmetry we mentioned beforehand. Asymmetry typically points toward a liar because liars are unable to keep their bodies in check. A smirk can be seen as a form of facial asymmetry.
We’re talking about anything from a full-on smirk to a smile that doesn’t fill the whole face. A crooked smile or a smirk can also reveal that the person you’re talking to might be lying to you out of sheer spite. At the end of the day, they’re unable to hide their smile although they’re trying to appear serious.
Is there something in their eye? Is it something you said? Or is there a possibility they’re blinking too much because they’re lying to you? Sometimes when we’re nervous, mentally stimulated, or going through a nerve-racking experience, we start blinking a little more than usual.
It’s our body’s way of dealing with stress. Whether we’re moving too much, speaking too quickly, or blinking too much, we’re pretty much trying to deal with our nerves. When someone you’re talking to starts blinking too much out of nowhere, know that they’re hiding the truth from you.
11. They’re scratching their nose
It all boils down to anxiety, right? Liars might have the audacity to look you in the eye and conceal the truth from you, but that doesn’t mean that they’re devoid of human emotions. When liars are anxious, the capillaries in their noses expand just slightly, enough to make their noses itchy.
With that in mind, the next time you notice the person talking to you scratching their nose profusely, pay closer attention to what they’re saying. If they’re wiping their nose despite not being sick or touching their nose for no freakin’ reason, they’re probably lying to you.
12. They’re tense
All that stress from lying might be getting to them, you know! Stress can cause our bodies to tense up and become closed off. We might cross our arms or legs, for example. Our shoulders might roll upwards or forward. Our shoulders might even get closer to our ears and our neck might shorten.
With all those changes, we’re guaranteed to appear uncomfortable. And that’s exactly what happens with liars, too. When they lie, they try to hide themselves and make themselves appear smaller. Now you know that’s a warning sign of possible deception!