how to spot a liar by listening to the words

We can spot a liar by seeing his facial expressions, body language, and incongruencies in a person’s words.

Liars often struggle to keep all these channels in sync.

Pay close attention to three characteristics of speech.

  • Statement structure
  • Verbal leaks 
  • Analyzing the story 

1. Statement Structure

It means his choice of words and phrases. You should also consider other factors like fatigue, stress, hunger, that can affect how someone expresses himself.

Some of the most common statements are:

Repeating questions- When you ask a question, and someone repeats it back to you. Maybe it is trying to buy time to think how to reply.

Q:“Did you stole the money from the desk.”
A:“Do I seem the kind of person who would steal money.”

Ignoring the question- Let’s say you ask, “What computer system you use when you are in the office.
Their reply,“ Are you interviewing all of IT, too.”

When someone ignores your question and ask a new one at the same moment a trying to find out how much do you know. Here, it may try to determine whether you have noticed something suspicious.

Offensive statements- It is an indirect way of answering. The person is trying to put you on the defensive.

Say you ask the employee:“ What exit you use when you leave the building at the end of the day.”
If she is trying to avoid the question will make a statement to put you on guilt.
“I bet you are not hounding others about their comings and goings.”

She is hoping that you will abandon the question while defending yourself. Don’t take the bait.

Protest Statements- When someone will use a statement that has nothing to do with your question.

Q: “What exit do you use when you leave the building?”
A: “It depends on the day. Look, I’m a mother, I go to church. I don’t understand why you’re talking to me like a criminal!”

Try to ask open-ended questions to collect facts, and yes/no questions to assess behavior.

Emphatic phrases- Liars want to sound convincing so they will use phrases like

“I swear to God…”

“I swear to you…”

“…To be honest.” “Honestly”

“Honest to God, I didn’t do it!”

Honest people turn to their religious faith for personal support and comfort, not for proof of their honesty.

Distancing statements- No one like to call himself a liar, fraud, or a criminal. So we will perform all kinds of mental and linguistic techniques to avoid labeling ourselves as such. People who intend to lie try to avoid referring to themselves.

For example, a salesman trying to sell a used car might say: “This is a terrific model.” “It sells out all the time.”

They will avoid using the personal pronoun “I.” Instead of, “I think this is a fantastic car. It sells out of it all the time.”

Try to pay attention to general estimations.

“I usually process orders in the morning…” Ask-“Did you process all the orders on Friday?”

Euphemisms- Are a form of distracting language. 

People think about the words they have to say to be more convincing.

Direct question- “Why did you steal the money?”
An innocent person might answer quickly- “I didn’t steal anything!”

A guilty person- “I did not take anything.” Note the lack of emotion in this answer. It has replaced the word steal with take.

2. Verbal leaks

Verbal leaks include inconsistent grammatical choices, “Ums” and “ahs,” and many other errors.

Slips of the tongue- It is a mistake when someone is talking and uses a different word.
In January 2003, bodies of Laci Peterson and her unborn son were found on the shore of the San Francisco Bay.

Two months before, Diane Sawyer interviewed Lacis husband, Scott, on Good Morning America.

Sawyer asked Scott, “What kind of marriage was it?” He replied, “God, it was glorious. We took care of each other. She was amazing. She is amazing.”

His use of past tense it suggests that he already knew she was dead.

In November 2004, the trial convicted Scott of the murder of his wife.

Specific Denials- People who are telling the truth offer categorical denials of doing something wrong.
“I’ve been in business for thirty years, and I’ve never cheated anyone. We don’t do backroom deals, and we don’t intend to start now.”

Liars often prefer to be much more specific: “I did not try to cheat you,” “We are not negotiating with United Motors.”

Unskillfulness in speaking- During our communication we make sounds, sighs, and pauses that color and interrupt our normal talking.

When people know what to say and are confident about it, they express themselves straightforwardly.

“I came home last night around ten-thirty.”
“No, I’ve never met her before.”
“What do you want to know?”

People stressed out trying to slow down and gain more time to think about what they will say. They try to fill the pauses with sound.

“Uh, I came home last night around ten-thirty.”
“No”—short laugh—“I’ve never met her before.”
The speaker clears her throat: “What do you want to know?”

You should consider that when someone is being questioned makes him more nervous.

Not using the pronouns- Pronouns give us responsibility, and we tend to not to use when we are lying.

“Got up this morning. Went out for a run, then took a shower and changed. Got to work and went straight to the meeting.

Another way someone might distance himself through language is by replacing the pronoun I with you.
“You just don’t cheat,”

3. Analyze the story

How someone narrates his story will give you a clue for its truthfulness.

When we are telling a true story, we tend to dramatize the event that has caused us more strong emotions.

Also, we tend to tell a real story in a less chronologic order. The reason is that our brain organizes the memories more according to the emotions and less the time they happen.

Truthful stories have three stages- prologue, main event, epilogue.

Someone telling the truth will begin the story from the main event, with the real cause why he did a particular action. This part of the story will have fewer details, and it will take less time to tell.

In a lie, the prologue might be detailed and often may contain lots of truthful elements such as time and space. The liar feels more comfortable in this safe zone- after all, he is not lying yet.

When the person is telling the truth, the main event is usually the longest part. In a false story, the main event is short.

An honest storyteller will usually provide an epilogue. Ninety percent of the time, a liars story will not include an epilogue, he will only conclude with the main event.

An end would require him to express the way the event affected him. Of course, it didn’t affect him all, because it didn’t happen.

Make the liar to retell the story
Force him to jump around in his story. Since there are no facts to anchor the sequence of events, liars will spend a lot of mental energy making sure the details of their story will follow a logical pattern.

Real stories rarely make perfect sense. The person won’t worry too much about making sure all the details line up correctly.

Conclusion: It may seem overwhelming to spot a liar but paying attention to some clues is very important.

The problem is not with the white lies but with the lies that affect our career and social life.

Learning how to spot lies will help you stay away from people who try to take advantage of your trust.

The image is from pixabay

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