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  • Writer's pictureNathan Fredrickson

Am I Being Lied to? Verbal & Physical Signs of Deception

Lying requires significantly more effort than telling the truth. Like in a game of poker, people have verbal and physical “tells” that the observant interviewer can identify. Here are just a few ways to detect a lie in someone.


Verbal Signs of a Lie:

  • Speech Errors - If the person is not prepared with a practiced lie they may fumble (i.e. “um”, “ah”, etc.) more as they create their false narrative.

  • Lack of Self Reference - Deceptive people tend to minimize reference to themselves. They will avoid saying ”I” and instead say “you” Example: “The equipment was secured to the truck” vs. “I secured the equipment to the truck.”

  • Answering a Question with a Question - A person attempting deception will often deflect a direct question. Example: “Do you really think I would really have been stupid enough to steal tools from the worksite?”

  • Making Vows - The deceptive person will often give as little useful information as possible and then make an oath to attempt to convince the person he/she is telling the truth. Example: “I swear on my honor” or “As God as my witness.”

  • Mitigating Language - The guilty party may use words that reduce the severity of the accusation. Example: “I may have ‘borrowed’ the tools”.

  • Lack of Detail - Truthful people often add irrelevant details to their narrative because they are retrieving events from log-term memory.

  • Change in Voice - A person caught in a lie is likely to subconsciously change their pattern of speech or the pitch of their voice may go higher.


Physical Signs of a Lie:

  • Trying to Remain Still - The deceptive person may be nervous and attempt to control the subconscious need to fidget by pulling their arms and legs toward their body. They will often become rigid.

  • Watching the Eyes - When someone is not telling the truth they are often feeling stressed. A person under stress may blink five or six times in rapid succession. Additionally, right-handed people normally look to their right when telling a lie.

  • Watching the Hands - People caught in a lie will, without realizing it, begin to cover their mouth, shield their eyes, rub the back of their neck, nose or other part of their body while telling a lie.

  • Watching the Feet - In the process of telling a lie, a person may aim their feet towards the door in a subconscious attempt to escape the uncomfortable confrontation.

  • Unusual Body Language - As anxiety increases, the deceptive person may rub their arms or legs, or cradle themselves by crossing their arms across their body. This is due to a subconscious attempt to get blood flowing back into their extremities.

  • Nodding the Head - As a lie is being told, the deceptive person may nod their head up and down while saying “no” without realizing they are doing so and vice versa.


Lie Detection Training is not only useful in business, but is a lot of fun to learn. For more information about EPI Investigation's training programs contact Nate Fredrickson at 605-601-4647 or email nmfredrickson@equitesintel.com.




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