12 True Behaviors that Expose Liars

Robert Feldman of the University of Massachusetts reported, “Women were more likely to lie to make the person they were talking to feel good, while men lied most often to make themselves look better.”

two kids on a dock

All managers and leaders hear lies because people tell them what they want to hear.

12 behaviors that expose liars:

  1. Pausing while speaking
  2. Less physical contact and creating physical barriers between them and the person they are talking with
  3. Touching their face (especially the nose)
  4. Defending themselves without being attacked or questioned (defensiveness)
  5. Repeating questions
  6. Avoiding contractions. “I did not.” Cp. “I didn’t.”
  7. Avoiding eye contact or establishing uncomfortably long eye contact
  8. Facial expressions are limited to the mouth; eyes remain neutral
  9. Looking down and to the right indicates an internal dialog in the listener
  10. Looking up and to the right indicates a person is tapping into their imagination
  11. Avoiding direct answers
  12. Changing the subject

Be careful:

Don’t assume someone is lying based on body language, verbal signals, and eye movements. Establish a baseline before making judgments. For example, are pauses a normal speech pattern or an anomaly.

Confirm your suspicions by:

  1. Asking more questions; the truth will come out
  2. Considering motivations: who’s winning/losing – what are they protecting
  3. Confronting the liar – sometimes they will come clean


More on lying:

Lying at work (includes five ways bosses can get to the truth)

The first lie I told at work (my story of lying to my boss)


What do you do when you think someone is lying?

Have you lied at work? What did you do?


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