Have you ever wondered if the person you’re talking with is lying to you? Vanessa Van Edwards, body language expert, details the signs that people are lying to you. She recommends a three-step process to figure it out.
Step 1: Look for the person’s baseline actions and signals
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Step 2: Look for cues that the person could be lying
Step 3: See if you can spot three cues (she calls them clusters of three)
Let’s talk about baseline. Van Edwards describes this as how person acts when they’re talking about something that is obviously not a lie. It could be about family, hobbies, or what they just ate for lunch. She says to pay attention to how the person acts, speaks, and what kind of facial expressions they make.
These are considered the person’s norms—the baseline. Use these to gage changes when the topic becomes something that could render a lie.
Step 2, the signs. Van Edwards says that common signs of lying include obvious and subtle red flags.
If the person physically creates a distance by moving away, they could be lying. This is because creating the distance eases the sudden discomfort they feel as they are lying.
Speech differences can also be signs of lying. This includes not using contractions (Can’t, They’re) and instead using more words and syllables (Cannot, They are). Not using the word “I” can also be a sign of lying because it removes the speaker from a sense of accountability.
Making an inflection at the end of a statement can be a sign of lying. This could sound like someone asking a question but when they are making a statement. The reason for this is that they are expressing a sense of doubt in themselves, and it comes out as an inflection.
Other body language experts have brought up voice cracking as a sign of nervousness. Not making eye contact, using hand gestures after speaking, and using both hands to gesture are also signs that someone might not be telling the truth. Changes in complexion, sweating, and using filler words like “um and uh” could also be red flags.
Facial expressions are very important. Van Edwards says the pursing of one’s lips can indicate lying.
Other subtle signs such as fear microexpressions can also be a give-away. These are described as involuntary and can include eyebrow raising, forehead wrinkling, nose twitching, and other movements.
Van Edwards emphasizes that it’s important to assume the best in people’s intentions and that they’re truthful. She said one red flag isn’t a sure sign of lying. It’s crucial to look for three or more body language signs given in seconds or minutes. This is when you might be onto something.