How to Tell Someone is Lying Using Body Language

How To

Non-verbal cues account for a greater percentage of human communication than verbal exchanges.

Covering the mouth is a sign of dishonesty. Photo: Courtesy

While people can say the opposite of what they actually mean, it is extremely difficult to do so with body language.

This is because gestures are mostly subconscious reactions that occur automatically.

Lying with gestures requires congruence. Several gestures and micro-gestures have to paint an overall image of honesty; an impossible feat because one or two gesture and/or micro-gestures will most certainly betray the liar.

While some people may try to fake some gestures, a few others will give them away.

According to renown communication expert Allan Pease, the following non-verbal cues indicate someone is most likely not telling the truth.

Covering the mouth

Covering of the mouth is a subconscious gesture most people make when lying. The practice stems from childhood training that one should cover their mouth to stop lies from coming out.
While young children will cover the mouth in a more pronounced way, e.g. using palms, adults use subtler gestures such as having the index finger over the top lip.

Rubbing the nose

Touching or rubbing the nose is a somewhat advanced form of the covering mouth gesture. Allan Peace explains that this gesture could emanate from the fact that the hands wants to cover the mouth but the brain realizes this is more obvious. It then diverts to the nose.

Scratching ears

Covering of ears is a subconscious cue learnt from childhood gesture of covering hears not to hear reprimands from parents.
When someone scratches or ribs their ears, it either means they are lying or they think a speaker is lying to them.

Hidden palms

Holding palms openly is a subconscious gesture people use to convey honesty. In contrast, a lying person is more likely to hide palms either in his pockets or by folding arms

Rubbing eyes

Body language experts note that rubbing eyes when telling a lie is the brains attempt to block deceit. A lying person will most likely r her eyes or look away altogether (avoids eye contact with audience.

Remember, like several words have to be combined to form a meaningful sentence, several gestures have to be combined to authoritatively point out that one is lying.

Hence, a single gesture, say rubbing of the nose, should not be used in isolation to determine that one is lying.


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