5 tips to catch a liar
28 July 2016, 08:03
We all lie; we all get lied to, between 20 and 100 times every day. Strangers are more likely to lie to us than people we know. Within 10 minutes of meeting you, that hawker selling a flask will have told you at least 3 lies. But we hate it. We hate being had. We are partly to blame however, because a lie only becomes a lie when we believe it. That’s not to say that you can catch a liar every time; the very best lie catchers succeed just 90% of the time. The rest of us are only 50% efficient. But with these tips you can increase your odds, because we have bad liars and good liars, but not original liars.
Build a rapport
Make them feel comfortable. Ask neutral questions and observe how they act. Let them establish a baseline - a pattern against which you will gauge their behavior when you start asking the crucial questions. Also be empathetic with what they tell you, don’t be judgmental. When people have less to fear, they are less likely to tell lies.
When they have told you their story, just look them in the eye and ask them if they are being honest, and watch them carefully. If you have built the rapport well, this is the point they give the game away. The question will be so unexpected, and since you have just treated them so well, they will be conflicted. They will almost always say ‘no’, but their body language will tell you otherwise - shifty looks, unsettled demeanor, high pitched voice-there, you have your liar.
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Inconsistencies in the story
Good liars make up very believable tales, but there will always be blank spaces, because fiction cannot match reality. How do you tell the two apart? Ask the unexpected specific questions and not related to the lie they are telling. Also ask for the story to be related to you backwards. Ask them to tell you what happened just before the end and work it backwards from there. This will overload their brain and the story will start disintegrating.
Too much detail and scanty detail. You ask them where they were and they tell you where they were plus what they saw, and who saw them there. It’s a sign they are trying to throw you off the truth. Or you ask them what happened at the party and they are like ‘nothing’. Chances are they weren’t there.
Listen more than you speak
Let a liar go on and on. The more they speak, the sooner they will trip over their lies. Listen carefully to how formal their language is, and how they try to distance themselves from the issue, instead of referring to their side dish by name they will call her ‘that woman’. Listen to how they keep on saying they are telling the truth when no one has accused them yet. Be patient and keep listening. Like the Chinese say; if you seat by the river long enough, you are bound to see your enemy’s body floating by.
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