Body Language: How To Tell If Someone Is Lying


Sometimes it is very difficult to tell if someone is lying or telling the truth. Dr. Leanne ten Brinke, a forensic psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, claims that humans have a natural instinct for judging liars. However, the conscious mind often does not follow that instinct.

This is why you should pay more attention to body language. According to Dr. Lillian Glass, a behavioral analyst who has worked with the FBI, following body language, facial expressions and speech patterns in a person can be of great help in figuring out if that person is lying.

Dr. Glass has written a book called “The body language of liars” where she lists the following signs that a person is lying.

  1. Changing head position quickly

When a person makes a sudden head movement if asked a direct question they are probably not going to tell the truth. This movement can be either bowing the head down, cocking it, tilting, retracting or jerking it back. The movement usually happens when the person is asked for a response.

  1. Changes in breathing

Heavy breathing is also a common sign of lying. This is actually a reflex action which is also followed by rising the shoulders and the voice becoming more shallow. The heavy breathing happens as a result of changes in the blood flow and heart rate which usually occur when you feel tense and nervous as well as when you are lying.

  1. Standing still

Nervous people usually have trouble standing still, however if someone is not moving at all it could indicate that something is wrong. When you are having a normal conversation you are relaxed and you are moving your body unconsciously. But lack of any movement is also a natural response that prepares the person for a confrontation.

  1. Repeating words or phrases

People who are lying often repeat the same words or phrases over and over in order to convince you or themselves into believing something is true. This is also a way of buying more time because they probably have trouble gathering their thoughts.

  1. Providing too much information

Giving too much information is another sign that someone is not telling the truth. People who lie usually talk a lot so that they deceive you into thinking that they are open and sincere.

  1. Touching or covering the mouth

Adults that cover their mouth probably don’t want to reveal something or they are lying. This is a sign that a person does not want to keep communicating.

  1. Covering vulnerable body parts

These areas include the chest, head, throat or abdomen. According to Dr. Glass and her experience in working as an attorney consultant, almost everyone that covers the throat is lying. She also says that once she joined the FBI as a special agent she started to appreciate the use of body language.

  1. Shuffling the feet

This happens when the person who is lying is extremely nervous and uncomfortable and wants to leave the situation. Dr. Glass claims that this is one of the key ways to tell if a person is lying.

  1. Trouble speaking

While observing suspects that are guilty, Dr. Glass has noticed that their ability to speak is becoming more and more difficult. This is a natural response of the automatic nervous system during stress which decreases the salivary flow in the mouth.

  1. Staring without blinking

Breaking eye contact is common in liars, however the ones that are more experienced in manipulating people know how to maintain it. Dr. Glass says that there were cases when a person is lying he/she uses a steady and cold gaze in order to take control and intimidate the other person. On the other hand, people who are telling the truth usually blink or look away from time to time.

  1. Pointing a lot

If you “push” a liar into a corner, he/she will probably try to defend by becoming angry and starting to point a lot.