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Op/Ed

How to spot a good liar and unravel their story

We might not be able to catch everyone who lies, but there are cues that will give it away a liar if you listen.

Person working at desk representing holiday office party

Admit it, you’ve probably lied at one time or another in the last 24 hours. One researcher found that most of us are lied to about 10-200 times a day. There are a lot of reasons why people aren’t honest. And if you think you can avoid lying by omitting something, you’re not being honest with yourself.

Those little white lies we tell people to protect them can end up coming back to haunt you. They might believe you haven’t been honest with them, but even if they never find out, you probably feel bad simply because you aren’t allowed to authentic and real. We might not be able to catch everyone who lies, but there are cues that will give it away if you listen.

Verbal indications that someone is lying

Of course, there are non-verbal cues that you can look for that might tell you if someone is lying. We give you a test here that only takes about 5 seconds. However, verbal signs during an interview can be just as challenging. Here’s what to listen for:

  1. Negativity and negative language
  2. Simple explanations
  3. Convoluted phrasing
  4. Telling a story in third person

Simple explanations and convoluted phrasing might see contrary to each other, but a liar tells the story in simple terms unless they’ve had lots of time to come up with a complex explanation.

While they’re telling that simple story, they might invent a lot of irrelevant details instead of coming straight to the point.

Remember when you were a teenager and you lied about having a flat tire? Same kind of thing, different circumstances.

Getting to the truth

Putting pressure on a liar will only raise their defenses. Want to know the trick to find out the truth? One expert recommends having the person start from the end of the story and work backwards. Truth tellers may still have problems with the story, because it’s not how we generally think about things. The difference comes in how the story is “rehearsed.”

Liars tend to rehearse their story in chronological order. Take that away from them and it will fall apart.

Don’t be accusatory, but try to be non-judgmental until you get the truth.

Dawn Brotherton is a Sr. Staff Writer at The American Genius with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is an experienced business writer with over 10 years of experience in SEO and content creation. Since 2017, she has earned $60K+ in grant writing for a local community center, which assists disadvantaged adults in the area.

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