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An FBI Agent Reveals 8 Ways of How to Spot a Liar

Those little white lies slip out more frequently than you think: According to one study, the average American tells 11 lies per week. According to other research, that figure is on the conservative side. 60 percent of people can’t go 10 minutes without lying at least once, according to a study published in the Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology. And it gets worse: those who did lie told three lies on average during that brief conversation.

Here are 8 ways to spot a liar, according to an FBI agent:

Build a rapport.

“Good cop” usually produces better results than “bad cop,” experience shows. When you come across as compassionate in discussion, the person will open up more than if you come across as cold and judgmental.

Take them by surprise.

A deceptive person will strive to anticipate your questions so that their responses sound natural and instinctive. They may even prepare ahead of time by practicing answering specific questions.

They’ll stumble if you ask them something they don’t expect.

Related: How to Improve Your Body Language: 17 Tips

Listen more than you speak.

In order to appear truthful and win over their audience, liars tend to speak more than genuine people. They’ll also use longer sentences to hide the truth.
Keep an eye out for the following:

  • People who are stressed tend to speak more quickly.
  • People who are stressed tend to speak louder.
  • When someone is lying, the natural tone of their voice cracks.
  • Tension is manifested by coughing and cleaning the throat repeatedly.
An FBI Agent Reveals 8 Ways of How to Spot a Liar

This isn’t to claim that someone who does one or more of the things listed above is lying to you. However, proceed with caution if you see these behaviors.

Take note of how they say “No.”

If you feel someone is trying to deceive you, pay attention to the word “no.”

When a person does the following, they are most likely not telling the truth:

  • say “no” and move your gaze elsewhere;
  • close their eyes and say “no”
  • after hesitating, say “no”
  • say “noooooooo” over an extended amount of time;
  • Say “no” in a sweet, singsong tone.

Keep an eye out for any changes in behavior.

A minor shift in someone’s demeanor can be a powerful indicator of dishonesty.

If you come across someone who:

  • exhibits memory lapses at vital points (despite being alert earlier in the dialogue);
  • answers questions in a terse manner, refusing to go into depth;
  • begins to speak in a more formal manner (a symptom that the person is becoming stressed);
  • employs excessive emotions or strong superlatives (everything is “awesome” or “brilliant” instead of good).

Request that the story be told backwards.

As they tell their narrative again, truthful people tend to add details and remember more facts. Liars, on the other hand, memorize their stories and attempt to maintain consistency in them. (When they include details, they frequently do not add up.) If you believe someone is lying, ask them to remember incidents from the past rather than the future.

Start at the end of a story and ask them to explain what happened immediately before that. 

This makes recollection easier for truthful people. To avoid contradicting themselves, liars often simplify the story.

Be wary of excessive praise.

Don’t get me wrong: there are some very wonderful people on our planet. However, be wary of somebody who is overly concerned about making a good first impression.

Constant praise, agreement with all of your thoughts, and laughter at all of your jokes are all signs of a lack of authenticity and sincerity.

Follow up with more questions.

Of course, no one wants to be misled. However, keep in mind that some people feel uncomfortable with some questions owing to personal embarrassment or because the outcome of the conversation is vitally important to them.

When in doubt, keep asking probing questions. You’ll be able to recognize liars like an expert in no time.

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