Wish you had a lie detector to call B.S. on your bluffing buddies or weasely coworkers? Pay closer attention to key details.
Whether they’re telling tiny fibs or tall tales, all liars give off a few red flags, says nonverbal communications consultant Marc Salem, the author of The Six Keys to Unlock and Empower Your Mind.
It’s your job to spot those sketchy signs. Here’s what to look for the next time you suspect someone’s trying to pull a fast one on you.
Listen for Inconsistencies
Pay close attention to the way your perpetrator is talking to you and compare it to other conversations you’ve had with him. If he’s speaking a lot faster or slower than usual, or skipping contractions a la Bill Clinton—“I did not have sexual relations with that woman!”—those are two common slip-ups, Salem says.
Liars rehearse and put more thought into what they’re saying because that’s what they think a truth teller would do, says Salem. It’s a combination of bad acting and over-selling. Even a good liar has to consciously try to act natural when he knows what he’s saying isn’t true.
Watch for Weird Body Language
Study the suspect’s body language and see if you can spot the dead giveaways: Is he rubbing his nose or crossing his arms? Is she covering her mouth? If the person doesn’t usually exhibit these kinds of behaviors, they could be reasons to dig deeper, says Salem.
And be wary of excessive eye contact: “I never trust anyone who stares at me directly in the eyes,” Salem says.
Do you ever catch yourself thinking about how much you blink, and suddenly you’re doing it way more than usual? Liars feel a similar effect when they hone in on how their bodies should be during a regular conversation. They might think too much about trying to look relaxed and end up doing something noticeably unnatural—like shooting you the death stare for a minute straight.