Nearly everyone is taught as a kid that lying is bad, but the truth is that society puts up with so much falsehood that many people become liars while thinking they are truthful. Little lies like embellishing your resume or being nice so you won't hurt the feelings of others seem innocuous and yet often establish a pattern of deceit that fools even the deceiver.
Ryan Lochte most likely could not distinguish between exaggeration or lying in his recent incident. In truth, the same is true for many of your friends, family and colleagues. In fact, a 2002 University of Massachusetts study showed that 60% of adults will lie at least once in any 10-minute conversation. It's not that these people think of themselves as dishonest. That is probably the first lie they tell each day! After all, most untruth starts with a lie you tell yourself.
In this world of fabrication, you need to protect yourself. You need to tell the truthful from the liars. To help you spot them right away, here is what research experts tell us about how people behave when they lie. We included links to the sources so you know we are telling the truth.
1. They don't volunteer specifics.
People who are lying often say little as possible when they are initially questioned. They keep their stories short, while truthful people give details. The problem with lying is that you have to remember what you said, so less is better. ( UCLA study)
2. They groom frequently.
Liars don't generally fidget--in fact, research shows we often stay more physically still when we are being untruthful. But, small gestures can still be a telling indicator. According to the CIA, while lying, people are likely to touch their upper bodies often: rubbing hair or eyes, touching the cheek or mouth, scratching, adjusting clothing or glasses. Small, but frequent, movements can be an indicator that the speaker is hiding something. (Parade CIA article)
3. Their texts or e-mails wander off topic.
If you send a query and someone's reply does everything BUT answer your question, that can be a sign of intentional evasion. Of course, they may claim they didn't read it carefully...which itself might not be the whole truth. ( Prevention Article)
4. They repeat the questions.
Untruthful people are more likely to repeat the question they have just been asked before they offer an answer. They may be buying time to create a story or recall the details they've already given. Perhaps they are in the process of convincing themselves that the malarkey they are spouting is actually the truth. (UCLA study)
5. They exert a lot of physical and mental energy on defending themselves.
In denying guilt, responsibility, or blame, people will often give long, vigorous justifications or explanations for their thoughts or choices. They may be working just as hard to convince themselves as they are the listener, and their voices and body language will show that effort. (Prevention and UCLA)
6. They avoid the word "I".
Liars instinctively want to distance themselves from both the lie and the situation. They often use passive phrasing, avoid discussion of their personal thoughts or feelings, and choose third person pronouns. If the untruth focuses on someone else, this gives more plausible deniability.
7. Your gut is telling you something is off.
The truth is that most people have better success identifying lies vs. truths when they rely on instinct. Perhaps there is a natural sensitivity because most people lie in some form or another? ( Berkeley Study)