Body Language and Dishonesty
We are guilty – at one time or another – of telling the proverbial ‘Little White Lie’. Sometimes this is because we do not want to hurt someone’s feelings, because we do not want to tell someone we don’t like a present they have bought for us, or because we are uncomfortable with allowing our true feelings to be known.
Whatever the reason for it we are all more than capable of doing it and regardless of how much an individual might protest that they do not tell lies, there are tell-tale physical signs that they are.
Physical Signs of DishonestyThere are a few ways in which you can tell if someone is lying. They include:
- Sweaty palms
- Inability to maintain eye contact
- Persistent swallowing
- Finger play
- Subject Change
Sweaty PalmsNot always noticeable to the person who is being lied to but the symptom is there. This is caused by a rise in the liar’s metabolism as they lie, which in turn causes their heart rate to increase. Sweaty palms are one of the methods used by a Polygraph Machine (Lie Detector).
Inability to Maintain Eye ContactOne of the most common ‘giveaway’ signs that indicate a lie is being told is the inability to maintain eye contact throughout the conversation. The individual will often try and focus on another point of vision rather than directly into the eyes. This sometimes suggests that the individual is fearful his or her eyes will give away the lie.
Persistent SwallowingA dry throat is often a physical symptom of telling a lie and therefore the person telling the lie will often find that they need to swallow a lot more in order to keep their throat lubricated. In addition this swallowing is also designed to bring about a break in the conversation in order to facilitate the liar thinking for a few seconds.
FidgetingThis is more common in children than in adults but not unknown in adults. Fidgeting represents a physical manifestation of the mind’s jumping from one thing to another, juxtaposing between fact and fiction if you will. Children tend to fidget because they are uncomfortable about being caught telling a lie as opposed to actually telling the lie.
Finger PlayAgain this is something that children do more than adults but some adults still do. Playing with their fingers helps the child or adult control their fidgeting – children learn to do this as they get older and reach their teenage years. Experts often look for movement of the hands and eyes in order to tell if a lie is being told.
Subject ChangeA very common way of avoiding a lie in an adult, Subject Change is often accompanied by a sudden physical movement such as getting up from a chair or moving out of the line of sight of another individual. This sudden physical movement plus the Subject Change – which can normally be something like ‘Look at that’ or ‘What are they doing?’ – Often indicates that the individual has found his or herself unable to continue the lie without stumbling.
These are common but important ways of identifying dishonesty but it is important to stress that these are often used to best effect by professionals.