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The Exhausted Woman
with Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

How to Know If Someone Is Lying

LiarOne of the more useful techniques to develop is a basic understanding of discerning liars. While no too look the same, there are some general identification features. Some of which are utilized on lie detector tests. However, with every rule there is an exception. This methodology is not useful when dealing with pathological liars such as sociopaths, psychopaths or anti-social personality disorders.

What exactly is a lie? It is a false statement made by a person with the deliberate intent to deceive someone else. As such, there are three main types. The first is lies of commission which is not being truthful, providing false information with intent to manipulate, or making it appear that someone else has done wrong. The second is lies of omission which is withholding information, telling partial truths, concealment of information, or actively denying the truth. The third is lies of influence which is dodging the truth, telling something unrelated to conceal the truth, or making slanderous statements.

When attempting to perceive a liar, there are three main areas to evaluate: learn, look, and listen. It is important to remember that no one items listed below is enough to determine a lie. Rather there must be more than one of these at any given time.

Learn. Begin by learning about the person. What is their normal? For instance, some people can’t look a person in the eyes due to a disorder or others are constantly in motion. So these items cannot be utilized to determine if they are lying. Instead, ask a simple inconsequential question to see how they normally respond. Then interrupt their story by asking an unexpected question to catch them off guard. This useful information about their body language and tone of voice provides a baseline for their normal.

Look. As a person is talking, look for variations in their baseline. For instance, do they:

  • Suddenly touch the face or neck area
  • Shift their body, become fidgety, or seem strangely still as if trying to escape
  • Back their body, head or feet away slightly
  • Fake their emotions or have a change in affect from flat to animated or vice versa
  • Have a change eye movement or intentional stare
  • Have unusual jaw movements, swallow hard, or press their lips together
  • Sweat suddenly or begin wiping their hands on clothing
  • Fidget with necklace or ring
  • Noticeable changes in breathing
  • Show obvious contradictions between words and expressions
  • Have a micro-expression which is a 25th of a second different appearance – flash of a frown when normally smiling

Listen. If possible, simultaneously listen for variations in their baseline. For instance, do they:

  • Have a changes in voice tone or rate of speech
  • Clear their throat or make other guttural sounds
  • Repeats the question unnecessarily or stall for time
  • Avoid answering the question that asked or answer a question not asked
  • Use repetitive words or phrases, giving excessive unnecessary detail
  • Talk too much as if justifying actions or behaviors
  • Avoid using “I” statements and instead say “he” or “she”
  • Have illogical responses or inconsistencies in the story outside of normal replies
  • Seem to have a rehearsed story: not pausing before answering, telling the story the exact same way, and not remembering events in chronological order
  • Repeatedly insist that others must trust them

Again, all of these items must be taken in consideration of the whole person. One alone is not enough to accuse someone of lying but several put together within one statement might be a strong indicator.


How to Know If Someone Is Lying

Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

Christine Hammond is a leading mental health influencer, author, and guest speaker. As an author of the award-winning “The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook,” and more than 500 articles, Christine has more than one million people downloading her podcast “Understanding Today’s Narcissist,” and more than 400,000 views on YouTube. Her practice specializes in treating families of abuse, and trauma, with personality disorders involved which are based on her own personal experience. Her new book, Abuse Exposed: Identifying Family Secrets that Breed Dysfunction will be published in 2020. Christine is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Qualified Supervisor by the State of Florida, a National Certified Counselor, Certified Family Trauma Professional, with extensive training in crisis intervention and peaceful resolution. Based in Orlando, you may connect with Christine at Grow with Christine (


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APA Reference
Hammond, C. (2017). How to Know If Someone Is Lying. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from