How to Tell if a Person is Lying


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Detecting Deception Shadow Figure /// Tradecraft [trdcrft]


Speaking in absolutes is arguing or portraying a certain view in unconditional black and white terms.

Of which is a viable indicator of a specific deception in play or a generally deceptive / dishonest person. A common trait with people that are actively lying or a person being defensive because they are a liar.

An absolute defines a statement to be perfect, guaranteed, exact and unquestionable.

Leaving no gray area or room for error or exception.

Absolute words such as “always” and “never” are the most indicative. Others; best, most, worst, everyone, everything, perfect, impossible, absolutely etc.

    – A suspect under interrogation might say:   “I never committed a crime ever in my life.”

    – A salesman trying to make a sale might say:   “This is the best price you’ll find anywhere, guaranteed.”

    – A con artist working a mark might say:   “I always take care of my best people the best.”

    – A spy recruiting a hostile asset might say:   “We know everything about you and everyone you know.”

    – A politician caught in a scandal might say:   “It was a perfect call, the best call.”

    – A person being accused might say:   “I have absolutely no memory of that.”

People who are not actively lying or are generally trustworthy tend to naturally avoid absolute words by using; “sometimes”, “often”, “somewhat”, “probably”, “likely”, “fairly”, “frequently”, “rarely” and so on.

This method of detecting deception is not definitive as some people are just wired with absolute thinking or a statement does indeed qualify as an absolute.

So it should be calibrated accordingly per scenario.

Inversely, when you yourself have to be strategically deceptive, avoid using absolute terms.


One of the most effective methods of detecting a deceptive person is when they talk a lot but don’t really say anything. The sentences are flowing but nothing of substance is materializing.

This is particularly true with skilled or prepared liars.

When asked a question, a person might talk openly and without hesitation but never actually answering the question – deflecting or changing the subject. Talking fast, using too many filler words or unnecessarily long words and never reaching a point or conclusion.

Speech quantity over quality.

A person that’s actively being deceptive will deliberately talk in this manner to “run out the clock”, hope you forget the question / subject or trick you into thinking they answered the question.

Some people naturally ramble on as it’s just the way they speak or it could mean the person is nervous for a reason that has nothing to do with deception.

But when specifically applied for lying, you should be able to discern the changes in their speech patterns and recognize it as an indicator of deception.

The truth is said without pressure of needing to justify or back up its validity from the perspective of the speaker. Whereas lies come with the pressure of it having to be justified or validated.

The truth has greater substance over lies but are conveyed in shorter and more concise sentences.

Lies require imagination, creation and convincing.

Which often results in long-winded explanations and stories that lack interpretation and plot, respectively.

Words + No Facts = Deception = No Substance


When you ask someone a question about something they may have done, the answer will be in a story format from the start of the event to the end.

Even if the person can’t remember everything, the story is easy to tell if it’s the truth or if it’s a well prepared fabrication or it’s told by a skilled liar.

Once the “story” has been established by the person, ask for the story to be told backwards.

Depending on the scenario of this conversation or interrogation, you can ask for the person to tell the entire story again starting from the end to the beginning – if you can craftfully ask them to.

This is called reverse chronology – to tell a story starting from the end and moving backwards.

An honest story will flow naturally albeit slower when told backwards, even yielding additional facts through the process as they are just saying things that actually happened without trying too hard.

A deceptive story told backwards is a much more difficult process because it’s not natural and it has to be in a sense, reverse engineered on the spot. Previously untold “facts” often materializes as well, but counter or contradict the original story.

Asking the person to tell the entire story again may not always be ideal. Instead you can ask about specific points of the story, question by question.

Additionally, when a deceptive story is being told, other indicators of deception tend to show such as vocal stress, body language shifts, facial micro expressions and speech pattern changes.

Truth is recalling memories to make it a story.

Deception is creating a story to make it a memory.

[RELEVANT: How to Lie]