How to Detect a Liar

You asked how to avoid being lied to. I think this is a common question because there are many television shows based around telling if someone is lying. I’ve been studying, how to detect a liar, for many years and in this article I’ll briefly go through the process with you.

I’ll Show you How to Detect a Liar Based on

  • National Psychology based Studies
  • Hypnotherapy Discoveries
  • Public Law Enforcement Training Materials
  • Countless Books

Goals and Objectives in How to Detect a Liar

  • You’ll Learn to See, Signs of Deception in Body Language
  • You’ll Learn to Hear, Signs of Deception through Verbal Analysis
  • You’ll Learn Stealth Techniques, you can use, to Find Out the Truth without them Knowing

Hand Body Language : How to Detect a Liar

The Handshake Test

Have you ever wanted to know what a person thinks of you? You can learn a lot by just shaking their hand. When you reach out to shake someone’s hand, present them with your hand in a straight up and down manor. Make sure to allow them to twist your hand, however they like. Now note, what they do with your hand:

  • If they shake your hand in an up and down manor, they see you as an equal.
  • If they twist your palm up towards the celling or crush it, they see you as inferior.
  • If they present you with their palm facing the celling, they see you as superior.

Hand Gestures

There are many other hand gestures that show that a person is either in distress or dishonest. Research has shown, most of these gestures are caused because of natural chemical reactions in the body. I’ll describe the chemical reactions that occur in the body, when lying, in a future article.

To detect a liar, watch for and gestures they make towards their face. Bill Clinton, famously touched his nose 88 times, when he was being questioned during his Lewinsky testimony.

Here are 10 other ways to detect a liar based just on hand and arm movements:

  • Hands Clenched = Dishonesty or Distress
  • Hands on Hips = Restrain or Anger, but Honest
  • Picking Imaginary Lint = Dishonesty, Distress, or Disagreement
  • Arms Crossed = Dishonesty, Distress, or Disagreement
  • Hands in Pockets = Dishonesty, Distress, or Disagreement
  • Palm Displays = Honesty
  • Excessive Palm Displays = Good Liar, Watch Out
  • Placing a Purse or Coffee between two People Communicating = Dishonesty, Distress, or Disagreement
  • Rubbing the Neck = Dishonesty, Distress, or Disagreement
  • Hand Lightly on Chin = Interest and Honest

Detect a Liar : Are the Eyes Lying

You can learn a lot about a person by studying their eye movements. We, as human beings, are hard wired to look in certain directions, depending on what we are thinking about. This information is based off of numerous research studies and specifically in a branch of psychology known as Neurolinguistic Programming. I’ll cover it, in a future post.

Either way, this is what a persons eyes do when thinking

  • Up and to the Right: Thinking about something that happened visually
  • Sideways and to the Right: Thinking about something they heard
  • Down and to the Right: Talking to themselves
  • Up and to the Left: Constructing or thinking up a lie visually
  • Sideways and to the Left: Constructing or thinking up a lie orally
  • Down and to the Left: Thinking about something they did. An action they did perform.
  • Look Straight Ahead with a Haze: Thinking of something that happened visually.

This is true for 75 to 85% of people in the world. What is great to know, is that the other 25 to 15% of people just perform in the opposite manor. So, to find out how a persons eyes work, ask them a few questions that you know will produce truthful answers and study the eyes. With this ability you are well on your way towards becoming a human lie detector.

Are the Eyes Lying : A Few More Tips

There are a few more iron clad ways to find out if someone is being deceitful or distress, by watching the eyes. When you meet someone for the first time, the first person to look away is submissive to the other. This is always going to be true. I leave it to you, whether you want to have an intense stare down though.

People that lie often, will maintain uncomfortable eye contact. By uncomfortable, they will look you in the eyes for 70% or more of the conversation. 50% eye contact is considered normal.

Finally, a persons blink rate will increase dramatically during long periods of lying. These are the main clues all experts agree on, concerning Detecting a Liar through eye analysis.

The Other Ways of Detecting a Liar Through Body Language

This is not a complete list on spotting lying. I’m providing a list that includes every technique that all the experts agree on. I’ll now finish the list by explaining the last few techniques.

When a person is going through long periods of lying they will start to act very oddly. Lying is very hard on a person. I’ll explain more on this later in this article. They will begin yawning compulsively (Body Starving for Oxygen). They’ll begin having trouble swallowing (Dry Mouth). And at the worst, they will start moving in a very mechanical way rather than fluidly. Example: When reaching for a cup, they will seem to be moving in a series of steps like they have never reached for anything before.

Jiggling of the feet is also a great sign of distress and dishonesty. People have a hard time controlling their leg movements unless they are paying attention to them exactly. It has been proven that feet will point toward that which they want. So if you are giving a speech and everyone’s feet are pointing towards the door, it’s time to switch topics.

And the final body language gesture that all of the experts agree on is facial flushing. If you are talking to someone and their face flushes you can be sure that they are either being dishonest or they are most definitely distressed.

The basic rule for all of these techniques, is to pay attention when people seem to be giving you mixed signals. If a persons physical gestures don’t match with their words, trust the body language to help you detect a liar.

Now, I’ll explain a better way to spot lies than can be found through pure body language study. I’ll teach you how to study the words they use.

How to Detect a Liar : Why is it Hard to Catch Someone Lying

The fact is that people almost never lie. Why is that? Because it puts a lot of stress on us. Remember the excessive yawning, swallowing and mechanical movements I described a few sentences ago.

While people go out of their way to avoid lying, they will avoid the questions you pose. They will tell you what they saw or what they did, but never anything incriminating. “I wouldn’t do that” is not the same as “I didn’t do that!” When you ask a question, make sure they answer it.

Also make sure your questions are very direct. We find it is very hard to lie to direct questions during an interview with Timothy McVeigh.

Newsweek: “This is the question that everybody wants to know – Did you do it?”

McVeigh: “The only way we can really answer that is that we are going to plead not guilty.”

Newsweek: “But you’ve got a chance right now to say, Hell no!”

McVeigh: “We can’t do that.”

There are numerous examples of people who have been found guilty of a crime and yet couldn’t claim their innocence when posed with a direct question. I want to reiterate that. People given the choice of time behind jail or death, couldn’t lie.

How to Detect a Liar : Looking for the Lies in a Story / Pronouns Matter

One great way to tell that a story has gone from truth to lies is to inspect the pronouns. When a person wants to distance themselves from something they will start using pronouns that distance them. For example, they may refer to my car when they want to take ownership, while referring to it as the car when they want to distance themselves.

Susan Smith did that exactly. When describing her happy travels with her children she referred to My Car. However, when she described leaving the vehicle and seeing it submerge with her two boys inside, she referred to it as The Car.

How to Detect a Liar: Examine Verb Tenses

Remember when I said you have to make sure a person answers the exact question asked? By manipulating verb tenses, most people can get away with lying. If you ask: “Have you ever used illegal drugs?” and someone answers “I don’t use illegal drugs.” Did they answer the question?

No they didn’t. They simply stated that they currently are not using drugs. They may have used them in the past? They may have used them last week? It depends on their definition of don’t use, not the answer to your question.

Police pay much attention to verb tenses. Often in a missing persons case, the interviewee that refers to the missing person in the past tense is often a suspect.

How to Detect a Liar : Internal Dictionary

We all have an internal dictionary. We each pull words from that dictionary to describe events. We tend to use the same words, unless we are under stress or are being deceptive. If we refer to our car as a car, we usually will refer to it as a car. It is unnatural for a person to refer to it as a Car, Automobile, Vehicle, Toyota, etc in the same story.

If you question someone and they start using words from your own internal dictionary, they are probably lying. Here is an example:

Jim Lehrer: “You had no sexual relationship with this young woman?”

Bill Clinton: “There is no sexual relationship – that is accurate.”

( Didn’t answer the question + Changed the verb tense + Borrowed from Lehrer’s internal dictionary = Lying )

How to Detect a Liar : How to Detect Favoritism

The order in a list is very important! Parents who are asked to name their children, usually name them in the order of birth (Timelines and Superiority play a role in lists). If they break this rule, you’ll find favoritism there. If a boss names his employees, you’ll find the favorites there. When O.J. Simpson, referred to his wife having “downs and ups”, police noted that.

How to Detect a Liar : Answering a Question with a Question

If someone answers your question with a question, deception can be found there. Example:

Parent: “Did you take the cookies?”

Child: “Did I take the cookie, no?”

“Could you repeat that?”

“What did you say?”

A lie is coming! It’s up to you to decide on clarification vs. dishonesty.

How to Detect a Liar : The Best Way Most People Don’t Know About

The best way I have found to detect lies from the best liars is to look for unnecessary words. If a person starts a sentence with “I’ll try…”, “The truth is…”, “Truthfully…”, “To be honest…”, “Maybe”, “To tell the truth…”, “Actually…”, etc you can expect a lie to follow.

Better yet, if someone gives you an answer followed by a “Really” you probably just heard a lie. The spotting of really alone can turn you into a lie detector. Try it the next time you watch a celebrity or politician getting grilled during an interview.

One Last Note

I could write about the subject of detecting liars forever, but the end of the article has come. I will leave you with one last tip. Think of it as a thank you for reading the whole article. Research has shown that it’s easy to find out if someone could be inclined to do bad things. Just ask them the right question, phrased properly:

  • Do you think taking advantage of a spouse is part of marriage?
  • Do you think thievery in the workplace is unavoidable?
  • Do you think most people get ahead by hurting others?

When you ask a person a rhetorical question they will usually use themselves as an example. They won’t even notice that you asked them for some very private information. I bet if they answer all the above positively that they are likely to take advantage of their spouse, steal from the workplace and hurt others to get ahead.

Till next time….


35 Responses to “How to Detect a Liar”

  1. Celia says:

    Very interesting article. However I disagree with the second last section re “The best way most people don’t know about”. I use “To be honest” and “actually” sometimes but not to lie. It is used when I’m being more forthright/honest. Mostly to confess to something which I lied about previously (whether deliberately or by omission).

    • admin says:

      These are just very helpful guides. You sort of answered your own comment when you stated you start using the phrase “to be honest”, after you have been less honest previously. That is exactly when most people use the “to be honest” phrase.

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment on my little blog.


      • praveen patnaik says:

        sir ,
        i couldnot find a place to slip my note…

        since i was going through all your videos on body language and psychology, it occured to me well there should also be videos on graphology.
        besides with bit of knowledge on handwriting of a person on can make better decesions.

        • Derek Banas says:

          I have been thinking about doing a handwriting analysis video for a while now. Thank you for bringing it up and reminding me. I’ll see what I can find in my notes 🙂

  2. You had some useful tips on spotting deception. Having interviewed liars for 30 years I would hesitate to be quick to label someone as a liar. They may show evidence of anxiety such as on a first date, a job interview or sales presentation as a customer. Anxiety will come across in most of the body language you describe. You must establish a baseline and determine sudden departures. Eye contact, eye tracking and blink rates are not always a good indicator.

    • admin says:

      I totally agree with you. Sometimes I have to use strong language to draw peoples attention. “How to Detect a Liar”, just sounds better than “How to Detect Whether Someone is Anxious.” 🙂

      Yes establishing a baseline is extremely important and I should have touched on that. I personally use eye tracking a lot during conversation so that I can best present ideas in the persons chosen representational systems. Thank you for taking the time to point out what I missed.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Really helpfull tips! Thanks!!

  4. Becca says:

    Just a question- I was watching/ reading the section about distancing themselves through pronouns- my vs the. What if they are attempting to emotionally distance themselves? ie they don’t want to remember it because it was painful. Do you get the same kind of change, or is it still ‘my’ car?
    (Also, although I like the article and find this kind of stuff extremely fascinating, your use of commas is exceedingly distracting.)

    • admin says:

      Susan Smith was definitely trying to distance herself from the situation. What you have to understand in regards to body / verbal analysis is that it will lead you to the truth. You must also be able to disqualify information as well and continue to push for verbal confessions. As you saw in the Timothy McVeigh example, eventually people just break down and confess.

      I wrote a ton more on body language and psychology. You may find them interesting as well.

      As per the comma issue. I used to use a grammar checker and just assumed it knew better than me. That is why commas are used incorrectly. Sorry about that.

  5. Emily says:

    Just out of curiosity, do these rules change for left-handed people? It is well known in the literature that brain lateralization and placement of certain control centers in the brain (such as the speech centers) are often different for left handed people (a big reason why they aren’t allowed to do fMRI studies). In particular, I’m interested in the rules about in what direction people look when remembering something they heard or constructing a lie.

    • admin says:

      You are correct that the eye accessing tool is true for 85% of people. The other 15% just perform in the exact opposite direction. Some people think it is a difference between right and left handed people. That would make sense, but it hasn’t been proven definitively. Always test a person by asking them to remember the last song they heard, or what color are their bathroom walls. Then you can trust the accessing clues

  6. Wade Merrell says:

    I tend to use phrases like “To be honest” when presenting an opinion that differs from that of someone I respect or when providing a negative opinion of something when someone clearly expects a positive one. Now that I think about it, it does sound overly expositional in most contexts.

    I was wondering how many (if any) of these techniques can be applied to pathological liars or if you know of any ways of dealing with such people.

    • admin says:

      People that are very skilled at lying normally are very well scripted. They also think they will seem more honest if they look you in the eye. Because it is hard to look someone in the eyes when you are lying, they have learned the trick to instead look at your forehead while they talk with you. Because they can do that without discomfort they begin maintaining way to much eye contact.

      They also display their palms way to much and tend to overly use the truthful signs.

      Extremely good liars (politicians) will dart their eyes around, so that you can’t spot their eye accessing clues. I can talk about this stuff forever and I have. Pass along any other questions that you have. Thanks 🙂

  7. Mike says:

    Pertaining to the McVeigh reference:
    I believe he avoided the question to avoid incriminating himself. Police and attorneys were watching everything he said very closely, and even denying committing a crime can get you convicted in an increasingly Socialist nation (cough cough USA cough cough). Look up ‘don’t talk to the cops’ on youtube for some very helpful tips for dealing with police and the court system.

  8. Paul says:

    I’ve read about the eye thing a lot, and I’ve always wondered: is it the liar’s left/right, or MY left/right while facing towards the (potential) liar.

  9. Aloha says:

    amazing stuff. mahalo

  10. June says:

    I have a very interesting example of the yawning. One of my teenage clients begins to yawn as soon as she gets to the office. Her mother tells her that it is such bad manners. When the client is in the room alone with me, she begins to yawn and yawn. She says she likes to come to see me but she certainly yawns, alot. Unresolved feelings? Or not wanting to tell me something that is on her mind. I am wondering.

    • admin says:

      People may yawn for reasons aside from trying to build rapport. This person may be suffering from anxiety and panic attacks? They may have also developed a complex in which they yawn simply because they have been told not to do so. Numerous people develop ticks. They are brought on oddly enough when they are in a stressful situation and then they are told to stop doing certain things like yawning, looking down, scanning, raising the eyes, etc. They then associate the release of stress with that action. I’m going a little deep here.

      Just understand that this client probably isn’t yawning because they are bored. If you want to understand their true feelings put them into a comfortable situation and explain to them that you want to understand them. Maybe disarm the situation with some self deprecating humor? If you present yourself as someone that will listen without judging the client will be honest with you and provide the information you seek.

      I hope that helps

  11. Maya says:

    Amazing article, very helpful.

    I got a small silly question. What if you ask someone by saying “who did you love the most out of the three, Sara, Maya or Tala”? and he replied by saying “it should be Sara, she’s my first and the one who made me travel overseas to be with her, right” !!! He sounded very uncertain of his answer or was he lying ???

    • Maya says:

      Sorry… He answered by first saying “I swear non of them mean anything to me anymore” and then continued with the above mentioned…

      • admin says:

        Normally when people say things like “I swear”, “to be honest” they are being honest. This may be a sign that they just previously were lying, but maybe not. They also may follow this statement soon after with a lie. For example I swear I love green beans and lima beans are good as well really. This person is probably lying about his love of lima beans. As per the questioning about the other girl, he probably is just wondering why he went out of his way to be with her. Often people will give you a hint about what they think of you, by referring to a situation they had with another person while in your presence. This also isn’t often true, but it occurs on a high percentage basis. I hope that gives you something to think about

  12. Hana says:

    Love the article, very interesting and useful.

    My question is: does looking away always means the person is being dishonest…

    For example, let’s say two people are in an intimate moment and are hugging but when one of them asks a question about an ex or something … he looks away to his left for a slight sec before he answers and looks back and answers…

    was that answer a lie?

    • admin says:

      No those looks are signs that a person is creating something in their mind that they haven’t experienced before. We all make decisions based off of a past experience. This can be associated in weird ways based on relationships or anything. Let us say a guy dated a girl for 6 months and then they broke up. Maybe that guy never associated anything with that girl that would qualify as a loving relationship. If his next girlfriend asked him whether he loved that girl it would be natural for him to look in the creation part of his memory if he never associated love with the previous girlfriend.

      The eye accessing clues show us whether a person is remembering something they experienced, or whether they are creating an experience. They are great for questions like, “Were you at the bar last night”, because this is definitely something they’d remember. They aren’t particularly great when used for situations that occurred many years ago though.

      I hope that helps?

  13. martha says:

    Hi Derek,

    in case you still read comments on this video:
    What would be the question and the answer to found out if (actually I believe -that-) my colleague is lying about her qualifications? She says she is a lawyer, but NOWAY she is either that or she went to university (or more likely college) for more than one or max two years.
    When I see her I just know, I can even tell her story how she got there, how she did it and why!!! (I have a friend doing more or less the same…).

    Many thanks in advance!

    • admin says:


      What you could do is say to them, “I’ve heard that someone in the company lied about their degree.” “Could you tell me if you hear anything specific so that I can deal with this?” If they act aggressively that probably means they are the one. Why? You didn’t imply they were the one, but in fact by confiding with them, you have implied that they aren’t the one. If they do anything other than say that they will do what they can, then you may be correct.

      I hope that helps

  14. Al says:


    I went through this awful phase where I flushed at work quite often for no reason, people would say I was going red which made it worse and on top of that people started to think I was lying when I wasn’t, I was so paranoid about flushing it made me flush!

    So I think with all these lie detections you need to look for a combination of things once you have established a baseline with that individual.

    Great site and interesting article!

    • admin says:

      Establishing a baseline is very important. I definitely agree! The funny thing is that even though I know all of this stuff, I barely ever use it unless someone is being difficult with me. I use it then to judge whether I should steer clear of them all together. I’m sad to hear that you seem to work with ignorant people. You should do your best to steer clear of them 🙂

  15. Nyr0n says:

    Hey again admin! I am starting to like all you write here and I have to say I respect your this blog for it shows that you are a guy who would spread the word(maybe like Confucius) not for pride. Well I have to say though that you should use your great skill more often secretly for it would be a shame if if it was used less(only a auggestion). All you write here are all so useful so Thank you

    • Derek Banas says:

      Thank you very much 🙂 I just write about the things that interest me and I do my best to answer the questions that people send to me. This is all a great hobby for me and I’m very happy to be in a position where I can give all this stuff away for free. Thank you for stopping by my little website

  16. praveen patnaik says:

    videos on graphology if possible.

  17. Garuda says:

    Hi Derek,

    I wish to take your guidance to convert 2d picture into 3d using Blender, and activate those characters for my drama.
    Can you please guide me on this project.

    Thanks and Regards,


  1. Bargaining for Advantage, Negotiation Cases, Introduction to NLP | New Think Tank - [...] • NLP is used in nonverbal and verbal analysis. My article on Detecting a Liar, contains many NLP based…
  2. Subliminal Marketing is Real | Business Builders - [...] • NLP is used in nonverbal and verbal analysis. My article on Detecting a Liar, contains many NLP based…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.