No single clue conclusively reveals truth or deception. It's more important to examine a person's entire behavior. Honesty is characterized by behaviors that are in sync. Besides posture, note the appropriate coordination between face, body, voice, and speech.
Is the person you're talking to very fidgety? Most kids fidget when they're fibbing, and so do many adults. Also, when people lie, they tend to touch the base of their nose or their mouth, and they tend to breathe more through their mouth. Looking up or down may be stalling for time, and other indicators include excessive blinking, dilated pupils, pitch changes, less smiling, and shrugging shoulders.
Many liars refrain from using their hands, folding their arms or hiding their hands behind their back or in pockets. Or, they may position items between them and the person asking questions.
Often, rapid twitches in facial muscles indicate a lie. Reading the facial expressions or "ticks" of other players is a must for serious poker players to determine when their opponents are bluffing.
In interviews during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton touched his nose about every four minutes. In these public moments, he continually gave nonverbal cues that he was lying. Body language is often the way our subconscious mind speaks. No matter how much we want to control it, it gives clues to how we truly feel. Eyes, face, posture, voice, and hands leak cues of deception or credibility. The underlying motivation and interpretation can vary, but body language cues are undeniable.
In one minute of conversation, there are up to 10,000 nonverbal cues. If someone is not telling the truth, their physical behavior speaks volumes. They may very well turn away from you slightly. Someone who lies spontaneously tends to spend more time gesturing with their hands, scratching, or playing with a pen than a person who is simply nervous. A practiced liar who has planned their lie tries to control gestures.
Watch for pursing or licking of lips, which points to anxiety often associated with withholding information or aggression. Tight lips indicate the intent to keep the truth in, while sucking the lips part way in comes with withholding anger. Nervousness dries out the mouth, and people lick their lips and swallow while struggling to find the right words to say.
Remember, no single clue is proof of a lie. Take in the whole picture and look for other cues to confirm your impression.
This article belongs to a four part series. By Don Townsend
Don Townsend is an Orlando entertainer that provides jaw dropping laugh out loud corporate entertainment with his astounding mentalist act.
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