Know When Someone is Lying: 7 Types of Lies

Mar 19, 2012
4 Min Read

Can you tell when someone is lying to you? If it’s someone you are close with, such as your mother, your significant other, or your child, you may know exactly when they are lying by the habitual behaviors they exhibit when doing so. But how can you tell if a stranger is lying to you?

If you do a Google search on how to tell when someone is lying, you’ll find many articles that give you lists with items such as nervousness, voice changes, fidgeting, or averting eye contact. But if you have ever participated in an interview, these happen all the time! These are perfectly normal reactions to a relatively stressful event such as an interview. Fun fact: 23% of people admit lying during an interview.

Spotting a lie is very difficult. We all exhibit unique idiosyncrasies when we lie, rather than some set pattern that is constant across all individuals. Additionally, when someone is lying during an interview, it is likely that the majority of what they say is actually true. It is difficult to sort through the information and figure out which bit is the deceitful part while also trying to conduct an interview.

That being said, lying itself is also difficult. A skilled and knowledgeable interviewer can prepare to detect and expose lies through detailed inquiry. As discussed in the previous article, you can ask the same question multiple ways to gather more accurate information. You can continue to rephrase your question until you receive enough clarification. If someone is indeed lying, continuing to push the conversation will lead to a new choice—they must now escalate the lie or claim a misunderstanding and explain the truth. If they choose to escalate the lie, the indicators that they are lying tend to become more obvious.

Knowing what types of lies to look out for can also be helpful in detecting lies:

  • Error—a lie by mistake. The person believes they are being truthful, but what they are saying is not true.
  • Omission – leaving out relevant information. Easier and least risky. It doesn’t involve inventing any stories. It is passive deception and less guilt is involved.
  • Restructuring—distorting the context. Saying something in sarcasm, changing the characters, or the altering the scene.
  • Denial—refusing to acknowledge a truth. The extent of denial can be quite large—they may be lying only to you just this one time or they may be lying to themselves.
  • Minimization—reducing the effects of a mistake, a fault, or a judgment call.
  • Exaggeration—representing as greater, better, more experienced, more successful.
  • Fabrication—deliberately inventing a false story. 

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