Lying takes more cognitive effort than being honest. You have to work hard to keep your facts straight. Once you start down the path of lying, you not only have to remember facts, but also the facts you kept changing and how.
Imagine that you told one of your friends that you bought an item for far less than the actual price, you not only have to reveal where you got the offer, till when does the offer exist and so on. Now consider this, if someone else, let’s say a common acquaintance asks you about the same item you will have to come up with a story which is consistent with the lie you told earlier, lest you get caught. Needless to say, it takes great amount of effort to remember all the lies you end up telling which at times leads to immense cognitive overload. To cover one lie you end up telling another one and so on.
To build on the lies you tell you need high levels of creative thinking, after all the story you build need to sell and must be believable. Most of us are also endowed with a sense of identifying deception however we rarely trust our instincts and start to rationalize such thoughts as mere imagination. Here are some of the tips for you to identify if someone is lying. These tips can be useful for you even in interviewing prospective candidates for a job as well.
Tip #1: Less on specifics – Someone telling the truth will be providing you with a lot of details of the story. If its about a trip they will be able to recall all the details of the journey, like what they saw, heard, landmarks, colors et al. A liar will try to be as vague as possible on the details, including time because these are difficult to construct and then keep consistent for future repetition. A great example is of the cops who frequently ask questions related to detailing of an incident to the witnesses or the possible convict. They ask you to reconstruct the events repeatedly over a few days to see if you are consistent with your story.
Tip #2: Excuse of a poor memory – People who tell the truth don’t have a problem remembering as they have lived it or experienced the event or occurrence. It comes pretty easy to them to repeat as it is a true event. However, liars frequently excuse themselves of a poor memory. They will use terms like “don’t exactly remember”, “Not sure”, “mostly”, “broadly” which are indicative of an effort to keep it safe and vague. In reality it is not their poor memory that is the problem but their distress in constructing a story of an event which did not occur.
Tip #3: Keeps the story short or vague – Keeping it short helps to overcome the effort of building a string of lies. When the story is vivid and longer, it is coming mostly out of true events. Lies have to be created in the head and doing it on the fly would mean you can’t get to be elaborate. While people prefer brevity in conversations, it pays to remain patient and allow the person to narrate as much details as possible and without interruption. For an interviewer, it is important that he remains absolutely silent after asking a question and allow the person to exhaust himself of the narration he gives. A story of true occurrence will take a longer time than a lie.
Tip #4: Will be full of contradictions – A true story will bind together well than a series of lies. When you allow the person to keep on talking you will find that slowly but surely the person who lies will start making contradicting statements about the event. True events will not have such contradictions. Therefore, when you have a series of interviews scheduled in your organization, it is important to keep the questions same and exchange notes to check for consistency. I find that rarely do we ask the very same questions. Each interviewer wants to showcase his ability in asking the most difficult questions than the previous one.
Tip #5: Thinks hard before answering questions – A liar would most obviously have to think through and construct a string of lies before he sets out to answer your questions. You must keenly observe the person immediately after you ask a question and if you find that there is a long pause, it could well be an indication that what is being told is not true or are missing facts.
Tip #6: Is fidgety or in a hurry to end the conversation – An honest person is willing to spend a lot of time having a conversation with you and is enthusiastic about narrating the whole story. He has to be interrupted to be stopped. A liar on the other hand will be always in a hurry to end the conversation and move on to another subject or appear to be fidgety all the time. Watch the end of your conversation and if you find a sense of relief it is an indication that the person was not wholly truthful. However, if the person is happy to continue the conversation, most likely that what he is talking about is from true events.
Tip #7: Talks slowly and deliberately – A liar constructs sentences with lot of care in order to make sure that he doesn’t get caught. He would also pause a lot before every sentence is uttered. While we have been led to believe that when someone speaks slowly and deliberately, the person is thoughtful and intelligent, the fact is that the intelligence is being used to construct stories which may not be wholly true. An honest person will be in the flow and is not deliberate in his speech.
Who do you like ‘An honest idiot’ or ‘a brilliant liar?