Perhaps you are a member of the jury or maybe you are leading the trial and trying to formulate questions to expose a witness’s lies. In some cases a witness tends to lie due to the fact that they have a personal stake in the case or are personally related to the party in question. Private investigators can often use a series of tactics and strategies to tell if someone is lying or not. Here are some of those tactics you can use to find out if someone’s lying.
Word choice, especially verb tense, can reveal quite a bit.
Studies show that whether verbal or in writing, people speaking the truth tend to describe events in the past tense. For instance, “She walked into my house…” People lying tend to speak in the present tense, such as “She walks into my house…” You should be especially conscious if there is a flip in the tense being used during their testimony or just while they’re speaking.
Nonverbal communication can be helpful.
While not entirely an accurate indicator, you should consider nonverbal actions like eye contact, hand movements and vocal changes. A person speaking the truth is much more likely to move hands naturally and make casual (normal) eye contact. A dishonest person is more likely to sweat, shift their eyes back and forth away from the person speaking and move their arms/hands in an unnatural way as if they were nervous. Of course this is not foolproof. Some people are naturally anxious and other variables should be accounted for.
Pay attention to the word “I”.
According to recent studies, honest people will use active tenses and self-references. For example, “I confronted the group and yelled at her…” Those who are being deceptive will be more likely to use the passive voice and avoid referencing themselves, almost as if they are shifting the blame. “A fight broke out after a confrontation started…” Sometimes, deceptive people will end up using a combination of active and passive tense once their lies begin.
Liars often deflect questions.
Instead of answering a question asked of them liars may tend to ask a question in return. For instance, you might ask, “Have you ever stolen anything?” and the liar’s response is likely to be something like, “Do I look like a thief?” This is a sign that the person you are speaking to really doesn’t want to answer the question and is trying to avoid it without obvious suspicion.
Dishonest people are the first to “swear” or “promise”.
Sure it’s the law to tell the truth when “swearing on the Bible” or to taking an oath but that really doesn’t mean much to the liar. Truthful people tend to be confident in their truths whereas liars are determined to convince you by resorting to empty promises and emotional tactics.
Once you start using these tactics or a combination of these tactics you might be surprised at what you find. Using methods of detecting lies through verbal analysis, body language and other visual or auditory queues can be tricky and likely to be a hit or miss at times. But using a combination of these and other methods over time will both improve your skills and increase your chances of pointing out specific lies and capitalizing on them in a courtroom or elsewhere.