10 Revealing Phrases That Indicate That Someone Isn't Telling You the Truth
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
Chances are, someone lied to you, and whether you want to admit it or not, you've probably lied to someone too. Research has shown that normal people tell a lie between one and five times a day, but Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception, states in her TED talk that we lie 10 to 200 times every 24 hours.
However, while we may be swimming in lies, spotting a liar is not easy. Often times, it is not what a liar says, but how he says it. A person's body language and speech will often indicate if they are cheating on you. Is the person you think is telling you a lie relaxed, making eye contact and speaking in a direct way? Do you move a lot in your seat? Does your voice seem strained at times?
The words people use can also indicate when they are less honest. There are some revealing phrases that indicate that someone might be lying. These 10 common types of phrases are warning signs that someone is lying to you. It is important to recognize that using these phrases by themselves is not enough to show that a person is lying to you, but you should take them into account along with other clues.
1. Blocking tactics: “I did what? Of course, no!"
While it is natural to repeat part of a question, rephrasing the entire question is unnecessary. Liars often repeat a question almost literally as a tactic to give themselves time to formulate an answer.
For example, if you ask someone, "Did you steal this?" And they answer you: “Did I steal it? Of course not!" There is a good chance they are covering up something. Other tactics of this type include asking for the question to be repeated or playing dumb and asking for more information.
2. Skipping contractions: "I didn't do it"
People who lie have probably mentally rehearsed what they are going to say, and may begin to speak more formally in denial. Skipping contractions and other normal conversational words is a common tactic for adding emphasis and trying to sound reliable.
Instead of saying "I didn't do it," they will say "Of course I didn't" or they will say "I can't remember" instead of "I don't remember." They are basically exaggerating their lying, trying to sound more powerful and less refutable. But formal language is unnecessary (and doesn't seem natural) if you're telling the truth.
3. Make general statements: "I never" or "I always"
The use of unspecific language, generalized phrases and radical statements are common tactics for liars, who try to avoid giving hard facts and information. Rather than focus on the details of a situation or give specifics, liars dance around the truth by using overly generalized statements that are bland enough to be refuted.
These tactics are easy to spot in job interviews or when someone is trying to avoid telling a full story. An unreliable person will try to exaggerate his abilities without giving details. Phrases like "I've never," "I've always," or "I've done it a million times" will sound inflated and dishonest if they're not backed up by real facts.
4. Overemphasizing your reliability: "To be honest"
Liars often put too much emphasis on their truthfulness by adding words or phrases to a statement that are intended to make it sound more convincing. However, the actual effect is usually the opposite. By adding phrases that emphasize that they are telling the truth, the speaker loses credibility and weakens the argument.
Placing too much emphasis on truthfulness includes phrases like:
- "To tell you the truth"
- "Believe me that"
- "Let me be clear"
- "The fact is"
You may think that these phrases will convince other people of your trustworthiness and you probably intend to reinforce your integrity and accuracy, but this is not necessary if you are really honest.
5. Cover your statements: "From what I remember"
Liars often take a cautious tone when trying to mislead others. They can lower their voices and ask for clarification, saying, "What do you mean?" or "What is the meaning of this?" They also use qualified phrases to cover their claims by saying things like:
- "As far as I remember"
- "If you really think about it"
- "What I remember is"
- "The way I see it"
Covered statements are not an absolute indicator of deception, but excessive use of such qualifying phrases should certainly raise suspicions that a person is not being totally direct with what they want to say.
6. Avoid "I" statements
People use many techniques to distance themselves from the truth or to avoid responsibility for their actions. Liars often withdraw from history by referencing themselves when they make misleading statements. They will avoid using pronouns like "I", "mine" and "myself."
They can use strangely phrased third-person statements. For example, they may say, "You bill for hours you don't work," instead of saying, "I don't bill for hours you don't work." They also say: "The vase is broken", instead of saying "I broke the vase."
A lying CEO may abuse words like "we" and "our team" when talking about his company. You can use the third person to distance yourself and disassociate yourself from the things you don't want to take responsibility for. This is especially evident when someone is trying to avoid consequences. They can also change the pronouns to articles. For example, "I drove my car" becomes "I drove the car."
7. Avoid giving a direct answer: "Do you really think that I would be capable of doing such a thing?"
People may also try to avoid the truth by implying an answer, rather than giving a direct rebuttal. For example, when faced with something, they may respond with a murky statement such as "Do you think I would do something like that?" or even "I would never do something like that," instead of saying a simple "I didn't."
Another indication of deception is the use of unnecessary words in a statement that makes its meaning less clear. For example, "We didn't see it" could be said as "We didn't really see it."
8. Go into defensive mode: "How can you think that about me?
Someone who is lying will quickly jump into defensive mode when questioned, acting angry or hurt if others don't seem to believe what they are saying. You can say things like "How can you doubt me?"
They attack the person asking the questions by saying, "Don't you have something better to do than waste my time on these things?" They are eager to counter any perceived notion that they may be guilty and try to convince others that they are telling the truth. They often ask "Do you believe me?" To assess how their lie is being received.
People who tell the truth tend to assume that they will be believed and generally do not take offense if they are asked follow-up questions or additional tests. Don't let someone's skepticism bother you, it will only make things worse.
9. Divert and evade: "Don't you have something better to do?"
A person who is telling a lie will do everything in their power to divert attention to themselves while maintaining the illusion of credibility. People who tell the truth tend to be direct because they don't need to distract from a topic. This will become apparent throughout a conversation: if a person keeps trying to change the subject, or it seems that the topic doesn't interest them, they may be trying to hide something.
Pay attention to phrases like:
- "Why do you want to know that?"
- "That's not important"
- "Don't you have something better to do?"
- "What are you talking about?"
If someone seems to be trying to evade the truth, they are probably doing so.
10. Add insignificant details and avoid important ones
Liars are eager to convince you that they are telling the truth and will try to add details to make your story more believable (which ironically makes your story less plausible).
When a person lies, they tend to offer additional information without being asked and may repeat certain phrases as they try to buy time to think about how to lie better.
They will embellish insignificant details while avoiding important ones. A careful listener will begin to notice that something is missing from your stories. This can make it easier to catch a person in a lie, as you can take note of the details in the story that “jump to you” and then ask questions about those points later to see if they remain the same.