We’d like to believe that the people we work with and interact with on a daily basis are telling us the truth. If the salesperson says their product can do X, Y and Z, you’d hope you can believe them. If your kids tell you they have no homework this week, you’d hope they’re being honest with you. But what about when you suspect that someone isn’t telling you the truth?
Confronting someone you think is lying to you is a difficult task. This is especially true at work as you won’t want to damage your working relationships, so how can you strike the right balance?
The good news is there are a few simple tactics to discern whether someone is lying to you without directly confronting them or getting their back up. Here’s how to tell if someone is lying to you.
1. Ask them a yes or no question
Most of us don’t want to lie, as lies can often land you in sticky situations and generally make you feel bad. Because of this, we go to great lengths to manipulate the language we use so that we aren’t telling a lie but aren’t giving the full truth either.
If you suspect that you are being lied to or deceived, ask a straightforward question that requires a yes or no answer. If the person gives you a long-winded, roundabout answer to a direct question then this raises a red flag. You should then ask the same question again. If they fail to give a direct answer again then it is likely that they are trying to deceive you.
2. Watch out for “well…”
If you’re asking someone a yes or no question and their response begins with, “Well…”, that’s another red flag. Starting their response in this way suggests they are not going to give you a direct answer and that they know they are actually going to give you an answer that you are not expecting.
3. Ask them why you should believe them
If you’re now feeling very suspicious and quite sure that the person is lying to you then you have the option to confront them. You should be careful doing this if the relationship you have is sensitive, but if you want to address their potential deception then this is the way to do it.
Ask them, “What should I believe you?” If they are telling you the truth, their answer is likely to be “Because I’m telling the truth”. However, if they are already lying they are unlikely to give you this response because they are then giving you another flat out lie. A liar’s response is more likely to be something like:
- “I have no reason to lie.”
- “I am an honest person.”
- “You don’t have to believe me if you don’t want to”
Bringing it all together
It’s very difficult to be 100% sure whether someone is lying to you or not. While these methods can’t always show for certain if the person is being truthful, they can help you to judge the situation before choosing to deal with it in the best way.