How to spot a lie or a liar
The written word can lead to ambiguity and misinterpretation, making it difficult to tell someone’s intentions, especially where texts and emails are concerned as they often lack the context needed to determine the true meaning of someone’s words.
Some red flags of lying may be:
- The writer remains at a distance by omitting personal pronouns from the story
- Using noncommittal expressions like probably, pretty sure, must have
- Sudden change in the tense of writing, also called “tense hopping”
- Using phrases like “to be honest” and “as far as I can remember”
- The use of too many insignificant details
According to The Wall Street Journal, “research shows people tend to be suspicious of information they receive online but override their suspicions and trust the information anyway. Experts call this our ‘truth bias.’”
While these flags are not going to work the same for every situation, they are baseline indicators for deciphering falsehoods when you do not know the context for the conversation or the person.
Developing your sixth sense
As more and more relationships begin and are maintained through digital avenues such as email and text; it is imperative to develop the necessary skills so you can determine how reliable the person you are communicating with is. There are scads of articles detailing the importance of interpersonal communication and how to decipher people’s meaning via gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice, but these are rendered ineffective when dealing with someone solely online. For me, the hardest part of communicating online is being able to tell someone’s “tone.”
When tone is in question, I try to err on the side of the other person conveying their message in a complimentary/friendly manner until the give me a reason to believe otherwise; not only does it simplify second guessing, but also, it makes communication a bit easier, when you are not constantly suspicious.
Therein lies the point of these red flags, I believe, use them as guideposts, or suggestions, but not hard and fast rules. Some people may provide a multitude of insignificant details simply because they are nervous, not because they are lying. Others may use noncommittal expressions because they are not sure how you expect them to respond yet. So use these red flags as indicators, but, give people a chance as well.