How to spot a liar?

Jun 16, 2013, 06:55 IST | Team SMD

We face lies and liars everyday, several times a day in fact. At work or play, when meeting clients, while travelling on holiday, at government offices, from ministers and sportspersons - lies and liars surround us. So how does a cop know when a bookie is lying? Or how does a psychiatrist detect a patient who is telling half-truths? If only we could all spot lies and liars with the same ease, we wouldn't be conned or misguided, disappointed or upset so much. We popped the que

The boss
CEOs and team leaders are used to lies of all hues -- the white lies and those of a more dangerous variety -- every day at work. A colleague has a twisted ankle, the trains are stuck (CEOs don’t take trains so they wouldn’t know), an uncle has passed away – the list is long enough for a book. “But every boss has been a junior once, and often lies and liars ring a bell. It’s easy to spot most lies since you’ve probably tried the same trick as a youngster,” a team leader tells us.

Top giveaways
>> Employee does not look you in the eye while talking
>> Colleague/client offers a long-winded explanation instead of a concise update
>> Person keeps shifting feet and fidgets. Runs his/her eyes often
>> Colleague turns aggressive and argues his case loudly, too loudly

The ticket checker
Millions travel by Mumbai’s local trains and BEST buses every day. And each day, several hundred ticketless travellers are caught by vigilant ticket checkers (TCs). How do these men in black-and-white know it’s the sixth man coming his way who is travelling without a ticket? And then, how do they know who has genuinely dropped her ticket in the mad rush to get off the train, and who is making up a story?
At Mumbai’s Parel station, a ticket checker who has been-there-done-that tells us “Pata chal jata hai (you just come to know),” when asked how he spots a lie. This is what he elaborates.

Top giveways
>> A commuter is walking to confidently, with an alert look on his face
>> A commuter is walking very fast, along the far end of the platform so that he or she can mingle with the crowd.
>> Comes up with an amazing sob story
>> Feigns ignorance about his expired rail pass
>> Stammers with excuses

The Shrink
Never lie to your doctor and barber. The barber may not know, but the good doc will always find out. “You know a patient is lying, when they visit you for a ‘friend’ they are concerned about. They will talk about details that only a person who is undergoing the symptoms will know,” a leading city-based psychiatrist tells us.

Then there are the patients who never take the prescribed medicines. “They walk in complaining about various symptoms, convinced that they have a particular disease even before the check-up. But when you ask them whether they have taken their doses, they make excuses about side effects,” he adds.

Top Giveaways
>> A patient gets
goosebumps while talking
>> Stutters while giving an explanation
>> Blinks too many times and fidgets
>> Fails to repeat exact issues/symptoms/reasons, when a few questions are repeated after a week

The cop
They deal with murderers, thieves and goons and the common man too. “People in general are afraid of the police. So, they usually spill the beans. But hardened criminals are tough to crack and we have our way of dealing with them. During cross-examining, we ask one question in three to four different ways and see whether their answer matches. The lie-detector is also used to study the heart rate, breathing, palpitations and physical reasons,” a senior cop with the Mumbai police tells us.

Top Giveaways
>> A person who speaks quickly, unnaturally quickly but pretends to think hard when asked a follow-up question, to give the impression that he/she is clean
>> A man/women who breaks down, pleading he/she is a victim of pressure
>> Someone who sweats profusely even though he looks calm and composed. His body language gives him away 

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