7 little-known body language signs that someone isn’t telling the truth

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’ve been faced with a situation where you doubted the sincerity of someone’s words.

Perhaps it was a co-worker making a questionable claim or a partner being coy about their whereabouts. My first encounter with deceit was with a high school friend who had an uncanny knack for spinning tales.

I tried to confront, investigate, and even ignore — but none of these strategies seemed to work.

Finally, I had to educate myself.

Interpreting dishonesty can be tricky, but there are subtle cues hidden in body language that can serve as tell-tale signs. Here are seven lesser-known body language indicators that I wish I’d known earlier.

1) Observing facial expressions

Let me be the first to confess that this was a skill I overlooked when I initially tried to decipher the truth from the lies.

I was watching…but only passively.

I was more focused on their words, while neglecting the silent story their face was telling.

However, to truly detect dishonesty, we must learn to observe facial expressions. We need to pay close attention to their micro-expressions and involuntary facial movements.

While this may sound like a basic step, it’s crucial as it sets the foundation for all of the other body language cues on this list.

2) Pay attention to their body orientation

In the early days of my quest to discern truth from fiction, I often fell into the trap of simply accepting what was said at face value.

I would nod along, not questioning the inconsistencies or probing deeper into the story.

But I soon realized that this was a flawed strategy. I was missing the bigger picture.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

It is. And honestly, I probably knew it was a mistake even then, but it seemed less complicated to just go with the flow.

It’s surprisingly easy to overlook this subtle cue.

So, what should we do differently?

Pay attention to their body orientation. We can learn a lot from the way a person positions themselves during a conversation.

Focus on whether they’re leaning in or pulling away, their posture, and if their body is pointed towards or away from you.

Instead of just absorbing their words, consider where they are physically in relation to you.

By doing this, we get a more complete picture of their sincerity and can better identify when something doesn’t quite add up.

3) Watch the eyes

In my early attempts to decipher truth from deceit, I often forgot to pay close attention to one of the most telling parts of the body – the eyes.

I would listen intently, focusing solely on the words being spoken and how they were said, completely neglecting the visual cues right in front of me.

But as I delved deeper into understanding body language, I realized I was missing a vital piece of information. I was ignoring a powerful truth detector.

It seems so evident now, doesn’t it?

It is. In hindsight, I understand that overlooking eye movements was a significant oversight on my part. But at the time, it just seemed easier to concentrate on what was being said.

It’s surprisingly common to forget this subtle yet revealing signal.

So, what’s the solution?

Watch the eyes. There’s a reason for the saying, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” They can provide valuable insight into whether someone’s words align with their thoughts.

Observe if they’re making too much or too little eye contact, or if their gaze wanders too often. Notice if their pupils dilate or constrict during specific parts of the conversation.

By doing this, we can pick up on inconsistencies between what is being said and what is truly meant, providing us with a more accurate understanding of the situation at hand.

4) Note the timing and duration of emotional expressions

As I honed my skills in detecting deceit, I was initially taken aback by the importance of not just observing emotions, but also their timing and duration.

I would get caught up in the intensity of the emotion displayed, whether it was anger, sadness, or joy, while completely disregarding how long these emotions lasted or when they appeared.

However, as I delved deeper into the world of body language, I discovered that this was a fundamental mistake. I was overlooking a crucial piece of the puzzle.

So, what’s the unexpected solution?

Take note of the timing and duration of emotional expressions. Genuine emotions tend to occur simultaneously with the event that caused them and last for a reasonable amount of time – typically no longer than a few seconds.

On the other hand, fabricated emotions often appear after a slight delay and last longer than natural emotions. They might seem too intense or not intense enough for the situation at hand.

By paying attention to this, we can gain valuable insight into whether an emotional reaction is genuine or merely a performance designed to deceive.

5) Observe their hand movements

In my journey to better understand the intricacies of body language, I found myself overlooking the important signals our hands can give.

I was focused on facial expressions and eye contact, but often disregarded what the person’s hands were doing during the conversation.

As I delved further into this topic, I realized my error. The hands, it turns out, can be quite revealing.

So what’s the next step?

Observe their hand movements. Hands often subconsciously reflect what is going on in our minds. For instance, nervous or deceptive individuals may fidget, clasp their hands together tightly or hide their hands altogether.

And on the flip side, open palms can often indicate honesty and openness.

By adding this observation to your truth-detecting arsenal, we can gather more clues about whether someone is being honest or trying to conceal the truth.

6) Pay attention to their voice

When trying to decipher the truth from a sea of words, it’s easy to get lost in the content and miss the subtle nuances in a person’s voice. I’ve been there.

It’s so overwhelming, in fact, that one can easily overlook significant variations in their tone, pitch or speed of speech.

However, these tiny details can often reveal more about the speaker’s honesty than what they’re actually saying. It’s crucial to remain vigilant for these subtle shifts.

When dealing with someone who may not be entirely truthful, noticing and understanding changes in their voice can lead us closer to the truth.

We often overlook this. Yet, with time and practice, tuning into these auditory signals can significantly enhance our ability to detect deceit.

It’s about listening beyond the words. But remember, it’s essential to do so without showing suspicion or doubt.

I’ve chosen to discuss this point now, but it’s undoubtedly one of the most vital things to remember when trying to determine if someone is telling the truth.

And it’s not just about the words being spoken.

7) Look for inconsistent body language

Yes, inconsistency.

If you’re regularly communicating with someone and you suspect they’re not being honest, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the myriad of body language signals flying your way.

This is particularly true if the person is a skilled liar or manipulator.

Remember, your understanding and interpretation of these signals are crucial. Ignoring any inconsistencies can lead you further away from the truth and make it harder to make accurate judgments.

Discrepancies can occur between facial expressions, hand movements, body orientation, or even between words and body language.

You need to spot these without showing doubt or suspicion. As renowned psychologist and body language expert Paul Ekman advises:

“When a person’s words say one thing and their body language says another, you should pay more attention to their body language.”

Take the time to observe them. Look for patterns in their behavior. Do whatever you need to do to accurately interpret their body language.

Mastering self-awareness

As we journey towards becoming more astute observers of human behavior and truth-seekers, there’s one final piece to consider. It’s not about others, but rather about ourselves.

Yes, ourselves.

Throughout my journey, I’ve realized that understanding others starts with understanding ourselves. Our beliefs, biases, and perceptions can often cloud our judgment and interpretation of others’ behaviors.

It’s surprisingly easy to allow our personal biases to influence our perception of truth and deceit. So, what’s the antidote?


By acknowledging our own vulnerabilities and biases, we can better evaluate situations objectively. This recognition helps in developing a balanced approach when interpreting other’s body language or seeking the truth.

To help you on this journey of self-awareness and understanding the subtleties of human behavior, I’d like to recommend a free resource that I found incredibly helpful.

It’s the Free Your Mind Masterclass by Rudá Iandê. This masterclass guides you in transcending limiting beliefs so you can bring more freedom and authenticity into your life. It’s a powerful tool for developing self-awareness and understanding how your personal beliefs can influence your interpretation of others.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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