How to Tell if Someone is Lying (Tips from a Savvy Trial Lawyer)

Every single day we struggle with trying to figure out who’s telling the truth. Social media posts, the evening news, and our daily business conversations all often revolve around each of us searching for accuracy and the true facts and story.

The problem we all face is this: How do we know if people are telling us the truth?

A decision based upon someone’s lie can harm relationships, put you out of business, and destroy your reputation in the community. When it comes to politics, a lie can turn love into hate and peace into war.

As a trial lawyer, I’m always challenged to try and figure out if my jurors, witnesses, and opposing counsel are being honest. In high-profile cases, it’s tough to determine if reporters are truthful with why they want to do an interview or have me on a panel.

It’s never easy but, over the past three decades of using the approaches I’ve outlined below, I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring our who is telling me the truth and who is lying. After you apply and practice what I share in this post, I think you’ll also have a much better handle on who’s a straight shooter and who’s trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

Some of the approaches I share with you in this post are based upon things I’ve learned from personal experience while fighting my client’s legal battles in court. Others are concepts and approaches I’ve learned from judges and from studying decades of research by talented psychologist, psychiatrist and other professionals. While you’ll never be 100% sure if the person you’re talking to or watching on television or a livestream is telling you the truth, the use of these techniques should help you get better at making this determination.

Three-Step Approach (When You Can Plan Ahead)

The easiest way for me to tell if someone is exaggerating a fact, misleading me, or straight out lying, is when I’m able to use what I call the “Three-Step” approach. Before talking with someone, I determine specific facts that are true and then when we meet, I naturally and comfortably incorporate questions about those established facts into the conversation.

I then listen to and watch how the other person responds to my questions and how he acts during the conversation. It’s a easy to follow process and you can do the same thing.

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