It’s tough. With social media you don’t have the advantage of watching the person’s body language or listening to the tone of his or her voice. All you have is written text.
But we do know a few things from research. People have what is called a “truth bias. ” This means our tendency is to trust what people are saying. We want to believe people are telling the truth and may overlook signs of lying.
So what should we look for when we are trying to avoid a scam or don’t want to be duped in a relationship. After all, honesty is the bedrock of healthy relationships.
Here are 10 signs. Law enforcement has a technique called statement analysis. It entails carefully looking at a person’s words. We can learn a few things from this approach that scrutinizes words:
1) If the person is emphatic about something, he/she may be trying to push a lie. Pushing too hard could indicate too much effort is forcing a lie.
2. Attend to the fact that a person is saying the same thing repeatedly, but in different way. This may indicate that he or she is trying to get you to believe a point of untruth as well.
3. Look for the omission of personal pronouns and references to self. This is a distancing technique. For example, “I really loved spending time with you yesterday and hope we can do it again.” Reply: “Yes, it was a good time.”
4. No answers to specific questions. You ask and the person doesn’t really answer directly. In some cases, the person may change the subject. This should make you think, “What is he/she not saying or even hiding?”
5. The language or pace of a conversation changes from what you know to be normally. Parents understand this! We know our kids and when they begin talking in ways that are not typical of them, or use words that we don’t typically hear, or even answer too fast or too slow, we know something is up. If you know someone well, you can usually tell if his or her way of responding to you is different from the normal.
6. Using noncommittal language. When people can’t commit or are unsure, think about what they may not be saying. Hedging on an answer can indicate that they are answering but not telling you the entire story.
7. Lead in statements like, “I’m afraid to tell you…” or “To be honest…” may indicate the person hasn’t told you the truth, things are heating up and you are about to hear more news.
8. Changing the tense (think our current government’s report on crises). As the story is reported in the past tense, the tense suddenly changes and made up events begin to be added. We call this fabricating a story.
9. When you ask to speak to the person in person and the person hesitates, something may be up!
10. Carefully listen for inconsistencies in the conversations. For example, you are talking with someone about his lack of contact with his ex wife and he mentions talking to her about a child. People often slip up when they are lying and don’t get their facts straight.