(Excerpts applicable to internet communications):
...make sure you really listen to their words. If they're explaining why they couldn't make your party, for example, see if the excuse sounds plausible. Some people, in the panic of being forced to lie, can trot out the most absurd story that is just impossible to believe. Really bad liars look skeptical as they tell their tall tale - even THEY don't look like they believe it.
Other people will fire off several excuses in a row, each one more outrageous than the last. Sometimes this list of excuses can even contradict each other, as the liar doesn't have time to think about whether his story works or not.
These are obvious examples of credibility problems, but the bottom line is to combine an awareness the messages this person is sending with his words. If they don't add up, you're entitled to question his truthfulness.
But how do you deal with a more accomplished liar? What if he seems relaxed and open and has a flawless story? This kind of liar is more of a challenge, but you have a powerful secret weapon left: listen to your instincts.
Sometimes you are face to face with a professional con man or a compulsively unfaithful partner. Such people will be experienced and credible. They will have worked on controlling their reactions to the fear of getting caught out, and will seem natural and trustworthy at first glance. They've probably rehearsed their story, or used it successfully many times before without getting caught, so they are confident that you will believe it too.
In these situations, and often in spite of all the evidence before you, you will sometimes experience a strong feeling that something's not right. Even though logically the story might seem absolutely watertight, something inside you is sending you warning signals.
The biggest mistake you can ever make in such a situation is to ignore this gut feeling. You might not be able to put your finger on your suspicions - let alone explain them to anyone else - bdishout your best course of action is to just reserve judgement until you have more information. Don't accuse anyone, but don't put yourself at their mercy either. Wait until you're sure they're on the level.
Of course, not everyone deserves to be the object of automatic and chronic suspicion. But if you're not sure if someone is lying to you, pay attention. You will find that your ability to spot a lie at 50 paces becomes finely tuned and very reliable.
Written by Elizabeth Hardy