How to Find Out if People are Lying to You

How to Find Out if People are Lying to You


Do you know most lies happen when you don’t ask the right questions? How do you fix this and find out if someone is lying to you?

By Susan Ibitz, Human Behavior Hacker,

Easy – ask more questions. Do you know a four-year-old kid that asks 390 questions a day? How many questions do you ask your clients, kids, co-workers, or partners to know what really is going on?


Why do we fail to see lies?

As humans, we all have something called “Personal Dictionary.” What is this? It’s the context of our language. If I said to you, I do “voir dire,” you might think I speak Greek, but it just refers to jury selection. If I said I need to debrief this situation, I meant, let’s talk about it.

Therefore, what we do, who we are, manifests and changes the way we get and give information. So, the simple and easy way to fix this gap is, ask the questions!


How to do this in some scenarios.

Remember practice leads to mastery. It is considered that becoming a master needs 10,000 hours or 10 years to achieve. Let’s try to do this in 10 minutes. Practice with your kids, they are the best liars ever!

Example: Mother/Son.

  • Mom: Do you have homework?
  • Son: We had a substitute teacher today.

Most parents would let it go. But this kid hasn’t answered the question. He’s trying to convince you and not convey. Here’s how to address this conversation the right way.

  • Mom: Do you have homework?
  • Son: We had a substitute teacher today.
  • Mom: This substitute teacher gave you homework?
  • Son:
  • Mom: Did you do it?
  • Son:


Example: Job interview.

  • You: When I can hear from you about the job?
  • HR: Usually, we send an email.
  • You: “Usually” you send an email.  How can I call you to keep track of this position?

“Usually” is not a continuous action. The meaning of “usually” can shift and change based on the circumstances.

Always come back with: “Usually you send an email, but in what other way can I have an update on the job position?” The trick is to come back with a question that has the initial conflicting word, in this case, the word is “usually.”


Example: Sales.

  • You: Has your company made a decision on our budget?
  • Client: They decided to go with another vendor.

This sale is not lost, but most sales reps would let it go. Why? “They” means that others made the decision. The person is not saying “we”, which would include them on the decision, but does not. For example, my boss needs a report, we need a report, etc. “Decided” is a thought, not an action.

So, in this case come back and say, “Do you agree with the decision?” If the person said no, come back with, “What can we do to make it happen? What do you think?”

It’s all about the “we” effect. Studies done in the University of Texas with couples that had only been dating for 6 months show that when you use the “we” on a question, the other person feels involved even if it is not their desire. “We” in our brain is a way to feel involved and responsible for the solution or outcome.

So, if you want your partner to take the trash out, say “Honey as we agreed, can you take the trash?” In that context, “we” means they were part of the decision. Nobody argues with themselves. Believe me, it works, I haven’t taken the trash out in months.




Asking questions, closing your mouth, and waiting for the answer is the best way to gather information. Never tell someone you know they are lying. They are going to close and not talk anymore. Play silly and keep asking, you will be amazed at how much people tell you.

PS – I’m now your new neighbor! I’ve moved to Ogden Dunes from Chicago. Now NWI is home for me and my business. See you around the corner!

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