It’s too bad liars’ noses don’t grow longer, like Pinocchio’s, when they’re spinning tall tales and deceptive pitches. But then we wouldn’t want to have all those disfigured politicians and salesmen wandering around, bumping into things with their elongated snouts.
There are actual telltale signs that speakers are not presenting us with the unvarnished truth according to the American Psychologists Association. When I read about them I recognized a few I’ve displayed myself in tight spots where the absolute truth needed a few cosmetic touches to spare someone’s feelings or to protect my reputation.
A liar in motion will tend to cover his mouth with his hands, try to shrink his body and give vague answers. A truthful person, asked about some past event, will look up to his left toward his brain’s memories section. The prevaricator will look up to his right where imaginative stories are invented.
A heartfelt smile is long lasting and involves all the jaw and cheek muscles. The nose and forehead will wrinkle and the eyes compress. The fake smile involves only the mouth and will flash on and off in an instant like the blinker on a warning sign. (Which it is.)
Liars welcome a change of subject as a chance to stop sweating and to resume eye contact, but the honest person will resent the digression and want to get back to his unadulterated testimony.
Responses like “What do you mean?” and “How shall I put it?” can be delaying tactics while the liar is working out his imaginative reply. The same applies if your question is repeated. “Did I eat the last of the Haagen Dazs? Is that what you’re asking me?” He might put his hand to his mouth as if formulating his denial, but he’s really removing the faint traces of pistachio.
Let’s face it. We all lie from time to time, even to ourselves. Right now I’m trying to persuade myself to let the yard work go for a few more days. Nobody will notice the grass is beginning to hide the lawn ornaments and the tomato plants have disappeared behind the weeds. Oh, oh! My trousers are beginning to heat up. I’d better get out there before they reach the combustion point.