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Wilfredo Fernandez

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How to spot someone
who's not telling the truth

In a famous fairy story, Pinocchio's nose grew longer when he was telling a lie. Surprisingly, most of us give off signals when we are not being truthful which are just as obvious.

Personnel managers in companies are learning to look for these give-away signs to pick out dishonest employees. They hope to take credit for weeding out a future Nick Leeson, the man blamed for ruining Barings Bank, before their firm suffers a similar fate. Here are seven tell-tale signs:


You touch your nose more often. The tissues in your nose become swollen with blood when you lie, causing it to itch. So you touch your nose frequently to stop it itching.


You avoid looking directly at people - or you look at them too much. Partly because telling lies takes concentration, you tend to look away when you are lying. Or you stare at the person for too long, checking to see that they believe you.


You lean forwards. Closeness is normally a sign of trust. You try to exaggerate how close you are by leaning forwards when you lie.


You pull your earlobe. No one seems to know why this happens, but most of us do it. Police forces in Europe are trained to watch for this behaviour when interviewing criminals.


You tap your feet. This normally happens when you are sitting down, especially if your legs are crossed. As the lie is told, a foot starts tapping or waves in the air.


You give too much information. You tell stories that are too elaborate, structured, polished and complete. You try to make absolutely certain that someone will believe you by giving them fifteen different reasons. An honest person would have the confidence to give one reason.


You stumble in your speech. You start to make mistakes in what you are saying, and use ‘um’ and ‘er’ a lot more, as you try to give yourself time to invent your lie.

But it isn't always that easy. Skilful liars can learn to suppress these signs. Most of us believe, wrongly, that we are easily able to spot liars. In fact, research has shown that people do better at spotting lies when they can't see the person lying. And strangely people are almost as good at detecting falsehood when they have just read someone's words.

The truth is that honesty is over-valued. Scientists at the University of California have shown that people lie on average 200 times a day. That's about once every 8 minutes! True, most of them are of the 'Great to see you' and 'I love your new dress' sort, but they are still untrue. However, as one of the University researchers puts it: 'Society would be terrible if people started telling the truth. Anyone who did would be regarded with suspicion'.  

Source: New English Digest


to spot: to distinguish (detectar)
grew longer
: became longer (se alargaba)
to give off: to show, to give out (demostra
give-away signs: revealing signals (señales reveladoras)
to pick out: to distinguish, to detect (
para detectar)
weeding out: removing (eliminar)
fate: destiny (destino)
tell-tale: revealing (reveladoras)
tissues: cells (tejidos)
become swollen: distend (se hinchan, se inflaman)
to swell/swelled/swollen: to distend (hincharse)
causing it to itch: irritating it (irritándola)
you avoid: you abstain from (evitas)
you tend to: you have a tendency to (tiendes a)
you stare
: you look at with fixed eyes (miras fijo)
you lean: you incline, you bend (te inclinas)
closeness: intimacy, nearness (
la intimidad, la cercanía)

earlobe: fleshy part of the ear (lóbulo de la oreja)
you tap: you click your feet (golpeas los pies nerviosamente)
you stumble:
(in this context) you cannot speak fluently, you falter over your words (te equivocas al hablar)
that easy (american colloquialism= so easy (tan fácil)
to suppress:
(in this context) to try to avoid doing something (a reprimir, a ocultar)
search: investigation (la investigación)
falsehood: falsity (
la falsedad)
over-valued: over-estimated (sobreestimada, sobrevalorada)
on average: typically (en promedio)
untrue: false (falsos)
puts it: expresses, states (expresa, señala)