How to Lie
Lying can be complicated and difficult, especially if you don’t do it very often. Beginner liars must learn a few basics about what makes a good lie, such as sticking with a simple lie and making sure the lie is believable. If you plan the lie ahead of time, it helps to spend some time memorizing the details of the lie by writing it down and practicing it until it sounds convincing. Possibly the most important part is telling the lie convincingly. You’ll need to avoid some of the most common things that give away a lie, such as fidgeting, changing your voice, and not making eye contact.
Establishing an Effective Lie
Keep your lie simple.Include details that make your lie seem legitimate, but not so many that it becomes complicated. An elaborate lie means more details that you have to keep track of and can often mean more explaining. A simple, straightforward lie is easier to maintain.
- For example, an elaborate lie might be, “I’m late because when I got onto I-70, it was so backed up that I had to reverse all the way down the entrance ramp and I ended up taking country roads instead.” A simple version of that lie would be, “Traffic was pretty backed up on I-70.”
- The simplicity of the lie can show that you don’t have any other details to add to it.
Avoid including other people in the lie.Using someone as a witness or alibi makes your lie more complicated than it needs to be. If the person you lie to checks your alibi, they may find out you lied.
- If you use someone else in your lie, be sure to tell them. Some people may not appreciate being part of your lie.
- If you are planning a lie ahead of time, at least talk to the person and see if they are willing to cover for you, as opposed to telling them after you already used them in a lie.
Make your lie plausible.When you lie, only include information that is believable. Don’t exaggerate to a point where the listener will start to question what you are saying. Make your lie as realistic as possible.
- Be critical of your own lie and see if it seems reasonable. Don't use only your own judgment but think about if the person you are lying to will find it reasonable.
- For example, telling your wife that a bird flew in the house and broke her lamp is not a plausible lie. Telling her you stumbled over the dog and knocked the lamp over is more plausible.
Include something truthful in the lie.Completely false lies may be more easily detected, but if you sprinkle truth into the lie it is more believable. Find a way to show proof that part of your lie is true to strengthen the lie as a whole.
- It is easier to express real emotion when you tell the truth than it is when you lie. If you emphasize the true part you can mask your emotions.
- For example, you stayed out late with a group of friends that included your ex-girlfriend Holly. Tell your current girlfriend, “I was hanging out with Carl, Stacy, and Steve.” It’s true that you were with those people, but you’re lying about Holly being there, too.
Lie before you have to.You can avoid lying under pressure by initiating the conversation about the subject you are lying about. Lie voluntarily before you are asked anything. The listener may not think you are lying since you volunteered the information.
- If the person you are lying to is already upset or suspicious, they are more likely to be critical of the lie you offer. If they have not thought of the situation yet, they may be more likely to accept what you say without further questions.
- If you go see your friend’s band and they sound terrible, go up to them after the set and say, “You guys rocked!” before they have a chance to ask you about it.
Memorizing the Lie
Write down the details of the lie.One of the hardest things about lying is keeping up with what you said. It's even harder if you have to repeat the lie to many people over the course of time. The best way to avoid this is to write down the lie.
- If you have time to plan the lie out, write it down first. If you lie spontaneously, write down who you lied to and what you said.
- If the lie is time sensitive and will go away, you may not have to keep track of the paper you wrote the lie on for very long. If the consequences of the lie are long term, you’ll need to put the paper somewhere safe.
- Writing helps you make things clear and remember them. Even if you immediately throw the paper away, writing can help you establish the lie in your mind.
Practice saying the lie out loud.If something is true, it is often easier to remember, but if you are lying you may forget exactly what you want to say. Repeating a lie over and over again will help you deliver it more effectively.
- When you are lying on the spot, you may not have the chance to practice your lie. You can repeat what you said later on so you remember exactly how you lied.
- If you have time to practice the lie ahead of time, you can recite it in different ways to find the best delivery of the lie.
Record a video of yourself lying.For small lies, the video camera is not necessary, but if you are preparing a big lie, video can help. Watch yourself on video to decide if the lie sounded convincing. If not, figure out a way to adjust it.
- This is like saying the lie to yourself in a mirror, but saying it to a mirror is actually more distracting. Taking a video of yourself will help you see whether your delivery looked convincing or not.
- If your delivery is believable, watch the video a few times to memorize the wording and presentation of the lie.
Controlling Your Body When You Lie
Keep your hands away from your face.Liars tend to fidget with their hands a lot. Keep your hands at your sides if you are standing or on your lap if you are sitting. Don’t rub your chin or your nose. Don’t run your hands through your hair.
Remain still.Swaying back and forth, tapping your foot, or generally moving a lot are signs that you are lying. Don’t shrug your shoulders a lot either. Keeping your whole body relaxed and unmoving adds poise to your appearance, and it will keep people from being suspicious.
Keep your arms open and not folded.Folding the arms is considered closed off posture and when you lie it is a giveaway to people. Don’t cross your arms. Keep them at your sides, or if you are sitting down, lay your hands on your lap.
Control your blinking.Liars tend to blink nervously, and it’s an easy sign for people to notice. Also be aware that keeping your eyes open for too long can become suspicious, so make a conscious effort to blink as you normally would.
Use eye contact to your benefit.One of the surest signs that someone is lying is shifting their eyes away from the listener. You can control your eye contact to mask your lie. Make enough eye contact to make the person believe you.
- You have to find a balance between too little eye contact and too much. If you stare at the person without looking away you will seem as suspicious as if you never meet their eyes.
Keep your body facing the person you’re lying to.Turning your body to the side or turning away is seen as a sign that you are trying to hide something. Make sure that your body stays angled toward them. Keep your eyes in their direction, as well, and don’t stare off into the distance.
Use physical touch to create intimacy.When you are lying, appropriately touch the person you are lying to. Place your hand on their shoulder, grab their hand, or gently touch their leg if you are sitting by them. By touching them you will soften them toward you and make them more trusting.
- You need to take account of whether or not you are in a close enough relationship with the person to initiate physical touch with them. In many situations, this won’t be the case.
Controlling Your Speech
Keep your voice normal.Another unconscious change that occurs when you lie is that the pitch of your voice gets higher. Actively moderate the pitch of your voice so that stays at the your usual level. Make sure your voice is appropriate to the situation.
- The fact that the voice pitch rises during a lie is somewhat common knowledge, so people may be listening for it if they suspect you of lying.
- You can even speak slightly lower than you normally would to balance out the tendency to go higher.
- Also pay attention to your tone and volume so that it is appropriate to the situation. Don’t speak with a cheerful tone if you need to sound sorry or a serious tone if your lie should sound encouraging.
Give straightforward replies.When you are asked questions, give a full answer but don’t let yourself start to ramble. Don’t pause a lot or add filler words that are unnecessary. Rambling or getting off topic is one sure sign that you’re lying.
- It will take practice, but find the balance between an answer that is too short and one that is too long. Both can seem suspicious.
Use casual language.A natural tendency during a lie is to become overly formal. People will notice the difference from your typical demeanor. Use contractions like “didn’t” and “wasn’t” as opposed to “did not” and “was not.” Don’t be afraid of slang or colloquial terms because these will appear as normal for conversation.
- For example, say “I don’t know,” as opposed to, “I am not entirely sure.”
Answering Follow-Up Questions
Stick to your story.After you tell the lie, you may be asked to tell the story again, or give a fuller explanation. Do not back down and take back the lie you told. Stick to it and repeat it as closely as possible to the way you told it the first time. Asking the same question multiple times is a tactic to get you to give up the lie.
Add a small extra detail.When you are asked for more information, don’t add too much to the lie so that it becomes complicated. Do your best to add one small piece of information that will enhance the lie but not make it too hard to maintain.
Answer the question with a question.Sometimes you can disorient people and distract them by answering a question with another question. Say something like, "Why don't you believe me?" or "Did you hear a different story from someone else?". This puts the person questioning you in the hot seat to answer.
Getting Caught in a Lie
Admit that you lied.At some point, you may be caught in a lie and it is obvious you can’t get out of it. Someone may have found video that proves you lied, or documents of some kind. Rather than extend the lie and make things worse, admit what you did and face the consequences.
- You will usually gain some credibility back with the person by admitting it rather than lying again.
- Learn from your mistakes and try to avoid them the next time you need to lie about something.
Explain why you lied without making it an excuse.Once you admit the lie, you are likely to be questioned further. Do not try to justify why you lied, but explain what your thought process was. Tell the person why you felt you needed to lie and why the truth would not have worked for you.
- The person may not accept your explanation or may say it does not make sense or is not good enough. Do not argue, but affirm to them that you stand by your reasoning, even if it ended up being wrong.
Tell the person how you will make up for it.Lying is likely to cause damage in one way or another, so once you are caught, you will have to fix things. Give the person some concrete steps you plan to take to remedy the situation. Be honest about what you are going to do and then follow through on doing it.
- The things you need to fix may not be problems as much as strained relationships. You may need to do some emotional work to show your remorse and make up for the lie.
QuestionHow do you get out of a lie if you are caught a long time after you told it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou might be able to play dumb and say you didn't know you were lying, like you didn't have all of the information that you needed. Or you can just say "I'm sorry I lied at the time but i feel differently about the situation now." Or you can just stick to what you said and refuse to acknowledge that it was a lie.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I play dumb?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDeny any knowledge of the topic. Don't continue to deny the knowledge itself, because that will look suspicious. You could also try to change topic or ask a question that is close to what the topic is, but not too far away from what the topic was.Thanks!
QuestionIf I need to, how do I force tears?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry to think of something sad and visualize yourself in that moment. Make it really seem sad and if that does not work, try to make your eyes as dry as possible by keeping them open, then rubbing them while they're closed.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if the person has found evidence?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerRedirect their interrogation by saying something that would embarrass you to be revealing, or only admit a tiny bit of the truth in an embarrassing way. Since people don't want to admit these things the person is more likely to believe you.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I tell a lie when I have been half caught?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSince you're only half caught, you only need to tell half the truth. Fabricate it into what your intentions/ you were, such as doing something entirely different.Thanks!
QuestionIs there really a book on how to spot a liar?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere are tons of books articles, and videos all over that explain how to spot a liar, and there is also a page on wikiHow that explains it too -- see How to Detect a Liar.Thanks!
QuestionHow could I lie to my therapist about my depression?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerI wouldn't recommend doing this. Lying to your therapist about your symptoms means you cannot get the proper treatment. If you aren't going to get the treatment you need, then there's no point in wasting your therapist's time.Thanks!
QuestionMy parents say I'm lying, when I'm not. How can I make them believe me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAll you can do is be a trustworthy person in general (if you don't lie frequently, they'll be more apt to believe you) and keep asserting the truth.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do when I have to lie to a group of people?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry to stay calm and show them fake feelings that make them believe what you are saying. Look as if you're making eye contact but look at their foreheads instead, it's less intimidating for you. Have a watertight tale and, if possible, an alibi. Be insistent and repeat the same story over and again. Groupthink may convince them of your lie if you're good enough at acting the part.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I screw up in a lie and get caught? How do I get out of it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe best way is to tell the truth. Of course, you could come up with some reason why you lied, but it has to be good. Otherwise they won't believe you if they catch you in another lie.Thanks!
To tell a lie, keep the lie simple and don't add unnecessary details so your story doesn't seem suspicious. For example, if you're lying about why you're late to work, you can just say "Traffic was backed up on the highway," and leave it at that. Also, try not to involve anyone else in your lie or you'll have to worry about keeping your stories straight. Remember to make eye contact when you're telling a lie and face your body toward the person so you seem more believable.
- If you lie too often, you may lose track of your lies or you may not be trusted. If you lie less often, the times you do lie may go unnoticed.
- If you sound confident, it will be more believable.
- Lies are often found out and some lies have much larger consequences than others. It is always good to ask yourself if lying is worth the risk.
- It is never a good idea to lie in legal matters as the consequences could be significant.
Sources and Citations
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