Home » Uncovering deceit: 9 non-verbal cues that make you look dishonest – a must-read guide

Uncovering deceit: 9 non-verbal cues that make you look dishonest – a must-read guide

One of the more intriguing aspects of human interaction is the ability to tell when someone is being dishonest. You know what I’m talking about, right? How can we decipher the layers behind their spoken words to reveal what they’re truly thinking or feeling? How can we differentiate between truth and lie? These are the dilemmas we often face in daily interactions.

Non-verbal cues play an instrumental role in this process, sometimes making you seem dishonest even when you might be telling the truth. Surprising, isn’t it?

“My relationship with my coworker, Sam, was a prime example of how non-verbal cues can misconstrue intent”, shared a friend of mine. “Sam and I had a good professional relationship. Yet, one day he abruptly stopped talking to me. It was strange, and when I confronted him about it, he said something that left me shocked.

You always seem insincere when you talk to me. You look away, fidget and never maintain eye contact. It feels like you’re hiding something all the time.”

I was taken aback. I wasn’t being dishonest. I just had a habit of looking away when talking due to my shy nature”.

After hearing my friend’s story, it became clear that our body language, our gestures, even subtle things like where our gaze falls during a conversation can give off wrong impressions. It’s a phenomenon that can happen to any of us, and it’s often unintentional.

So how do we nip these unintentional falsehood signals in the bud? The answer lies in recognizing these nine non-verbal cues- signs that might make you appear dishonest even when you are honest to your bones.

Before we delve into the matter, it is crucial to remember that this is not an exhaustive list or a formula to apply. Recognizing non-verbal cues is nuanced, relying upon context and individual differences. Therefore, use this as a guideline, not a rulebook.

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Uncovering deceit: 9 non-verbal cues that make you look dishonest - a must-read guide
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1. Avoiding eye contact

Ever had a chat with someone who wouldn’t meet your gaze? It can feel a little unsettling, right? Avoiding eye contact might be mistaken as an indication of dishonesty.

For instance, imagine a job interview where the candidate avoids making eye contact with the interviewer. This behavior can create doubts about their honesty, even if they are genuinely nervous.

However, it’s essential to consider cultural differences, as eye contact norms vary across cultures. In some cultures, avoiding direct eye contact is a sign of respect.

2. Fidgeting

When we’re nervous or uncomfortable, we often start fidgeting unconsciously. Just like my friend, you might not notice it, but others certainly will.

Imagine someone constantly tapping their foot during a conversation. This fidgeting behavior can lead the other person to believe that the individual is hiding something or feeling uneasy.

However, fidgeting can also be a result of habits, such as tapping your fingers when lost in thought. It’s essential to assess the context and consider whether the behavior is consistent with the person’s usual habits.

3. Touching the face

Did you know that people often touch their face when they’re not telling the truth? It’s an involuntary reaction that can potentially give you away.

For example, during a difficult conversation, if someone frequently touches their face or covers their mouth, it can create suspicion about their honesty. These actions can subconsciously signal discomfort or a desire to conceal information.

However, face-touching can also be a result of nervousness or skin irritation. It’s important not to jump to conclusions based solely on this behavior.

4. Crossed arms

Crossing your arms can come across as defensive or hiding something. Sounds too simplistic? Well, sometimes the most uncomplicated gestures carry profound meanings.

Imagine a scenario where someone is discussing a sensitive topic with their arms tightly crossed. This defensive posture can make the other person question their honesty or openness.

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However, crossing arms can also be a way to comfort oneself or maintain personal space. It’s crucial to consider the overall context and the individual’s body language as a whole.

5. Unnatural gesticulation

When someone’s actions don’t align with their words, it’s often subtly picked up as a sign of insincerity. So make sure your body language matches your words!

For instance, if someone is speaking about their excitement for an upcoming event but appears stoic and lacks enthusiasm in their gestures, it can create doubts about their honesty. In this case, the non-verbal cues are contradicting the verbal message.

However, some individuals naturally have less expressive body language, which doesn’t necessarily indicate dishonesty. It’s essential to consider the person’s usual behavior and whether the inconsistency is significant.

6. Contradictory expressions

Saying you’re happy but looking sad? Mixed signals like these can often seem dishonest even when they’re unintentional.

Consider a situation where someone verbally expresses happiness about a recent accomplishment but their facial expression appears sad or indifferent. This inconsistency can lead others to question the sincerity of their words.

However, contradictory expressions can also be a result of various factors, such as concealing true emotions in a professional setting. It’s crucial to assess the context and the individual’s typical behavior.

7. Shyness or nervousness

Like my friend, if you’re shy or nervous, others might perceive you as being insincere. It’s unfair, but unfortunately, it happens.

Imagine being in a social gathering where you’re naturally introverted and tend to be shy around new people. Others may misinterpret your shyness as aloofness or dishonesty, assuming you’re not interested in engaging with them.

However, shyness is a personality trait, and nervousness can arise from various situations. It’s essential for people to be understanding and not hastily judge individuals based on their natural tendencies.

8. Inconsistencies in speech

If your voice gets too high or low compared to your usual tone, or your speech speed changes abruptly, it might be sensed as dishonesty.

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For instance, during a conversation, if someone’s voice suddenly becomes high-pitched when discussing a particular topic, it can create doubts about their honesty. These vocal fluctuations can be interpreted as discomfort or anxiety about the subject matter.

However, vocal variations can also occur due to excitement or passion about a topic. It’s important to consider the person’s usual speaking patterns and whether the changes align with their emotions.

9. Evading or deflecting questions

If you’re often dodging direct answers or changing topics, it might come across as you having something to hide.

Consider a scenario where someone is asked a straightforward question but consistently avoids providing a direct response by diverting the conversation or changing the subject. This behavior can raise suspicions about their honesty and transparency.

However, there are situations where individuals may deflect questions to maintain privacy or handle sensitive topics delicately. It’s crucial to assess the context and the individual’s intentions behind evading questions.

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Now, we circle back to the beginning. The art of recognizing and controlling our non-verbal cues can indeed enhance our interactions. While we must be careful not to misinterpret these cues in others, we should also work on managing our own, ensuring we project honesty and sincerity.

Remember, this article is intended to make you conscious of your body language, not to make you overly self-critical. After all, we’re just human, prone to a host of unconscious body movements and facial expressions.

So, take these insights as a starting point for self-improvement rather than definitive expert advice. And above all, let’s try to be a little less judgmental about others’ non-verbal cues.

Michael H. Clifton
Written by, Michael H. Clifton
Hi, I'm Daniel, a 37-year-old lifestyle writer with a passion for understanding the human mind. I live in the city but I also love taking nature walks to escape the urban hustle. Join me on my journey as I explore the balance between city life and the calming influence of nature.