The following are the most common body language signs of lying. All of them could also mean disagreeing with what you are saying, or simply being insincere with you. Interpret them in context with other gestures to confirm or deny your suspicions. If you are dealing with person who lies excessively and chronically, you might want to check out this too.
Covering One’s Mouth
This is an instinctive gesture that first appears in early childhood. A lying person covers his mouth with his hand, as if he is trying to prevent the deceitful words from being said. It could be just a few fingers covering the lips, or the whole fist – the meaning doesn’t change. [For more about hands, see Body Language of the Hands]
One thing that you should remember is not to forget to interpret this gesture in conjunction with other signs and movements.
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If the person who is using this gesture of covering the mouth is the one who is speaking, it means he might be lying. However, if you are speaking and the listener is the one who is using this gesture, it might mean that he feels that you are not being totally honest and sincere with him.
Covering the mouth could also be a sign of the “be quiet” gesture; covering your mouth with one finger, and was probably used by your parents when they wanted to calm you or quieten you. Now in adulthood, you still probably subconsciously use this gesture or a variation (like covering your mouth with a few fingers or the whole fist), when you know you are hiding something or are not being completely open about your feelings.
Touching One’s Nose
Among the most common signs of lying is the nose touch. It seems that the nose touch is connected to the original mouth covering gesture that is so obvious in children. Because adults are more conscious about body signs that they are displaying, the hand is quickly pulled away from the mouth, which results in a quick nose touching gesture.
You can tell the difference between a “normal” nose itch, and a nose touch that is from the signs of lying – the simple itch will be satisfied with rubbing or scratching, but won’t be satisfied with just a light touch, and this is what happens when the person is lying.
Once again, if the speaker is the one who displays the nose touch gesture, it means he could be lying. If it is the listener who does it, then he could simply doubt what he is hearing.
Scratching One’s Neck
Another sign of lying is scratching the neck below the earlobe around five times. This is also often a sign of doubting or disagreeing with what has been said.
Grabbing One’s Ear
When a little child hears something that she doesn’t like, she covers both her ears as if to prevent herself from hearing the sound. Adults are more conscious about what they do with their body, so instead of obvious ear covering gestures, they could quickly touch the earlobe, or rub the back of the ear, or even screw back and forth the inside of the ear.
If you were speaking and the person verbally agrees with what you say, but at the same time does the ear touching gesture, it probably means that he is not sincere with you. From another point of view, it could also mean that you spoke a lot and he wants to speak now.
Rubbing One’s Eyes
Similar to the ear touching gesture, rubbing one’s eyes could be one of the many signs of lying, (if the person who does it is the speaker), or a sign of disliking what has been seen. Men usually rub their eyes vigorously, while the women’s way to do it is more gentle and more brief (probably to avoid smudging their make-up). Both could also look away whilst lying.
As it was said above, you should interpret these gestures in context with the circumstances and other signs that you observe. This is particularly for signs that happen automatically and are not under conscious control. Also see Body Language of a Liar.