Even though there are many questions to ask someone to see if they are lying, they need to be carefully thought through, selected, and organized in order to achieve the results you’re after; so keep reading if you want to know how to see someone’s pants catch on fire!
For one, these are not exactly the same as the tactics you use to catch someone in a lie over the phone, or text. In those cases, it would be a good idea to learn to identify if they’re taking a suspiciously long time to respond or show the sudden, pressing urge to hang up. If that’s what you’re after, then I shall redirect you to our list of 12 ways to tell if someone is lying over the phone or text. However, it’s a face-to-face encounter we’re talking about; the following’s what you need to know. Wait, wait for a second! We have found another list that will teach you the ways to tell if someone is lying about cheating.
Since there’s no actual step-by-step questionnaire in order to see if someone’s pants are on fire, here’s what I’ll do:
First, I’ll divide the task of finding out the truth into phases that’ll set the tone of the questions and the approximate number of those required. I found that categorizing the questions makes the process of explaining this easier. Once this is done, I will present you with a super-sassy hypothetical situation that will be followed through with 12 corresponding questions to ask someone to see if they are lying, their possible answers, and what to look out for, as you move further down the article. It is not an easy task to make up so many discussion questions about lying since it requires to fashion a whole lying situation out of nothing; I’ll do my best. But first, here are the categories:
1- Research-based conversation starter (1 question)
The first good questions to ask a liar are those you already know the answer to, yet it’s not as easy as it sounds. You’ll need to do a bit of research on the alleged-liar beforehand, and begin with a casual enquiry they wouldn’t have a reason to be lying about. Try to make it fun stuff, maybe you can ask them about their holidays, or a recent celebration you’ve seen on their Facebook, that crap will always get people talking. Use human’s self-centeredness in your favor, for a change.
2- Ground Floor for the truth (2-3 questions)
Once the conversation has been established, go further into the subject you’ve chosen, ask if it was nice, did they have fun, would they do it again, etc. This should help you get a ground floor on how this person looks and sounds like when they’re not lying, because why would they lie about such things?
The best way to catch a liar through body language, according to former CIA officers, is to pay attention to the following signs: hand-to-face activity, throat-clearing or swallowing, grooming gestures, hiding the mouth or eyes, verbal/non-verbal disconnect, and behavioral pause or delay. If they seem jittery in any way or show any of these signs while telling the truth, then maybe that’s just how they are, and you shouldn’t identify that behavior with lying later on.
3- Make them lie (2-3 questions)
Now that you’ve established a baseline for the truth, it’s time to start pushing the envelope softly, this time asking questions you know they might answer untruthfully, or at least give partial answers to. Beware not to make them too uncomfortable, if this happens, you’re going to need to wash it down with some more casual chit-chat.
4- The Volatile Conundrum (1-2 questions)
Once back on track, but before they get a chance to slip away, you strike. Yet, the way to get the information you’re looking for is not just about a question. Here, you need to recur to what goes under the captivating name of “Volatile Conundrum.”
What is the Volatile Conundrum? Jack Schafer Ph.D. states: “A Volatile Conundrum is a sophisticated technique that puts liars in a position wherein they are forced to make snap decisions. Truthful people have little difficulty handling Volatile Conundrums.” That’s all very nice, but what it is, in other words, is a BIG FAT LIE, that you can even hide inside of a question. So, when the time arrives, you “casually” drop a question about a made-up, but perfectly believable fact. This will put the liar in a compromised position, without giving up the fact that you’re trying to get something out of them. If you’re good enough a liar, you can pull off this maneuver twice in a row. Don’t worry if you don’t get this right away, it’s a hard concept to explain abstractly, but I promise the example will erase your doubts.
5- The liar’s story (1-2 questions)
Now it’s time for them to tell you their own version of the facts, some of which will be real, some will be not, so you have to be very attentive to their body language and discursive missteps.
Have in mind that, when telling a story, people who are lying might: leave out sensory details, frequently admit to faulty memory, make spontaneous corrections, keep it short and vague, not make sense and be full of contradictions, seem to be thinking hard, make few complaints or negative comments, or talk unusually slowly.
6- Re-telling of the story (2-3 questions)
The proper way to dig a little deeper into a lie is by asking the person to retell a story several times. However, contrary to popular belief, and according to Entrepreneur, it is not differences you must look for in the speech, but odd similarities, repeated careful phrasing, or anything that makes the answer sound scripted. This is done by asking the same thing in different ways to see how their answers match; you can even ask for the story backward.
I must tell you, though: at this point, whether they’re lying or not, you’re officially a drag.
7- The Low Blow (1 question)
This one is a surprise.
Now that you’ve got the basics, here’s the super-sassy example I promised:
Last Saturday your fiend Megan had a party, the first of the year, but you stayed away because you were afraid to run into Tom, your ex, who personally told you he “wouldn’t miss it for the world”, just before he dumped you. Another person who was supposed to be at the party is your friend Kate, who said go and keep you posted on anything Tom-related –but she didn’t. This raises hell-a questions, and you begin to suspect they used the party as a cover-up to go on a secret date. Those a**holes!
So, a few days later, you “accidentally” run into Tony, Tom’s best friend, who surely knows of his whereabouts last weekend, and is bound to cover for him. So, now what you need to do is get Tony caught in his own web of lies, by using everything we talked about before. Lucky for you, you happen to have some slightly incriminatory info about him that might give you some leverage. Will it? Click next and find out!
12. Research-based conversation starter: “Where did you go on holidays?”
It might sound dull, but this is in fact the first of many important questions to ask someone to see if they are lying, at least in this scenario.
Even though you haven’t seen much of Tony since you broke up with his friend Tom, you do know due to the fact that you’re a FB stalker (in a mild way, though), that he’s been on holiday with his family for the last couple of weeks. This is a proper conversation opener that sets the ground for measuring his truthful answers.
11. Ground floor and follow up: “Was the weather good?”, “What was the best part?”, etc.
Blah, blah, blah, Tony, no one cares what you’ve been up to –but you’ll pretend you do, because what you do want to know, however, is how he sounds and act like when babbling on about the truth.
This should be not one, but a bunch of boring follow up questions to help set the ground floor.
10. Make them lie: “Have you seen Ashley lately?”
With the question number 10 on our list of questions to ask someone to see if they are lying, you want to make him be untrue, so you can see his behavioral differences as to when he was telling the truth. Here’s where the incriminating info you had about Tony comes in handy.
It turns out a little bird named Tom-your-ex told you -before he dumped you- that before leaving for holidays, Tony had been hooking up with Tina. The catch? Weeell… Tony is kind of a shallow what-would-they-think a**hole, and the word around is that Ashley has gotten SUPER FAT over the summer. Naturally, being the prick he is, he wouldn’t want people to know they’d been bumpin’ uglies, so the chances are he’ll get super awkward and answer something of the “Uhm, no, I don’t know… Uhm…” sort. Meanwhile, this will make him give away all his lying quirks and tells.
9. Make them lie some more: “Have you heard she’s gotten fat?”
Continuing with the question number 9 on our list of questions to ask someone to see if they are lying – put pressure on that baby!
If he’s not going to admit to banging Ashley, you can get a bit sadistic, make him grovel in his lie; so use this opportunity to check every movement, every word he repeats a lot, and place them on his “signs of lying” list.
7. Research based conversation starter: “Hey, did you guys go to Megan’s party on Saturday?”
This is yet another “research based conversation starter”, now number 7 in the list of important questions to ask someone to see if they are lying. This time, you use it to introduce the actual topic of our interest: Megan’s party.
The reason you ask this question is that you already know for a fact that Tony was there with his friends, because you saw a picture of them insanely wasted on Facebook, yet Tom was not in the photo. Since “you guy’s” could not necessarily include Tom, there’s no reason for Tony to lie about the party… yet. Just as well, he must be deeply relieved that you dropped the Fat Ashley (that’s her name now) subject, so he’ll jump on the first conversational wagon that comes along.
6. Follow up: “Was it fun?”, “Did you get wasted?” etc.
Even though you already have the ground floor for truth-telling, you must again, you do some follow-up. This time you use it to settle into your territory, and start moving towards your target. If possible, get him to narrate his evening. This seemingly innocent questions may not sound very important, but they will matter later.
5. Volatile Conundrum: “Doesn’t Kate’s new boob job look amazing?”
We are continuing our list of questions to ask someone to see if they are lying and this is where you plunge into it, and use a lie to catch a liar through psychology. To do so you’ll need to set a booblie trap: the Volatile Conundrum.
The truth is Kate didn’t get a boob job! So why should you ask this? Easy, you want to find out if she was indeed where she said she was.
Since Kate was knowingly supposed to be there, Tony should stand by the story of her presence. if Kate was there, he’ll cry: “WHAT BOOBJOB? WHO? I DIDN’T SEE ANY BOOBJOB!!”, like most straight males would. However, if she wasn’t there, he wouldn’t know whether she had surgery or not, so he now has to make a snap call. Since he’d probably never imagine you were lying about this, in an attempt to escape the situation he may go “Uhm… yeah… boobs… awesome…”, in which case, Kate was definitely NOT there. In order to move on in our example, the latter turns out to be the case.
BOOM! YOU JUST GOT CONUNDRUMED!
4. DOUBLE Volatile Conundrum: “Is it true spoiled-brat Tom drove up in the new sports car his dad got him?”
Remember, this is the most effective way to catch a liar in the act; so now, for a double whammy: another conundrum. Repeating this action will increase the pressure of the questions to ask someone to see if they’re lying, and will -hopefully- let some truth show. No wonder this one is on the list of questions to ask someone to see if they are lying, right?
So, before he even gets back on his feet after the boob-job lie, you need to hit him again; that’ll totally throw him off balance. This time, we’re aiming for Tom, whose father in no way got him a new car, but again, it could be possible, because he IS a spoiled brat. If Tom was there, he’ll tell you you’re wrong, he showed up in the same ride as always. If he’s lying, again he’ll go “Oh, yeah, amazing car, runs great.” Again, he goes for the lie.
BOOM! YOU JUST GOT CONUNDRUMED! AGAIN!
3. The Story: “Oh, so you drove there all together?”, “Did you leave together as well?”, etc.
That’s right, don’t be like Elsa – don’t let it go. You already got him to lie a bunch of times, so now it’s time to make him try to keep up his story, while you keep plucking holes in it.
Get him to narrate the experience with as much detail as possible: how they got there, what he drank, who he saw, what time they left, etc. Take note of what he says and how he says it, because he’ll have to re-tell it later.
2. Re-Telling of the Story: “Sorry, I forgot, could you tell me [whatever] again?”
Like I said back in the intro of our article about questions to ask someone to see if they are lying, when someone is lying, it affects their manner of speech. Re-telling a recently made-up story to perfection is almost impossible without leaving a trail of clues, so make sure to keep an eye out for body language, and repeated, pre-made phrases.
1. The Low Blow: “You wouldn’t lie to me, would you?”
Forbes has very good suggestions and cues of what to do when you caught someone in a lie. Some of these include: doing nothing, deflecting with humour, playing dumb, calling them on it, and -not optional- protecting yourself. However, none of these are to me as worth it as The Low Blow.
The Low Blow is not an indispensable question, but once you’re sure someone’s lying, you should take the opportunity to get a kick out of it. In all fairness, the little prick has been lying to you all throughout the chat, so why not have some fun? That’s why it’s the last of the best questions to ask someone to see if they are lying, just to go out with a bang.
Already riddled by guilt, Tony will have no other choice but squirm, get as awkward as possible, and deny the whole thing. If he is wise, the next thing he’ll do is find any excuse to run away and probably avoid you for a very long time. But really, who cares? Tony is an idiot who just gave away everyone’s secrets. Screw Tony.
LONG LIVE THE VOLATILE CONUNDRUM!