Browsing: The Traitors

We’re all on edge (Picture: BBC/Studio Lambert/Mark Mainz)

This season of BBC’s The Traitors is just as gripping as the first and, let’s be honest, it’s the only thing that’s making January slightly more bearable.

But it’s also got us thinking about the art of deception – as well as how to spot those who aren’t being honest with us.

The psychological competition sees 22 strangers play the ultimate game of detection, backstabbing, and trust.

So far this series, the faithful have managed to successfully uncover a traitor but there are still three at large within the group – and things really amped up last week as fan favourite Dianne got caught in the firing line.

Just like the first season, the series has gripped viewers and is overflowing with deceit.

But it has got us thinking about how we would fare in such a situation.

While easy to dissect from the comfort of our couches, in reality, trying to analyse whether someone is dishonest is difficult.

Whether we like it or not, lies are told every day on this earth, and most of the time, we don’t even know it.

Yet, there are ways to decipher if another is being deceitful.

‘Bear in mind that these are just pointers,’ NLP trainer and life coach Andy Coley tells

‘Different people communicate in different ways. Trust your instincts first and foremost, particularly with those you know well.’

Eye contact

Don’t rely on eye contact (Picture: Getty Images)

It turns out, eye contact might not be the clue you’re looking for.

‘Whether they look at you or not is not really a sign of lying,’ he explains. ‘It can be a cultural thing if someone chooses not to look you in the eye.

‘A 2015 study by the University of Michigan actually showed that 70% of people in 120 media clips lied while maintaining direct eye contact.

‘Instead, does their pattern of eye contact change? If they normally look away to answer but they maintain contact for a question, or if they normally maintain eye contact but then look away for a question – this is what you are looking for.

‘Spotting shifts in “normal” behaviour can be a clue.’

Facial touching

Notice someone touching their face more than usual? This could be a sign of a big fat lie.

‘People who are lying may touch their face or mouth more often than usual,’ Andy says. ‘They may hide their mouth behind their hand when replying. This is as if they are trying to hide the fact they are not telling the truth.’


Lying can cause a physical reaction in many people.

Andy explains: ‘If they start shifting uncomfortably in the seat, shuffling or swaying about or tapping feet, wringing hands or generally appear nervous, they could be withholding information or changing a story.

‘When we are lying it affects our nervous system and we can end up feeling itchy or tingly and that appears externally as fidgeting.’

Head shakes and nods

Andy urges people to keep a close eye on head movements.

‘If the other person is saying no but nodding their head or saying something positive but shaking it from side to side, those are termed as non-congruent gestures,’ he adds.

‘Normally if we say no, we shake our head, and when we say yes, we nod. If these signals are mixed up, they can give a clue that something conflicting is happening between their thoughts and their words.

‘This was something I saw happen in people many times when I started coaching.’

What they say and how they say it

Experts share some of the key signs (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Sometimes, we don’t truly listen to others. Andy says this is a common way to miss the lie.

‘People who are lying may pause before answering a question, as if they are trying to come up with a convincing lie,’ he explains.

‘Also look for holes in the story. If you ask someone questions about what they’ve said, a liar may well start to contradict themselves and forget what was said previously.

‘They might become defensive about being asked questions and manipulate the situation to put you in the situation that you caused offence. People should be able to answer such questions easily. It shouldn’t be an ordeal.’

Other signs

Senior therapist Sally Baker has done much work in the area of body language and has an exhaustive list of tell-tale signals.

‘A liar may slouch and shrink to make themselves smaller,’ she explains.’Sometimes they will almost slip into themselves, slouching and shrinking to subconsciously protect their body while they lie.

‘They may lean away from the person they are lying to or cross their legs so that their top leg blocks the person they are lying to. 

‘Also they may sit with their back half turned towards said person.’

Finally, there are emotional cues to take note of too.

Someone who is lying will do everything in their power to convince you what they are saying is the truth.

‘Liars typically want to trick the other person into thinking they’re calmer than they are, so they choreograph their movements to reflect this by trying to manifest a fake aura of calm,’ Sally says.

‘They might slow down their speech and their movements.

‘And more than anything, a liar will overshare. They’re trying to convince you of something that is not true.

‘So instead of saying less, they counterintuitively tell you more than they need to. Take note.’

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