“Reading Body Language How To Spot And Stop Lies In A Negotiation” – Negotiation Insight

“A liar’s lies only penetrate your believability to the degree that you’re unaware of the lie.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (click to Tweet)

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Reading Body Language How To Spot And Stop Lies In A Negotiation

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

Nothing can be more deceiving in a negotiation than a negotiator that lies. Well, maybe there’s one thing worse – that’s a negotiator that continually lies to gain an advantage. In either case, once you learn to spot the body language signs of a liar in your negotiation, along with how to stop him, you’ll know how to turn those lies against him.

Spotting Body Language Signs Of Lying

Nonverbal Signs Of Lies

The following are a few of the nonverbal signs to observe.

1. Breathing

Always note the breathing pattern of the person with whom you’re speaking. In a negotiation, when a negotiator becomes excited, his breathing will become altered. If he’s lying intentionally, his breathing may increase noticeably. Your task is to note the reason for its quickness.

2. Touching/Rubbing/Wiggling

Someone that’s knowingly lying may tend to touch their face, mouth (i.e., attempt to hold back their words), or other parts of their body. They may even begin to rub their hands, caress their thumb and finger, or begin to wiggle their leg or foot. It’s an effort to soothe themselves.

3. Excessive Movement

Another observation to note is the excessive movement of someone that’s lying. In part, a liar’s activities may be due to the need to reduce the tension generated in their body due to their lies. To mark this occurrence, take note of the degree they moved before the suspects of a lie was detected. Then, compare that to when you’re sure they’re lying. That difference will also give you insight as to when they began to lie and why.

Verbal Signs Of Lies

1. Excessive Speaking

Due to nervousness or the desire not to allow his negotiation counterpart to speak, a liar may talk, and talk, and talk. His actions may stem from two sources. One, he may be attempting to hold his platform to disallow rebuttals to his statements. Or two, he may speak excessively to conceal his nervousness.

To assess his actions’ intent, take note of when they began, and observe what occurs when you attempt to refute his statements. Another point to consider is, the more he talks, the more information he’ll disclose about his position. If he’s telling lies, he’ll give you more info that you can use against him.

2. Stammering

Another observation to make is the speech pattern of someone. If you suspect a liar has begun to lie and their speech pattern becomes more deliberate, or they start to stammer, your observation about their lack of truthfulness may be accurate. Stammering, when one has not done so previously, is a sure sign of one’s uncomfortableness. Your job is to question why that person feels uncomfortable.

The one thing to be mindful of is that the body always wants to stay in a state of comfort. Thus, when it’s not in that state, people will commit acts to reinstate a sense of comfort. Accordingly, verbal and nonverbal signs are what you must observe when seeking to assess someone’s truthfulness.

Stopping Lies

Before confronting a liar, first, you must assess if he is intentionally lying. A person that states what he believes to be the truth is not an intentional liar. He’s someone that has his facts misaligned with the reality of the truth. You must identify the intent one has of reciting his beliefs. You’ll address his accusations in one manner if he’s lying intentionally, then if he’s doing so unintentionally. 

Addressing Unintentional Lies

1. When someone lies unintentionally, apply points of logic. Attempt reasoning with them per the lack of sense contained in their beliefs. You can seek assistance from those that the liar admires by citing their positions and using their words against him. 

 2. Point out false equivalencies. False equivalence is the application of logic used with an inconsistent application. That means a liar may use reasoning to apply to a situation that benefits him and alter it when it doesn’t serve his position. And that’s how he’ll use false equivalencies to change his perspective about lying – equate two conditions based on flawed or faulty reasoning. To deal with him, point out his lack of consistency and gently suggest he alter his perspective.

Addressing Intentional Lies

1. Using Liars’ Words Against Him

To confront a liar directly, consider using his words to challenge him. Ask him what he thinks of their truthfulness. In essence, you want him to defend himself, from himself, for the words he’s spoken. Do that by having him support the believability and logic of his story.  

2. Truth Acceptance Paralysis

With someone that intentionally lies, he may have an internal challenge accepting the fact that he’s lying. That may create a mental paralysis in him. If that’s the case, and you’re negotiating, get him out of that state before continuing. If you allow a negotiation to continue in that environment, you’ll doom it to a disastrous outcome or burden your mental state by the challenges his lies creates.  


In every environment, be it in a negotiation or not, you must protect yourself from those that lie. By observing the body language signals mentioned and implementing the strategies outlined, you can decrease the liar’s ability to penetrate your lie-detecting capabilities. You’ll be a lie-detecting machine. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://c-suitenetwork.com/radio/shows/greg-williams-the-master-negotiator-and-body-language-expert-podcast/

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Negotiation Insight,” click here https://themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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