The Body Language of Liars: From Little White Lies to Pathological Deception - How to See through the Fibs, Frauds, and Falsehoods People Tell You Every Day

The Body Language of Liars: From Little White Lies to Pathological Deception - How to See through the Fibs, Frauds, and Falsehoods People Tell You Every Day

by Lillian Glass

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781601632807
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
Publication date: 10/21/2013
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 219,693
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Dr. Lillian Glass, a respected behavioral analyst and body language expert, has appeared on Entertainment Tonight, 20/20, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Today, Dancing With the Stars, Millionaire Matchmaker, HLN, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, and The Daily Show with John Stewart, and has lectured on body language and deception to law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. She is also a jury consultant, expert witness in behavioral analysis, and a mediator for dispute resolution. She is the author of more than a dozen books, including the best-seller, Toxic People. Dr. Glass's body language blog, services, and products can be found at

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Lying is knowingly giving false information or omitting true information. The ultimate negative outcome of lying is that people's lives can be destroyed and even lost. Countries have been invaded and wars have been started, all because of lies — sometimes even a single lie.

Almost every religious doctrine presents lying in a negative light. The Old Testament is filled with references to lying and cheating. The evils of lying to or about other people are highlighted in the Ninth Commandment: "Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor," while the Seventh Commandment states, "Thou shall not commit adultery," which tells us not to lie to or cheat on our spouse. We also read about lies pertaining to material possessions, such as money or coveted objects. Leviticus 19:11 reads, "Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely ..." The New Testament addresses lying unequivocally in Psalm 63:11, which reads, "The mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped," and in Psalm 120:2, "Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue." Similarly, Proverbs 12:22 states that "lying lips are an abomination to the Lord," and John 8:44–45 pulls no punches by telling us that "lying is the native tongue of the devil." The Talmud declares that "God accepts penitence for every sin in the world, save one, the transgression of the evil tongue." And three times a day, observant Jews conclude prayers of silent devotion with these words: "O Lord, guard my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking guile. And to those who slander me, let me give no heed."

Judeo-Christian beliefs are not the only ones that extol the virtues of truth-telling and warn against the perils of lying. Buddhists talk about the Fourth Precept, which states in part, "I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech, ... abstain from falsehood, [and] practice truthfulness." In the Dhammapada, a collection of sayings of the Buddah, one reads, "There is no evil that cannot be done by the liar, who has transgressed the one law of truthfulness and who is indifferent to the world beyond." Sacred Taoist texts highlight the importance of integrity by warning, "Do not assert with your mouth what your heart denies." Likewise, Sikh scripture in the Adi Granth states, "Dishonesty in business or the uttering of lies causes inner sorrow."

Similarly, we have the 10 Yamas (or laws) of Restraint in the Hindu faith. The second restraint is "truthfulness, to refrain from lying and betraying promises and to speak only that which is true, kind, helpful and necessary." In the Hindu scriptures, one reads, "All things are determined by speech; speech is their root, and from speech they proceed. Therefore he who is dishonest with respect to speech is dishonest in everything." Confucianism addresses lying, too, as Confucius himself said in Analect 2:22: "I do not see what use a man can be put to, whose word cannot be trusted."

Islam also prohibits lying, fraud, hypocrisy, and bearing false testimony. The Prophet Muhammad advised Muslims to be honest and truthful. Two notable verses from the Koran that discuss lying: "And cover not Truth with falsehood, nor conceal the truth when ye know [what it is]" (2:42) and "Woe to each sinful dealer in falsehood" (45:7). Thus, according the Koran, Muslims believe that "truthfulness leads to piety, and piety leads to the Paradise."

While all religions prohibit or at least warn against lying and deception, there are some instances in which lying is accepted. In Judaism and Christianity, for example, lying to someone is sometimes permitted for the sake of peace or for the sake of not offending someone. According to Jewish law, a person may lie under certain exceptional circumstances, for example: to provide feelings of comfort; when honesty might cause oneself or another person harm; for the sake of modesty, in order not to appear arrogant; for the sake of decency, such as not telling the truth about intimate matters; and to protect one's property. Indeed, in the Old Testament there are at least two instances where lying produces favorable results. In Exodus 1:15–21, the Hebrew midwives tell Pharaoh a lie, which saves the lives of many Hebrew babies. Another instance can be found in Joshua 2:5, when Rahab lies to protect the Israelite spies.

In Islam, lying may be permissible a) in battle to save one's life, b) in order to bring reconciliation among various peoples, and c) in order to bring reconciliation between a husband and his wife. The same holds true in Buddhism, but to avoid actually stating a falsehood, Buddhists encourage not answering the question, changing the subject, or lying by omission.

No matter what any religious doctrine states, there are times when humanity comes first. Thus, lying is almost always acceptable in order to save lives. During the Nazi invasion of World War II, even the most religious, including priests, nuns, and other clergy people, lied in order to protect others and save the lives of innocent people, whom they hid in their churches, convents, and homes.



As we have seen in the previous chapter, certain lies are forgivable. Others are not. In fact, there are intolerable lies and acts of betrayal that are devastating to the human spirit. When you find out that someone has lied to you, how you feel about it depends on who is doing the lying, under what circumstances they have lied, and even the age at which you heard the lie.

Lying to a child about the tooth fairy leaving money under her pillow so that she won't feel so bad losing a tooth; lying to a child that there is a Santa Claus so that he can enjoy the spirit and excitement of Christmas; or telling a child a partial truth about where babies come from, because she is too young to understand — all of these lies are part of modern American culture. It's difficult to imagine a child suffering any lasting negative effects on his/her psyche as a result of having been told any of these lies. But lying to children by omitting crucial information, such as the fact that he or she was adopted, can have grave emotional consequences. Oftentimes, the grown child is unable to forgive his/her parents for being truthful.

Sometimes what you perceive as a "little white lie," like shaving a few years off your age, may be considered a pretty big lie by someone else. To the other person, it may be just as serious as finding out you are still married and living with your husband and three kids, after you said you were single and living alone in a studio apartment. So it all depends on how the other person perceives and interprets the lie. What is not a big deal to some may be a huge deal to others. We all perceive and react to lying differently; it all depends on our definition of lying, the degree and type of lie, how we were raised, our personal philosophy, and how we prioritize what is important to us.


Each day we are bombarded with accounts of celebrities engaging in all kinds of lies, from "little white lies" to not-so-white lies. Some celebrities will swear their relationship is still going strong, even though they were just in their attorney's office earlier in the day, signing divorce papers. Other celebrities lie about the fights they get into. Some even lie about their hardcore exercise and diet routine, when they really got liposuction or gastric bypass surgery, as Star Jones, former panelist on ABC's The View, did before the truth was exposed. Some will also claim that they work out a lot to explain their rail-thin physique, only to admit later that they were in fact suffering from an eating disorder.

Others will vehemently deny that they drink or do drugs. Only later will you discover that they have been lying, when candid photos surface of them in rehab centers or, more rarely, after they finally admit they have a drug and/or alcohol problem on a talk show, promoting a book or a film. We don't mind these types of lies, because it's understandable why a celebrity would lie about his or her weight or alcohol or drug use. Most of us understand that the celebrity was likely embarrassed or not yet emotionally ready to deal with the problem or discuss it publicly at the time.

But there are lies that many of us do mind, especially the lies of betrayal and cheating on a spouse. When it came out that famed Twilight star Kristen Stewart lied to her costar and long-time love, Robert Pattinson, and cheated on him with a producer, she quickly discovered that the wrath of her once-loyal fans could be brutal. Their harshness dissipated when she seemingly reconciled with Pattinson and they were seen canoodling during the premier of their film. Country singer LeAnne Rimes has acknowledged publically that she continues to experience the same negative response from her fans for lying and cheating on her ex-husband with a married man, even though she ended up marrying her affair partner. People take these type of lies personally as they often identify with the repercussions. They may have experienced the devastatingly painful and disruptive effects these type of lies had in their own lives, when someone cheated on them or "stole" their love. When we pay money to see people on the big screen or hear their music, and they betray others over and over again with not-so-white lies, we often take it personally, as well. We may find that we suddenly disrespect them and no longer feel inclined to support them or their projects.

We have seen from various celebrity examples how constant or habitual lying can ruin a person's life. We have seen this kind of lying play out to the extreme with actress Lindsay Lohan. We have heard her mother and manager, Dina Lohan, consistently lie to press that her daughter has never had any problems and instead blame everyone for her daughter's troubles (as opposed to examining her own toxic parenting, as evidenced in her propensity to party with own daughter). We have seen how the once promising actress has repeatedly lied about many things, from being "sober," stealing a necklace, and driving a car that had been involved in an accident, to lying to police during their investigation of that accident. At one point the paparazzi snapped photos of Lindsay shopping in New York, when she was allegedly too sick to fly to Los Angeles for a court date. Her lying antics not only turned off some of her fans, who may have viewed her as a sad curiosity, but also some producers who are in a position to hire her. While some are willing to give her a second chance, her lying has had serious consequences for how she is presently perceived.


There is almost nothing worse than discovering that someone you trust and love has been lying to you. The more deeply you care about the person, the stronger and rawer your emotions. These emotions can range from shock and depression to complete catatonic numbness and even blind rage. Feeling betrayed by a close business partner, spouse, or lover with whom you once shared your innermost thoughts and feelings, and whom you trusted with your life and your heart, has all too often turned otherwise calm, cool, collected, law-abiding citizens into violent criminals and even murderers.

This is what happened to Clara Harris, a 45-year-old married dentist and mother of twin boys. She and her husband, David, an orthodontist, were upstanding members of the Houston community and enjoyed all the material comforts and privileges that wealth conferred. Clara thought that they had a loving, idyllic marriage, too — until the day she saw David cheating on her in a parking lot. This usually rational and level-headed woman, overcome with emotion, didn't think about the consequences of her actions. Unfortunately, these consequences landed her with a 20-year prison sentence for running over her husband repeatedly with her car, which killed him.

In the United States, these crimes of passion are often thought to be committed in a state of "temporary insanity," a defense first used in 1859 by Congressman Daniel Sickles of New York, who killed his wife's lover. While the rage of the betrayed spouse or lover is often deep enough to cause him/her to commit bodily harm, thankfully most people are rational enough to not take the law into their own hands, for fear of legal consequences and ruining their own lives. Instead, they choose to fight the liar/betrayer in a court of law. It is there that they can safely (and legally) exact their revenge against the person who treated them so unjustly, and whom they once trusted.

Countless people were (and still are) angry at Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff for destroying their life savings and leaving many formerly wealthy people destitute. Many said that they even had visions of killing him. Thankfully, for their sake, no one acted out their fantasies of murdering him. Many of his investors knew Madoff personally for many years, and even loved him as a member of their own family. They felt that he really cared about them. In reality, they found out that the only thing he cared about was their money and filling his own financial coffers in order to keep his Ponzi scheme alive. This made the revelation of his lying and cheating them that much more emotionally unbearable.

Just as it is devastating to find out someone cheated, lied, and misrepresented what they would do with your money, it is equally as devastating to discover that someone whom you once loved and with whom you shared a life, misrepresented himself throughout the marriage. It is crushing to finally discover that he wasn't the person you thought he was. I once knew a couple — we'll call them Tom and Shirley — who were happily married for 35 years. They lived an affluent lifestyle, traveling around the world, wearing designer clothing, regularly attending black tie charity benefits, going to the best restaurants, and giving their kids and grandkids everything they wanted. It wasn't until Tom dropped dead of a heart attack at age 60 that Shirley shockingly discovered that Tom had been living not a double life, but a triple life. He had a gay male lover as well as a 22-year-old girlfriend, who also happened to be the mother of his illegitimate 2-year-old son. Both the male lover and the girlfriend immediately surfaced to claim they were in Tom's will. But neither the lover, the girlfriend, his illegitimate son, his legitimate daughters, his four grandchildren, nor Shirley got anything from Tom's will. Tom had run up so much debt, with his lavish spending and failed businesses, including a strip club and porn site that Shirley knew nothing about, that she had to declare bankruptcy. She lost it all. She lost the house, the cars, her social standing, her "friends," and, sadly her hope and faith. The only tears she shed at Tom's funeral were those of anger and deep sadness for being lied to and betrayed all the years they had spent together.

Such betrayal doesn't only happen in the family setting. There are those people who cheat and lie as a part of their business dealings. You may not know them personally, but they can still wreak havoc on your emotions — for example, think of unscrupulous salespeople who sell you an inferior product, or those who promise you a service that you never receive. There are even charity crooks whose only "charity" is their own bank account. There are countless scammers and swindlers out there who are out to get whatever they can from their unsuspecting victims. And then there are those whom you will never know, who steal your identity and claim that they are you. They end up eviscerating you financially and emotionally, while you are left to clean up the damage they caused to your good reputation, your credit, and what is rightfully yours.


I know from first-hand experience just how emotionally devastating it can be when a liar takes what is yours and claims it as their own. While searching on, I discovered that a motivational speaker from Phoenix, Arizona, had appropriated the same title as the best-selling book I wrote 13 years earlier, Toxic People. Upon further digging, I discovered that this same woman had copied, word for word, content from another one of my books, He Says She Says. She took lists from that book and put them in her own version of Toxic People, thus violating my copyright.

Sitting across from this woman while my intellectual property attorney took her deposition, I was stunned at the blatant lies contained in her testimony. She insisted that she did not copy from my book, He Says She Says, when in fact the material and phrasing were identical. As I observed her facial expressions and body language, and listened to her tone of voice and the content of what she said, I divined multiple possible signals of deception — from her defensive tone, the throaty, guttural creaking sound of her voice, and the fact that her sentences trailed off, to the fact that she shuffled her feet and looked away as she answered probing questions (for example, where she got the material).


Excerpted from "The Body Language of Liars"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Lillian Glass.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 11

Part I Encountering the Liar: Who Lies, and Why?

Chapter 1 What Is a Lie? 19

Chapter 2 The Price of a Lie 23

Chapter 3 The Evolution of a Liar: Why Animals (Yes, Animals!), Children, and Young People Lie 33

Chapter 4 The Seven Reasons Adults Lie 45

Chapter 5 Cyber Liars 57

Part II Human Lie Detection

Chapter 6 Instincts and Context 73

Chapter 7 The Body Language of a Liar 77

Chapter 8 The Facial Language of a Liar 121

Chapter 9 The Voice of a Liar: Pitch, Volume, Tone, and Pacing 155

Chapter 10 Speech Content: It's Not Just Words 169

Chapter 11 Your Lying Eyes: Lovers Who Cheat and Deceive 183

Chapter 12 A Profile of the Most Toxic Liar of All-The Psychopath/Sociopath 197

Conclusion: The Catharsis of Discovery 205

Index 209

About the Author 219

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