How to Get the Truth Out of a Liar

Being lied to can be a really devastating and confusing experience. Whether it’s your spouse, your friend, or a coworker, you likely want to get the truth out in the open somehow. This article is here to help give you the tools to do just that, no matter how difficult the conversation may be.


Method 1 of 8: Wait to bring up the subject until you are alone.

How to Get the Truth Out of a Liar

It’s unlikely the person will confess in front of a bunch of other people. If you think someone may be lying to you, arrange a one-on-one meeting with them or broach the subject in private. This gives the person a comfortable space to tell the truth, as they may feel less judged or put on the spot.

Method 2 of 8: Speak to them in a gentle tone of voice.

How to Get the Truth Out of a Liar

This can make the person more comfortable telling the truth. Slow down your speech and say your words in a calm manner. Avoid yelling or using an aggressive tone of voice. That may cause them to get defensive and less likely to tell the truth.

  • Adopting a more even keel tone can make the person think that you’re more interested in understanding their behavior than accusing them of doing something wrong.

Method 3 of 8: Ask them about what happened in different ways.

How to Get the Truth Out of a Liar

If they keep giving you the same canned response, they may be lying. If you’re still not sure if they’re lying but feel like something is up, try repeating your question in varying ways. It’s likely that the person is lying if they don’t change the wording of their response. Repeating the question may also cause them to get uncomfortable and potentially confess.

  • Let’s say an employee took money out of the donation jar at an event. Ask them, “How come there were $20 dollars missing from the jar?”
  • Next, ask, “What happened to the $20 dollars?” Then, “If all the donations were recorded accurately, why is there a missing $20 dollars?”
  • If their answer doesn’t change, especially their exact word choice, that’s a sign that they’re giving a premeditated response and are not being genuine.
  • Don’t take this as a definite sign that they’re lying, though. It’s also possible that they’re just really nervous and don’t know what to say.

Method 4 of 8: Downplay the lie that they’re telling.

Make them think what they did isn’t such a big deal. Use statements that minimize the severity of their lie as well as the consequences that they will face if they tell the truth. People who lie often fear the repercussions of their actions, which makes them less likely to fess up.

  • Try something like, “I won’t be angry. I just want us both to be on the same page” or “I don’t want to make this a bigger deal than it is. I just want to understand what happened.”

Method 5 of 8: Empathize with them.

Show that you understand their point of view. Use empathetic language like “I understand” and “I completely get it.” Make an effort to show that you understand their motivations, too. Even if you don’t support their behavior, validating their perspective can help level the playing field so that the liar feels more comfortable admitting what happened.

  • Maybe your partner lied to you about where they were for the evening. Say, “I know you’re not telling me, but I understand why you did this. It’s been stressful at home. It makes sense that you’d want to be by yourself for a while.”
  • Empathizing with their behavior doesn’t mean you have to support what they did. Use it as a tool to get the truth out in the open and diffuse the conflict, then discuss the ramifications of their actions.

Method 6 of 8: Remain silent.

This can really make a liar uncomfortable. Their discomfort may prompt them to tell the truth. After you’ve asked them a question, pause and look them in the eye. Suppress the need to fill up the silence and wait for them to respond instead. This may put pressure on the person who’s lying to confess what happened.

Method 7 of 8: Share what you think happened.

How to Get the Truth Out of a Liar

List out all of the facts and be thorough. This encourages the person who’s lying to disagree with your reading of the events. It may even prompt them to confess to get the story straight. To really encourage them to tell the truth, exaggerate what they did so that the person feels like they have to reveal what actually happened.

  • Maybe you can’t find your favorite dress and you know that your sister took it. Say something like, “When I left for the weekend, I hung up all my clean clothes. I came back to find the dress, my tights, and my favorite necklace missing!”
  • This may prompt your sister to confess with something like, “I only took the dress!”

Method 8 of 8: Avoid accusing them directly.

How to Get the Truth Out of a Liar

Feeling judged can make the person more reluctant to tell the truth. Though it may be tempting to just say that they’re lying (especially if you know it’s true), hold off on any direct accusations. Putting a liar on the spot may cause them to place the blame on you, lash out, and get defensive.

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