Catching a liar in person usually means looking for a variety of nonverbal cues, but that's not as easy when it's written in a text message or email. For that, The Wall Street Journal suggests looking for subtle changes in how someone words things.
Detecting a lie over text is tough, but you can watch out for a variety of red flags. Here are just a few of them:
- Watch for when a writer omits personal pronouns from a story
- Look for noncommittal expressions (probably, pretty sure, must have)
- Changes in tense can signal a lie in an otherwise true story
- Uncharacteristic speech can indicate a lie
- Abrupt changes of topics are often used to move the topic away from a lie
- Look for too much insignificant detail
- Qualifier statements like "to be honest" and "as far as I remember" can signal a lie
It's not nearly as easy as spotting a lie in person, but it can be done. None of the above red flags guarantee a lie -- context matters. Still, they're often good indicators.
How to Tell If Someone Is Lying to You in an Email [The Wall Street Journal]