Become A Better Liar By Creating A Fake Tell

Become A Better Liar By Creating A Fake Tell

Getting rid of your tells is hard to do, assuming you even know what they are. If you want to be a better liar, however, you can create a fake tell so others can’t figure out when you’re actually lying.

Photo by Alejandro Mallea.

A tell is a quirk most of us have that shows itself when we’re trying to lie to someone. It could be as subtle as an eye twitch, or as obvious as popping your knuckles. And once someone knows what your tell is, they can pretty much catch you anytime you try to lie to their face. One of our own commenters, zanmania, found a clever way around this, though:

Honesty was big in my house, and there was a lot of pressure to be 100% transparent, but I learned if I was caught in a lie right away, my parents wouldn’t get pissed, they’d just make fun of me for thinking I could get away with it. So I used to tell small white lies for no reason other than to get caught. Stupid inconsequential things, like saying I’d already taken the trash out. Then I’d stare for a second and crack a smile and they’d call me out and make fun of me. Over time, they learned how to “catch me in a lie” because I was so bad at it. So now if I want to get away with lying to them, all I have to do to get away with it is not smile.

The more inconsequential lies you can make to someone with your fake tell, the more you can prime them for a real lie. Be careful, though. You don’t want to do this too often because they will start to assume you’re always lying, and that’s counterproductive. Also, before you go making any real lies, make sure it’s worth it and that you’re ready to face the consequences if you get caught.

Lifehacker’s Evil Week highlights the dark side of life hacking. How you use that knowledge is up to you.


  • If you’re a parent, do the opposite. Don’t let your kids know exactly when you know something is a lie. Also, only call out the important ones.

    • I think most parents learn this one quickly, as it gives you a good barometer on how honest your children are being with you.
      Then, as you say, call them out on the important porkies.

    • I broke my arm climbing on a chair in my room when I was about 8 or 9, and I had been told repeatedly not to get on the chair. I lied and said I was dancing around my room, tripped and busted my arm. My Mum was so caring and looked after me (didn’t mention the chair strewn on the floor…)

      Cue about 2 years later when the guilt finally got to me and I tearfully confessed I’d lied – and then she said “oh, we knew, we were just wondering how long it would take you to tell us.” I reckon they have a chart somewhere with the record of how long my brother and I lasted with our fibs.

  • I used to use the opposite method.

    I would always tell my mother the truth, especially when it was a little unsavoury. Then, when I really wanted to hide something, I just didn’t have to say anything.

    • This, if you’re honest to the point it’s brutal and uncomfortable sometimes people will always assume you’re telling the truth.

      Also once had a friend point out when I’m caught out on a lie I try laughing it off and when accused of lying when truthful I get verbally aggressive. I’ve used that information more than once to trick people in the past. These days I’m just brutally honest, missus loves and hates it but appreciates it.

  • The fake tell only has value, if the person you are trying to deceive doesn’t already know the answer, much like lying for other reasons.
    Otherwise, you’re simply telegraphing that you are overtly trying to double deceive them, and as a result your trustworthiness shrinks to zero.
    If you’re not skilful enough to lie convincingly, then don’t bother with trying to hide your tells with fake ones.
    Most people will not bother trying to sort out fake tells from real, and will simply assume you’re incapable of telling the truth.

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