Deception Tip 76 - How To Detect Deception - A Guide To Deception - Author Spencer Coffman

Deception Tip 76:

When telling a lie, the liar may cover his or her mouth, usually with a hand or fingers, as if to unconsciously prevent the lie.


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Podcast Transcript

Hello and welcome to the Deception Tips podcast where you will learn amazing cues to detect deceit that will help you read people like never before. I’m your host Spencer Coffman, let’s get started.

Hello and welcome to Deception Tip episode number 76. Thanks again for your continued listening to this podcast, I really hope you’re enjoying it and you’re getting something from it. 

I encourage you to review the Deception Tips eBook, The Deception Tips Revised and Expanded Edition for more details. Also, check out the Guide to Deception book and the Deception Tips videos as well as the Deception Tips website.

So, those are some great resources, many of them are free for you to use. You can learn even more about reading people, understanding body language, and detecting deception so that you will never be taken advantage of by lies again, that sounds pretty cool.

Last week, we talked about an episode that was a behavior of confidence, borderline arrogance. Sometimes it is something that can lead to contempt because oftentimes, you’ll see it when people are in a meeting or a situation where someone is talking and that person who’s talking is usually an authority figure. Somebody in charge, somebody who is presenting, or someone who is in the room, and you’re supposed to give them your respect.

When you see this behavior, you’re going to see it by someone who thinks that that person isn’t deserving of their respect. So, they’re going to start doing the steepling of fingers, which means they are going to take their hands and put them in a position that looks like they are praying. It’s the praying hands but they’ll separate the hands and have the fingertips touching like they’re packing a snowball together.

They may just sit there with their fingers like that, they may tap their fingers a little bit but they’re steeple. It’s exactly like a church steeple, that’s why this is called steepling because it’s pointed. Remember that childhood rhyme and here’s the church and all the people and they put their fingers inside and look at the church and there are all the people, it’s the church steeple.

So, they’re steepling their fingers and it means that they are confident and that they could be arrogant or even a little bit contemptuous if you see that. It can also mean a positive thing, it means that a person knows what’s going on and they have a mind for leadership and for being in charge. So, if you see it, you need to determine whether it is a positive trait or a negative trait in that person.

If it’s positive, start grooming that person to be a leader because they are definitely going to lead. Whether they’re going to lead well or lead terribly depends on the type of training they receive and what’s in their heart and that’s what you can do, you could guide them along. On the other hand, it could be negative, it could be contemptuous and arrogant, and nasty.

If you see that and it’s in a person who is feeling that way and you start to see signs of contempt or things that show you that they aren’t giving anyone their respect then you need to have a conversation with that person. 

If that person is lower than you, let’s just say they’re not your boss or they’re not in charge of you then you might need to let that person go. They have a bad attitude that isn’t going to help the work environment, the situation or whatever type of environment it is.

If it’s a board meeting, a community meeting, some kind of town association, whatever the case may be. However, if you see this in your boss where they have this behavior, that’s perfectly normal because the boss or anyone in charge is a little bit more self-confident and they have a right to be. They know what’s going on, they are in charge, and this is an in-charge behavior.

So, if you see this in someone who’s not in charge, you need to determine why because it could either be a problem or it could be someone that you need to start putting in charge because they have a great tendency to be a leader. Today, we’re talking about another tip, we’ve had something similar to this before, it is a gesture that people do unconsciously, exactly like all of these gestures.

Remember the conscious and the unconscious are always fighting and battling, the unconscious wants the truth, and the conscious wants to get away with the lie. So, this gesture is an unconscious gesture that will happen when they really don’t want to tell the lie.

It’s something that the unconscious will do to try to prevent that lie from coming out. However, the lie will still come out but this is something that you’ll see, it’s a subtle behavior that you probably have seen many times before but haven’t noticed or it hasn’t stood out to you, now it will.

So, here we go, this is Deception Tip episode number 76. When telling a lie, the liar may cover his or her mouth usually with a hand or fingers as if to unconsciously prevent the lie. Here it is again, Deception Tip number 76. When telling a lie, the liar may cover his or her mouth usually with a hand or fingers as if to unconsciously prevent the lie.

The keyword here is unconsciously and they’re using a hand or finger to cover the mouth. Unconsciously, it means that they are not consciously covering their mouth, it’s not like they’re yawning and they cover their mouth or they’re coughing and they cover their cough just to do what society has said. They’re not covering their mouth for a valid reason.

It’s not like they have something in their teeth and they’re self-consciously covering their mouth. This is unconscious, so they’re doing something, they’re unconsciously covering their mouth while they’re talking or after they talk, or before they talk. They, unconsciously, are trying to hide or stifle that lie, they’re preventing that lie from coming out.

If you remember, we’ve talked about this before, it was a long time ago, it was in episode 45 where we talked about how sometimes liars may silently shush themselves by putting their fingers over their lips. Remember the shushing behavior, you see it in cartoons a lot, you see it with parents and their children where they put that finger over their lips and they tell them to shhh, it’s the shushing behavior.

You will see this in liars when they are thinking about telling their lie. Typically, you’ll see their fingers make that position of a handgun where half the fingers are folded, the thumb and the index fingers are out. 

They have them placed over their lips with their chin resting in the nook or the crook of the hands, that fleshy part of the hand. They may be contemplating something but really, they’re shushing themselves.

So, you might see this behavior that we’re talking about today, covering the mouth, in a similar manner or a similar fashion where someone may be contemplating something, but they have their hand clasped around their mouth. 

I know I’ve mentioned this a few times before in other deception tips, so keep that in mind as well. Whenever you see the hand clasped around the mouth, this means that something is going on.

You could see this in astonishment, but typically it means that you’re trying to keep quiet. In cartoons and movies, someone is about to say something and someone clasps their hand around their mouth to keep him quiet, that’s exactly what this is. We’re going to talk a lot more about it coming up right after this.

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Welcome back to Deception Tip episode number 76 where we are talking about covering the mouth. How liars, when they are telling a lie or probably before they are about to tell a lie, may cover their mouth to unconsciously prevent that lie from coming out, from being told. Why are they doing this? Remember there is a huge battle going on between the conscious and the unconscious.

The conscious wants to get away with whatever it can, it wants to cover up the lie, it is out there, like Freud said, to seek pleasure and avoid pain. The unconscious is very truthful, it wants the truth to come out and it will do whatever it takes to leak unconscious gestures, body language behaviors, verbal slips, and ques, signs of deception will all be leaked out in an effort to show the truth.

These are unconscious, so if you take the time and the effort to watch these signs and to learn them then you will start to make them a part of your conscious mind and then you’ll start to see them. So, you’ll be picking up on these, you’re making them conscious so you can read and understand and detect deception and spot lies.

So, this covering the mouth can happen before someone tells a lie. They may be contemplating it, they’re going to have their hand clasped over their mouth, you may see different varieties of this. Remember I talked about how they can shush the lips, or you may even see a couple of fingers over their mouth or you might see them sitting with their fist clenched over their mouth.

It is important to note that you may see a lot of behaviors with people that have those so-called thinking behaviors, where they put their hand on their chin or their fist on their chin or their chin over their fist. This isn’t what we’re talking about, we’re talking about them physically covering their mouth. It isn’t simply on the cheek or the chin or around the mouth, they have their hand or part of their hand, their fingers, their fist, their knuckles.

If it’s over their mouth, meaning over their lips, this is a hushing behavior, it is something that is being done to prevent whatever is being said. There’s another behavior that’s similar to this, it’s holding the fingers in a stop sign, and its means “stop”, they don’t want to talk about whatever it is, they’re unconsciously stopping whatever is happening.

I know I might have mentioned this before in a different podcast, if not, I’ll probably be talking about it in the future, but it’s one of those side behaviors that we hinted at. This is something that people will do when they don’t want to tell the lie. 

It could be consciously, they don’t want to tell the lie as in they’re afraid, they’re consciously scared or it is the unconscious, nonverbal, hidden stuff that is being portrayed that you’re going to pick up on.

So, keep that in mind, watch out for any time someone has their hand over their mouth. Think about it, think about yourself, remember self-awareness helps you become more aware of others. 

So, when you put your hand over your mouth, why are you doing it? Are you wiping your mouth? Are you massaging your cheeks or your jaw? Are you trying to feel something?

Are you yawning? Are you covering your mouth? What’s going on? What’s going on in your mind that’s making you cover your mouth? When you see it in other people, think about what went on in your mind and transfer that over to them. 

Say, well, let’s see, when I did it, it was XYZ, so that could be something that they are thinking. Don’t automatically assume that that is the case though.

That is one of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming that everybody is exactly like you because they’re not, everybody is different. Fundamentally, yes, we’re all humans, these behaviors are all universal, they’re going to be displayed on everyone, it is a human trait, it’s a characteristic that is instilled in us, they are universal.

So, when you see it, you need to determine whether it is one of those universal signs or whether it is being done consciously for another reason such as a yawn, a cough or that think they’re about to sneeze so they’re covering their mouth, any one of those behaviors.

That’s why you need to think about why it’s happening on you because you know whether or not you’re lying in a certain situation. Most of the time you’re going to know and then you can determine whether it was just something that happened or whether it happened when you were about to tell a lie, or about to be dishonest, so think about that.

In addition, watch for the patterns and the clusters of behavior, you’ve now learned 75 others, so this is 76 and you’ve learned a few other bonus ones within that. 

So, you know quite a few signs of deception, watch for these other signs of body language and signs of deception to appear with that covering of the mouth gesture. See if it is something that is beginning to form a pattern or a cluster of behaviors that you can learn to spot.

You’ll know whether or not that person is really lying or whether that was simply covering the mouth for whatever other reason, so that is very important. You need to determine the source of all of these behaviors, and why they are happening before you can jump to any conclusion that a person is lying or not because if you mess that up, that could be very bad.

Keep in mind, that you’re going to mess it up a couple of times, hopefully, though, you haven’t made any statements about it. You’ve only messed it up in your mind, internally, and kept silent and then found out later yourself so that you can correct it.

I want to thank you for listening to the Deception Tips podcast. I hope that you’ll share it with your friends, subscribe to the feed, check out the Deception Tips videos, the blog, and take a look at the books I have available and as always, tune in next week for a new deception tip.

Video Transcript

Hey guys, my name is Spencer Coffman, thank you for watching the deception tips videos. They’re all about teaching you how to read people and detect deception so that you will be able to tell if someone is lying to you. Today, we are going to talk about a deception tip that a liar may display when they feel like they’ve either said too much or maybe before they’re about to lie. 

It’s an unconscious gesture, remember the conscious and the unconscious are always battling. The unconscious is trying to push that truth out there, the conscious is trying to get the lie and is self-serving. When this is happening, the unconscious might be trying to silence the conscious from saying that lie, or it could be the unconscious telling the conscious, “Hey, you’ve said too much, be quiet, it’s time for some self-preservation here.”

So, this is a gesture that is something we’ve talked about, we’ve mentioned it before, but we’re going to talk a little bit more about it today. So, here it is, this is Deception Tip number 76. When telling a lie, the liar may cover his or her mouth, usually with a hand or fingers as if to unconsciously prevent the lie. Again, we’ve talked about this one time before and it was in episode number 45 which was Hushing Lips. 

When we spoke about this, it was how a liar may have a finger or fingers over their lips when they’re in a contemplative or thinking position, what are they doing? Well, when you tell someone shhh, if a liar is unconsciously sitting like that, they’re thinking, because that’s a thinking position, but they’ve got their fingers over their lips, they’re hushing themselves, what are they trying to silence? 

So, that’s what we’re talking about more today with Covering the Mouth. If a liar is consciously or unconsciously covering their mouth, it could be subtle, or it could be overt as in maybe in shock or gasping or right away. If someone is saying something, you see this sometimes in movies or even in real life, if they say something and then all of a sudden, they go like that, like, “Oh, I shouldn’t have told you that.” 

It’s like they’re shocked that they said it and they clap their hand on their mouth right away to prevent that or to show that they didn’t mean to say that. Other times it could be subtle, maybe they’re talking to you like this and it’s muffled, they’re covering their mouth, why? Well, because they’re trying to stop something unconsciously, this lie from coming out. 

The conscious is trying to tell that lie and the unconscious is trying to cover it up. Maybe it’s a piece of paper or a folder or a notebook. Keep in mind, if you watch football and the coaches often have their play card in front of their mouth or baseball players, they put their glove over their mouth when they’re talking, that’s not related to this. That’s something different, they’re doing that so that people with their binoculars can’t read their lips and know what play is coming next or what they’re talking about. 

So, there are a couple of different scenarios that people will cover their mouths and covering their mouths for lip readers or for strategy is one case that you need to keep in mind. In terms of everyday conversation, that shouldn’t really be a problem because you’re going to hear what they’re saying anyway.

So, you need to watch for that, if someone is clasping a hand over their mouth, or if they have something in front of them. Maybe it’s even a barrier, rather than a hand or a paper or something, it could be something like a computer monitor that is in front of them.
They’ve situated themselves behind that so that you can’t see them and there’s, unconsciously, something being blocked there. 

So, keep that in mind, anytime someone is trying to cover up their mouth that they may be trying to hide or prevent some type of lie. There could be some deception going on there and you need to look for other patterns and clusters of behavior to determine whether or not there is indeed a lie happening there.

So, if this is your first time watching these videos, I’d love to have you subscribe to the channel on YouTube. Feel free to comment with any questions you may have as well. Also, if you’d like some more information, we have bookspodcastsblog posts all available on that are dedicated to teaching you exactly what every body is really saying.

Until next time.

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