Telling someone you know they’re lying is never easy, and they’re very likely to deny it!
But sometimes you just can’t ignore it.
If you know someone is lying, it can be better for your relationship – certainly going forward – if you tell them.
Here are some examples and tips on how to tell someone you know they are lying:
How to Tell Someone You Know They Are Lying – 10 Ways to Approach It!
1. Call Them Out to Their Face
If you don’t mind being confrontational, one of the best ways to tell someone they’re lying and get the truth out of them is to call them out to their face.
Be assertive and say something like, “I know you’re not telling the truth about [thing]. What’s really going on?”
This approach can be effective because it puts the person on the spot and makes them feel uncomfortable and doesn’t give them time to think about how to respond.
But it may also make them defensive and angry, so be prepared for a showdown!
2. Make a Joke About how It Can’t Be True
If you want to take a more light-hearted approach, you can make a joke about how what they said is impossible and see if they’ll come clean.
For example, if your friend says they got a new car when you know they can’t afford one (or can’t even drive!), you could say something like, “No way! How can someone as broke as you afford that?”
Or if someone says they go to the gym all the time when you know they don’t even have a membership, you could say, “You must have been lifting some serious weights! I bet you can press at least 100 lbs by now?”
This approach can work because it’ll make the person feel like they’re being made fun of and they might want to come clean.
3. Tell Them You Don’t Like Being Lied To
This is one way that will make some people feel outed along with feeling bad and they’ll just come clean.
Others will hold strong, of course, and never come clean. But it’s a good way to pull on some of those heartstrings and try to make them level with you.
You can say something like, “I really don’t like being lied to and I know you’re not telling me the truth. Can you please just tell me what’s going on?”
This might work because you’re making it very clear that you don’t appreciate being lied to and that they need to come clean if they value your friendship.
4. Play It Down and Ask Them to Stop ‘Exaggerating’
The word ‘exaggerating’ is often used to play down lying, and it’s one way you can let someone know that you know they’re lying without being too confrontational.
For example, if your friend says they landed a new job with a huge salary that just can’t be possible, you could say something like, “You’re exaggerating, right? You know it’s possible to get that much for that role?”
This approach can work because it’s not as confrontational as some of the other approaches, but it still lets the person know that you don’t believe them.
5. Pick Holes in Their Story and Put Them on The Spot
If you want to take a more direct approach, you can try picking holes in their story and putting them on the spot.
For example, if someone says they went to the movies but you know they didn’t because someone you know was with them, you could say something like, “What movie did you see? I know Sarah was with you, so it must have been good!”
This might make the person feel like they’re being interrogated so they’ll likely either come clean or make up a new story on the spot.
6. Tell Them You’re an Expert in Spotting Liars
If you want to take a more confident approach, you can let them know that you’re an expert in spotting liars and that they’re definitely not fooling you.
You could say something like, “I know when people are lying and I can tell you’re not telling the truth.”
This approach can work because it’ll make the person feel like they’re not fooling you and it’s also a way of saying that they shouldn’t bother lying in the future.
7. Tell Them You Know They’re Lying, But It’s Ok
This is another way of telling someone you know they’re lying without offending them, hopefully.
You can say something like, “I know you’re not telling the truth, but it’s okay. I understand why you might feel like you have to lie.”
This approach can work because it shows that you understand why they might feel like they have to lie, but it also shows that you don’t approve of it.
8. Find a Quiet Moment to Tell Them You Don’t Appreciate Being Lied To
This is a more serious approach and it’s probably best used if you’ve already tried some of the other approaches and they haven’t worked.
You can say something like, “Can we talk? I need to explain to you how I feel about being lied to.”
This also avoids adding extra embarrassment if other people are around.
You’d hope that this would be enough to make them not lie to you in the future, but only time will tell!
9. Ask Them if They’re Joking Because You Know It’s Not True
This is another way of calling someone out on their lie without being too confrontational.
You can say something like, “Are you joking? I know that’s not true.”
This might make the person feel like they’re being called out, but it’s a less confrontational way of doing it.
You could also add a laugh at the end to show that you’re not really angry with them.
10. Write Them an Email or Text Message to Avoid the Confrontation
If you’re not ready to confront the person face-to-face, you could write them an email or text message instead.
This can be a good way to get your feelings off your chest without having to worry about having them get defensive or angry.
You could say something like, “I’m sorry, but I can’t trust you if you’re going to lie to me.”
This way, they have time to think about what you’ve said and you don’t have to worry about them getting defensive or making up another lie on the spot because they feel cornered and embarrassed.
What if They Don’t Admit They’re Lying?
If the person doesn’t admit they’re lying, then there’s not much you can do except confront them with the evidence or move on.
If you have concrete evidence that they’re lying, then you can show them the evidence and see if they admit it.
If they don’t, then you’ll have to decide whether or not you want to continue trusting – or even interacting with – them or if you think it’s time to move on.
Only you can decide what’s best for you in this situation.
It’s super frustrating when someone feels the need to tell lies and there can be a number of reasons for it.
It’s rarely something you can fix though.
So, outside of calling them out and letting them know you’re on to them, there isn’t much you can do to stop them from lying if they’re not ready.
Should You Stay Friends with Someone Who Lies to You?
This isn’t something I can answer for you and I’d feel bad telling you who you should or shouldn’t be friends with.
But what I can tell you is that being friends with someone who lies a lot is no easy task.
It takes a lot of patience, energy, and effort to deal with someone who isn’t honest.
I know it’s not always easy to just walk away from a friend, but sometimes it might be the best thing for you to do.
At the very least, you should consider distancing yourself from them or not engaging in so many conversations if they’re frequently lying.
Image credits – Photo by Surface on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.