Monday, July 18, 2011

Are you telling the TRUTH?

I am fascinated by the TV show “Lie to me” because I like the thought that you can read a person’s mind based on their facial expressions and on their body language. There are actual “Deception Detection” experts that work for the police and banks and even looking at the honesty of new CEO’s. These experts are usually former trained CIA officers using their skills in the public sector.

One of these experts share some of the tricks of the trade:

1. Fidgeting. Aside from true sociopaths, people aren’t natural liars and saying one thing while thinking something else can actually cause physical discomfort. Something we know as “squirming.”

2. Weasel Words. “expected to” or “probably” or “basically” or “should be” are WEASEL words. These kind of qualifiers crop up when someone is trying to obscure doubts or worries. Or hedge their lie with a smidgeon of deny-ability.

3. Detour Phrases. Think “as I said before …” Liars try to circumvent a direct answer by referencing past answers to different questions. The hope is to fold a potential second lie onto the previous one to stay consistent when really they have not answered the question.

4. Complaints. Grips like “How long am I going to be here?” are often used to derail a particular line of questioning.

5. Selective Memory. Phrases like “to the best of my knowledge” or “from what I remember” are evasive maneuvers designed to get away from telling the truth or having a bald-faced lie.

6. Ask for details. They are harder to lie consistently about and make up on the spot.

One of the most important things you must do to “catch” a liar is to establish a “baseline” of normal expressions and motions. In other words, you have to get to know the person in various situations and emotional states. That is why it is much easier to tell lies from people you know than from those you don’t. You know when a loved one is lying because you know what they are like when they are not.

I believe we pick up these indications all the time. We call them gut feelings or intuition or whatever but most of the time we don’t trust them. It is VERY difficult to say to a loved one “You’re lying” when BOTH of you know they are. It is easier to say to a friend “That’s BS” in a joking and non-threatening way. But most of us pass it off as a simple misunderstanding or smile and nod, allowing the liar to keep on lying even though we know it’s not true.

Lying doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We create the environment for lying. When we are silent we build up the walls for that environment by encouraging the liar to keep on lying. That is why your insurance premium is so high. I caused an accident a few years ago and admitted it. The policeman was so shocked that he asked me 3 times to repeat it and then asked me to write it down. Friends told me that I was stupid to admit it and left myself liable to lawsuits. I may have spit into the wind but I also took down one little brick in our lying environment.

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