Instant Fact: How To Get The Truth Out of Anyone! Essays and Papers

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Instant Fact: How To Get The Truth Out of Anyone!

Instant Fact: How To Get The Truth Out of Anyone!
Compiled By: John J. Webster
Never Be Lied To Again
By David J. Lieberman, Ph.D.
St. Martin's Press, New York 1998
DD: 158.2
ISBN: 0-312-18634-7
Intro duction:
In an ideal society there would be no need for lies. But we live in a world of deception. And whether you want to
play or not, you're in the game. The question is, do you want to win?
I. Signs of Deception
Once you realize that you're being lied to, should you confront the liar immediately? Usually not. The best
approach is to note the fact in your mind and continue with the conversation, trying to extract more information.
Once you confront someone who has lied to you, the tone of the conversation changes and gathering additional facts
becomes difficult. Therefore, wait until you have all the evidence you want and then decide whether to confront the
person at that time or hold off to figure how you can best use this insight to your advantage.
Section 1: Body Language
• The person will make little or no eye contact. A person who is lying to you will do
everything to avoid making eye contact.
• Physical expression will be limited, with few arm and hand movements. What arm and hand
movements are present will seem stiff, and mechanical. Hands, arm and legs pull in toward
the body; the individual takes up less space.
• His hand(s) may go up to his face or throat, especially to the mouth. But contact with his
body is limited to these areas. He is also unlikely to touch his chest with an open hand
gesture. He may also touch the nose or scratch behind the ear.
• If he is trying to appear casual and relaxed about his answer, he may shrug a little.
Section 2: Emotional States: Consistency and Contradiction
• The timing is off between gestures and words. If the facial expression comes after the verbal
statement ("I am so angry with you right now" … pause … and then the angry expression), it
looks false.
• The head moves in a mechanical fashion without regard to emphasis, indicating a conscious
• Gestures don't match the verbal message, such as frowning when saying "I love you." Hands
tightly clenched and a statement of pleasure are not in sync with each other.
• The timing and duration of emotional gestures will seem off. The emotion is delayed coming
on, stays longer than it should, and fades out abruptly.
• Expression will be limited to the mouth area when the person is feigning certain emotions -
happiness, surprise, awe, and so on - rather than the whole face.
Section 3: Interpersonal Interactions - When we are wrongfully accused, only a guilty person gets
defensive. Someone who is innocent will usually go on the offensive.
• He is reluctant to face his accuser and may turn his head or shift his body away.
• The person who is lying will probably slouch; he is unlikely to stand tall with his arms out or
There's movement away from his accuser, possibly in the direction of the exit.
• There will be little or no physical contact during his attempt to convince you.
• He will not point his finger at the person he is trying to convince.
• He may place physical objects (pillow, drinking glass, et cetera) between himself and his
accuser to form a barrier, with a verbal equivalent of "I don't want to talk about it," indicating
deceptio n or covert intention.
Section 4: What Is Said: Actual Verbal Content
• He will use your words to make his point. When asked, "Did you cheat on me?" The liar
answers, "No, I didn't cheat on you." In addition, when a suspect uses a contraction - "It
wasn't me" instead of "It was not me" - statistically, there is a 60% chance he is truthful.
• He may stonewall, giving an impression that his mind is made up. This is often an attempt to
limit your challenges to his position. If someone says right up front that he positively won't
budge, it means one thing: He knows he can be swayed. He needs to tell you this so you
won't ask, because he knows he'll cave in. The confident person will use phrases like "I'm
sorry, this is pretty much the best we can do."
• Watch out for the good old Freudian slip.
• He depersonalizes his answer by offering his belief on the subject instead of answering
directly. A liar offers abstract assurances as evidence of his innocence in a specific instance.
Example: "Did you ever cheat on me?" and you hear, "You know I'm against that sort of
thing. I think it morally reprehensible."
• He will keep adding more information until he's sure that he has sold you on his story. The
guilty are uncomfortable with silence. He speaks to fill the gap left by the silence.
• He may imply an answer but never state it directly.
Section 5: How Something Is Said
• Deceitful response to questions regarding beliefs and attitudes take longer to think up.
However, how fast does the rest of the sentence follow the initial one-word response? In
truthful statements a fast no or yes is followed quickly by an explanation. If the person is
being deceitful the rest of the sentence may come more slowly because he needs time to think
up an explanation.
• Watch out for reactions that are all out of proportion to the question. May repeat points that
he has already made. May also be reluctant to use words that convey attachment and
ownership or possessiveness ("that car" as opposed to "my car").
• The person who is lying may leave out pronouns and speak in a monotonous and inexpressive
voice. When a person is making a truthful statement, he emphasizes the pronoun as much as
or more than the rest of the sentence.
• Words may be garbled and spoken softly, and syntax and grammar may be off. In other
words, his sentences will likely be muddled rather than emphasized.
• Statements sound an awful lot like questions, indicating that he's seeking reassurance. Voice,
head and eyes lift at the end of their statement.
Section 6: Psychological Profile
• We often see the world as a reflection of ourselves. If you're being accused of something,
check your accuser's veracity. Watch out for those people who are always telling you just
how corrupt the rest of the world is. Beware of those asking you if you believe him. They
may respond with, "you don't believe me, do you?" Most people who tell the truth expect to
be believed.
• Look at whether his focus is internal or external. When a person is confident about what he's
saying, he's more interested in your understanding him and less interested in how he appears
to you.
• In a liar's story, he will usually not give the point of view of a third party. To illustrate giving
a point of view of someone else, "My roommate was so shocked that I would…"
• In relating a story, a liar often leaves out the negative aspects (unless the story is used to
explain way he was delayed or had to cancel plans). The story of a vacation, for example,
should have both positive and negative aspects of what happened.
• A liar willingly answers your questions but asks none of his own. For example, during their
first intimate encounter, Randy asks his new girlfriend if she's ever been tested for AIDS.
She responds with "Oh, yes, certainly," and continues on a bit about annual checkups, giving
blood, etc. And then nothing! If she was concerned about her health, as her answer implied,
then she would have asked him the same question. The liar is often unaware that coming
across as truthful means both answering and asking questions.
Section 7: General Indications of Deceit
• When the subject is changed, he's in a better, more relaxed mood. The guilty wants the
subject changed; the innocent always wants a further exchange of information.
• He does not become indignant when falsely accused. While he is being accused the liar will
remain fairly expressionless. The liar is more concerned with how he is going to respond than
he is with the accusation itself.
• He uses such phrases as "To tell you the truth," "To be perfectly honest," and "Why would I
lie to you?"
• He has an answer to your question down pat, such as giving precise detail to an event
occurring two months ago.
• He stalls by asking you to repeat the question or by answering your question with a question.
"Where did you hear that?" "Could you be more specific?" or even repeating your question
back to you, at an attempt at sounding incredulous. For example, "Did I sell you a puppy with
a heart condition? Is that what you're asking me?"
• What he's saying sounds implausible, such as "During the past ten years, I have never used a
specific racial epithet."
• He offers a preamble to his statement starting with "I don't want you to think that…" Often
that's exactly what he wants you to think. Whenever someone makes a point of telling you
what they're not doing, you can be sure it's exactly what they are doing. Such as, "Not to
hurt your feelings, but…"
• He implies through a form of denial. You hear, "He's having marital problems, but it has
nothing to do with his wife's new job." What's the first thing you ask? "What does his wife
do?" Suddenly you're in the exact conversation that is "supposed" to have no bearing on the
• He uses humor or sarcasm to defuse your concerns, rather than responding seriously.
• He offers you a "better" alternative to your request when he is unable to give you what you
originally asked for. Before you accept someone at his word that he has something better to
offer, first see whether he has what you originally asked for. If he doesn't, then you shouldn't
believe him.
• All of his facts relating to numbers are the same or multiples of one another. Watch out when
facts, figures, and information have unusual similarities.
• There is evidence of involuntary responses that are anxiety based. Anxiety causes many
things. His breather may appear as a deep, audible inhaling in an attempt to control his
breathing to calm himself. Swallowing becomes difficult; he may clear his throat. His ability
to focus on something is often diminished, unable to pay attention to what's going on.
• He uses an obvious fact to support a dubious action. For example, let's say that a guard is
standing watch over a restricted area. It's his job to check ID's of those who enter. "I'm not
sure you have authorization," he says to a man attempting access. "I'm not surprised,"
answere d the man, "only a few people are aware of my clearance level. My work here is not
supposed to be known by everyone."
• He casually tells you something that deserves more attention.
• He exclaims his displeasure at the actions of another who has done something similar so that
you will not suspect him. For instance, if he is trying to throw you off track of his
embezzlement scheme, he may openly chastise another employee for "borrowing" some
office supplies for personal use at home. Your impression is that he is moral person who
objects to something as minor as stealing office supplies. Certainly he cannot be responsible
for a large-scale embezzlement scheme.
• He may casually tell you something that should deserve more attention. "Oh by the way, I've
got to go out of town next weekend on business." If he doesn't usually travel for work on the
weekends, then you would expect her to make a point of how unusual the trip is. Her
downplaying the trip makes it suspicious. When something out of the ordinary happens and
the person doesn't draw attention to it, it means that he is trying to draw attention away from
it. Another tactic is running off a long list of items in the hope that one will remain unnoticed.
• If he lies about one thing, everything he says is questionable.
• His story is so wild that you almost don't believe it. But you do, because if he wanted to lie,
you think that he would have come up with something more plausible.
II. Becoming a Human Lie Detector:
The clues to deception can be used with great reliability in everyday situations and conversations. However, if you
must know the truth in a given situation, this part provides you with a sequence of questions that virtually guarantees
that you will know (a) if you're being lied to and (b) what the truth is if it's not obvious from the lie. When used in
order, all three phases offer you the greatest opportunity to get at the truth.
Phase One - Three Attack-Sequence Primers
Primer 1
The objective here is to ask a question that does not accuse the person of anything but alludes to the person's
possible behavior. The key is to phrase a question that sounds perfectly innocent to an innocent person, but like an
accusation to the guilty.
Suspicion: You feel that your girlfriend was unfaithful the night before.
Question: "Anything interesting happen last night?"
Suspicion: You think a coworker told your secretary that you have a crush on her.
Question: "Heard any good gossip recently?"
Any answers such as "Why do you ask?" or "Where did you hear that?" indicate concern on the person's part. He
should not be seeking information from you if he does not think that your question is leading. He should also not be
interested in why you're asking the question unless he thinks that you may know what he doesn't want you to know.
Primer 2
The objective here is to introduce a scenario similar to what you suspect is going on, using specifics.
Suspicio n: You suspect one of your salespeople has lied to a customer in order to make the sale.
Question: "Jim, I'm wondering if you could help me with something. It's come to my attention that someone in the
sales department has been misrepresenting our products to customers. How do you think we can clear this up?"
Suspicion: A hospital administrator suspects that a doctor was drinking while on duty.
Question: "Dr. Marcus, I'd like to get you advice on something. A colleague of mine at another hospital has a
problem with one of her doctors. She feels he may be drinking while on call. Do you have any suggestions on how
she can approach the doctor about this problem?"
If he's innocent of the charges he's likely to offer his advice and be pleased that you sought out his opinion. If he's
guilty he'll seem uncomfortable and will assure you that he never does anything like that. Either way, this opens the
door to probe further.
Primer 3
The objective here is to introduce a scenario similar to what you suspect is going on, using general terms.
Suspicion: You think a student has cheated on his exam.
Question: "Isn't it amazing how someone can cheat on a test and not realize that I was standing behind him the
entire time?"
Suspicion: You suspect a coworker of bad-mouthing you to your boss.
Question: "It's amazing all the backstabbing that goes on around here, isn't it? And these people doing it think that
it won't get back to the person involved."
Suspicio n: You think that your girlfriend may be two-timing you.
Question: "It's amazing how someone can be unfaithful and expect not to get caught."
A change in subject is highly indicative of guilt. However, if he finds your question interesting and he's innocent,
he might begin a conversation about it since he's unafraid to discuss the subject.
Phase Two - Eleven Attack Sequences
Attack Sequence 1: Direct Questioning
• Stage 1. Ask your question directly.
• Give no advance warning of the subject you're about to bring up or of any feelings of mistrust.
• Never reveal what you know first. Ask questions to gather information to see if it's consistent with
what you already know.
• The way you present yourself can greatly influence the attitude of the other person. Three powerful
tips for establishing building rapport:
1. Matching posture and movements - if he has one hand in his pocket, you put your hand in yours.
2. Matching speech - if he's speaking in a slow, relaxed tone, you do the same.
3. Matching key words - if he's prone to using certain words or phrases, use them when speaking.
• Ask a question that you know will produce a response similar to how you expect him to react. In other
words, if he waves his arms around no matter what he's talking about, you want to know this.
• Use a relaxed and non-threatening posture, and square off so that you're facing each other.
• Never, ever interrupt. You can't learn anything new while you're talking. Ask open-ended questions.
• Stage 2. Silence.
• Stage 3. Really? At the end of his answer respond with "Really?"
• Stage 4. Sudden Death. Follow with "Is there anything you want to get off your chest?"
Attack Sequence 2: Lead and Confine
• Stage 1. Ask a leading question. For example, "you were back by two A.M. last night, weren't you?"
• Stage 2. Reverse course: You've got to be kidding! For example, "I was hoping you did, so you would have
gotten it out of your system. Please tell me that you've done it, so I know that it's over with."
• Stage 3. This is not going to work. For example, "I thought you were somebody who had a sense of adventure.
Someone who knows how to live a little."
Attack Sequence 3: Time Line Distortion
• Scenario: You suspect several employees in your store of stealing money
• Stage1. Setting the scene. Let the conversation turn casually to stealing and say, "Oh, I knew right from the
start what was going on."
• Stage 2. It's no big deal. "You had to know I knew. How else do you think you could have gotten away with it
for so long? I hope you don't think I'm a complete idiot."
• Stage 3. I appreciate what you've done. "I know that you were just going along with it because you were
scared of what the others would do. It's really okay. I know you're not that kind of person."
Attack Sequence 4: Direct Assumption / Shot in the Dark
• Stage 1. Set the scene. Be somewhat curt and standoffish, as if something heavy-duty is bothering you. This
will cause his mind to race to find ways to explain the "error of his ways."
• Stage 2. I'm hurt. Say, "I've just found something out and I'm really hurt [shocked/surprised]. I know you're
going to lie to me and try to deny it, but I just wanted you to know that I know." You establish that (a) he's
guilty of something and (b) you know what it is.
• Stage 3. Holding your ground. Say, "I think we both know what I'm talking about. We need to clear the air,
and we can start by your talking."
• Stage 4. Continue to hold your ground. Repeat phrases such as "I'm sure it will come to you" and "The longer I
wait, the madder I'm getting."
• Stage 5. Apply social pressure. "We were all talking about it. Everybody knows." Now he begins to get
curious about who knows and how they found out. As soon as he tries to find out, you'll know he's guilty.
Attack Sequence 5: The Missing Link
• Scenario: You think that your mother-in-law may have hired a private investigator to follow you around.
• Stage 1. List facts. Tell her something that you know to be true. "I know you're not very fond of me, and that
you objected to the wedding, but this time you've gone too far."
• Stage 2. State your assumption. "I know all about the investigator. Why did you think that was necessary?"
• Stage 3. The magic phrase. "You know what, I'm too upset to talk about this now." The guilty person will
honor your request because she won't want to anger you further. An innocent person will be mad at you for
accusing her of something that she hasn't done and will want to discuss it now.
Attack Sequence 6: Who, Me?
• Stage1. Setting the scene. He suspects that his ex-girlfriend broke into his house. He phoned to let her know in
a very non-accusatory way that that there had been a break-in and some items were missing. The following type
of conversation would ensue:
Winston: The police are going to want to talk to everyone who had access to the house. Since you
still have a key, they're going to want to speak with you. Just routine stuff, I'm sure. Of
course you're not a suspect.
Ex-Girlfri end: But I don't know anything about it.
Winston: Oh, I know. Just policy, I guess. Anyway, one of my neighbors said that she got a
partial license-plate number on a car that was by my house that day.
Ex-Girlfriend: (After a long pause) Well, I was driving around your neighborhood that day. I
stopped by to see if you were home. But when you weren't, I just left.
Winston: Oh, really? Well, they did a fingerprint test too. That should show something.
Ex-Girlf riend: What test?
Winston: Oh, they dusted for prints and…
• Stage 2. Inform non-accusatorily. Casually inform your suspect of the situation.
• Stage 3. Introduce evidence to be rebutted. As you introduce the evidence, look to see if every one of your
statements is met by explanations from him as to how the evidence could be misunderstood. For example, you
suspect that a co-worker had shredded some of your files. You would first set the stage by letting him know
that you can't find some important files. Then say, "Well, it's a good thing my new secretary noticed someone
by the shredder the other day. She said she recognized his face but didn't know his name." An innocent person
would not feel the need to explain in order to avert the possibility that he might be wrongly accused.
• Stage 4. Continue. Continue with more facts that the person can try to explain away. But in actuality, as soon
he starts to talk about why the situation might "look that way," you know you have him.
Attack Sequence 7: Outrageous Accusations
• Stage 1. Accuse him of everything. In a very fed-up manner, accuse him of doing every imaginable dishonest
and disloyal act.
• Stage 2. Introduce the suspicion. Now introduce the one thing you feel he really has done, and in an attempt to
clear himself of the other charges, he will offer an explanation for his one slip-up. Say, "I mean, it's not like
you just stole a file, that would be fine. But all these other things are unspeakable." He responds, "No, I just
stole that one file because of the pressure to get the job done, but I would never sell trade secrets!" The only
way to prove his innocence to all of your outrageous accusations is to explain why he did what you really
suspect of him of doing.
• Stage 3. Step in closer. This increases anxiety in the guilty. He feels he's being closed in on.
Attack Sequence 8: Is There a Reason?
• Stage 1. Introduce a fact. For example, if you want to know if your secretary went out last night when she said
she was sick, "I drove by your house on the way home. Is there a reason your car wasn't in the driveway?"
Had she been home sick, she would simply tell you that you were wrong - the car was in the driveway.
• Stage 2. One more shot. "Oh, that's odd, I called your house and I got your machine." If she's guilty she will
look for any way to make her story fit your facts.
• Stage 3. Stare. Staring makes someone who is on the defensive feel closed in; your glare is infringing on her
personal space, inducing a mental claustrophobia. Lock eyes with her and ask again.
Attack Sequence 9: Third-Party Confirmation
• Scenario: You suspect one of your employees is having someone else punch out on the time clock for him.
• Stage 1. Accuse outright. After gaining the assistance of a friend or coworker, you have this person make the
accusation for you. Such as "Mel, I was talking to Cindy, and she told me she's getting pretty tired of your
having someone else punch out for you so you can leave work early." At this point Mel is concerned only with
Cindy's disapproval of his actions. Your friend is thoroughly believable because we rarely think to question
this type of third-party setup.
• Stage 2. Are you kidding? "Are you kidding? It's common knowledge, but I think I know how you can smooth
things over with her." See if he take the bait. A person who's innocent would not be interested in smoothing
things over with someone else for something that he hasn't done.
• Stage 3. Last call. "Okay. But are you sure? At this point, any hesitation is likely to be sign of guilt because
he's quickly trying to weight his options.
Attack Sequence 10: The Chain Reaction
• Scenario: You suspect several employees in your store of stealing money
• Stage 1. Setting the scene. In a one-on-one meeting with the employee, let them know that you're looking for
someone to be in charge of a new internal theft program for the entire company.
• Stage 2. The iron is… "We're looking for someone who knows how it's done. Now don't worry, you're not
going to get in trouble. As a matter of fact we've known about it for some time. We were more interested in
seeing how efficient you were. Quite impressive. Anyway, we feel that since you know how it's done, you'll
know how to prevent it. Granted, it's pretty unusual, but this is an unusual instance."
• Stage 3. I told them so. "You know, I told them that you would be too afraid to have an open discussion about
this. They were wrong, I was right." Look for hesitation on his part. If he's guilty, he will be weighing his
options. This takes time. An innocent person has nothing to think about. Only the guilty have the option of
confessing or not.
Attack Sequence 11: Condemn or Concern
Stage 1. I'm just letting you know. The key with this sequence is not to accuse, just to inform. Let's say that you're
working in the customer service department of a computer store. A customer brings back a non-working printer for
an exchange, claiming that he bought it just a few days before. He has the all-important receipt and the printer is
packed neatly in the original box. Upon inspecting the contents you find that a necessary, expensive, and easily
removable component of the machine is missing, a clear indication of why the machine was not functioning
properl y. Here are two possible responses you might get after informing the customer of your discovery.
Response 1. "I didn't take it out. That's how it was when I bought it." (Defensive)
Respons e 2. "What? You sold me a printer that has a missing part? I wasted two
hours trying to get that thing to work." (Offensive)
The person who utters Response 2 has every right to be annoyed; it never crosses his mind that he's being accused
of anything. The person who gives Response 1 knows he never even tried to get the printer to work because he took
the part out. It doesn't occur to him to become angry. He assumes that he's being accused of removing the part and
become defensive when you inform him the part is missing.
Phase Three - Eleven Silver Bullets: How To Get The Truth Without Beating It Out Of Them
To convey honesty and truthfulness in your message, use the following techniques:
• Look the person directly in the eyes.
• Use hand movements to emphasize your message.
• Use animated gestures that are fluid and consistent with the conversation.
• Stand or sit upright - no slouching.
• Don't start off with any statements such as "To tell you the truth…" or "To be perfectly honest with you…"
• Face the person straight on. Don't back away.
Liars need an incentive to confess. The payoff for confessing needs to be immediate, clear, specific, and
compelling. You can't just tell a person what he'll gain by being truthful or lose by continuing to lie; you must
make it real for him - so real, in fact, that he can feel, taste, touch, see, and hear it. Make it his reality. Let him
experience fully the pleasure of being honest and the pain of continuing the lie. Involve as many of the senses as
you can, particularly visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Create images for the person to see, sounds for him to hear,
and sensations that he can almost feel. You want to make this experience as real as possible. First state the
positives, then state the negatives, and then present the choice.
Silver Bullet 1: If You Think That's Bad, Wait Until You Hear This!
This bullet works well because it forces the liar into thinking emotionally instead of
logically. It alleviates his guilt

by making him feel that he's not alone, and it throws him off by creating a little anger and/or curiosity. Plus he
thinks that you and he are exchanging information, instead of his giving you something for nothing.
Sample question formation: "The reason I'm asking you these questions is that I've done some things that I'm not
too proud of, either. I can understand why you might have… In a way I'm almost relieved. Now I don't feel too
bad." At this point he will ask you to get more specific about your actions. But insist that he tell you first. Hold out
and he'll come clean.
Silver Bullet 2: It Was An Accident. Really!
This is a great strategy because it makes him feel that it would be a good thing to have you know exactly what
happened. He did something wrong, true, but that is no longer your concern. You shift the focus of your concern to
his intentions, not his actions. This makes it easy for him to confess to his behavior and "make it okay" with the
explanation that it was unintentional. He feels that you care about his motivation. In other words, you let him know
that the source of your concern is not what he's done, but why he's done it.
Sample question formation: "I can understand that maybe you didn't plan on its happening. Things just got out of
control and you acted without thinking. I'm fine with that - an accident, right? But if you did this on purpose, I
don't think that I could ever forgive you. You need to tell me that you didn't do it intentionally. Please."
Silver Bullet 3: The Boomerang
This bullet really throws a psychological curveball. With this example you tell him that he did something good, not
bad. He's completely thrown off by this. For example, you want to see if your interviewee has lied on her resume.
Sample question formation: "As we both know, everybody pads his resume just a bit. Personally, I think it shows
guts. It tells me that the person isn't afraid to take on new responsibilities. Which parts were you most creative with
on this resume?"
Silver Bullet 4: Truth or Consequences
With this bullet you force your antagonist to work with you or you both end up with nothing. This is the exact
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