I see it, but what does it mean?

iStock_000015742269XSmallThe human body is full of great information and when you’re paying attention, you can learn all sorts of things and filter through the words the person is using, to see what they are really saying.

The voice is a powerful indicator of emotion (Driver 98), and is one of the most reliable indicators of deception. Vocal tone rises when we’re excited or angry. Accuse someone of stealing or cheating and see where their voice goes. If it’s headed up, pay attention for other clues.  Keep in mind that a woman’s tone of voice will also pitch up when the speak to a man they find attractive (Driver 99), so there may be other reasons for the change in tonality. Lower vocal tones typically indicate sadness and shame (if this isn’t there ordinary pattern – aka the soft talkers among us). Maybe they feel bad about doing something wrong, but again, context is important. If you’re talking to someone who just had their kid go missing there may be some natural sadness which is understandable – in fact, in that case, if there is no remorse or sadness in their voice, it’s time to pay even closer attention to them.

The Statement Analysis is a technique created by a former Secret Service agent that looks for changes in grammar and logic of words that people say, as they are telling a story or answering a question (Driver 101). Starting and stopping, backsliding, and never addressing the negative (liars don’t like to talk in the negative), are common clues to watch for (Driver 101-102). Other signs to look for:

  • Mixed-up tenses, such as referring to one who has passed as if they are still here (Driver 102), then refers to them in the past tense (or the other way around). Well, they are either here or they are not, right?
  • Double-talk – if you’re confused after they are done with their explanation, or some things just don’t add up, stay tuned (Driver 102).
  • Yadda, yadda – when someone glossing over the details, they are usually covering up the juicy stuff (yea, I met an old friend at the bar, we had a few drinks, yadda, yadda, yadda, then I headed home – the real story is probably, ‘yea, I met an old girlfriend at the bar, we had a few drinks then went back to her place for elicit sex and eventually I headed home and cooked up this method of glossing over the details (Driver 104).
  • Too much pausing – everyone pauses a bit from time to time, but too much pausing may be a sign they are trying to keep their stories straight in their minds (Driver 105). On the other hand, not enough pausing may be an attempt to glare over the facts (Driver 105).
  • Never, ever, never, have I ever, never ever. . . — beware the word “never” should be suspicious (Driver 109). If someone asks, do you know the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa, the normal answer should be ‘no I do not.’ If their answer is, “I’ve never known where Jimmy Hoffa is, I never even met Jimmy Hoffa, never, not a single time. . . ”  then it’s time to explore further, or go buy a shovel.
  • Inappropriate anger; self-deprication; dropping the “I”, distancing language, being overly polite, repeating the question, minimizing language and character testimony (just ask my friends) are all clues that warrant further observation and questioning (Driver 112-117).

Of course, if you want to increase your chances of getting the truth out of someone, you could just ask them to be honest. The research and studies have shown that when people are asked to tell the truth first, they are more likely to actually do so (Driver 126).

Driver, Janine, and Mariska van Aalst. You Can’t Lie to Me: The Revolutionary Program to Supercharge Your Inner Lie Detector and Get to the Truth. New York: HarperOne, 2012. Print.


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