As early as 6 months old, babies will fake their laughter to get others to join in or be part of the group (Driver 37). By 11 months they pretend to not hear us because they are either doing something they aren’t supposed to do, or they are busy and don’t want to be bothered (Driver 37). And we lie right back to our kids (Easter Bunny anyone?)
But, brain imaging has proven that the human default is to tell the truth, and when we lie instead, we have to overcome our natural instinct (Driver 36). As with any habit though, the more a person lies, the better they become at lying and the more easily your brain and body adapt to your lying, which in turn, makes it harder to spot when you’re lying.
Old body language rules do not work. Not everyone feels stress about lying and people make all sorts of body motions for all sorts of reasons so any one indicator doesn’t tell us anything really (Driver 36).
The FBI determined that the most effective approach to lie detecting is a combination of techniques, combined with a deviation of an individuals’ baseline:
- Facial expressions
- Gestures and body language
- Verbal style
- Verbal statements
The process works like this: you gather intel, you “wiretap,” then you “stakeout,” followed by full body surveillance and finishing with the interrogation (Driver 43-45).
Gathering Intel: You must first establish a baseline for a person’s behavior, tone and pitch of voice, and word choices (Driver 43). This involves observing nonverbal and verbal signals that are part of their normal demeanor.
The Wiretap: the research has shown that a detailed analysis of a person’s speech may be more accurate than their nonverbal clues (Driver 44).
The Stakeout: time to focus on micro expressions here. Those lightning-fast facial changes that conflict with the words coming out of the person’s mouth (Driver 44).
The Full Body Surveillance: this involves observing the body language hotspots (Driver 44). Arms folded, shoulder shrugs and other “traditional” tells, may not be telling you anything at all.
The Interrogation: It’s about asking a few questions to ratchet up the person’s cognitive load and get the indicators flying (Driver 45).
If you think these skills are only important for the police and federal agents, you’re wrong. Just as recently as yesterday (May 21, 2013) I observed an individual blatantly lying at a bookstore to a young lady trying to get her into pornographic films or possibly even grooming her for a human trafficking set up. I intervened after he’d walked away from her (after setting up a meeting at hotel room to do this “small budget movie,” an indicating they would have to share a hotel room he and his wife) and visited with her about how much this guy was lying so hopefully she took heed. But, think about all the people who don’t have the skill to detect this BS and who could have used it – if you can’t use it yourself, then teach someone else.
In countries where airport security agents truly take the behavior detection process seriously, such as Scotland, Italy, Great Britain and Israel, their agents don’t stop at asking just stupid “yes” or “no” questions. They get people talking, they establish a baseline and do a quick risk assessment to see if additional investigation is necessary (Driver 55).
I mentioned grooming previously. Grooming are deliberate and planned actions predators use on children with the aim of establishing a connection and reducing the child’s inhibitions and fear (Driver 56). Once the predator has tricked the child using one of the four pedophile’s “F’s” – fantasy, fear, friendship and force the predator will touch the child under the guise of seemingly overly friendly to test the waters and see how they react. Pedophiles are not the only ones who use grooming – grooming goes on in sales, in marketing, in personal and professional relationships, and in many types of deceptions and scams. You need to know how to spot it. After all, we all lie, but most of the time its to keep the peace and maintain some decorum – but sometimes its to cause pain and suffering at your expense.
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.