Deception Detection

I just returned from a meeting of speakers – the National Speakers Association Annual Convention and connected with some wonderful old friends and made some great new friends. The major reason I hadn’t attended for a couple years was because of the inflated view many of the wanna-be speakers (and the never-be’s) have of themselves. Well actually, it is beyond inflated, they flat lie. So in an attempt to stay sane, I decided to dig deep and remember a skill I developed in my corporate life.

I had to listen for inconsistencies in what people are saying. This means you have to really hear their message. J.J. Newberry was a trained federal agent, skilled in the art of deception detection. So when a witness to a shooting sat in front of him and tried to tell him that when she heard gunshots she didn’t look, she just ran — he knew she was lying. How did Newberry reach this conclusion? By recognizing telltale signs that a person isn’t being honest, like inconsistencies in a story, behavior that’s different from a person’s norm, or too much detail in an explanation.

In this case, her described behavior didn’t match what most people do when a sound startles them. From birth, individuals with normal hearing will turn in the direction of the sound, and then react physically. The only way Mr. Newberry’s witness would have run without looking would have been if she was the one firing the shots!
Newberry was questioning a woman who said she ran and hid after hearing gunshots — without looking — and Newberry saw the inconsistency immediately.

“There was something that just didn’t fit,” says Newberry. “She heard gunshots but she didn’t look? I knew that was inconsistent with how a person would respond to a situation like that.” So, when she wasn’t paying attention, he banged on the table. She looked right at him. “When a person hears a noise, it’s a natural reaction to look toward it,” Newberry said. “I knew she heard those gunshots, looked in the direction from which they came, saw the shooter, and then ran.” Sure enough, he was right.

He knew her story was illogical. You need to look for inconsistencies when you think someone is not being truthful. Are there inconsistencies that just don’t fit? The key here is to pay attention to what they are saying rather than trying to figure out what you will say next. And ask questions. Trust me – this will help keep you sane. It sure helped me at NSA! I will go back to the convention because it was JUST WONDERFUL! Marsha

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