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Uncovering the Truth

The PEW Research Center in 2019 published the results of a comprehensive study of “Trust and Distrust in America.” Not only are there “declining levels of trust in government, many Americans are anxious about the level of confidence citizens have in each other. Fully 71% think interpersonal confidence has worsened in the past 30 years.” I believe the lack of honesty and integrity is eroding the foundations of trust and confidence. Lance Secretan put it this way, “We are suffering from truth decay.” Mark Twain (Samuel Clements) declared that “Truth is more of a stranger than fiction.”

If we are going to have a more honest America, it must start in our homes and schools. Educators and parents must be trained to spot those who are not telling the truth and then have the boldness to confront these individuals.

Part of the purpose of writing Who Done It: Truth and Consequences Guide for Educators (2021) was to help in this process. In our next posts, I would like to share some excerpts from Chapter 4: Uncovering the Truth. I highly recommend purchasing a copy of the book to learn how to find out the truth in any situation.

Research and experience by law enforcement offer some indicators to help educators and parents detect when a person may be lying by observing several verbal and non-verbal behaviors. However, we must caution that these are only clues that someone may be lying. Do not jump to conclusions solely on manifesting some of the signs of lying. Until linking these behaviors to other evidence, a person can only “guess” if lying happens.

Lieberman, in his book Never Be Lied To Again, offers this advice:

"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 some 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."

In this and other posts, I will provide several techniques for spotting those who are not telling the truth.

Distancing One’s Self from the Subject

This kind of response happens when a person assumes that they are not involved with someone or something, especially when someone is trying to connect with them. For example, a parent driving on the school property after school notices some students smoking under a bridge leading to the school property. The parent was able to identify at least one of the students. The administrator arranges for the student to report to his office. In asking about a group of students smoking under a bridge on the school property, the student responds. “I did not smoke anything with any group of students.” The two giveaways in his response were “did not” and “any group of students.”

Using Qualifying Language

Qualifying language happens when the person uses words that make a statement appear less defined. Given the question concerning smoking, the student might respond, “To tell you the truth, I was nowhere near the bridge.” The phrase “To tell you the truth” is the qualifier. He might also say, “It appears that you think I was one of these students?” The word “appears” sends the message that one is unsure, and this response opens the door to doubt.

He might also respond, “What you are saying suggests that I was involved.” Once again, the word “suggests” brings a level of uncertainty.

It is also vital for the person interviewing to be more confident about the information they present by avoiding qualifying words. For example, “Based on what you said, it is ‘somewhat’ obvious that you were involved.” “Somewhat” is the qualifier. Likewise, the statement, “A ‘small number of’ or a ‘few’ students were seen under the bridge smoking,” leaves the door open for uncertainty, limiting your claim of the student being there. Just remember that using qualifiers communicates doubt.

Our next post will discuss how a person deals with questions and answers that give clues to honesty. Please check again next week.

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