Uncovering the Truth: Part 2

In our last post, we presented two ways for uncovering the truth. These were “distancing “one’s self from the subject” and “using qualifying language. In Part 2, the emphasis is on “repeating the question” and using a different angle to questioning.”


How a person deals with questions and answers also provides clues to honesty. Does the person repeat the question? What is their response when asking questions from a different angle? Do they avoid a direct answer to the question? How do they respond to silence? What type of words do they use when answering? How do they use the words spoken? All of these questions shed light on a person’s honesty.


Repeating the Question

Those about to tell a lie may repeat the question before answering. In our example, when the student says, “Are you asking me to tell you if I was smoking with a certain group of students under a bridge?” the student may be about to lie.


Using a Different Angle to Questioning

One can anticipate that in asking a question that affords only a “yes” or “no” response, the response will usually be “no,” especially if answering “yes” has a negative consequence. For example, “Were you smoking under the bridge?” The interviewer may present the direct question another way, “What do you know about the boys who were smoking under the Walmart Bridge on school property”? A safe response would be, “I don’t know anything.”


Rather than using these direct approaches, consider approaching the question from a different angle. Ask, “If you were to smoke on campus and not get caught, where are some of the places you would consider smoking?”


As they respond, look for both verbal and non-verbal clues. For example, if the student mentions “under the bridge” as a good place to smoke, observe if they lower their eyelids, or lift them for a few seconds, or rub them with their finger. These motions are indications of uneasiness and possible deception.


If they did not mention the bridge as a good place to smoke, follow up with this question, “Why did you not mention smoking under the bridge as a good location to smoke without getting caught?”


A contributor to BBC Future, David Robson, says that “asking open-ended questions forces a liar to magnify and expand their account until they become entrapped in their own web of deceit.”


Avoiding a Direct Answer

A person who is not telling the truth may avoid giving a direct answer. This response happens when a person gives another answer to avoid the truth. For example, “Johnny, is it true that you were smoking under the bridge leading to Walmart?” Johnny answers, “As I said before, my mother gave me permission to walk over to Walmart after school.”


When Johnny sidesteps the question, he is more than likely being deceptive. When he avoids a direct answer, confront him on the response, and reiterate the question. “Johnny, you are not answering the question; were you smoking under the bridge?” Johnny adds, “I know what you are asking. However, as I said, I walked over to Walmart with some friends of mine.”

As you notice, the more you try to pinpoint Johnny’s answer, the more he avoids a direct answer; either Johnny is lying or deceptive.


In Part 3, we will learn the techniques of “allowing for silence” and “listening to words spoken” in an attempt to uncover the truth.

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