Distancing “one’s self from the subject, using qualifying language, and listening to how a person deals with questions and answers provide clues to honesty. Repeating the questions, using a different angle to questioning, and avoiding a direct answer are clues to honesty.
There are two other techniques to use when dealing with questions and answers. First, allow for silence, and second, listen to the words spoken.
Allowing for Silence
One of the critical ingredients for a good investigation is “letting the person talk.” Simply hold on to responding to what a person says and remain silent as one continues to look at the person.
Doing this is challenging; the silence creates an uneasiness that demands elimination. The interviewer tends to offer an immediate response to what the person shares in an attempt to remove the uneasiness. Instead, just remain silent, look directly at the person, and allow the other person to continue to speak.
As Lieberman points out, “The guilty tells his story in dribs and drabs until he gets a verbal confirmation to stop. He speaks to fill the gap left by the silence.”
In our example of investigating smoking by a group of boys under the bridge, one might ask Johnny, who was a suspect, “What did you do after school yesterday?” He answers with, “I walked over to Walmart.” At this point, hold on offering a response. It may take a few seconds of silence before Johnny responds. His conscience will be working on him if he has something to hide, big time. Since he has not told everything, he will continue to add bits and pieces to his story. “I walked over to Walmart with some of my friends.”
Listening to Words Spoken
The words one chooses to speak are indicators of what is on the inside of a person. Luke 6:45 addresses this issue. "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks" (NKJV).
Whenever a person takes the thought to lie, they will lie unless they check this thought. Proverbs 6:2 also says that “you are snared with the words of your lips, you are caught by the speech of your mouth (AMPC).” Thus, listening to the words spoken in responding to questions will shed light on a person’s truthfulness.
Lieberman addresses the importance of the words spoken. He says, “There are subtle differences between what the truth sounds like and what a lie dressed up to sound truthful sounds like. The words we choose to convey a message are much more reflective of our true feelings than you might suspect.”
Noticing the Use of the Word “No.” Patrick Allan shares how LaRae Quy, a former counterintelligence FBI agent, determines if a person is deceptive in their responses. Quy pays attention to how a person uses the word “No” in responding to questions. Their use of the word “No” often demonstrates deceptive behavior. This happens when they: Say “no” and look in a different direction; Say “no” and close their eyes; Say “no” after hesitating; Say “nooooooo,” stretched over a long time, or say “no” in a singsong manner.
Observing the Delivery of Words. Quy recommends that one listens more than one speaks. Liars tend to speak more than truthful people in an attempt to sound legitimate and win over their audience. They will use more complex sentences to hide the truth. Furthermore, they tend to speak faster, talk louder, have a cracking voice, and engage in repetitive coughing or throat clearing.
Lieberman offers several clues to listen for when questioning a person.
Employing Words to Make a Point. It takes longer for a person telling the truth to formulate a response. On the other hand, Liars try to answer questions as quickly as they can. Rather than coming up with an original response, they will reply using the exact words as the questioner but in a negative manner. For example, the principal asks, “Did you go under the bridge?” The liar answers, “No, I didn’t go under the bridge.” “Have you ever been under the bridge?” They respond, “No, I have never been under the bridge.”
As Lieberman points out, “Did you becomes didn’t and ever becomes never. Remember, above all else, the guilty wants to get his answer out fast. Any delay makes him feel like he appears more guilty. And to the guilty, every second that passes seems like an eternity.”
Using Contradictions. Educators can also tune in to the use of contradictions. “When a suspect uses a contradiction– ‘It wasn’t me’ instead of ‘It was not me’–statistically speaking, there is a 60 percent chance he’s being truthful. Sometimes the guilty, in an attempt to sound emphatic, don’t want to use a contraction in their statement of innocence; they want to emphasize the not.”
In our next post, we will cover five additional techniques for uncovering the truth. These include “Sharing Many Details,” “Telling the Story Backward,” “Requesting the Person to Clarify Their Story,” “Being Above Reproach,” and “Stating the Level of Honesty."
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