In my previous blog post, I noted that when assessing whether someone is lying, you must first consider the person’s baseline – their typical behavior.
A LIAR IS CAUGHT… OR IS HE?
Body language helps us identify a person’s stress signals of deception. The key word here is “helps” – body language is far from foolproof. In fact, it can be quite misleading.
To begin with, not everyone feels stress about lying, and if they do, what does stress look like for them? It varies by individual.
A more effective approach to detecting deception is identifying “leakage,” or unintentional communication across multiple communication channels. These include:
Identifying leakage is only the beginning. Combined with your ability to identify the deviations from a person’s baseline behavior, you can create a powerful lie detector.
STEP ONE: GATHERING INTELLIGENCE
In fraud examination and other areas of lie detection, establishing a baseline of behavior, tone of voice and word choice can be challenging. Observing and noting nonverbal and verbal signals that are part of your subject’s general demeanor and social norms usually must be accomplished in a matter of a couple minutes.
Everyone has a “norm” – a basic pattern of behavior exhibited under normal amounts of stress – from how often or quick they blink to the words they tend to use.
Just as they have a norm, a person also has a “tic,” or a signal they are uncomfortable. You’ve seen these in your family and friends – the little smirk or quick scowl that washes over them when you have said something they disagree with.
However, even if you see a “tic,” keep looking – you won’t know what the person is “telling” you until you learn how to ask powerful questions.
Establishing the baseline will help you determine three key elements:
STEP TWO: ESTABLISH RAPPORT
Establishing the baseline requires getting an unguarded assessment of your subject. Your best chance is to develop rapport with them. Being in rapport with someone – having them feel warm and trusting toward you – increases the likelihood they will be honest with you.
People tell more lies when they feel uncomfortable or less connected with others. Conversely, building rapport helps people to believe that you are trustworthy and makes them want to help you.
Below are a few ways to establish rapport:
1. Set your intention to build rapport and your body language will follow suit.
2. Lead with empathy.
3. Listen to their stories.
4. Mirror their movements – subtly.
5. Use transparency to create trust.
6. Ask open-ended questions to get them talking.
Next, conduct a baseline checklist:
STEP THREE: BASELINE CHECKLIST
With limited time to establish a baseline, this 5-part mental baseline checklist can work wonders. Keep in mind in that your observance of what you don’t see or hear can be as important as what you do see or hear.
Start with the top and work your way down the person:
1. First check the face
2. Then notice the voice
3. Listen to the words
4. Notice their posture
5. Fidget factor
Remember to keep your attention steady, your communication simple and your body language open, and you will be successful at getting an unguarded assessment in no time.
To learn more about our fraud examination work, contact us today.