Is your partner lying? Use these CIA tricks to find out
"Liar, liar, pants on fire." It seems we are faced with slanted stories on a regular basis. It's time to bring in the CIA. This article identifies the telling behavior of a story fabricator and offers ways to handle the lie — CIA-style.
Ever feel like your partner isn't telling you the whole truth? From Bill Clinton's "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolieswearing that no funny business was going down on the set ofMr. and Mrs. Smith, single celebrities and famous couples alike are infamous for stretching the truth. Everyday pairs struggle with lying as well. In a Reader's Digest poll, 96 percent of Americans admitted lying to those close to them. But it's also worth noting that 50 percent of lies are told by only 5.3 percent of the people. Consider this expert love and dating advice below!
When a person lies, specific tissues in the nose usually engorge, says Dr. Alan Hirsch of The Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. This nasal engorgement, which Hirsch calls the "Pinocchio Sign," causes cells to release histamine, which in turn causes the nose to itch.
2. Notice negation and aversion cues
Look for negation cues, such as covering or blocking the mouth and covering or rubbing the eyes, nose or ears, and aversion clues, such as turning the head or body away when making a crucial statement.
3. Beware of religious rhetoric
Religious phrases like "I swear on my mother's grave," or "as God is my witness" are ironic red flags.
4. Call out the denial phrases
Denial phrases including "trust me," "honestly," and "to be perfectly honest" are evasive. Evasion is about trying to change a perception, and these phrases repeated over and over again are typical clues to lying.
So what can you do when you decide to confront the lie?
Phil Houston, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer and CEO of QVerity, offers suggestions in his recently published book Get the Truth: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Persuade Anyone to Tell All.
1. Make a transition statement
"First, let them know that the lie isn't working," says Houston. "For example, we might say, "Honey, listen, I've got to tell you. I've got some problems with what you were saying about our credit card statement." Deliver it in a low-key manner without making it adversarial to help keep them calm."
2. Stop them from talking
Behaviorists explain to us that, every time you verbalize the lie, you become more psychologically entrenched in it. So step two is to start talking and give them reasons to tell you what's really going on.
Rationalize or minimize the problem so the risks of telling the truth seem smaller. "Hey, listen," we might say. "Everybody has trouble with their credit card statements." We can do it by monologuing as well, which means we are basically trying to tell the person lying they can still win.
4. Switch to a presumptive question
After we lower their defenses, we should switch to a presumptive question, like, "What did you really do with the credit card?"
From hearing "The dog ate my homework," to "I don't know where all of these new shoes came from," we are regularly fielding little white lies and half-truths. The allure of lying as a way to avoid consequence spans all age groups. We now know the best way to protect yourself from those who feel the need to lie is to confront the deception and address the situation in an open and honest approach.
This is a great opportunity to teach children the downfall of deceit and illustrate how one lie often needs to another. The short-term distress of telling the truth is always better than the long-term anxiety of hiding the truth.
The same is true with adults. When caught in a lie, this is the time to make it clear you will always be truthful with them on the condition they treat you with the same respect. If they cannot be truthful, the relationship is finished.
And if you still run into people who think lying is OK, that is the time to bring in the CIA. Or at least their techniques. I'm going to try them out on my teenagers and see what really happened to my last pair of work shoes.
Dr. Amy Osmond Cook received her Ph.D. from the University of Utah in Communication. She is Dir. of Provider Relations at North American Health Care and taught writing, communication, and marketing classes at ASU, BYU, and Univ of Utah.