A Strong Defense: Avoiding The Lie
The best time to deal with a lie is before it turns into one. The following is a technique for cutting a suspicion off at the pass before it turns into deception.
This is the method you use when you want the truth as it relates to a person’s previous behavior. Here is a possible scenario: a parent suspects that her twelve-year-old son is smoking cigarettes.
Approach: “I know all about the smoking and the sneaking around. You know I’m not happy about that, but I just want you to promise me that you won’t drink alcohol until you’re twenty-one.”
This is by far the finest approach because it works on so many levels. First, it takes a forward assumptive stance – the parent “knows all about the smoking.” Second, it uses two truisms. The phrases “sneaking around” and “you know I’m not happy about that” set the tone for honesty. The child hears two things that he knows to be true: He was sneaking around and his mother is unhappy about his smoking. He is therefore willing to accept at face value what follows. Third, the mother gives her son an easy out. All he has to do is promise not to drink and he’s home free. There’s no threat or punishment, just honest statements followed by a deal that he believes to be true as well.
The guidelines to keep in mind for this procedure are as follows:
• Assume your suspicion as fact
• State at least two truisms (facts that you both know to be true)
• Switch the focus from a threat to a request
• The request should be easy for him to accept and sound reasonable
This method is used when you want the truth as it relates to a new decision. It is a simple but highly effective strategy to avoid being deceived. Oftentimes someone wants to tell us the truth, but it’s easier to tell a lie instead. The person knows the answer you want to hear and will give it to you whether he believes it or not. However, if he doesn’t know what you want, then he won’t be able to deceive you. Read the following examples and notice how well the second phrasing masks your true question.
• “Would you like me to cook for you tonight?” ––– “Do you feel like eating in or out tonight?”
• “I’m thinking of asking Rhonda out. What do you think of her?” ––– “What do you think of Rhonda?”
Know Thy Enemy: Knowing The Liar and His Intentions
The following example illustrates a process that is becoming very popular in employee screening tests. The questions below are asked the prospective employee to determine if he is an honest person. If you really wanted the job, how would you answer these questions?
Have you ever stolen anything in your life? Have you ever run a red light?
Do you have a friend who has ever shoplifted?
Many of us would have to answer yes to most of these questions. And that is precisely the answer a prospective employee is looking for. Why? Because the honest answer is yes for most of us. The employer’s task is finding those who are honest about it. Stealing a pack of gum when you were twelve years old doesn’t make you a bad person or an undesirable employee.
Let’s say that Martha’s teenage son, who has been away from home and living on the streets for the past two years, wants to come home. Knowing that her son is addicted to cocaine, she is worried about whether he can actually clean up his act. She could tell him that he can move back in only if he enrolls in a drug rehabilitation program. He will probably agree to this whether he plans to do it or not. Instead, she tells her son that he can move back in if he quits cold turkey – never doing another drug whatsoever. Her son’s answer will reveal his commitment to getting well, which is the real concern. Obviously her son can hardly get rid of his addiction instantly. So if he indicates that he can, she knows that he’s lying about his intention to get well. However, if he says that he can’t but will make strides toward getting better, she will know that he is sincere in his pursuit of wellness.