Sunday, April 27, 2014

Have You Ever Stolen Anything?

Ethan has yet to tell a single lie

by Peter Hyatt

I ask this question, simply to weed out liars. Liars hold the rest of us in contempt and will cause problems for your company, your group, your team, your family, your marriage, and so on.  Liars believe themselves above others and will put their needs first, more times than not.  If this means stealing, so be it.  If it means cheating, it is for them, therefore, it is okay.

Liars for companies means trouble.  Everything from shrinkage to gaming the system to claim disability.

Since this question provokes thoughts of shoplifting at Walmart, I do the "prompts" system, giving prompts to the subject.

It goes something like this:

"Tell me about yourself..."  

This is very open ended and allows the subject to begin where he or she feels most important.  Here we learn anything and everything from childhood abuse to substance abuse, and anything in between.

"What is your favorite movie?"

This is the tangent question.  I secretly root for a Cary Grant movie, but hey, that's me.  Last week I interviewed a young female who talked about dancing.  I said, "Oh, like Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers?" to which she answered, "Who's that?"  

"Have you ever stolen?

Most answer "no."  This is where Prompt Number One enters:

"When I was 16, I worked at McDonald's, and when pretty girls came through the Drive Thru, I gave them free french fries.  It was stealing and it was wrong, but it is what I did. Have you ever stolen?"

This usually brings a signal of understanding and an anecdote of taking something that did not belong to them.  Remember, I am still using the morally charged language of "stolen" and not "taken."

If the answer remains "no", I go to Prompt Number Two:

"Last week I was in the bank and I walked out, inadvertently, with their pen.  You ever taken anything?"

Here is where the morally neutral language of "taken" is introduced.  Now the subject is ready.  Most only need one prompt, but some still need me to move away from "stealing" to "taken."

This produces many comical answers.

Two weeks ago, a subject brought me to Strike Three, I mean, Prompt #3.

"You've never taken anything that did not belong to you?  Never borrowed a book and not returned it to a friend?"

She stood her ground, "No, never. Not once have I ever taken anything that did not belong to me."

She was over 50 years of age.

She had never told a lie and never took anything that did not belong to her.  I was in the presence of deity.

I also did not hire her.

On the job application where I ask about honesty, she dropped pronouns right at the part of her story about never telling a lie.

Later, a worker approached me.

"Did you hire her?" she asked.

I just smiled as it is not something I discuss.  "Why, do you have any concerns?"

"I sure as *(*^ do!  I know her.  She is a walking law suit.  She is constantly filing law suits against anyone she can seeking payouts."

I thanked the worker for his input.


Anonymous said...

Peter,would you hire somebody who said"I used to be a thief,but now I'm a changed person"?

John Mc Gowan said...

Yes. I have stolen.

Passive answer i know. But, i am not willing to disclose on here.

Its nothing major,(and yes its in the negative). I hold my hands up.

I very much doubt that anyone has never stolen.?

~Waite's for bombardment~

GeekRad said...

I doubt very much that anyone has never stolen too. A pen from the office, a crayon from school, a flower from a garden,a grape from the grocery store before they are weighed at checkout. And I doubt you can find anyone who hasn't told a lie. What kid hasn't responded to the question "what are you doing?" With "nothing" and what adult hasn't said a newborn was beautiful when the baby looks like a wrinkled old man? (You get it, not all newborns are cute.) Yes,I have lied. I do try really hard now not to utter those little white lies because they are, in fact, lies nonetheless.

LC said...

Years ago I had to take a polygraph for employment. All was going well until the "Did you ever steal anything" question arose. It was not covered in the pre-discussion, so I was unprepared. Little did I know that the small piece of penny-candy I took from the corner drugstore would come back to haunt me. I had already made restitution, when I was hauled in to talk to the manager & confess and remit payment.
I learned quite a lesson that could have been overlooked.
I did get a chance to explain to the polygrapher afterwards. The results came back that I was "honest as a nun" and was hired for the job.

Other than that, I think I can fib & BS with the best of them, but I am so aware that I am a terrible outright Liar. A successful liar must Believe that their Audience will surly believe their lies. Lying is a very arrogant attribute that assumes sub-intelligence of those around you.

Anonymous said...

In the past I stole,now I'm honest.I recently found a cellphone,returned it,people DO change.I did.

Statement Analysis Blog said...


it is amazing to find someone who will not back down and acknowledge a crayon from school, or a pen from a bank, or anything of the sort. They simply will not own it, and I urge HR employees, in trainings, to not hire them, no matter how much the resume appeals to them.

We also have been showing businesses how to use Statement Analysis on resumes (although the shorter ones are difficult).

One man listed himself as a _______ State Police Academy Instructor.

This was a surprise.

A simple call to the Police Academy showed that he spoke at the academy on how to deal with a subject who has developmental disabilities; that is, what 800 number to call.

This became a "Police Instructor" on his resume!

Anonymous said...

I hire several people a year. Peter, your example of the instructor is going to help me drill down and detect resume embellishment. Thank you!

Child Advocate said...

My two favorite movies are It's A Wonderful Life and Philadelphia Story. I was so happy when you named your dog CK Dexter Haven. I wondered how many others had the joy of seeing that movie. It was year.

Child Advocate said...

Darn autocorrect. It was yar!

Statement Analysis Blog said...


Thank you for sharing. You should not have been japped in the polygraph!

Anonymous, as to people changing and learning from their mistakes, I look for those who will say what they stole and then talk about how they grew from their mistake.

The point is that we all make mistakes.

Yet, there are those who own their mistakes and grow from them and there are those who do not. '

Since we all make mistakes, its best to deal with those familiar with the language of humility.

Anonymous said...

What do you make of parents who claim to never lie to their kids? I mean yeah, honesty is the best policy, but really, how do you NEVER lie to your kids?

Anonymous said...

i have never stolen anything. i don't believe in taking the risk - i feel its not worth the anxiety of getting caught. i recall having opportunity and chosing against it numerous times throught life.

charlotte from denmark said...

To me it seems that you are confusing liars with psycopaths.

My father is a liar, he makes up stories in order to make himself interesting. He has done this all his life, and he is neither controlling nor does he think he is superiour to others.

That being said, I am happy my parents are divorced, and I didn't have to grow up with a liar in my home.

There is a difference between taking something with intent, and taking an apple from a tree.

The people that take a grape in the store before weighing are thiefs. It is stealing.

My youngest is two, and before I pay, I examin her stroller in case she has slipped something in it. I hope I am not nurturing a thief under my roof :)

All that said, yes I have stolen.

lulu said...

Yep, I've stolen.
Anon @8:49
I do not lie to my kids. I will avoid a direct answer, our deflect, but not lie. It's easy to be honest with them.

Anonymous said...

well if you're talkin single grapes as you enter produce than I should be on the most wanted list.

John Mc Gowan said...

Hi Peter, didn't you do an article a while back about steeling from the work place, and them trying to justify themselves by saying. I don't call it steeling, i work hard here. May pay cheque doesn't reflect my hard work, so, they owe me.

we all know its steeling, but, in their minds its something that's owed to them.

GeekRad said...

Funny anon at 3:11. Yes, my grape eating should have me on the most wanted list too.

John Mc Gowan said...


Max Clifford Found Guilty Of Sex Charges

PR guru Max Clifford has been found guilty of a string of sex attacks on teenage girls over nearly two decades.

Hobs and I have been following this case over in the UK.

NOT once did he issue a reliable denial as far as i am aware, and i have watched most if not all of his press calls, and he has made numerous, he is very media savy.

All he kept on saying was that he was innocent of all charges. Yes he was innocent in the eyes of the law when charges where brought forward. He is NOT innocent now though.

He had plenty of opportunities to say.

I didn't/did not indecently assault xyz

Instead he said, and i quote.

"These allegations are damaging and totally untrue. On a personal level they are very distressing for myself my wife my family and loved ones. Anyone who really new me all those years ago and those who have known me since, will have no doubt that i would never act in the way, i have today been accused of. I have nothing further to add".

rob said...

I'm on that grape-eating most wanted list also. For some reason, I feel I just can't buy them unless I taste one and decide it is good. Nothing else in the grocery is tested first, but the grapes, everytime.

Anonymous said...


What about the employers? Are the "official lies" not a lie?

I have worked for more than one company that lied to the employees. BIG, FAT, BLATANT, In-Your-Face LIES.

Similarly, what about the employers? Are "official thefts" not from thieves?

I have worked for more than one company the stole from me. Pick-my-pocket thieves.

Were I to be asked in an interview if I have ever stolen anything, I would say stolen from who? Have I ever lied? Lied to who?

I have never stolen from an employer. I have never lied to an employer.

I think it only fair to narrow the scope.


Tania Cadogan said...

I admit to sampling grapes and also herbs that are grown in the pot if it is one i have never heard of before such as garlic chive. i will pick a leaf to taste it after i have smelled it.

I also eat the ends off the baguette as i wander round though i do pay for the whole baguette.
I also have several samples of whatever they are testing especially if they have different varieties on offer like red and white wine etc.

I also confess (though it wasn't stealing it was concealing the evidence) I was in asda when i ran across my sister in law ( bro's wifey) her sister and her mom all out shopping for a birthday cake for her son. I saw a nice square caked with plain icing on so they could do their own icing, on the shelf. I picked it up to show them, i turned round and suddenly the box felt really light.
The cake had slid out the other end of the box which hadn't been sealed properly and went splat on the floor. They scarped accompanied by hysterical giggling whilst i said "i guess this one is no good then" before picking it up off the floor with hardly any dents in it,i put it back in the box and placed it back on the shelf (admittedly at the bottom) before innocently wandering away in the direction of the giggling.

Tania Cadogan said...


What about the employers? Are the "official lies" not a lie?

I have worked for more than one company that lied to the employees. BIG, FAT, BLATANT, In-Your-Face LIES.

Similarly, what about the employers? Are "official thefts" not from thieves?

I have worked for more than one company the stole from me. Pick-my-pocket thieves.

Were I to be asked in an interview if I have ever stolen anything, I would say stolen from who? Have I ever lied? Lied to who?

I have never stolen from an employer. I have never lied to an employer.

I think it only fair to narrow the scope.


Hi Suzie
Answering a question with a question is sensitive and will warrant further questioning.
Anything in the negative is sensitive as well and from the above you specify you have never stolen from an employer so have you stolen from someone who wasn't an amployer or your employer (i note you say an employer not my employer)

You also state you have never lied to an employer(not never lied to my employer)

Anyone running a business is an employer so even if they aren't your employer, if you lied, you lied to an employer.
Have you lied to anyone who wasn't an employer?

Never doesn't mean did not.

I am using your quote as an example of how a single word used or ommitted or an article can lead to further questions to pin down specifics.

I have lied, i have stolen , everyone has be it the minimising an action or stealing the last orange cream in a box of chocs or a pen from argos, either by acident or by design.
Kids do it all the time especially when they are at the grabby stage and you get outside and find (in my case) my niece had grabbed a yoghurt.
Another time her dad got home , emtied the bags and found a kitchen knife she had shoved in there, he didn't even remember going past the kitchen knives section.

Anonymous said...

Hi lulu. Do you guys use Santa, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc.?

There are a lot of things I can think of that I have lied to my kids about. Even if it's under good intentions, it's still a lie.

Most people end up lying, usually to save anothers feelings, or save themselves from hurting anothers feelings. It's hard to answer honestly when someone asks "do I look fat?", "do you like the dinner I cooked?", etc.

Katprint said...

I thought you were supposed to take the plastic pens with the company logos printed on them at banks, doctors' offices, the photocopy shop etc. I know you aren't supposed to take the pens with chains attached or (in the case of the photocopy shop where I have a business mailbox) a big fake flower taped to the end of it, but I always thought the disposable pens with the logos were a method of business advertising, like pocket calendars handed out by accountants or notepads handed out by realtors. I thought they wanted you to take them.

I'm pretty shocked to find out that I may have been stealing pens for years without even realizing it.

Tania Cadogan said...

Katprint, come join us in the naughty corner we have cookies and coffee and alcofrolic drinks all paid for, monopoly money is still money , right?

Anonymous said...


I enjoyed your analysis. You are very astute.

My leading question wasn't an "answer". My experience has found top level executives lie to employees. Doesn't trying to identify those that lie seem hypocritical?

To your point, I did say I would answer the question with a question. "Lie to who"? "Steal from who"? You are correct, such questions are sensitive.

When I smoked I lied to my parents about it. Having lived that particular lie for a period of time does not make me more or less employable.

We all have said and done things we aren't proud of. I fail to see how asking such broad questions is helpful.

I stated "employers" meaning those which have employed me as either an employee or consultant/contract. I think of "my employer" as present tense and not encompassing those I previously work for.

In this case, never does mean did not. I did not/have not, now or ever, lied to someone I worked for.

Now, while Peter is protecting companies from us, who is protecting us from the companies?

Would Peter, stand up to those which employ him, if he were to detect they were lying to/stealing from the employees?

Thanks, Hobs....and yes, I have lied to others. Narrow the scope and I'll tell you all about it (e.g. first lie, last lie, lie to x, lie for x).


Tania Cadogan said...

You bring up a good point about companies lying to us.

I do a lot of surveys and testing of products, sometimes the ads are accurate and informative and i reflect this in my report/reviews. Others are absolutely awful, the spiel is vague and full of nonsense refusing to be pinned down on something specific, or make claims that make me go huh?
i did one last night for a new drink product, the actual advert was annoying and cliched beyond belief and the spiel and tagline made me go aaaaaaaargh. I told them quite bluntly that the concept ad as shown would alienate half the population and seriously annoy the other half, if was patronising, boring,and all round dreadful. i would win awards for being so bad. It showed otions that other groups had applied to the ad and more than a few were unfavorable to say the least.
SA is great for playing spot the fib.

Statement Analysis Blog said...


I find it fascinating to apply statement analysis to advertising.

"Many doctors recommend..."


Tania Cadogan said...

I agree Peter, it is a great way to apply the basics i have learned and to practice on.
I find it is a good way to keep my ears working.
Once SA has been learned it cannot be unlearned, once it has been turned on so to speak, it cannot be turned off.
In my case,it is always running in the background, i minimise it whilst i am doing other things such as working online in client, there are times though in adverts, news reports or a tv show when a key word will get my attention because it is important or because an advert says something, or in some cases, doesn't say something and it will make me go huh? and pay attention or alert me so next time it comes on i can see what caused my alarm to go off.

It is also a great asset in my work, i can see when the person is being truthful, minimising or skipping info, or, as is often the case, lying through their pixels.
I can give much better advice on their problem and word it so they understand it clearly and there can be no claims later that they didn't understand or misspoke etc.

In the meantime, it is fun using it on products i am testing and, if it is a product i like, giving them suggestions on what would work better like catch phrases or showing what would catch the eye /ear better to really show off their product and, if it is dreadful, to start over and tell them why it is so bad or why the advert will drive customers away.

Thank you for taking the time and having patience to teach me and many others here what SA is and how to use it.

Kellie said...


Has Amanda Knox ever said, "I did not kill Meredith." or anything even close to that?