Thursday, September 17, 2015

Deception in Negotiating for Information

You've found this blog likely because you are interested in lie detection.  Many of you are from law enforcement, human resources, journalism, social sciences, and other related fields, while still many others may not have a direct relationship between employment and deception detection but have been personally lied to, and know what it is like, and wish to learn more.

Still others have a tender spot for cases of missing children and a story has led you here.

Collectively, there is an understanding that deception causes damage, and the longer one studies analysis of communication, the more apparent it becomes how widespread the damage is. From seemingly distant politics right down to the devastation of a broken relationship, liars' damage is difficult to objectify in any one article.

So many of you have a story to tell.

There have also been an ever increasing number of success stories related to the blog.  This can range from the emotional and professional satisfaction of an investigator who went 'out on a limb' and told his fellow investigators, "this guy is lying.  He did it!" only to back up, sit down, carefully work through the transcript and prove to the others that the subject's denial is not only unreliable, but that the subject gave us a wealth of information for the follow up interview, and so on, leading to either a guilty plea or conviction.

It is something special, indeed.

But there are other stories that include the ability to discern deception when money was on the line, in negotiations of sorts.

When the Country Wide scandal hit, there were no statements for analysis; simply forged documents, so that once CW paid off all the fines and the class action suit, victims still lost their homes, but had, on average, a check for less than $25 to show for their loss.  There was no way for the homeowner to have known.

Yet when you negotiate for a used car purchase, some of you have found how marvelous even the amateur skills of analysis have served you, with ears perking when the salesman said, "I'm going to be honest with you.  I've got someone else ahead of you and this person has committed to buying this car, but truly, I just feel like you should have it...."

You didn't mind the gender neutral "person" so much, though you thought that if he really had someone in mind, he might not have felt the need to so thoroughly protect his or her identity; it was just a touch of 'icing on the cake' with the cake being his call to "honesty" that his brain felt the necessity of in getting you stuck at this particular price.

In negotiations where you suspect deception, you must be very careful how you handle it.

What have you learned about the nature of liars?

First of all, not all car sales people are liars.

I am aware, perhaps more than most, just how deceptive they can be, but, like politicians, there are those who feel it is more important to keep one's own dignity in being truthful, than it is to lie, and face anxiety as one gets older and begins to take an account of one's life.

I once had the privilege of accompanying such an honest man in his business, by invitation, to see what the world of high priced automobile sales is like.

It is ruthless.

The wholesaler drove each day from Brooklyn to Long Island, then back to Manhattan and back to Long Island followed by monthly drives to Pennsylvania auctions.  His negotiations were almost always "sight unseen" and involved split second decisions where he would "spend", at times, up to $100,000 on the spot.

In this world, there are no "take backs" or "re-negotiations" once you have given your word.  Anyone who did this was "excommunicated" from this very strange and almost secretive world.

I listened carefully to these negotiations over the phone (often while navigating some vicious traffic, which is why I mentioned his daily routes.  Those familiar with just how fast, for example, the Belt Parkway can get, or how the Long Island Expressway came to be known as "The Long Island Deathway", know what I am referring to.  You can imagine how much fun I have with Heather, raised on a farm in Maine, when I take her to visit family in New York.  As soon as we get close to the Throgs Neck Bridge, she begins to tense up).

This particular wholesaler was committed to being honest, and there have been, in recent years, technological safety-guards put in place so that, for example, the crude but back then, very common "rolling back the odometer" became displaced by more sophisticated means of deception, as well as the internet's intrusion into the car history statistics have meant deceptive buyers and sellers must be more creative in practicing their craft.

In spite of having an iPhone, now, next to you, "googling" the make, model, year, and mileage of your car, seeing what it goes for in various locales, liars continue to do what it is that they do and lie. 

In one sense, technology has helped us defend ourselves against liars, but in another sense, lying, itself, is far less looked down upon by the American public, overall.  "Gaming the system" for example, can be what tax evasion in Greece has become:  a national sport.

So in spite of these safety guards, liars will be liars, and will still seek to squeeze the last nickel from you and being prepared through general practice in analysis, is of great advantage.

Besides the usual sensitivity indicators, once someone is known for lying, it is safe for you to assume that you should keep your guard up.  You may recognize that the liar, the "true liar", is who he is, and it is a personalty trait that does not get "shut off" because you walk through the door, nor does it become ignored by a slim 'profit' margin.

This is an important point to keep in mind:

Be as diligent over $10 theft, as $10,000 theft, not only professionally, but in all matters.

When a man asks you out to dinner, note the tip he leaves the waitress.  If it is excessive, he may be showing off, but if he is a cheapskate, he is also a cheapskate emotionally.  But beyond this 'fatherly' advice, note any seemingly insignificant form of deception, such as purposely using an expired coupon, or small rouse to get an "advantage" over another.  It may be a signal that the person likes the feeling of "getting one up" over another.

Having wealth does not exempt someone from this, either, nor is wealth a "cure" for it.

The "high line" car wholesaler was brilliant.  He had but an 8th grade education level, but could "read" and profile better than anyone I had met, read about, or even heard of.  True enough, he was the proverbially abused child who had to learn to quickly read faces, and would be an embarrassment today, to the multitude of "Lie to Me" fans who now believe to be "1 in a million expert" at discerning a nose itch, which is fine and dandy for an internet post, but quite different for one who's failure to read a lie cost thousands of dollars, or to the investigator who is "sure" someone is lying, only to find otherwise, he is not going to be trusted again, and his captain is not going to host training.

Lie detection is hard work, and it takes not only formal training, but consistent, month by month training.

For the wholesaler relying on his wits, he often said, "I know he is lying but I can't tell you why", which, had he had another profession, he would have become addicted to training because it would have given him the discipline of principle;  he would have been a lie detecting expert.

The "discourse analysis" takes years of not only practice after thorough training, but also a great deal of interviewing.  What is commonly missed, however, in law enforcement, is patrol.

Patrol, itself, is incessant interviewing and it is incessant negotiating between the patrol himself or herself, and the public.  Each stop is an interview.  Each question posed and responded to is an interview.  Each time the phone rings and there is communication expected, it is an interview.

Each time the patrol officer deals with a reluctant member of the public:

it is a negotiation of sorts.

My teenaged daughter is currently becoming convinced that she could do more good in this world should she study law.  It is a lofty ambition, but one she is capable of, should she work very diligently and consistently at.  She has long wanted to study psychology, but is concerned with the loss of freedoms in our country, and how politics now hinder helping people, and wonders if she could do more good for more people as an attorney.  Like others who began with the notion of defending those who struggle to defend themselves, she is idealistic, but unlike those who began this way only to either become an extremist (either wholly cynical or wholly pollyanna), she has a good sense of human nature and has benefited from studying analysis. In talking to her friends, she has become a sort of 'go to person' when one wishes to share a secret hurt.

In a very real sense, getting someone to open up about personal hurt is also a negotiation.  There are those in the counseling world who posses expertise in this, who are well paid, not because they fraudulently get the client to be "addicted" to therapy, but because they use their talents to "negotiate" and "navigate" to the truth; the root cause of a disturbance, for example, and help them to counter it, and move on in life.  They are successful professionals, and although they may be sorely in the minority, they do much good in the world; something that is still important to people.

Like the patrol officer, these also see each interaction with others as an "interview" of sorts.  You, too, can practice this wherever and whenever life brings you.

Yesterday, while shopping for Sean's puppy, Heather was "confronted" by a most aggressive, young and loud saleswoman who wished to convince Heather that she "needed" to buy the little Cav, "Gus", the "very latest" in nutrition:  chicken feet.

She held up this "gnarly looking dried out scary disgusting thingy" (not my words) to Heather and pontificated about the nutritional value of that which is so void of nutrition that even wolves spit them out.

From the store, we went to Sean's soccer game where Gus became the center of attention on the sidelines.

I love talking to people, and each one I spoke to, from the 9 month old baby who could not stop smiling, to her worried mother, disclosing to me, a stranger, her fear of leaving her baby at Day Care, to a 9 year old child who told me her mother has no contact with her and her father is too busy watching TV to come to her game, right down to...

you get the picture.

People not only love to talk about their lives:  they want to talk to someone who will listen.  You can use these opportunities to learn.  Every interview is a lesson.  Every conversation can be an "interview" and when you are in the place where you need information and the subject is reluctant, for whatever reason, you have not entered into a "negotiation" where you must find ways to get the information you seek.

In Human Resources, I will not accept, "we can only confirm that Mr. Smith was unemployed with us from September 2010 until September 2015."

I won't.

I need a reference.

I need to know.

I will get my information.

I will get it voluntarily, without pressure.  I will get it because the person wants me to have it.

I either encourage the HR professional, or...

I make the follow up call myself telling the pro, "I will get the reference, good or bad."

When you call, listen for leakage.

Leakage can be magical in the sense of what it can reveal.

I was recently given Andrew Hodges work on Amanda Knox, and although I had tried to read his work on Patsy Ramsey, I didn't finish it and do not agree, in application, with his work.

There is no cause and effect, nor scientific approach.  It is far too subjective.

Leakage is just that:  it is subjective.

When someone says, "I am a lie detection expert, like the show and am just gifted and you just listen to me..." there is something missing and it is the answer to this question:

"Can you teach others this method of detecting deception?"

If someone is really an expert at detecting micro-expressions, than it is something that should be able to be taught, and whether it is done in California at 2PM, or New York at 11AM, the results should be the same.

Leakage is subjective, at best.  I value it, but I value it in context.

Interestingly, Hodges wrote that when he listens to someone and they say, "I love sharks" in some context, the person is revealing that they may be a "shark" themselves, such as in business.

My response to this is that this may be true.

Or it may not be.

Someone may just love "Shark Week" on television.

For us, we enter into the interview, guided by the words, and if we think leakage is happening, it's subjectivity must be turned into objectivity.

We cannot conclude "this person is a shark in car sales!"

We can, however, ask questions:

1.  Do you like sharks?  (the obvious)
2.  What do you like about sharks?  (motive)
3.  How often do you watch them?
4.  Have you ever seen one in person?
5.  What type shark is your favorite?
6.  Which is your least favorite?
7.  How long have you been interested in sharks?  (this seeks to move into childhood)

What do you notice about the 7 questions?

Did you notice how easily they flow and how they avoid introducing new topics and language?

The wording used is common and has avoided introducing what we are specifically looking for:  business or professional "shark like" predatory behavior, instead, allowing the person to speak.

It can be fun for you to practice this on your kids, and in public.  See how many questions you can ask that are as close to neutral as possible, while gaining information, and avoiding introducing new words;


ask follow up questions based upon the answers, honing in directly on the introduction of new words by the subject, reflecting them back to the subject, allowing for the flow of information to expand, instantly and greatly.

It is also legally sound, and it avoids statement contamination.

When you need information (this goes for patrol, HR, sales, purchasing a new computer from one who works on commission, and so on) and you get the slightest sense of reluctance, one of the greatest tools is reflective language.  It avoids contamination and because you use the subject's own words, you create a comfort level that the subject may not even realize how comfortable he or she has become, increasing the flow of information.

It takes practice. Here, I 'skip' over small detail to show how to 'pounce' on the new word introduced. This is taken from someone who, in fact, watches "Shark Week", which is on a nature channel, once per year, accompanied by "Jaws" music.  The subject is 30 year old female with two children.  I've added several fictitious interviewers at first...

Q.  What do you like about sharks?

A.  "I've loved them for the longest time!"

Q.  "How long?"

A.  "Since I was a child."  

You've now noted that the subject, herself, has referenced herself as a "child", which is an indication of possible child abuse, which, if so, is 80% likely to have been sexual abuse.  You have this in mind, but you do not yield it.  This is where the wisdom comes in to play:  use it improperly and lose the subject.  The subject may want to talk about it.

If you are Human Resources:  women who were sexually abused in childhood who have had some resolution to the issue, often excel at record keeping, rule keeping, organization, and overall order.  Does your job description call for this?

It is only a generality, which must be kept in mind, but if you have, for example, a job that requires excellence in record keeping, you have something to work with.

Are you a therapist?

You've got an opening here, into a powerful situation of potential for great growth.

Are you a patrol officer?  Just your human empathy, which, while wearing your uniform and weapon, may give this possible victim of childhood sexual abuse, great comfort, reassurance, and a feeling of safety from your polite demeanor alone, that may cause her to yield much more information, in trust.

Are you a customer buying a car from her, fearing that she may be a shark, ready to take advantage of you?

For male victims of childhood sexual abuse that goes unresolved, there could be a severe lack of human empathy.

It is far too early to know, but do you see how these things open up to those who listen?

A.  "Since childhood? Wow!  Where did you grow up?

You now have safely landed in childhood as your time shows, and depending upon your vocation, need of information, etc, will dictate whether you stay there or not.

Let's jump professions a bit:  you are now a child protective caseworker, trying to learn if this 30 year old female with two children possesses the protective capacities to keep her children safe from the Registered Sex Offender (RSO) who just moved in next door.

A.  "Oh I grew up right here!  I have lived here my whole life.  I lived here with my mother, who died just last year."

She now has introduced not only that she is on her home 'turf' (familiarity) but has introduced a priority to her:  "mother" and that her timing, having jumped out of childhood to the age of 29, shows that "just last year" used the word "just", as a comparative word.  We now know, from this tiny word, that the passage of one year of time, in context of the importance of mother, is a short period of time to the subject.

Q.   "Oh, I am sorry to hear that.  You must miss her..."

A.  "She was my whole life.  My father had left us when I was only 7.  Mom worked two jobs and was a wonderful person.  The only thing though that was bad for us was that she was just a person who always chose the bad men in her life.  She had the worst taste in guys."

It is not easy, but with training, the worker "heard" (literally, on the fly) certain words that she knew to follow up on.  She heard the word "left" because she had done it so many times in training, and she followed the pronouns carefully, too.  She heard her "mother" become "mom", but "father" did not become "dad."  "Mom" was also a "person" but did you also catch the introduction of the word "guys" that had previously been "men."

This is an indication that there may be a bad "man" in her life, the subject's life, that is, current, at the time of this interview.

It can be difficult for women abused in childhood, raised without protection, to protect their own children, as no sample was set and without resolution of issues, the language will reflect this.

The IR (Interviewer) will, at this point, use the topics introduced ("men" and "guys") and gently probe for information.  This is now a touchy area, and caution is needed.  For those who firmly believe in "doing unto others", that is, "let me talk to her the way I would want someone to talk to my daughter", this caution is not quite so alarming.  Many professionals are where they are because they are caring individuals.

Police that believe in the honor of "protecting and serving" who have not become cynical and jaded, will, even on traffic stops, speak to someone the way they would want an officer to talk to their teenaged daughter, for example.

This interview continues with the IR uses any words that the subject introduces and asks questions about them.

Eventually, the IR learned that the "guy" in her life was:

addicted to pain meds;
ambitious to not work;
had a vicious temper with her kids;
had a series of schemes to 'game the system' with a false claim of disability (Yes, there are those who so love playing video games all day long that will find a doctor/lawyer combination that will get them Disability payments and meds so that they can pursue video games all the day long), and was always encouraging her to file a suit against her employer (who was kind to her).  Boyfriend had extreme jealousy issues and whenever the boss was kind to the woman, the boyfriend exploded with threats.

In short,

she moved a predatory creature into her tiny apartment and exposed her two children to him.

Yes, her fascination with sharks did show some leakage, but we would not have made the jump from "shark fascination" to "bad man", without first having her connect the dots.  (Did I really use the word "jump" in the same sentence as "shark"?)

Leakage is subjective and its validity can only come from the subject's confirmation.  I recognize that the person who enters the therapist's office each week and talks about how cold the weather is may be speaking of loneliness, but "cold" is not something we "reinterpret", instead, we ask, "why did this word enter his vocabulary?" and follow this up with questions.

The car wholesaler had to often "eat a loss" rather than attempt any form of "renegotiating" after seeing the vehicle was not "as described" and showed me that some did this on purpose to "test" the wholesaler:  if he protested, he could be blacklisted.  If he "ate the loss" of, let's say (a real figure) of $5,000, it was "appreciated" and later, he would benefit from it.

Within a short time (under two years) he did get a reputation for honesty, and for some, this became a joke behind his back, while for others, including those who ridiculed him for it, led them to do more business with him, knowing that he was a man of his word.

Every day I get examples of how people used Statement Analysis in their lives.

Whenever I am out and about, including shopping, I love talking to people, and love to see my kids' eyes widen when they see just how much personal information someone will give to a stranger, and be so very happy about it.

"The chicken feet are truly known for their great nutritional value" eventually went to...

"I am struggling in school with student loans, and I can't believe they make this say this ^%*&(.  My boyfriend's family promised me a job, but they want him to marry this girl that they..."

Human communication is fascinating and every life worth living is worthy of analysis, understanding, empathy, study, and celebration.

Practice "Analytical Interviewing" on your kids.  It is non-intrusive and it is powerful.  Keep reading statements online.  Go to the reports on "migrants" for instance, and find two very different and even opposing articles about the very same incident such as the riot in Hungary yesterday.

See the difference in language between the two articles, especially the nouns.

Listen to the presidential debates.  Listen to what is being said; listen to what is not being said.

When your phone rings and it is a company calling, the interview begins.

Your parent-teacher conference is an interview, just as any words your son or daughter's coach might say to you.  Listen and ask yourself, "Why is this word being used?"  Keep it to yourself.

When your son or daughter comes home from school, instead of saying, "how was your day, honey?" while they run off to Oreo-land (spell checker turned Oreo-land into Ireland), have them sit down and say, "Tell me what happened today" especially if your child is 12 years or older.

I bet you hear, "What do you mean what happened?  Nothing happened!"

Thus the door is ajar.


Tania Cadogan said...

Off topic

The parents of a missing Florida toddler have been arrested on drug charges.

Baker County Sheriff Joey Dobson says 25-year-old Lonna Lauramore Barton was arrested Wednesday night at a motel moments after 42-year-old Chris Barton left with another man.

They are the parents of Lonzie Barton, who was 21 months old when he disappeared July 23. Barton's 32-year-old boyfriend William Ruben Ebron Jr. remains in jail on child neglect charges.

The Florida Times-Union reports Chris Barton was pulled over by deputies a short time later. Both face multiple drug charges.

Dobson says authorities had been investigating for almost a month and that evidence was culled from multiple sales of the drug molly that involved the parents.

Lonna Barton is also accused of child neglect and giving false information in connection with Lonzie's disappearance. She was on probation for those charges.

Before the arrests, she and Mr. Barton had been scheduled to be drug tested in an effort to regain custody of their daughter, who is in the care of a grandparent.

Ebron is in jail without bond on two counts of felony child neglect in relation to the case. He was watching Lonzie and his 5-year-old sister when the boy disappeared.

Ebron told police he left Lonzie in the car to go inside to charge his cellphone, and when he returned to the car, he saw it take off.

The car was found abandoned less than a mile from Lonzie's home and police believe he lies about the car theft and knows what happened to Lonzie.

In late August, police said Ebron tried to escape custody. Authorities say Ebron planned to use a plastic handcuff key to escape during transport to court in a jail van. He also was trying to coordinate another getaway vehicle.

Authorities said another inmate recorded their conversations.

Ebron's new charges included unlawful possession of a concealed handcuff key, introducing or smuggling contraband into a jail and criminal conspiracy.

The reward to find Lonzie now stands at more than $13,000. Officials said they've received hundreds of tips in the case.

The search for Lonzie also turned up two unrelated sets of human remains.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said in July that a man's remains and clothing were found near a business park.

They had apparently been there at least a year. Foul play wasn't suspected.

On Tuesday, searchers found a car linked to a 2003 missing-persons case at the bottom of a pond. Skeletal remains appeared to be inside.

Read more:

Buckley said...

When your son or daughter comes home from school, instead of saying, "how was your day, honey?" while they run off to Oreo-land (spell checker turned Oreo-land into Ireland), have them sit down and say, "Tell me what happened today" especially if your child is 12 years or older.

I bet you hear, "What do you mean what happened? Nothing happened!"

He's 13. First time I asked I got a shoulder shrug. I asked again. "Nothing. I don't know. Why? What happened?" I finally got out of him he did a presentation in Spanish class and "thinks" he did well because his group had more slides than the others. I'm "thinking" I did well= A and "I think I did well"= B.

Anonymous said...

Great article. I used to walk my kids home from school and if I asked "How was your day?" they didn't have much to say. But if I asked, "What's the BEST thing that happened to you today" they'd either have a story right away, or they would think through their day and come up with an answer of what was the best part of it.

p.s. I cracked up at your "jump" and "shark" comment.

Anonymous said...

please give us a couple more stories about the car buyer!

Buckley said...

Oh wow- the "BEST" question worked! The answer:

His class is reading Diary of Anne Frank. He got to be a "German cop," yell German phrases. They found Anne. Me: "Best thing?"

Should I be worried?

Amanda said...

Thank you Peter Hyatt. Leakage in context. Leakage is subjective and and its validity can only come from the subject's confirmation.

lynda said...

Another great article Peter. Thank you.

jen-d said...

"For male victims of childhood sexual abuse that goes unresolved, there could be a severe lack of human empathy"

What does it mean if someone said - I heard someone say - `I was sexually abused but I dont look at it as sexual abuse'
Is this denial? minimization? both? unresolved issue?