Liar, Liar

Janine Driver is the Author of You Can’t Lie to Me: Supercharge Your Inner Lie Detector and Get to the Truth. Driver has made a living out of getting to the truth; she worked for many years for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.  She’s an expert interrogator and investigator and has studied – and taught – kinetics and analytic interviewing techniques to jundreds of people in law enforcement and business.  During her career with ATF, she was known as one of a scant number of investigators who are certified “truth wizards.” You don’t mess with Janine. Even if you live an ordinary and crime-free life, you can benefit from her knowledge and lie detector techniques. Most of us have been lied to: by children, siblings, no-good boyfriends, and coworkers who promised one thing and did another. Wouldn’t it be great to be a supervisor who could ferret out the truth in all those “he said, she said” situations? Wouldn’t you love to know for sure whether your teenager is telling the truth about where she was last night? Here are some tips to help. First, don’t be fooled by what you read about deception; most of the common beliefs are wrong, according to Driver. Someone who covers her mouth with her hand or touches her nose may not be lying; those gestures may simply be part of her usual behavior.  The key to recognizing deception, Driver says, is a careful analysis of a person’s baseline behavior. How does he hold his head or his hands? Does he speak loudly, with lots of gestures, or quietly? Getting an accurate baseline of behavior will help you recognize what Driver calls “hot spots,” signs of stress and deception that should make you want to probe further. Driver also describes behaviors that should alert you that something’s not right. For instance, someone who suddenly stops using pronouns may be trying to distance himself from an act. “What did you do last night?” “Drove around.” Notice that there’s no “we” or “I” attached to that sentence. Another sign of deception is starting a simple yes or no answer with a qualifier (often “well…”) “Did you call Mr. Jones to cancel the appointment?” “Well, it was really late when we got out of the meeting, so I left a message.” Chances are that call didn’t happen. If you’re unsure about someone’s honesty, Driver recommends asking open-ended “how” questions rather than simple yes or no questions. It will be easier to deceive you when you ask “Did you close up the office last night?” than when you ask “Tell me the steps you took when you closed up last night.” Generally, “how” questions are hard for liars to answer; they spend time thinking about what happened, but seldom plan a story for how someone felt while it happened. If you ask about how someone who might have taken the money would feel, a guilty person might give you an honest glimpse of his feelings: “really guilty,” he’ll whisper. Or, he might say defiantly, “it wasn’t that much money and she’s rich enough that she probably won’t miss it.” One of your most effective techniques in lie detection is silence. Ask an open ended question like “Is there any reason you wouldn’t have filed the court documents on time?” No matter what the answer is, reply “Really?” and cock your head to one side.  Wait patiently for the other person to speak; the next sentence will be much more likely to be true. Or it will be a dramatic attempt to sell you on her innocence or intimidate you: “Are you saying I’m a liar? That’s ridiculous – I would never lie about something so important! You can ask anyone!” (Appeals to other authorities are a common sign of deception.) Driver wrote her book to help you sharpen your truth detector, but she doesn’t want you to become paranoid. On the contrary, she hopes to help you relax and trust people more.  You’ll be able to spot deception before bad things happen. You can cut yourself off from toxic and deceptive friends, employees or coworkers early and surround yourself with honest people. Her book is designed to re-calibrate your “BS Barometer” and build your confidence. You’ll be able to trust your instincts and really enjoy getting to know people. And that’s no lie. Find more at

1 thought on “Liar, Liar

  1. I have the right to remain silent. I want my lawyer before I say anything. 🙂

    In her book, does she define what constitutes lying? I believe it was Scotty on Star Trek who once said, you tell the Captain it will take longer to fix a problem than it takes. This allowed him leeway in dealing with the issue, while fixing the problem on time, in most cases. Much of life is like this and how you reply can have repercussions. Are superiors always looking for the truth or looking for timely solutions? I am sure there are more examples. I wonder if she has heard the saying, “What is truth?” Communication is a complex Enterprise. (Pardon the pun.)

    Yes, I do still read your posts from time to time. But truth is…Never mind. 🙂


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