I am one of those writers that harbours a secret fear that someone, somehow will discover what has been recently entered into my search engine. Mostly because, well, it’s a little bit scary.
While researching 911 calls and transcripts for a murder mystery I am crafting, I stumbled upon a website dedicated to statement analysis. In short, statement analysis is determining if a person is lying or telling the truth by analyzing the subject’s use of language in 911 calls, police interrogations, news coverage interviews and courtroom testimony.
I know what you are thinking — pseudoscience. Okay. Okay. I’ll give you that. There’s a huge error of margin in this due to nerves, verbal ticks, shock, habits and cultural or interpersonal differences. You can take it or leave it.
As a Toastmaster, I find it fascinating how our choice of words (including the number three) may have the opposite impact upon our audience as we intended.
As we learned in Project 4 “How to Say It” of our Competent Communication manual, “words are powerful. They convey your message and influence the audience and its perception of you. Word choice and arrangement need just as much attention as a speech organization and purpose.”
According to Mark McClish, a retired Deputy United States Marshal with 26 years of federal law enforcement experience, on his website (www.statementanalysis.com) “people’s words will betray them . . . The key is to listen to what people are telling you and to know what to look for in a statement.”
What are the deception red flags? Here are a few things McClish and statement analysts look for when seeking signs of untruthfulness:
The Number Three
According to McClish, “I have found that when deceptive people have to come up with a number they will often use the number three . . . (It) has become known as the “liar’s number.”
When a person is describing an incident his story will be comprised of three segments: What the person was doing BEFORE the incident; what they were doing DURING; and what they did AFTER.
Truthful stories will generally follow a pattern of 25/50/25 (before/during/after). However, deceptive stories, according to McClish, have a ratio of 35/50/15. They need to set the stage for their tale while trying to work out the details for the conclusion.
Question with a Question
When someone answers a question with a question (or even repeating the question), this is a stall tactic, as we know from Table Topics.
The use of “really” as a descriptor can be deceptive for it is trying to add importance, stretch a particular area. “I hit him really, really hard.” Over emphasis without substance.
According to McClish, deceptive people use this phrase to tell you that “you know this.” They expect you take for granted what they are saying is the truth. However, if the phrase occurs a lot, it is a speech pattern.
Words or phrases such as: “kind of,” “I think,” “I thought,” “I don’t know,” “about,” “like” and “sort of.” These distant the speaker from the event or his participation. Trying to recall but not really a part of. Not to blame.
In short, use clear, simple, vivid and forceful words that add excitement to your presentation while utilizing good grammar and pronunciation. Use concrete, specific words that communicate what you mean and simple statements that are easy to understand. Avoid the red flags of deception.