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Forget About the Rosebuds…
It’s All About the Intel

While Robert Herrick’s poem may advise you to “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” Truth Wizards prefer to take a more practical approach: less rosebuds, more intelligence. In fact, gathering intel is the critical first step in effectively using your BS Barometer. If you’re ready to embrace your inner Nancy Drew or Shaggy, read on to learn more about this essential part of lie detection.


The Stakeout

We’re all familiar with the standard stakeout scene shown in countless movies and television procedurals wherein a pair of cops sits for hours in an unmarked car outside of a private residence. Well, they’re not sitting there because they enjoy backaches and bad coffee; they’re sitting there to gather information. The same process is an essential part of lie detection. Also referred to as “norming” and “baselining,” this step — for cops and Truth Wizards alike — has a critical imperative: determining the “normal” behavior of a suspect in order to identify deviations from the norm, which we call “hot spots.”

Before you head to the local donut shop to stock up on rations, stop: the Truth Wizard’s version of “gathering intelligence” is very different than a traditional law enforcement stakeout. Not only is it mercifully quicker, but it doesn’t involve any covert spying while you attempt to catch the next door neighbor in the act of stealing your morning paper. Instead, gathering intelligence is a face-to-face method during which you develop a rapport with a subject.

Don’t Underestimate Normal

Studying everyday behavior may seem like a boring and pointless endeavor. After all, how many truly great masters of lie detection waste time on day-to-day minutiae? The short answer: all of them. While Truth Wizardry may seem glamorous, baselining is a critical part of our bag of tricks. Why? Because a person’s basic behavioral patterns offer unique insight into identifying truths and lies. Establishing a baseline involves three specific factors: speech and behavior under normal conditions; speech and behavior under stress; and recognizing the difference between the two.

The Rap on Rapport

The more comfortable people are in your presence, the more likely they are to reveal their true, unguarded selves. Conversely, the less connected people feel during a social interaction, the more likely they are to lie — thereby rendering your mission a failure before it even begins.

So how do Truth Wizards encourage rapport? Enter some body language of our own. By keeping yourself open (meaningful eye contact, uncrossed arms and legs, torso pointed in the direction of your subject) you foster feelings of trust. Another trick? Discrete mirroring movements, which put you not just in physical but in mental syncopation with your subject. This one requires a deft execution lest your subject catch on and think you’re playing some bizarre one person game of Monkey See, Monkey Do.

Talk the Talk

But establishing a rapport is about more than body language; it is also developed through an empathetic viewpoint and good listening skills.

After all, what kind of reaction will you get if you approach an acquaintance and begin probing them with invasive personal questions? A literal or figurative door in the face. This is why asking the right questions is an essential part of gathering intelligence.

There’s no quicker way to shut down a baselining mission than by turning a conversation into an interrogation. This isn’t Dateline, after all. Live with Kelly and Michael is more like it. Stick to light, open-ended questions and you’ll set your subject at ease.

One simple way to accomplish rapport through conversation? Reveal something about yourself and our own experiences. By sharing a story and gently asking your subject to share on in return, you gain double the advantage: critical buy-in as well as baseline data.

In her book, “You Can’t Lie to Me,” body language expert Janine Driver recommends an intelligence gathering mantra: “How do I lower the stress in this situation?” In striving to fulfill this question, you create an open, trust-based exchange which bypasses defense mechanisms and yields access to true baseline behaviors. If you’re ready to get started, you won’t want to miss the next blog entry which offers up a handy Baseline Checklist as you set out on an intelligence gathering mission.

Until the next time – Keep It Real,
Mark Call

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