How To Get The Truth (Part III)
A Strong Defense: Avoiding The Lie
The best time to deal with a lie is before it turns into one. The following is a technique for cutting a suspicion off at the pass before it turns into deception.
This is the method you use when you want the truth as it relates to a person’s previous behavior. Here is a possible scenario: a parent suspects that her twelve-year-old son is smoking cigarettes. Approach: “I know all about the smoking and the sneaking around. You know I’m not happy about that, but I just want you to promise me that you won’t drink alcohol until you’re twenty-one.”
This is by far the finest approach because it works on so many levels. First, it takes a forward assumptive stance – the parent “knows all about the smoking.” Second, it uses two truisms. The phrases “sneaking around” and “you know I’m not happy about that” set the tone for honesty. The child hears two things that he knows to be true: He was sneaking around and his mother is unhappy about his smoking. He is therefore willing to accept at face value what follows. Third, the mother gives her son an easy out. All he has to do is promise not to drink and he’s home free. There’s no threat or punishment, just honest statements followed by a deal that he believes to be true as well.
The guidelines to keep in mind for this procedure are as follows:
• Assume your suspicion as fact
• State at least two truisms (facts that you both know to be true)
• Switch the focus from a threat to a request
• The request should be easy for him to accept and sound reasonable
This method is used when you want the truth as it relates to a new decision. It is a simple but highly effective strategy to avoid being deceived. Oftentimes someone wants to tell us the truth, but it’s easier to tell a lie instead. The person knows the answer you want to hear and will give it to you whether he believes it or not. However, if he doesn’t know what you want, then he won’t be able to deceive you. Read the following examples and notice how well the second phrasing masks your true question.
• “Would you like me to cook for you tonight?” ––– “Do you feel like eating in or out tonight?”
• “I’m thinking of asking Rhonda out. What do you think of her?” ––– “What do you think of Rhonda?”