Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Silence is Golden

So there I was, sat down at lunch with a guy who I knew was lying to us.  His eyes gleamed with satisfaction as he believed that he was pulling the wool over our eyes. What was truly pathetic was that, in supposing that he was amplifying his own personal value in our minds, the opposite was actually true.  

What he had done was pulled an old news story from the headlines, altered a few key details, and reprised the role of hero of the story.  He had pretended to have photographed the curvature of the Earth by sending a camera into the stratosphere using nothing but a cellular phone and a weather balloon.  Anyone else remember that headline?

Think back to last week's post.  I ended with a question - "What do you do when you know that someone is lying to you?"  

The answer:  Nothing.  


Long, drawn-out, painful silence.

Take a moment and think about this from another perspective.  Imagine that you have just met somebody, and that you've been introduced by a friend.  That friend then walks away and leaves you and this relative stranger alone together.  What generally happens?

In most cases, a pretty weak conversational exchange occurs as a result of some social or cultural compunction that is somehow lodged in our collective minds.  

Why?  Because you have to say something.  Silence in a situation like this is pretty much unthinkable.  I am sure that everyone who reads this will be able to summon up in their mind the feeling you get in these situations.

Now, imagine that your new acquaintance broke the social norms.  Nothing was said at all.  

Awkward, right?  

But it is worse than that.  Much worse.  Rather than just looking away and not saying anything, they make fantastic eye contact, their body language is engaging. They just aren't saying anything at all.

Picture that situation and think about what you would do.

The answer 99% of the time?  Babble like a chump about anything that comes to mind while simultaneously searching desperately for any avenue of escape.

Now, this may seem like an odd hypothetical situation, but it beautifully illustrates the point that in uncomfortable situations (and this includes those revolving around confrontation) silence is just plain eerie, and a nervous individual will find it unbearable.

Think about it!  Any horror film anywhere has at least one really nervous guy babbling madly to himself as an act of pacification when he would hear the axe murderer's footsteps a heck of a lot more clearly if he preserved and valued silence.

So, when being lied to, keep calm and stay silent. 


Well, there are tremendous benefits to this approach.  The liar will have spun you a tale that they have checked and double-checked in their mind.  But the thing about a lie is that it is never airtight.  The nature of a lie is that it will have some facet of it that will give it away as such.  Oftentimes, these chinks in the armor go undiscovered - mostly because the situation was handled poorly.  

Consider my friend - the unlikely amateur scientist.  

If I had said something the moment I recognized the whole wild story as a rehash of someone else's scientific experiment, he could have said that he copied and verified and the work undertaken by someone else in order to verify their findings, and I would have lacked the data I needed to unmask the whole sordid untruth as the vile deception that it really was.

I did not, however, handle the situation incorrectly.  I filled the air with silence, and he felt compelled to keep adding details to fill that silence.  And that is where they will slip up, because they didn't stick to the plan.  In their need to convince, they will ultimately betray themselves and uncover their own untruths.

Such was the case here.  Eventually, he offered to show me video of the whole thing and pulled it up on his phone.  I watched the whole time-lapse scenario with apparent interest, asking him where this building was, or how long the process took, or what the temperature was like outside at the time.  Little details - but damning.

What he didn't notice was that before he could make the whole thing full screen on the phone, I had noted the time stamp on the video indicated that it had been uploaded two years prior, but he had told me he had just created the video a month ago.  

My silence had led him into one lie that he could not hide, and I then had the foresight to make him pin his colors to the mast and further outline details unique to that video.

He was happily talking about his idea of building upon this work and launching a model rocket to the moon from a weather balloon sent into the stratosphere to win a $3,000,000.00 prize from Google when I decided to expose the lie for what it was.

He backtracked and blustered.  It was shameful, embarrassing, and devastating.

He had been caught, and it was all due to silence.

Remember, in their need to convince, they will fill up the silence with little lies, ones they hadn't planned on telling - their agitated condition nearly guarantees it - and if you keep calm and weigh the evidence, you will be prepared to successfully uncover the truth.

So, I think that wraps up our look at discerning the signs of deception.  

Where do we go from here?  Tune in next week to find out!

On another note, included below is a video that you may enjoy.  Before you have a look at it, I want to note - this isn't just something that I'd like you to watch - I'd like your participation as well.

I'm quite interested to see if anyone else can find the significance of what I said in this video to influence my subject to choose the predicted card.

The video is here:

No comments:

Post a Comment