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Posted 07 August 2009 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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How to get to the truth

Introduction
I was in SAUDI ARABIA this week running a management course. We were discussing the problem of asking incisive questions to discover the truth, or specific facts.
Mohammed, a delegate asked me: "Have you got any tips on how to get at the truth, when interviewing another?".

I said "Yes".

He said "What are they?"

I said ... "There are three categories of thought on this issue:

  1. Things to ask about
  2. Things to listen for
  3. Things to watch for

1. Things to ask about

1a. Ask about any Negated language

Negated language is language which says "what is not".

Whenever you hear somebody talking about:

  1. What they are not going to do
  2. What they are not able to do
  3. What they do not want to do

Then, ask them for the affirmative.

Ask them specifically:

  1. What they ARE going to do?
  2. What they ARE able to do?
  3. What they DO want to do?

Keep off "what is not": Ask them specifically to talk about the affirmative

1b. Vague nouns

Nouns are words that reference things, ideas, and people.

For example: "Things" might mean....

  • Cars
  • Furniture
  • Plants

Ideas might mean.....

  • Honesty
  • Trade
  • Character

People might mean..........

  • Managers
  • Leaders
  • Customers

Nouns can be specific or vague
If you hear a "vague thing", ask for "the specific case"

Example questions for "vague things":
Cars? What cars? - Ford cars.

Furniture? What furniture? - The chairs in the lounge.
Plants? What plants? - Red roses.

Have them be more specific when they are talking about "concrete things".

If you hear a "vague idea" ask for the specific case

  • Honesty? : How do you mean?
  • Fair trade? How do you mean?
  • He has a good character? How do you mean?

Have them be more specific when they are talking about "vague concepts".

Vague Verbs:

Verbs are words denoting ACTIONS
Words like: Travelling, working, and recuperating
Verbs too, can be specific or vague.
Verbs are words denoting ACTIONS; if you hear "vague verbs phrases' ask for "the specific case".

Ask ...

  • Travelling? How exactly?
  • Working? On what exactly?
  • Recuperating? How exactly?

Have them be more specific when they are talking about "vague actions".

Things to listen for:

Contradictions

A contradiction occurs when a person makes two or more statements that do not correlate.
i.e. They say something, which later they deny or change

For example: Early in the conversation the man says, "I never even saw the REYNARD documents!"
Later he said, " I m sure I gave the REYNARD documents back to you last week".

  • Whenever you detect a contradiction make the alarm bells ring.
  • Because something is wrong!

If you hear a contradiction it means one of the following:

  1. The other is lying
  2. The other is unsure
  3. The other does not know and is guessing
  4. You have mis- understood the others message

Do not let contradictions remain unchallenged.

If in doubt- check it out!
Investigate any perceived contradiction.

Things to watch for:
Watch for In-congruence.

There are two ways to communicate:

  1. With congruence.
  2. Without congruence: in- congruence.

Congruent communication occurs when the speakers' words, voice tone and body language correlate and confirm each other.
Your words "go together with" your body language and your voice tone.
In-congruent communication occurs when the speakers' words, voice tone and body language DO NOT correlate and confirm each other.
My words "are mis- matched by" my body language and my voice tone.

For example; I say I am happy, but I look and sound depressed.
If you perceive in-congruence- it means one or more of the following:

  1. The other does not know and is guessing.
  2. The other is lying.
  3. The other is unsure.
  4. At least- you know that the other has more than one idea in his-her mind at once.

They are struggling with more than one idea on the same issue.

Do not let in congruence's remain unchallenged.

If in doubt- check it out!

Check any perceived incongruence.

Summary

Do you want any tips on how to get at the truth, when interviewing another?

Things to ask about:

Ask about the affirmative - what IS, (not "what is NOT")

Ask people to be more specific in relation to:

  1. People
  2. Things
  3. Ideas
  4. Actions

Things to listen for: Investigate any perceived contradiction.

Things to watch for: Check out any incongruence's .

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