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Detecting Deception

The Body Language Institute recently held a course on Detecting Deception with J.J. Newberry, a world-renowned expert in detecting deception and founder of The Institute of Analytical Interviewing.

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The Body Language Institute recently held a course on Detecting Deception with J.J. Newberry, a world-renowned expert in detecting deception and founder of The Institute of Analytical Interviewing. I had the honor of spending two days with J.J. and would like to provide you with highlights from the course and meaningful tips to help you manage your projects.

Day 1: Interviewing Fundamentals

J.J. has trained the FBI, CIA, ATF, Scotland Yard and many other law enforcement agencies to approach interviewing suspects as a means to find the truth versus getting a confession.

To get to the truth, one has to establish an individual’s norm + stress baseline. That can take from a second to 6 months based on rapport. Once these baselines are established, one can identify behavioral variation known as a hotspot.

Hotspots give interviewers cues as to when to ask probing questions. One must never assume that one behavioral deviation automatically means deception. It just means that one should ask more questions to understand the root cause of that deviation.

For instance, if you ask Sara “what do you think of Project Manager Bob?” and she says “Oooh, he’s great (while rolling her eyes)”.

One may assume that Sara is being dishonest but instead of using our logic to explain her facial expression, we are taught to ask, “Why is Sara rolling her eyes?”

So a follow-up question could be as simple as,


(Sara) “Absolutely, when you asked me about Bob, I just remembered that I owed him something that’s overdue.”

So her facial expression had nothing to do with her opinion on Bob but instead it had to do with forgetting to do something for him.

In dialogue, we naturally tend to have multiple thoughts while listening. These thoughts could result in facial expressions that have nothing to do with the dialogue at hand. So don’t put too much weight in one behavioral deviation.

To detect deception, one needs see to something known as a cluster. A cluster is a pattern where one sees or hears a minimum of 3 deviations happening at the same time. This can include body language shifts, micro-expression leaks, and speech deviations.

Day 2: Applying Techniques

In addition to understanding behavioral deviation, Janine Driver, the Lyin’ Tamer and founder of the Body Language Institute, taught us how body language and micro-expressions also contribute to detecting deception. In fact, Janine talks to Donny Deutsch about this very topic on his show The Big Idea.

Body language is important because it allows us to quickly see inconsistent behavioral patterns. For example, if someone tends to talk with his or her hands and all of a sudden stops after being asked a question. It’s a cue to ask, “Why has this person all of a sudden stopped talking with their hands?”

Janine also taught us how to understand and read micro-expressions using the Facial Action Coding System (F.A.C.S.). People leak certain emotions that take place within a fraction of a second and F.A.C.S. provides a system to quickly identify the 7 universal micro-expressions.

We spent several hours practicing all the tools J.J. and Janine provided us and found the practicum invaluable. To help you identify behavioral deviations, I’ve pulled together the below table from my class notes.

The verbal cues list provides you with cues that you should listen for when talking to someone.

People who have nothing to hide typically have immediate responses. For example, if I ask you “are you a man?” when clearly you are a woman (or vice versa). The natural response would be “No”. It would not be, “Define a Man/Woman”.

The non-verbal cues list provides you with visual cues to look for when talking to someone.

So if I you ask someone, “how did you like that restaurant?” and he or she says, “it was great (with a long frozen smile lasting for longer than 40 seconds while moving their head from side to side saying NO)” – it’s a cue to ask more questions.

The goal of detecting deception is to find the truth. So “Never Use Your Logic To Understand Their Logic” J.J. Newberry and “Never Be A Mind Reader” Janine Driver.

I highly recommend this course and hope I was able to provide you with some insight to help you detect deception within your project teams.