The “Communication Paradox:” How Little You Know About Life’s Most Important Skill Reply

Part I:  Communicating Through Our Senses

by Chris Simmons

From birth to death, our five senses play central roles in our lives. They impact everything, from how we learn, to how we communicate. Yet most people have never considered the extent to which the language of the senses is embedded in how we communicate. As a result, the easiest and fastest way to increase your rapport with others – and thereby your influence – is to listen carefully and identify the sense in which they are communicating and then respond to them in their current sense-based channel.

All five senses pervade our vocabulary, but words and phrases associated with sight, sound, and touch are the most common. Additionally, the primary sense a person will use in verbal and written exchanges will change throughout the day based on their mood and other influences. As such, the importance of carefully listening/reading cannot be overstated.

For examples of sensory-flavored conversations, imagine these discussions:


1: “So, how do you picture this playing out?  What’s your vision to get everyone working together? Given the personalities involved, I don’t see this having any chance of succeeding.”

2:  “I see what you’re saying, but we don’t have a choice. We need everyone to buy-in and focus on making this merger work. Let’s come up with a rough plan that we can show the key stake holders tomorrow.”


3:  “If I understood the voicemail, it sounds to me like the realtor said we she’ll waive the points and closing fees if we can close on the house within two weeks.”

4:  “That would be music to my ears, but I’ll wait until I hear it directly from her.


5: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

6: “Dad, shhhh.  Stop trying to push my buttons. This is hard enough without you being a jerk. So just lighten up….please.”

Interesting Factoid:  When a divorced person is asked about their failed marriage, they generally respond from a touch (i.e., feeling) perspective.


7. “That left a really bad taste in my mouth, but I need this job so I’ll just have to choke it down.”

8.  “That was a bitter pill to swallow. I couldn’t do it. I would have quit.”


9. “The stench of failure is all over the project that John just inherited. They had originally tried to give it to me, but something about it smelled fishy, so I weaseled out of it.

10. “I know, it reeks worse than skunk road kill.”

To recap, you can increase your rapport and influence with virtually everyone with whom you interact by simply responding in the same sense-based language.

Four Easy Steps to Tell If a Child Is Lying 1

by Chris Simmons

Depending on their age, a child may lie for any number of reasons. Most importantly, children under six are especially vulnerable to having trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy. Several years ago, the media widely covered an incident alleging widespread sexual abuse of preschoolers at a day care center. After exhaustive media coverage and destroyed careers, the police discovered that the children had created the story in response to parental attention to an innocent act of touching.

Older children and adolescents may, like adults, lie for self-serving purposes. However, by combining the tools of Human Chess (i.e., behavior analysis, body language, and discourse construction), you will find it much easier to determine whether your child is lying.

Step 1:  Watch the child’s face.

The face of a truthful child will be relaxed and facial gestures (if any) will match what is being said. However, the face of a child who is lying or withholding information will likely show fear, apprehension, anxiety, or stress. Additionally, a lying child – just like a dishonest adult – will avoid eye contact and tend to slouch their shoulders when lying. They may also cover their mouth with their hand or cup their hands in their lap. “Micro-expressions,” the body’s involuntary response to lying, will also be apparent. One such common micro-expression is a smirk which flashes across the face (literally lasting less than a second).

Step 2:  Listen to what the child says and how he/she says it.

False accounts often have inconsistent, illogical, or incredulous storylines. If you suspect a child is lying, have them repeat their story. The truthful version can be told repeatedly with little or no variation. However, a story based entirely or in part on lies may have radical changes or contain competing sub-plots that cannot all be true.

One of the best ways to detect a false story is to ask the child to tell the tale in its entirety. Then pick a random point and ask the child to go through the story again from that point-forward. Do this repeatedly with different start points. Another technique is to ask them to recount major events in reverse order. Lies are remembered from start-to-finish, so no matter which approach is used, the child will display visible hesitation in their story as they “replay” the tale in their mind. (This works on adults too).

Step 3:  Is the child’s story rehearsed or spontaneous?

A truthful story is presented exactly as it occurred, that is, the narrative is a fresh telling of an actual event. Conversely, a lie may sound rehearsed or stiff. Additionally, the exact same phrases may be repeated when a child retells a rehearsed story. In addition, listen for changes in the level of detail. For example, if they are very specific about events, times, and people and suddenly glance over a segment (or vice versa), the “generalized” segment is always the part of the story they are trying to minimize. The child’s focus on the details occurs because it is true and therefore both easy to tell and remember.  Moresophisticated children (i.e., teenagers) will also tend to focus on details as a distractor and to help support an alibi(s).  (This is true for adults too).

Step 4:  Watch the body language.

The internal discomfort associated with deception will often make a lying child fearful, anxious, or defensive. The shoulders – one of the body’s most accurate indicators – will generally slouch when a lie is told. Additionally, the child’s body or face will tense and he/she may repeatedly touch the nose or mouth, cover their mouth with their hand, and avoid eye contact. Of course, some children are always nervous when speaking to adults and this must be taken into account. However, when a child who regularly speaks comfortably to adults suddenly becomes nervous in telling a certain story, the child may be lying.

The Hunt For “Bad Monika” Reply

Monika Simonovic

Pursuit of War Criminal Fostered Positive, Yet Unintended, Consequences

By Chris Simmons

Monika Simonović was a Serb guard at Brcko’s (pronounced “Birch-koo) notorious Luka detention camp in northeastern Bosnia. Reportedly just 18 year’s old when she first began handling the Croat and Muslim prisoners, her barbaric behavior quickly earned her the moniker, the “Female Monster.” Many people said she looked like a little girl, but witnesses provided evidence that in 1992, she participated in some of the worst atrocities of the war.

In Bosnia as a peace-keeper, I was the Collections Chief for NATO’s intelligence battalion. I ran the alliance’s “Human Intelligence” efforts, gathering information from over 200 “sources” living throughout Bosnia and Croatia. Our collection requirements were diverse: refugee issues, Persons Indicted For War Crimes (PIFWCs) (i.e., war criminals), demilitarization of the former combatants, corruption, terrorism, etc.

Our holdings on Simonović were extensive and the information so graphic and disturbing that no one ever read her entire case file without stopping to emotionally regroup. From 1992-1995, she was renowned for routinely beating prisoners with fire hoses and batons. However, Simonović was best known for her more horrific crimes, to include slicing open a man’s stomach with a broken beer bottle and dissecting a pregnant woman to remove her fetus.

Unindicted for some inexplicable reason, I nonetheless made the unilateral decision to hunt her down. Tagging her with the nickname “Bad Monika,” I assigned our Tuzla-based intelligence collectors with the lead on this mission, a tasking they enthusiastically embraced.

The first and only unindicted war criminal we actively pursued, Simonović had earned herself a long and distinguished list of enemies. As word spread throughout our source network, information quickly began to flow in. Several weeks into the nationwide chase, we were just 30-minutes behind her. Afraid for the first time in her life,” she used every available resource to elude capture. In a heartbreaking turn of events, “Bad Monika” vanished into thin air.

Despite her escape, our pursuit of Simonović triggered a series of welcome, but unexpected and unintended consequences. As our hunt intensified, rumors spread throughout Bosnia and Croatia about the existence of a “Secret” PIFWC list. The logic behind the rumor was that since NATO had never previously pursued unindicted war criminals, clearly there had to be two rosters – one public list and a newly-established secret one. Additionally, NATO declined to refute the existence of a “Secret” list, leading both the general public and war criminals throughout the region to see it as confirmation.

The quality and quantity of reporting on all major war criminals soared, causing further panic among these criminals. Some fled to other countries, while others went deeper into hiding. Regardless, the previously public existence of these individuals ended, creating the public perception that the nation was another step closer to a lasting peace. And thus, the sense of stability deepened throughout the nation.

Note:  Monika Simonović evaded justice for another 11 years, apparently living for much of that time in neighboring Serbia under a false name. On December 20, 2011, police officials found and arrested her in the northwestern city of Prijedor, Bosnia. Her husband, Goran Jelisic, with whom she worked at the Luka camp, had been sentenced to 40 years in jail by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in 2001. Likewise, her brother, Konstantin, who commanded the camp, had also been previously arrested and incarcerated.

What Al-Qaeda Taught Me About the Frailty of Loyalty 28

By Chris Simmons

The most diabolical, manipulative, and extraordinarily successful interrogation ploy I used to interrogate High-Value terrorists in Iraq was the Prisoners’ Dilemma. It LITERALLY never failed. Research the Prisoners’ Dilemma and you will find it called “game theory.” I can assure you its use is neither theoretical nor game-like. It appeals to the strongest and basest instincts in all of us – self-survival –by pitting members of a group against one another for a reward.

More was always better with this technique, but a two detainee minimum was sufficient. In our case, we always began our “theater of the mind” in the Black Room, so named as its floor, ceiling, and walls were painted matte black. We’d also found a way to give the room a slight echo-effect, which many found unsettling. Having captured several Al-Qaeda associates (all believed to have similar information) in a given raid, we would move them from their individual cells to the Black Room. While being moved, our detainees wore blacked-out goggles to increase stress and anxiety.

My guards would place the detainees against opposing walls. Once everyone was in position, they would quickly and briefly lift the detainees’ goggles so they could see their associates. In an amazing performance, one of my staff – in a very calm and confident voice – would then tell the group they needed to listen carefully as we were about to make a limited-time offer. They were told we knew who they were and that they shared similar experiences and knowledge. As a result, we explained, there was no need for us to question all of them. So, the first one (or two, or three – depending on group size) to cooperate would receive lenient treatment and be quickly released. The others would be identified as “uncooperative” and held indefinitely (Note: We were under no obligation to be truthful with our High-Value Individuals).

Pacing back and forth down the center of the room, my “choreographer” would then announce that all those ready to cooperate and be quickly processed for release should raise their right hand – NOW. Since our performance was based exclusively on auditory cues, nothing was left to chance. Regardless of whether anyone raised their hand, my “choreographer” would then loudly announce “Alright, we have one…now two..” (Note: His response was tailored based on group size).

Extra guards we had stationed in the Black Room would then noisily shuffle off, creating the illusion of cooperating detainees. The words and sounds exploited their worst fears. Within seconds, hands would go up (if they hadn’t initially). Paranoia soared as the sound of more exiting detainees echoed throughout the room.

In some cases, every detainee volunteered, creating a vicious race to see who could reveal the most information the fastest. For any that were left, we would wait until the room was again silent and as their goggles were lifted, tell them what their eyes knew to be true –several (if not all) of their colleagues had abandoned them. Invariably, the previously reluctant detainee(s) would suddenly agree to “take the deal.” The cut-throat competitiveness of the Prisoners’ Dilemma also precluded detainees from the self-defeating response of lying to one of my interrogators. It simply did not occur.

The most striking and disturbing aspect of this questioning technique was how quickly self-interest shattered not just the existing cohesiveness of the detainee group, but even their individual values, beliefs, and identities. Blood-ties and Al-Qaeda service together meant little when pitted against our appeal. On every occasion, primal self-interest trumped loyalty and collective needs, not it days or weeks, but in just a few short hours.

The Psyche on Automatic Reply

Amy Cuddy Probes Snap Judgments, Warm Feelings, and how to Become an “Alpha Dog.”

by Craig Lambert, Harvard Magazine, November-December 2010

THOUGH SNAP judgments get no respect, they are not so much a bad habit as a fact of life. Our first impressions register far too quickly for any nuanced weighing of data: “Within less than a second, using facial features, people make what are called ‘spontaneous trait inferences,’” says Amy Cuddy.

Social psychologist Cuddy, an assistant professor of business administration, investigates how people perceive and categorize others. Warmth and competence, she finds, are the two critical variables. They account for about 80 percent of our overall evaluations of people (i.e., Do you feel good or bad about this person?), and shape our emotions and behaviors toward them. Her warmth/competence analysis illuminates why we hire Kurt instead of Kyra, how students choose study partners, who gets targeted for sexual harassment, and how the “motherhood penalty” and “fatherhood bonus” exert their biases in the workplace. It even suggests why we admire, envy, or disparage certain social groups, elect politicians, or target minorities for genocide.

Cuddy also studies nonverbal behavior like the postures of dominance and power. Intriguingly, her latest research connects such poses to the endocrine system, showing the links between stances, gestures, and hormones. This work may help clarify how men and women rise to the top—or fall by the wayside—in school and at work. And it relates to some surprising findings about how venture capitalists decide where to make their high-risk investments.

QUITE LITERALLY BY ACCIDENT, Cuddy became a psychologist. In high school and in college at the University of Colorado at Boulder, she was a serious ballet dancer who worked as a roller-skating waitress at the celebrated L.A. Diner. But one night, she was riding in a car whose driver fell asleep at 4:00 A.M. while doing 90 miles per hour in Wyoming; the accident landed Cuddy in the hospital with severe head trauma and “diffuse axonal injury,” she says. “It’s hard to predict the outcome after that type of injury, and there’s not much they can do for you.”

Cuddy had to take years off from school and “relearn how to learn,” she explains. “I knew I was gifted—I knew my IQ, and didn’t think it could change. But it went down by two standard deviations after the injury. I worked hard to recover those abilities and studied circles around everyone. I listened to Mozart—I was willing to try anything!” Two years later her IQ was back. And she could dance again.

She returned to college as a 22-year-old junior whose experience with brain trauma had galvanized an interest in psychology. A job in a neuropsychology lab proved dull, but she found her passion in social psychology. Cuddy graduated from Boulder in 1998, then began a job as a research assistant to Susan Fiske ’73, Ph.D. ’78 at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Fiske became her mentor for the next seven years; in 2000 they both moved to Princeton, where Cuddy earned her doctorate in social psychology in 2005; her dissertation investigated aspects of warmth and competence perception. (Fiske remains on the Princeton faculty, and the two women still collaborate on research.)

Cuddy taught at Rutgers, then was recruited to join the faculty at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. She spent two years in Chicago before moving to Boston in 2008 to join the faculty at Harvard Business School, where she teaches courses in negotiation and power and influence.

Read the full article here:

Resume Fraud: Little White Lies Aren’t So Little Anymore Reply

Karen Bush Schneider in the The Greater Lansing Business Monthly

Mark Twain once said, “Honesty is the best policy—when there is money in it.”  Apparently, honesty doesn’t pay too well these days, judging by the rise in occupational dishonesty in the labor market.

The little white lies and exaggerations that job applicants used to include on their résumés are being replaced by high-tech scams that go way beyond mere puffery. Job hunters are not merely enhancing education credentials, they are creating them, along with employment histories, specialized licenses and job references.

The rise in résumé fraud can be traced to the rise in unemployment, coupled with tough competition among those competing in the labor market for what few jobs are available.  Job seekers who don’t have a degree or specialized skills are inventing them out of desperation. For the employer, this translates into a significant problem since applicants who lie on their résumés often become employees who misrepresent issues on the job.  It is estimated that résumé fraud costs employers approximately $600 billion annually.[1]

The statistics concerning résumé fraud are grim. One survey estimates that as many 80 percent of all job seekers submit applications and résumees that contain intentionally misleading information.[2] The misrepresentation involves work experience, criminal history, inflated past salaries and education credentials.[3] It is not confined to workers who seek labor versus managerial or administrative positions. Indeed, in a 2001 survey of more than 7,000 applicants for executive positions, it was found that 23 percent misrepresented personal information. Of those who misrepresented information, 71 percent lied about length of service, 64 percent lied about accomplishments, 60 percent exaggerated managerial experience, 52 percent identified mere attendance at college as a degree, 48 percent overstated job responsibilities, and 41 percent omitted negative employment experiences.[4]

The most common areas of falsification involve employment history and education/training. With regard to employment history, job applicants are falsifying not only their length of employment with employers and the reason for their departure, but also job titles, responsibilities and even the employers themselves. A recent trick has involved filling employment gaps with fictitious employment with companies that have closed or never existed.  Websites designed to aid occupational fraud provide job seekers, for a fee, with a 1-800 number an applicant may use on a résumé for employment verification. When a prospective employer calls the 800 number, it is provided with a glowing recommendation and confirmation of employment at the fictitious company.

Consider, for example, the services provided by  The site claims that “over 70 percent of college graduates admit to lying on their résumés to get hired. Can you afford not to know the techniques, tricks and methods they use?” The site then dismisses ethical concerns by telling potential customers that “companies … expect you to work like a slave and then treat you like dirt.” The site assures potential customers that “your loyalty should be to yourself, your family and your friends that look out for you and take care of you.” The site also observes that human resources managers assume that “EVERYONE embellishes, exaggerates, puffs up, and basically lies to some extent on [his/her] résumé. So if you are being totally honest, you are being penalized because they are going to assume that you embellished your résumé to a certain extent!” The website then offers a “powerful underground guide” designed to show job applicants how to fill gaps in employment history, add experience to their résumé, fake references, lie about age, get college transcripts from any university with any GPA the applicant wants, and rig their resume´ so it gets picked by automated human resources systems which screen résumés. The website even boasts that the résumé guide is “tax deductible.”

Article continues here:

Connie Podesta: The Two Most Manipulative Emotions Reply

Connie Podesta  is an award-winning motivational speaker, author, organizational therapist,  TV/Radio personality, business coach and leading expert in the psychology of  human behavior as it relates to change management, sales strategies, leadership  skills, relationships and developing successful teams.

Dr Chris Shea – The Secrets of Nonverbal Communication Reply

Dr. Chris Shea works in nonverbal strategy analysis for groups and individuals including analyses and skills training in nonverbal communication. She will be doing a TEDx talk at TEDxMerseyside 2012 exploring the implications and uses of nonverbal psychology.

Editor’s Note: In her conclusion, Dr. Shea insists “you cannot lie with your face, not very well anyway.” While I disagree with the totality of this particular assertion, overall, she is very knowledgeable and presents a lot of useful information very clearly and concisely.