Lie-Spotting: It’s As Easy as “1, 2, 3” 1

By Chris Simmons

Spotting lies is simpler than you might imagine. Broken down to its basic structure, every narrative only has three parts: Before, During [the event] & After. In the investigative world, we call these segments Secondary Issue, Central Issue, & Secondary Issue. True stories are generally balanced, with each phase comprising about a third of the narrative. A deceptive storyline, however, almost always follows one of three patterns:

  • Central Issue only [extraordinarily short] (for example, “They broke in, stole my stuff, and left. That’s pretty much it”).
  • Short Central Issue followed by long Secondary Issue.
  • Long Secondary Issue followed by short Central Issue.

For a deceiver, keeping the Central Issue brief and vague are essential to success. In contrast, the truthful person’s narrative flows smoothly through all three Issues and is full of details.

Despite the ease of this process, knowing when you are being lied to and uncovering the truth are two totally different challenges. That said, the first step in getting to the truth is identifying the lie(s).

For more information on Statement Analysis, check out The Forensic Profile of a False Statement and The Forensic Profile of a True Statement

What Al-Qaeda Taught Me About the Frailty of Loyalty – Redux Reply

Al-Qaeda in Iraq (Courtesy: Fox News)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This award-winning post was originally published on May 29, 2013.

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.

A “Cheat Sheet” For The Art of Negotiation 1

By Chris Simmons

Negotiations come in all shapes, sizes, and intensities. While bargaining with a spy is very different from negotiating a home purchase or buying a car, many of the core tactics remain the same. Simple to master and easy to remember, these practices will help you get more out of any negotiation.

PREPARATION

  1. Understand that negotiations are rooted in emotional “wants,” not rational “needs.” For example, do you really “need” a 455 HP Corvette? Know what the other party truly wants. What is it that you need? How big is the gap between what you want and what you need?
  2. Identify the personal and cultural biases and quirks of the other party. Develop a plan to circumvent their biases or exploit weaknesses in their perceptions (for example, you may want to use a female negotiator in a male-dominated industry).
  3. Have an opening position, a “target” or ideal position, and a bottom line.
  4. In general, plan to address the easier issues first as a means of building momentum. The longer you negotiate, the harder it is for many people to walk away.
  5. Since most communication is nonverbal, one team member should focus on watching the behavioral cues of the other party.
  6. Remember, threats have no place in a negotiation, no matter how hotly contested.
  7. When possible, avoid allowing your decision-maker to get involved once the negotiations are underway. This maximizes your bargaining position and leverage by intentionally limiting your negotiator’s authority.
  8. Ideally, have a single spokesperson, but allow any team member to call a caucus, and caucus often.

“IN THE ROOM”

  1. Never be afraid to walk away from a negotiation – and ensure the other party knows you will if discussions sour.
  2. Operate from the perspective that everything is negotiable.
  3. Never accept their first offer.
  4. Nothing is free; every concession you offer is an exchange for something you want. Use “Yes, if…” in your discussions to reinforce the perception that the issue is not yet decided. Derail any outrageous offer by making your “if” so severe, that YOU decline the offer & counteroffer as unacceptable to both sides.
  5. Your initial offer should be at the upper limits of what is reasonable.
  6. Use sharply tapered concessions to gain momentum and show “good faith” effort. Make very small concessions as you near the end. Many individuals and groups follow a pattern known as the “Rule of Halves.” In this technique, each concession is roughly – but never precisely – half of the previous offer. If you are pushed below your target goal, intensify the theatrics by pushing hard for every point; seeking to split the difference; and offering no major concessions.
  7. Be patient.
  8. Always be on the lookout for creative concessions to offer.
  9. Be sensitive to any outside issue that seems to arise unexpectedly, as it could be a real issue.
  10. When the deal is almost done, ask for one more concession. This is known as a “nibble at the end.”
  11. Everything is conditional — until settled at the conclusion.
  12. When asked “is this your bottom line?,” answer with words to the effect “This is a fair offer/competitive offer/etc.”
  13. Ensure the other party feels satisfied with the outcome. Note: “Win-lose” negotiations are viable only in one-shot opportunities where no long-term relationship is sought (e.g., buying a car, house, etc).

 

Think You Can’t Change The World? Don’t Believe It Reply

By Chris Simmons

What words do you use to describe a man who cashed in his retirement pension to fund – and serve with – volunteers who flew high-risk Search & Rescue missions?

In the early 1990s, Cubans were so desperate to flee their prison-homeland that tens of thousands attempted to cross the Straits of Florida. However, the 93 miles between Key West and Havana are notoriously dangerous. The Cuban Navy would capture and tow escaping rafters back to the island or worse, sink their vessel and leave survivors to die at sea. Sharks were a constant threat.

And finally — the wind. Lacking money for any kind of motor, rafters were at the mercy of the trade winds. If the winds blew the wrong way or a rafter’s navigation was off – they were condemned to a slow, lingering death in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean.

Living in the Florida Keys, Matt Lawrence refused to be a bystander to this human tragedy. He teamed up with three friends to fly their own rescue missions. The locals quickly dubbed them “Los Gringos con Corazon” – “The White Guys with Heart.” Matt’s pension paid for their equipment, fuel, and other necessities, but at a cost of roughly $1000 per mission, they needed to stretch every penny. To enhance their ability to save lives, the friends created the nonprofit group, Freedom Flight International.

Matt racked up over 500 hours of flight time during the next several years. Over the course of three “rafter seasons,” which ran from late spring through summer’s end, he flew an estimated 75-100 rescue missions.

Flying in search of rafters was inherently dangerous. Partnering with sister groups, Los Gringos and two or three other planes would fly abreast of one another, about five miles between each aircraft. The sheer size of the Florida Straits forced them to fly low since rafters left Cuba on lashed-together inner tubes or almost anything else that would float. Upon finding a rafter(s), they descended to 50-100 feet above the water, an extremely dangerous task at 130 miles an hour. The low altitude was necessary so they could drop emergency aid, communicate with the survivors, and assess the situation. After a mission, countless additional hours were spent on plane maintenance, prepping for the next flight, and training.

Matt Lawrence and the rest of Los Gringos stopped flying in August 1994 – the month President Bill Clinton reversed US policy and ordered the Coast Guard to repatriate every Cuban rafter found at sea. The exodus was over.

In the course of three short years, Los Gringos con Corazon helped save 511 rafters.

Matt Lawrence did what he felt was necessary to save lives. He asked and expected nothing in return. Some may see his actions as reckless – his girlfriend did – she walked out on him because of his rescue efforts. Looking back, he sees his sacrifices as wholly justified – and I trust 511 Cuban-Americans would agree with him.

Now a best-selling author and dive instructor, Matt Lawrence is also a former treasure hunter and aficionado of sea-recovered artifacts. He lives quietly in Summerland Key, a few islands to the east of the madness that is Key West.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead   

The sad sight that Matt Lawrence called "A Tombstone at Sea."

An empty raft — a sight Matt Lawrence called “A Tombstone at Sea.”

"Los Gringos con Corazon" on a mission with "Brothers to the Rescue." From left to right, Thomas Van Hare, Conrad Webber, Steve Walton, Matt Lawrence.

Los Gringos con Corazon” on a mission with “Brothers to the Rescue.” From left to right, Thomas Van Hare, Conrad Webber, Steve Walton, Matt Lawrence.

Rescued rafters

Rescued rafters

Tali Sharot: The Optimism Bias Reply

Are we born to be optimistic, rather than realistic? Tali Sharot shares new research that suggests our brains are wired to look on the bright side — and how that can be both dangerous and beneficial.

Optimism bias is the belief that the future will be better, much better, than the past or present. And most of us display this bias. Neuroscientist Tali Sharot wants to know why: What is it about our brain that makes us overestimate the positive? She explores the question in her book The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain. 

In the book (and a 2011 TIME magazine cover story), she reviewed findings from both social science and neuroscience that point to an interesting conclusion: “our brains aren’t just stamped by the past. They are constantly being shaped by the future.” In her own work, she’s interested in how our natural optimism actually shapes what we remember, and her interesting range of papers encompasses behavioral research (how likely we are to misremember major events) as well as medical findings — like searching for the places in the brain where optimism lives. Sharot is a faculty member of the Department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences at University College London.

The Focused Leader Reply

by Daniel Goleman, Harvard Business Review

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Attention is the basis of the most essential of leadership skills—emotional, organizational, and strategic intelligence. And never has it been under greater assault. If leaders are to direct the attention of their employees toward strategy and innovation, they must first learn to focus their own attention, in three broad ways: on themselves, on others, and on the wider world.

Every leader needs to cultivate this triad of awareness, in abundance and in the proper balance, because a failure to focus inward leaves one rudderless, a failure to focus on others renders one clueless, and a failure to focus outward may cause one to be blindsided. The good news is that practically every form of focus can be strengthened.

The author of Emotional Intelligence, Social Intelligence, and many other books on the power of cultivating awareness explains why focus is crucial to great leadership. Focused leaders can command the full range of their own attention: They are in touch with their inner feelings, they can control their impulses, they are aware of how others see them, and they can weed out distractions and also allow their minds to roam widely, free of preconceptions.

Read the complete article here:  The Focused Leader

The “X-Y” Theory of Motivation Reply

By Chris Simmons

American psychologist Douglas McGregor detailed the X-Y theory in his 1960 book, The Human Side of Enterprise.” While some recent studies question the inflexibility of his work, X-Y is still widely used in addressing organizational motivations and culture. McGregor suggests management styles are a simple choice between authoritarian or participatory approaches. Furthermore, Theory X (dictatorial) managers will generally experience poor results while their Theory Y (engaged) counterparts see better individual and organizational performance because of the opportunities to grow and develop.

Theory X Assumptions (Authoritarian Management)

  • The average person inherently dislikes work and will avoid it if possible.
  • Because most people dislike work, they must be coerced into striving towards an organizational goal.
  • The average person avoids responsibility, has little or no ambition, desires security over all other things, and prefers to be task-directed.

Theory Y Assumptions (Participatory Management)

  • Work is satisfying.
  • Physical and mental exertion at work is as natural as play or rest.
  • Coercion is not the only way to motivate people to work. When committed to a cause, people willingly use self-direction and self-control to achieve a goal.
  • One’s commitment is tied to the value of the perceived reward for achievement.
  • People seek and accept responsibility and will do the job based on their perception of the job’s priority.
  • The ability to solve organizational problems using ingenuity, creativity, and imagination is widely – not narrowly – found among the general populace.
  • The average person’s intellectual potential is only partially realized.

For all those currently suffering under a Theory X boss, read this offering from businessballs.com on surviving an authoritarian manager

How to Demotivate Your Employees in 4 Easy Steps 3

By Chris Simmons

Many managers, supervisors, and leaders around the world are skilled in a classic “blunder cluster” known as The Four Methods of Demotivation. These time-tested methods are virtually guaranteed to increase employee dissatisfaction, send annual turnover into the double-digits, and decrease productivity. Note: Methods are NOT necessarily listed in order of demotivational effectiveness!

1. Subvert decisions. This practice is so common that employees who haven’t been “bypassed” by a supervisor are considered “endangered species.” Managers can also issue orders to subordinates that contradict guidance provided by that individual’s immediate supervisor. Done often enough, the undercut supervisor starts deferring decisions to upper management, leaving the employee confused about who is in charge.
2. “Shooting From The Hip.” Supervisors can also stifle motivation by making a decision on a newly-presented problem “on the spot.” Done correctly, hip-shooting is inaccurate, ineffective, and includes employees who should have NO say in either the problem or its solution.
3. Making what should be a collective decision, alone and in advance. In this scenario, the supervisor seeks input from those employees responsible for implementing a decision, impacted by a decision, or simply whose insights would be informative. Subsequently, employees come to understand that the solicitation was an empty gesture and as a result, offer little commitment to the endeavor.
4. Interfering. Delegation is supposed to put projects into the hands of people qualified to execute them. These qualified subordinates are then supposed to be held accountable for the project. However, for those managers unwilling to let go, interfering is best implemented by issuing clarifications, providing periodic follow-on instructions, requiring impossible suspenses and demanding an unreasonable number of status reports.

Note to all newly promoted supervisors and managers; please understand that this is a weak attempt at sarcasm and not a policy document recommendation.