Be Lied to Again: How to Get the Truth Out of Anyone!
3: How to Get the Truth Without Beating it Out of Them
David J. Lieberman, Ph.D.
Excerpts from "Never
Be Lied to Again"
Silver Bullets: How To Get The Truth Without Beating It Out Of Them
To convey honesty and truthfulness in your message, use the following
Look the person directly in the eyes.
Use hand movements to emphasize your message.
Use animated gestures that are fluid and consistent with the conversation.
Stand or sit upright no slouching.
Dont start off with any statements such as To tell
you the truth
or To be perfectly honest with you
Face the person straight on. Dont back away.
Liars need an incentive to confess. The payoff for confessing needs to
be immediate, clear, specific, and compelling. You cant just tell
a person what hell gain by being truthful or lose by continuing
to lie; you must make it real for him so real, in fact, that he
can feel, taste, touch, see, and hear it. Make it his reality. Let him
experience fully the pleasure of being honest and the pain of continuing
the lie. Involve as many of the senses as you can, particularly visual,
auditory, and kinesthetic. Create images for the person to see, sounds
for him to hear, and sensations that he can almost feel. You want to make
this experience as real as possible. First state the positives, then state
the negatives, and then present the choice.
Silver Bullet 1: If You Think Thats Bad, Wait Until You Hear
This bullet works well because it forces the liar into thinking emotionally
instead of logically. It alleviates his guilt by making him feel that
hes not alone, and it throws him off by creating a little anger
and/or curiosity. Plus he thinks that you and he are exchanging information,
instead of his giving you something for nothing.
Sample question formation: The reason Im asking you these
questions is that Ive done some things that Im not too proud
of, either. I can understand why you might have
In a way Im
almost relieved. Now I dont feel too bad. At this point he
will ask you to get more specific about your actions. But insist that
he tell you first. Hold out and hell come clean.
Bullet 2: It Was An Accident. Really!
This is a great strategy because it makes him feel that it would be a
good thing to have you know exactly what happened. He did something wrong,
true, but that is no longer your concern. You shift the focus of your
concern to his intentions, not his actions. This makes it easy for him
to confess to his behavior and make it okay with the explanation
that it was unintentional. He feels that you care about his motivation.
In other words, you let him know that the source of your concern is not
what hes done, but why hes done it.
Sample question formation: I can understand that maybe you didnt
plan on its happening. Things just got out of control and you acted without
thinking. Im fine with that an accident, right? But if you
did this on purpose, I dont think that I could ever forgive you.
You need to tell me that you didnt do it intentionally. Please.
Silver Bullet 3: The Boomerang
This bullet really throws a psychological curveball. With this example
you tell him that he did something good, not bad. Hes completely
thrown off by this. For example, you want to see if your interviewee has
lied on her resume.
Sample question formation: As we both know, everybody pads his resume
just a bit. Personally, I think it shows guts. It tells me that the person
isnt afraid to take on new responsibilities. Which parts were you
most creative with on this resume?
Silver Bullet 4: Truth or Consequences
With this bullet you force your antagonist to work with you or you both
end up with nothing. This is the exact opposite of the boomerang. Here
the person has nothing unless he cooperates with you. Since you have nothing
anyway (the truth), its a good tradeoff for you. Lets say
you suspect that your housekeeper has stolen from you.
Sample question formation: Id rather hear it from you first.
I can live with what you did/what happened, but not with your lying to
me about it. If you dont tell me, then its over. If you tell
me the truth, things can go back to how they were. But if you dont,
then we have no chance here, and youll have nothing.
Silver Bullet 5: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace
Human beings place a premium on that which is scarce. Simply put, rare
equals good. You can dramatically increase your leverage by conveying
that this is the only time that you will discuss this. Let him know that
(a) this is his last chance hell have for explaining himself, and
(b) you can get what you need from someone else. Try increasing the rate
of your speech as well. The faster you speak, the less time he has to
process the information, and it conveys as stronger sense of urgency.
Give a deadline with a penalty for not meeting it. Deadlines force action.
If the guilty party think that he can always come clean, then he will
take a wait-and-see approach before tipping his hand. Let the person know
that you already know and have proof of his action. And admitting his
sins now will give him the opportunity to explain his side.
Sample question formations: I want to hear it from you now. After
tomorrow, anything you say wont make a difference to me.
I know what happened/what you did. I was hoping I would hear it
from you first. It would mean a lot to me to hear your side of it. I know
there are two sides to every story, and before I decide what to do, I
want to hear yours. Hearing this gives him the feeling he still
has a chance if he confesses. After all, what really happened cant
be as bad as what you heard. Confessing now is a way of cutting his losses.
Silver Bullet 6: Reverse Course
You convey to him what happened or what he did was a good thing insofar
as it allows you and he to establish an even better relationship
personal or professional. You give him an opportunity to explain why he
took that choice.
You also blame yourself.
Sample question formation: I understand why you would have dont
that. Clearly you wouldnt have unless you had a good reason. You
were probably treated unfairly or something was lacking. What can I do
to help so that it doesnt happen again? Keep interjecting
the following phrases: I take full responsibility for your actions.
Lets work together to see how we can avoid this from happening again.
I understand completely. You were right to do what you did.
Bullet 7: I Hate To Do This, But You Leave Me No Choice
This is the only strategy that involves threat. You let him become aware
that there are going to be greater ramifications and repercussions than
just lying to you things that he never thought about. You rely
on his imagination to set the terms of the damage that you can inflict.
His mind will race through every possible scenario as his own fears turn
Sample question formation I: I didnt want to have to
do this, but you leave me no choice. This will propel him to respond:
Do what? At this point hes waiting to see what the tradeoff
will be. But do not commit yourself to an action. Let him create in his
own mind scenarios of what you will do unless he confesses.
Sample question formation II: You know what I can do, and
Ill do it. If you dont want to tell me now, dont. Ill
just do what I have to do. After this statement, pay close attention
to his response. If he focuses on what you will do to him, the odds lean
more toward guilty. However, if he reasserts that hes done nothing,
he may in fact be innocent of your accusation. The guilty person needs
to know the penalty to determine if it makes sense for him to stick to
Silver Bullet 8: I Guess Youre Not Allowed
Never underestimate the power of appealing to a persons ego. Sometimes
you want to inflate it, and others times you want to attack it. This bullet
is for attacking. Its truly saddening how fragile some peoples
egos are. Sample question formations: I think I know what it is
youre not allowed to tell me. Somebody else is pulling the
strings and youll get in trouble. Youd tell me the truth if
you could, but you dont have the power to do so.
Silver Bullet 9: Higher Authority
As long as the person believes that you are on his side, hell take
the bait. All you have to do is let him know that anything hes lied
about can now be cleared up in seconds. However, if anyone else finds
out about it later, its too late. Lets say that you want to
know if your secretary leaves early when youre out of the office.
Sample question formation: The vice president from corporate is
coming in today. Hes asked about your hours, so Im going to
tell him that you come in early on the days that you leave early. Do you
remember what days last month you finished up early and took off?
This is disarming, and youre not yelling at her or demanding answers.
Youre on her side, and youre going to work together to smooth
Silver Bullet 10: The Great Unknown
You can obtain maximum leverage by explaining how the ramifications of
his deceit will be something that the suspect has never known before.
Even if he believes that you are limited in what you can do to him and
in what the penalty will be, the severity of the penalty can be manipulated
in two major ways to make it appear much more severe: time and impact.
Time: Give no indication of when the penalty will occur. When things
happen unexpectedly, the degree of anguish is more potent.
Impact: Convey that his entire life will be disrupted and drastically
altered for the worse. He needs to see that this event is not isolated
and will instead have a ripple effect. When bad things happen we are often
comforted in knowing that it will soon be over and the rest of our life
will remain intact and unaffected. But if these things are not assured,
we become increasingly fearful and concerned.
Silver Bullet 11: I Couldnt Care Less
A primary law governing human nature is that we all have a need to feel
significant. Nobody wants to be thought of as unimportant, or feel that
his ideas and thinking is irrelevant. Take away a persons belief
that he has value and hell do just about anything to reassert his
sense of importance. Your apathy toward the situation will unnerve him
immensely. He will begin to crave recognition and acceptance, in any form.
He needs to know you care what happens, and if talking about his misdeeds
is the only way he can find out, he will.
Sample question formations: I know and I just dont care. This
is not for me. Ive got other things
to think about. Maybe well talk some other time.
You do what you have to do, thats fine with me. To be
more powerful, stare at him. When you stare at someone he often feels
less significant and will seek to reassert his value.
For Detecting Deceit and Gathering Information In Casual Conversations
During the conversation simply ask general, clear questions pertaining
to your suspicion. This causes the person you are questioning to recall
information. If hes lying, hell take a while to answer because
he first has to check his response mentally to be sure it makes sense.
Made-up stories do not have details because they never happened!
Ask questions that will give you an objective, not a subjective
response. For instance, if you think an employee was home when he said
he would be away on vacation, dont ask him how he enjoyed the weather
in Florida, but rather ask Did you rent a car? Once he answers
yes to any question, ask for more detail. If hes lying, hell
try to keep the facts straight and will take his time answering further
2. Add-a-False Fact
Add a fact and ask the person to comment on it. This fact is one
that youve made up, but one that sounds perfectly reasonable. For
example, if you wanted to know if someone really indeed went on a safari
to Africa, you mention that your uncle who works as a customs officer
at the Nairobi airport told you that everyone going to Africa was given
special instructions on how to avoid malaria. As soon as he validates
your claim in an attempt to back up his assertion that he has gone to
Africa, you know that his story is untrue. Otherwise he would simply say
that he doesnt know what your uncle is talking about.
Here are the criteria:
Your statement has to be untrue
It has to sound reasonable
Your assertion has to be something that would directly affect the
person, so he would have firsthand knowledge of this fact.
In this sequence you take what the person says and request proof,
but in a very non-threatening manner.
For example, in the case of the person who claimed he had gone on safari,
you might let him know that you would love to see pictures of the trip.
If he offers up a reason why you cant see the pictures, then this
should arouse some suspicion.
Use this clue to determine how far someone is willing to go to
get what she wants. All you do is expand on a fact that she has already
offered. If she just goes on without correcting you, then you know that
she may be lying about what shes said so far and/or is willing to
lie to get you to see her point. For example, your secretary asks you
for the rest of the day off because shes not feeling well. You might
say, oh, of course, if youve got a fever and a bad headache,
by all means take off. She never claimed to have these symptoms.
You merely expanded on her statement.
1. Third-Party Protection
This tactic is used if someone is reluctant to tell you something
that involves another person. You have to appeal to his ego and let him
forget that hes telling tales out of school. The conversation needs
to be positive. The other person must feel as if hes doing a good
thing by answering your question.
Scenario A: Your attorney is telling you about a case that a fellow
attorney screwed up on. Simply asking, What did he do wrong?
would probably get you nowhere. However, by turning it around you create
an incentive for him to tell you. Ask, Had you handled the case,
what would you have done differently?
Scenario B: While chatting with Brad, one of your sales people,
you would like to find out why Susans sales figures are low. But
simply asking him why shes not doing well might prove fruitless.
Ask, What areas do you think Susan can improve in?
2. The Power Play
Sometimes the person reluctant to tell the truth is in a position
of power. In these situations its usually inappropriate and futile
to become argumentative. In these instances you want to bring the conversation
to a personal level.
Scenario: Youre trying to sell to a buyer who doesnt
want to buy and is not giving you a reason that you truly believe. Your
objective will be to get to the real objection. I do this for a
living. My family relies on me to support them. Clearly we have a fine
product and youre a reasonable man. Would you mind telling me what
I did to offend you? Now your buyer is caught off guard and will
undoubtedly follow with Oh, you didnt offend me. Its
Someone is lying to you to protect your feeling perhaps
one of those little white lies. A touch of guilt makes the other person
reevaluate his approach.
Scenario: You feel that the truth is being withheld from you for
your own benefit. I know you dont want to offend me, but youre
hurting me more by not being perfectly honest. If you dont
tell me, no one else will. If I cant count on you for this, I dont
know what I would do.
4. Its A Matter of Opinion
The following is an excellent method for detecting deceit in a persons
Scenario: Youre not sure if your boss really likes your idea
for a new advertising campaign, even though she says she does. Do
you like the concept for my new idea? Sure. Its very
original. Well, what would it take for you to love the idea?
5. I Dont
This response can stall a conversation and leave you searching
for answers. Sometimes its just easier to say, I dont
know, which is often why we say it in the first place. Either way,
when you hear I dont know, try some of the following
1. Okay, then why dont you tell me how youve come to
think the way you do?
2. I know you dont know, but if you were to guess, what do
you think it might be?
3. What emotion best describes what youre thinking right now?
4. What one word comes closest to describing what youre thinking?
In all these responses, youre taking the pressure off. You
acknowledge the persons difficulty in answering. You then seem to
be asking her to provide something else, when in reality your new question
is aimed at getting your initial question answered.
6. Im Simply Embarrassed
The person may lie to you out of embarrassment. The usual tactics
dont work here because the person probably isnt obligated
to tell you and more than likely will have nothing to gain by doing so.
Therefore you need to create an incentive for telling the truth in an
environment that makes him feel comfortable.
Scenario: You think the new intern mixed up two piles of papers
and shredded the documents that were supposed to be copied. Nelson,
if youre the one who did this, its all right. I remember when
I first started here. What Im going to tell you is between you and
me, okay? Good. I once made copies of a confidential memo instead of the
lunch menu and placed a copy in each persons mailbox.
This instantly puts the other person at ease. It shows that you trust
him, and he also feels obligated to share with you something hes
done that he feels uncomfortable with.
7. Divide and Conquer
This is situation where there are two or more people from whom
you can get the truth.
Scenario: Several of your sorority sisters pulled a practical joke
and you want to find out who is responsible. Jennifer, who did this
is not important. I dont even care. What is important is our friendship.
I want to know that I can trust you. I think I can, but I need for you
to speak honestly with me. Its not that Im so concerned with
who did it only that you are truthful with me about it. If
you dont get anywhere with her, go to someone else with the same
8. Professional Reliance
When dealing with professionals:
1. Always, if possible, get a second opinion. Its easy to do and
can save you a lot of heartache.
2. Make sure the person is licensed, insured, and registered to do the
3. Have your agreement drawn up in writing. Oral contracts arent
4. Ask for referrals or testimonials.
If he balks at any one of these points, you might want to take
your business elsewhere. Finally, the following strategy should give you
an accurate insight into the persons intentions. They key is to
ask for the opposite of what you really want.
Scenario: Lets say that your travel agent suggests the Five-Day
Cruise Getaway vacation package for you. Youre looking to really
let loose; you want a trip that will be nonstop fun, but youre not
sure if shes pushing this package for the commission or if she really
believes that its a great deal. The brochure looks great,
Sandy. I just want to make sure that this is not one of those party boats.
Im looking for some rest and relaxation. Is this that kind of trip?
By asking your question this way, you will know the intentions of your
travel agent and the answer to your question. If she answers yes, then
you know that the cruise is not for you or she is lying to get your business.
9. I Dont
Know and I Dont Care
Few things are more frustrating than dealing with someone who just
doesnt give a damn. Why? Because you dont have a whole lot
to work with. Youve got zero leverage. Hes got nothing at
risk, so youve got little bargaining power. You simply have to change
the equation so hes got something at stake.
Scenario: You take your car to the mechanic and he tells you it
will be fixed by Friday. But you just know that somethings going
to come up and it will be sitting in his garage all weekend. Okay,
Joe. Tomorrows fine. Just so you know, my wife is pregnant and shes
due any day. Thats our only car, so if you can think of any reason
why it may not be ready by Friday, youve got to let me know now.
10. I Just Heard
Most people who lie usually confide in at least one other person.
Its important to let this person believe that you already know the
truth and then add your emotional reaction to it. For example, some general
statements that would be said to the person whom you believe knows the
1. Sympathy: I cant believe what Sam did. I am truly very
sorry. If theres anything I can do for you or whatever, please just
let me know, okay?
2. Humor: Mary, is Joe a magnet for odd things or what? He just
told me and I still cant believe it.
Directing The Conversation
You can steer a conversation in any direction that you choose. You can
do this very efficiently with just a few wellchosen words. After he makes
a statement, you can use the following key words to direct the flow of
information in any way that you choose. They can be used to extract information
from any conversation.
Saying this word after he speaks directs his thinking
and the conversation toward the larger picture, giving you a better look
at his overall position. He will offer the reason for the position.
This response gives you more lateral information. Youll
be able to gather additional facts.
This response makes him get more specific, giving you the
details of his position.
This response makes him translate his position into a specific
action. He will proceed to tell you exactly what he means and how it applies
Sometimes youll get an answer, but it doesnt do you much good.
Here are a couple ways of narrowing it down.
1. In Response to an Opinion or Belief
I dont think the meeting went very well.
Compared with what? or How poorly did it go?
2. In Response to a Reluctance to Commit
I dont know if I could. What, specifically,
prevents you? or What would have to happen for you to be able
to? or What would change if you did?
Let The Truth Be Told
These simple words work better than any others do:
1. Because: Were programmed to accept an explanation as valid if
it follows this word.
2. Lets: This word generates group atmosphere and initiates a bandwagon
effect; its positive and creates action.
3. Try: This little word is a powerful motivator because it has a whats
the harm mentality. For example, Lets give it a try
because if it doesnt work we can always go back to the way it was.
Clearly you havent introduced any reason for the person to take
action, yet it seems to make sense just the same.
Dont accuse someone as by saying, Why did you take five dollars
from petty cash? If you want to know if he took the money, simply
say, The money that we take from petty cash? Lets try to keep
it fewer than ten dollars at a time, because it works out better that
If in a situation where you are unable to speak because the person keeps
talking or interrupting, use some zingers like these. They play on two
susceptible angles of human nature ego and curiosity.
1. Youre a smart person; let me ask you a question.
2. I know that you would want me to ask you this.
3. Youre the only person who would know the answer to this.
4. I hope this news doesnt upset you.
5. Along those lines
Its easy to change conversation
when you begin with the others last thoughts.
is an excerpt from "Never Be Lied to Again," available in the
Underground Hypnosis package available at here: "Learn
the Underground Hypnosis Secrets of the World's Most Dangerous Hypnosists"
here for Part 4: Advanced Techniques for Getting the Truth