How to Deal With a Liar

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Chris Voss worked as a hostage negotiator for the FBI. Learn how to deal with a liar and why people may tell white lies, fibs, or compulsive lies.


A Brief Introduction to Chris Voss

Chris Voss is a well-known businessman, author, and academic with twenty-four years of experience as a hostage negotiator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Chris led high-pressure negotiations with some of the world's most dangerous criminals while working for the FBI. He joined the FBI's Pittsburgh field office as a SWAT officer after earning a bachelor's degree from Iowa State University and a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He later rose to the position of lead crisis negotiator and key member of the New York City Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Chris retired in 2007 and founded the Black Swan Group, a negotiation training and consulting firm dedicated to teaching people how to negotiate.


Chris Voss Offers 4 Tips for Dealing With a Liar

Chris Voss is an FBI-trained hostage negotiator who has dealt with psychopaths and people who lie. Consider Chris's advice when dealing with someone who is telling a white lie or an untruth with malicious intent:

1. Learn the 7/38/55 rule. These figures add up to one hundred and provide negotiators with a breakdown of importance when speaking with others: The dialogue accounts for 7%, tone accounts for 38%, and body language accounts for 55%. (eye contact, fidgeting, posture in an uncomfortable situation). "The tone of voice is five times more important than the words," Chris says. "Does their delivery and body language match the content of their words?" Which one do I expect to be the most dependable if one of them is out of line? When their body language and tone of voice are inconsistent with their words, I'll use a label to identify their dynamic."

2. Recognise the Pinocchio effect. If a person is a serial or compulsive liar, they may exhibit the Pinocchio effect. Chris defines this as "when someone uses more words than necessary to provide you with an answer." If someone is lying to you, they are aware of their deception and are concerned about it. As a result, they'll have to work harder to persuade you."

3. Understand why people lie. Low self-esteem, mental illness, and bad habits can all lead to lying. "What does someone lying to you tell you about yourself?" "First, it indicates that they are afraid to tell you the truth," Chris says. "They perceive you as a potential threat." That doesn't mean you're a threat, and it doesn't mean they shouldn't be afraid to tell you the truth. It indicates that their assessment of the situation is that they are on high alert."

4. Make use of a radio voice. When dealing with a liar, you might find it useful to adopt the tone of a late-night FM DJ. "Use a voice that the opposing party finds reassuring," Chris advises. "You want to be consistent and accountable. You want to demonstrate that you are aware of their viewpoint and that you do not disagree with it. You may not agree with it, but you do not necessarily oppose it. You keep proving to them that you're worthy of their trust, and they'll let down their guard."

Pathological lying, also known as pseudologia fantastica or mythomania, can be a sign of a mental disorder like antisocial personality disorder. Encourage a family member or friend to seek professional help if chronic lying is affecting their well-being.

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