Deception Tips Podcast Episode 5 – Contractions
Hello, and welcome to the Deception Tips Podcast, where you will learn amazing cues to detect deceit that will help you read people like never before. I’m your host, Spencer Coffman. Let’s get started.
Welcome to episode 5 of the Deception Tips Podcast. Last time, we went over a behavioral sign that is very easy to spot. In addition, when you see it, you can be almost sure, there is some form of deception going on. This sign occurs when someone is performing a physical task and then, when that person is questioned or doubted in any way, or is asked to tell more of their story, they stop doing whatever they are doing to tell the lie. This is because a lie is a conscious effort. They have to think about it. They have to plan for it. They have to prepare it.
Lies are very stressful for the physiological responses of the human body. When someone is doing some form of simple task, that task is usually an unconscious task. It’s something that they do often enough, so often that it becomes habit. It’s a form of habit for them. Therefore, when they recite this rehearsed lie, the lie that they had to think about consciously, their unconscious stops doing that unconscious task because, as we’ve talked about before, the unconscious is very, very truthful. So when the conscious tries to sneak out a rehearsed lie, and the unconscious is busy doing some unconscious task, it stops because it’s trying to catch the conscious’ lie. It wants to leak some form of nonverbal behavior.
What’s ironic though is the fact that the unconscious stopped performing a certain task is a form of leakage in and of itself. So remember that when people are doing those tasks and you question them if they stop working that is a red flag for you. However, there is an exception. Some people are unable to talk and work at the same time or work and talk. You’ve heard that saying, some people aren’t able to walk and chew gum, they can’t even walk and chew gum at the same time.
Those people who cannot talk and work at the same time. They’re going to stop no matter what. It doesn’t matter if they’re telling the truth or telling a lie. They’re going to stop doing whatever task when they respond. So for them, it would be the opposite. They would probably keep working through their lie because that is something that they’re just going to keep on doing in an effort to tell the like. Doing that work, it’s stressful, they kind of forgot about it.
So the point here is that it is a deviation from normal behavior. You need to establish baselines in any case and with anybody, and if they deviate from that normal pattern then you have a good basis to understand that that is probably a lie. And in that case, you need to prod, use further questioning, and watch for additional signs of behavior because there will ALWAYS be more than one sign.
Today we are going to talk about a different sign of deception that is a verbal sign. It is something that will occur when people are talking. It is a form of speech or a different pattern of speech. It’s a subtle form of leakage. One that you most likely don’t notice, however, once you’re made aware of it, it will stand out like a neon light. You begin to hear it happen in conversation all around you and you’ll start to wonder whether or not all of those people are lying or whether it’s simply happening in conversation.
With that, here is Deception Tip 5: Guilty people often avoid using contractions, as if to emphasize their innocence. For example, using “did not” instead of “didn’t.” Here it is again- Guilty people often avoid using contractions, as if to emphasize their innocence. For example, using “did not” instead of “didn’t.”
The reason this happens is because when people lie, they not only need to convince the target that the lie is true, but they are also working hard to convince themselves. The conscious is trying so hard to convince itself that the lie is true so that it can get it past the unconscious because if the person believes it’s true, then the unconscious will let the guard down and those signs of leakage may not show up.
This happens all the time with people who are considered sociopathic or psychopathic individuals. They believe what they say all the time and they seem to talk with a silver tongue. People will always believe them, they look so believable, they’re very confident, they never show any signs of leakage. This is because they BELIEVE their lies. And that is a big red flag for anyone. If you start believing your lie, you know there’s a problem.
In addition, it’s very difficult to read those people because they don’t display any signs of deception. So for them, everything you’re learning here is pretty much out the window. The main thing to look for with those types of people is a deviation from normal behavior. And whatever their normal behavior is, you need to find something that deviates from that in order to tell whether or not they are lying. The good thing for you is, there aren’t many of those people out there that are that pathological or that, let’s say, sick because they are sick. They are sick in the mind. They need some form of treatment. There is something wrong with them- a screw loose, as what you would say.
Many people are borderline there, or they’re not quite sick yet. They’re unhealthy. Those people will display the signs. 90% of the people out there, you will be able to see this on, you’ll be able to see all the signs on if you look for them.
When it comes to speech patterns, we typically talk using the path of least resistance. This means we say things fast, often times we don’t enunciate enough. In addition, we tend to slur our words together to try to make it easier for us to get our message across and communicate with people. This is why when you learn another language it always sounds like they’re talking so fast like you can’t understand them. But it’s the same for them when they try to learn our language. We talk fast. It’s human nature. We speak with, like I said, the path of least resistance. “I don’t know” becomes “I dunno” and “thank you” becomes “thanks.”
We shorten things. We make it efficient for us to use. We’re always abbreviating, we’re always using things like contractions. We say “don’t,” “couldn’t,” “wouldn’t,” “shouldn’t.” This is because we want to get our message out as quickly and as easily as possible. Most of the time it’s because people like to talk and if they shorten things up, they can say even more. Which is interesting because, in our everyday conversations, we’re trying to get our message out as fast as we can.
When we lie, we’re under an immense amount of stress and our body is under stress and our mind. There is a lot of anxiety and pressure. Usually, liars try to get the lie out as fast as they can. And this happens all the time. In many of the other behavioral signs, liars try to get lies out as fast as they can. So this is interesting that liars tend not to use contractions because you would think that a contraction would help them with their lie. The reason they don’t use them is because the unconscious puts that in there as a sign of leakage.
It’s almost as if there are two separate entities battling each other and they’re actually entities. Like two different people when, in fact, they’re one being of the same person. The unconscious knows that, typically, we try to talk and we use contractions. So it splits up a contraction when the conscious is trying to tell a lie.
You’ve heard this before- “I didn’t do it.” “I did not do it.” We’ve had a few famous presidents say things like that. “I am not a crook.” We’ll get a soundbite in here. “I am not a crook. I have burned everything I’ve got.” “I am not a crook.” You see he should have said, “I’m not a crook.” In addition, how about Willie? “I did not have?” You know the saying. “ I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” There are a lot of people when they lie, they put emphasis on the words that are hopefully going to prove their innocence.
“I DID NOT.” That’s a statement of innocence. That is why they tend to split up the contractions because they think that it’s going to put more emphasis on the fact that they are innocent. They did NOT do it. But what they don’t know is if they just say “I didn’t do it,” It sounds a lot more believable. It sounds a lot more natural. Because we use contractions in everyday speech, when we don’t use them, it sounds a little different. It’s a little odd. And now that you realize this and notice it, now that I’ve told you, you’re going to start noticing these everywhere. I’ve got a few more examples for you as well as some of the rationale behind this coming up after this.
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Listen to this sentence. “I didn’t steal your car.” Notice how it simply flowed off the tongue. It was easy to say. It was easy for you to hear. You didn’t think anything of it, nor should you because it’s the truth. It sounded true because it sounded natural. “I didn’t steal your car.” You still have your car hopefully. No one has stolen it. It wasn’t me. It sounded natural. I was confident in saying it. That’s all there is to it.
Now listen to this sentence. “ I did not steal your car.” Notice how it sounded a little bit staccato-like. It was broken up. “I did not steal your car.” Why did he say that extra not? What was up with the emphasis. It should have been “I didn’t steal your car,” and now you say “I did not steal your car.” There’s a lot of emphasis on that word and that’s just how it came off the tongue. I didn’t even stress those words. But because it’s there with the “not” and the “did not” they sound off because we don’t speak like that. You clearly heard the words “did” and “not.” They were the main focus of the sentence.
It sounds like this because it’s completely unnatural. It isn’t as easy to say “did not” as it is to say “didn’t.” “Didn’t” comes off the tongue, it’s easy to say, so are all contractions. Contractions are easy to say. Whereas when they split up, it’s more work for them to say it. This is very interesting, as we said before because liars try to get it out as fast as they can. They want to tell their lie. That’s what they’ve planned for, they’ve prepared for. Or they’re just telling it spontaneously as a form of protection. They want to convince the target and they want to convince themselves. This is why they split up a contraction.
By avoiding the use of contractions, they are adding additional emphasis and stress on those words. They’re hammering home their point. Their confession of innocence in their mind. They’re consciously reinforcing the statement of the lie. The conscious thinks it has everything figured out. In reality, it has no clue what is going on. After all, the unconscious dominates over 90% of our actions and behavior. A lot of figures say that it’s 70%. It’s a lot more. Think of all the things that you think about. It’s 70% in conversation, but you think about a lot of things in your mind, unconsciously and consciously.
Our body, our world is ruled by our unconscious. Think about this. You don’t have to consciously think to breathe, walk, move, hear, beat your heart, swallow, etcetera. All this stuff happens involuntarily. Unconsciously. That alone should prove that the conscious cannot be trusted 100% of the time. When it tries to lie, the unconscious always knows better.
The unconscious of the listener knows better as well. So the target here is this unnatural speech that the unconscious of the liar slipped in there. And something’s off in the target’s mind. They’re saying “What’s going on? Something just doesn’t sound quite right.” The target hears that and, at first, they might not think anything of it. But now that you know, and realize, and understand what it means, it will stand out to you instantly. It’ll stand out like a sore thumb.
Of course, if you start hearing the lack of contractions, you need to remember that it isn’t a sure thing that someone is lying. He or she may be telling the truth. They may simply talk in a manner of not using contractions because maybe they were an essay writer and they needed to use more words. And by splitting up each contraction they got two words instead of one. So they developed a natural habit of writing that way. You never know.
There could be any form of explanation or circumstance. This is why it is important to look for patterns and clusters of behavior because there will ALWAYS be more than one sign. So stay vigilant and use the signs we’ve already gone over and you’ve already learned as entry points for further questioning to see if there are any other signs of deception. There will always be more than one sign.
I want to thank you for listening to this podcast and I encourage you to share it with your friends, subscribe to the feed, follow the Deception Tips blog, and take a look at the books I have available and, as always, tune in for a new Deception Tip.