5 “BASIC” steps to the truth

Ah, how much simpler life would be if we could always get to the truth right away.

Cutting through the obfuscation, prevarication and just plain dissembling can make life better, but it’s easier said than done.

But, during at the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) Not-for-Profit-Industry Conference, Nancy Young of accounting firm Moss Adams said there are five steps to the truth. Better yet, the steps are BASIC.

  • Baseline Behavior: Mannerisms, speech and good/bad habits. Laugh, voice, posture, gestures, reaction.
  • Ask open-ended questions: Establish what is known and what needs to be known, develop rapport, elicit a response, tell the right story.
  • Study the clusters: Facial, behavioral and verbal clues, understanding that when there is incongruity nonverbal clues are usually the most accurate indicators.
  • Intuit the gaps: Statement gaps, logical gaps, behavior gaps, emotion gaps.
  • Confirm: Ask a number of confirming questions to test hunches. Ask the same fact-seeking question different ways: “How do you feel?” “What should happen to the person?” “Who do you think did it?” “What do you think might have motivated someone to do this?” Ask a suspect to repeat details backwards.

Also, for what it is worth, men lie more often to make themselves appear more powerful, interesting or successful, and women lie more often to spare others’ feelings or to make themselves feel better about themselves. Women are more comfortable lying than men are, Young said.