Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception by Pamela Meyer (2010)

, 26 Jul 2018

"The greatest reward of liespotting—once you can purge your environment of deception, you can rest easy knowing you live and work in a community based on trust." (p. 200). 
This book should have been titled dealing with deception in the workplace because that's exactly what the book is about. The information provided mixes military, government and intelligence agencies' interrogation techniques, scientific and academic data mixed with body language and  micro-facial recognition to create what Meyer calls the BASIC method, a  guide to lie-proof conversations, negotiations, and interviews. She claims that the techniques provided in the book  can improve detection ability by 25% to 50%. 

The BASIC system is a  way to structuring a conversation to get the truth out; the acronym stands for:
B = Baseline behaviour, examining an individual's current behaviour to what s/he normally does, says or behaves to compare it with what s/he does, says or behaves while being interviewed, interrogated or simply questioned about an issue of concern.  
A = Ask open-ended questions.
S = Study the Clusters of behaviour. 
I = Intuit the gaps, or what is not being said.
C - Confirm. 

The book is structured in two parts, the first being the general basis to detect deception trough verbal and non-verbal clues, which is applicable to any facet of our life. To me, as a non-business person, this is the most useful and entertaining part of the book.

The second part is  about creating healthy behaviour and environments in the workplace by implementing structures and polices that promote honesty and trustworthiness, and effortlessly weed out deception, liars and double-faced people who play everybody to get power or money. This is very much business related. If you are a business person, head of a department, business, or corporation, will certainly find the strategies, advice and polices recommended in the book fantastic, sane and sound, it that can be said. Specially good are the items of advice on business negotiation and job interviews, which are two of the main areas where deception occurs.

Appendix I is a sort of cheat-sheet about the main points presented in the first part of the book. I truly love it because it is useful and straight to the point.  

Appendix II is a test to check if our lie spotting skills are tuned; the solution to the questions are in the author's book website.

General value
The book is very good, well written, and clear to understand. Meyer is a very articulate writer and does a great job at conveying her message in away that is entertaining, informative and seriously usable, with plenty of specific information about how to spot deception, and how to deal with it. 

Liespotting tips are spread throughout the book as short reminders of important points to remember, therefore, very helpful. 

Besides, photos  are included to exemplify facial authentic and fake expressions; nothing like a photo to explain this sort of information.

There are many real-life examples described in the book, but I thought they were useful. 

Questions posed and answered
> Why do we have a deception epidemic in our culture?
> Do we lie more nowadays than in the past? 
> Why videoconferencing isn't the solution to deciding on new business ventures?
> Why old tools and devices do not work?
> Why being punctual is important?
> Which verbal and non verbal clues show deception? and how do you mentally process them? 

Ah? Eh? What? 
> Meyer says that pupil dilation can be an indication of deception and arousal, but an addict to sex would also have pupils dilated, right? A person occasionally using substances would have their pupils dilated, no? Does this automatically turn them into deceptive people at the workplace? Just asking!
> Some of the verbal clues that Meyer mention as signalling deception are actually things that I would say and do, honestly and sincerely, to voice my innocence!

Kindle edition
The kindle rendering is well done, with hyper-linked notes. However, one of the links in the book does not work, the one directing to Artanatomy; however, the site is still up, just with another URL.

Flirtology by Jean Smith (2018)

, 20 Jul 2018

A book for both men and women, Flirtology is a mix of flirting for dummies, an SOS guide to human connection  and interaction (not just romantic), and a clear-head common-sense advice on healthy dating, enveloped in Jane Smith's warmth, no-games, no-tricks, no-fake approach to dating.

Written in a very chatty and witty tone, the book is very well structured and clear, with any question you might ask already presented and answered for you. It reads easily and is not only helpful, but also very entertaining. As you could expect, there are many real-life examples, but the stories are short and sweet, to the point, never too many, never too long, never too self-centred.

This book will especially impact people who are very rational and have little tolerance for babble or BS, people who value common sense, honesty, genuine people and relationships, and appreciate warmth. Many of the things that Smith says aren't really that new or wow, and they were said before any anthropological project came into fruition, but Smith wraps things very nicely and links connecting with strangers, connecting for flirting, flirting and dating in a very organic way. Besides, the fact that she has lived and studied human connection in different countries and cultures gives her statements a depth and believability that other books don't have.

Smith's Flirtology System is what she calls the HOT APE system; the acronym stands for the main points of flirting: Humour, open language, touch, attention, proximity and eye contact.

Smith promises, "the book will: debunk the myths that surround flirting; give you sure-fire ways to avoid those awkward tongue-tied moments; make sure you never fear rejection again; make you believe that you too are a fabulous flirt; help you pinpoint what it is you are looking for; unlock the secrets of my H.O.T. A.P.E. system to bring out your inner flirt encourage you to practise, practise and practise (and have fun while doing it); give you the confidence to speak to anyone, anywhere get results, without ever compromising who you are."  (pp. 13-14). I think she delivers.

Smith debunks online dating and online relationships in a very matter of fact, scientific, rational way. If you want to connect you need to go out there, that is the place where most people interact and where most people, still today, find their partners.

Smith's advice promotes healthy relationships based on presenting a real version of ourselves to attract people who resonate with our real selves, making ourselves responsible for our own happiness, minimising physical attraction as main element of attraction and focusing, instead, in those things that we want to be there in, say, five years. Her deal-breakers section is really helpful and, again, debunks many myths. Are our deal-breakers really so?  She does not tell us which ones to chose, just to be serious and sincere with ourselves, so those main five we chose really matter to us long term and help us cut short relationships that aren't good for us.

Her advice on how to beat fear of failure and rejection is amazingly clear, simple, and convincing. Extremely helpful.

> Get into the practice of talking to people asking at least one question to five different strangers, and try to build rapport with at least one stranger.
> As a question, anything, see how the other person responds, if they do positively continue building rapport.
> Ask open questions and be present while talking to the person, so that we take everything of what is happening in, the looks, attitude, body language, reactions and vibe of the other person.
> Walk up to strangers; smile at commuters on public transport; ask people questions which are more than a simple query about the time.
> Give genuine compliments to strangers.

> The "what sort of flirt are you?' quiz was nice and sweet, but also too simplistic to help decide on a real profile.
> This is not a book for introverts as much as extroverts and shy people. Although many of the items of advice are applicable to anybody, introvert or extrovert, there are too many parties, pubs, and bars mentioned in the book to be something that an introvert would be going, wanting to go or enjoy going to. The pub and drinking culture are very strong in the UK; however, where I live, you don't find quality men in a bar, you find flings.
> Many times (I have experience that myself) flirting is interpreted as 'I am looking for a rout' instead of real flirty sassy get-a-date sort of thing. I wonder whether there is a reason for that, if it is cultural, and whether flirting has some lines that should not be crossed not to get into trouble. Nothing of the sort was mentioned or discussed in the book.
> Some of the advice she gives contradicts that given by other dating gurus. So, whom do we believe?

Get the Truth by Philip Houston, Michael Floyd and Susan Carnicero

, 13 Jul 2018

Unlike Spy the Lie, by the same authors, Get the Truth is not as much as how to spot a lie but what and how to do to extract the truth from the person who is lying and might want or not want to confess. Or in any interpersonal exchange where two sides have conflicting agendas. It’s about the process of exerting influence to elicit truthful information from a person who has a reason to want to withhold it.

This book is not a learn-how sort of book as much as see-how-we-do-it sort of book. However, readers will learn many things about interviewing, interrogation and negotiation because of the author's long years of expertise doing what they do and, at this stage, everything they do it appears natural, genuine and easy.

The book per se finishes about half way.

The first appendix by Peter Romary, has 13 short chapters, which elaborate on the principles on which the authors' system relies, which can be applied to everyday life. Those principles of persuasion were revealed long ago by Cialdini's classic book on influence and persuasion, mostly based on how to exploit human biases to get what we want: optimism bias, confirmation bias, the power of liking somebody and wanting to be liked, the consistency bias, the power of sharing experiences and bonding, the principle of reciprocity, among others. If you have read the classic by Ciadini, you will find that what Romary says is basically Cialdini applied to specific contexts. If you have never heard or read Cialdini's classic, this is a great approach to the principles on which persuasion, the effective one, feeds. In any way, they are useful because sometimes those principles can be used against us or we can be blind-sided by them. This appendix also includes a discussion of the five states of successful negotiation, which I found really helpful for daily life, with great advice about being fair, non-confrontational, respectful and sincere. It also advises on how to deal with the cognitive dissonance of criminals and untruthful people by keeping them in short-thinking mode, and using rationalisation, minimalisation and socialisation, and by setting a pace that is slow but steady with non-coercive questions, then the other person will 'cross the bridge' to your side when they are ready; not being judgemental, being kind and friendly, speaking calmly. Understanding what motivates one person, most wants or fears, make the other person feel comfortable and not judged, genuinely consider all viewpoints and don't be a win-at-all-costs person. 

  By taking a noncoercive, ethical approach, we stand a much better chance of getting the truth. And we’re far better equipped to create lasting relationships that can help us attain our personal and professional goals. (p. 213).

The second appendix, also by Romary, is just a reminder of how important is preparation and practice to get good at getting the truth. You need to understand the background (ideological, religious, political) of the person you are interrogating, or negotiating with. Romary mentions where to get information about anybody, both in public and private records and online media. Most of what he says is simplistic and nothing you don't already know, and nothing that deserves an appendix.

The third appendix is a transcript of the actual interview with O.J. Simpson, whose interrogation is mentioned and used throughout the book to exemplify good and bad interrogation techniques.

A good summary of some of the points discussed in the book can be found in the boxed summary 'lessons we have learned', pp. 144-148.

One of the main points that the authors make is that to get a confession you don't need to be coercitive, aggressive, violent or use torture, because that would hardly get you the truth. Most of chapter 13, the elefant in the room, is full of great sound advise and  makes great points on why does not work, and where do you draw the line.

The book also has a glossary and an subject index, which, to my delight, is hyperlinked.

If you have read Spy the Lie, you will find that some of the examples, real-life cases, described there are also repeated here. They are lovely to read, but I would have appreciated them bringing something new to the table. 

Although the authors advise being genuine and sincere, they advise something I consider unethical. For example,

But coming across as sincere is absolutely essential, and accomplishing that sometimes forces you to lie, especially when feeling any sense of genuine sympathy is simply impossible. (p. 46).
Also, in the first appendix, Romary says : 
Conveying a fictitious account of some dimension of your background or experience, in order to demonstrate sincerity and empathy in an elicitation situation, can be an effective means of creating a bond that will encourage a person to reveal the truthful information you’re seeking. (p. 199).