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How to Find Lies and Misleading Statements in Competitive Intelligence Research

Although the silent conversation is important in gathering information for competitive intelligence, don’t ignore the words themselves. Always look for the following clues in what a person says so that you’re better equipped to figure out whether the speaker is lying, covering up something, or trying to mislead you:

  • Inconsistencies or contradictions: If what you’re hearing contradicts or is inconsistent with what the person has already said, that’s a huge red flag that the person is telling a fib. Keeping the story straight is pretty hard when you’re weaving a tall tale.

  • Illogical statements: Based on what you know from your research and experience, does what the person said sound logical? You often hear judges talk about what a reasonable person would do. Apply that same test to what someone is telling you.

  • Too little detail: Lies often lack detail because the liar knows that the more detail he provides, the more chances of slipping up. If during an interview you suspect that the person you’re talking to is bending the truth, press for additional detail.

  • Too much information: When people lie, they may go way beyond answering the question in the hope of overwhelming your brain with excessive detail.

  • Absolutes, such as always and never: When making a point, some people try to exaggerate by using absolutes, which are rarely accurate.

  • Words such as honestly and truthfully: If a person has to point out that they’re speaking honestly, then chances are they’re not.

Make sure that you really want to know the truth. As humans, we generally want to trust people, which is what con artists bank on. Carefully scrutinize the message itself, outside of the context of how you feel about the person in general. Look at the message in context and out of context to check it both ways.

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