How to get the truth out of anyone

Last month I explained how to spot when someone is telling a lie. This week, based on the book ‘Get the Truth: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Persuade Anyone To Tell All’, are the CIA’s nine tried and tested methods for making someone tell the truth. Odd to stop at nine, no? Makes you wonder what the tenth method might be.
1. Be engaged, calm, empathetic and sincere
A ‘guilty’ person may be seeking to be ‘understood’. Being ‘understood’ may make them feel they are being ‘forgiven’. Slow down your speech. Lower your voice
2. Help the person rationalise their actions
Get them to focus on the reasons you are giving them to see telling the truth as a viable option. Normalise their actions. It may help weaken their resolve to withhold the truth
3. Minimize the seriousness of the situation
The more you can downplay the consequences of the situation, the more comfortable they will be in sharing the information you are looking for and the less they will see you as an adversary
4. Socialise the situation
The more someone feels that they did something bad and that people may think ill of them, the more reluctant they will be to admit it. Normalise the behaviour and they shouldn’t feel so alone
5. Reassure the individual
A person is more likely to ‘fess up’ if they feel that the finger isn’t being pointed solely at them
6. Don’t allow the person to voice a lie or a denial
If someone is lying ‘you don’t want their lips moving’. The greater the opportunity someone is given to articulate a lie, the more psychologically entrenched they become and the less disposed to reversing the position and telling you the truth
7. Keep repeating things
The more frequently we hear something, the likelier we are to believe it. If they are in denial, you do the talking. Keep rationalising, minimising, socialising and projecting the blame to help the person, even if only temporarily, see things your way
8. Use implicit language
The more implicit your language is, the likelier they may buy in to what you are saying, e.g. tell the person that you want to work with them to help get the matter ‘resolved’ and let their mind take it where they will. To you, “resolved” might mean a conviction. To them, it might mean something they can live with. Avoid language associated with negative consequences: i.e. you ‘took’, rather than ‘stole’, the jewellery
9. Don’t judge
Your goal is to get the truth. That will be much harder to do if the person feels you are judging or reprimanding them. You want them to see you as a confidant, not an arbiter of their fate