Encouraging someone to tell the truth

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Encouraging someone to tell the truth
Encouraging someone to tell the truth

It's helpful to get someone to tell the truth. This can be useful in various situations, such as at home or at work. While it takes some practice, patience, and confidence on your part, it is doable and can help you get to the bottom of the matter. Making it clear that you are on their side starts the conversation the right way, and you can get to the truth by recognizing the signals people give when they lie.


Method 1 of 3: Showing you're on someone's side

Make Someone Tell the Truth Step 1

Step 1. Don't be accusatory

The chances of someone confiding in you will decrease if you come across as accusatory. Stay calm and keep your body language neutral. Yelling, banging your fist on the table, or standing with your arms crossed all seem intimidating. People will be more willing to share information with you if they feel you will understand.

Sit down (if possible), look the person in the eye, and speak in a soft and reassuring voice. Place your hands on your lap, at your sides, or on the table, keeping your facial expression neutral

Make Someone Tell the Truth Step 2

Step 2. Show empathy

Part of developing a relationship of trust is that you indicate that you understand the other person and empathize with their situation. People will be more willing to tell the truth honestly if they don't feel like you're going to lash out at them. Indicate that you understand why they acted a certain way.

  • For example, suppose you catch your son smoking with friends. You might say to him, 'You deny the fact that you were smoking. But if you did smoke, I can understand that. Sometimes friends can pressure us to do things we normally wouldn't do.'
  • Giving the impression that anyone could do what you think the other person has done will make it easier for him or her to tell the truth.
Make Someone Tell the Truth Step 3

Step 3. Make it clear that the truth is not so bad

People are often afraid to tell the truth because they fear the consequences. If you can downplay the seriousness of the situation, then they are more likely to confess.

  • You might say, 'It really isn't that important. I just want to know what happened.' By assuring the other person that the abuses are not too serious, they may be moved to tell you what really happened.
  • Only take this route if the offense really isn't that important. For example, it probably won't work with something that could have legal consequences or carry a jail sentence.
Make Someone Tell the Truth Step 4

Step 4. Tell them they are not alone

Don't make them feel like they're not the only ones being accused. If the person gets the impression that others are jointly responsible (and therefore also have to bear the consequences of the situation), then there is more willingness to tell the truth. People are more likely to shut down if they think they have to pay for everything on their own.

You might say, 'I know you're not the only one involved. There are plenty of other people who are also to blame.'

Make Someone Tell the Truth Step 5

Step 5. Provide protection

Tell the person that you will do what you can to protect them. Make it clear that you are on his side and will do everything in your power to help him. He becomes more open when his fears diminish.

Method 2 of 3: Discuss the situation

Make Someone Tell the Truth Step 6

Step 1. Distinguish between allegations based on suspicion and evidence

How you approach the situation depends on how much evidence you have to support a wrongdoing. You have to handle situations that are based on strong suspicions differently than those for which you have clear evidence.

  • When suspecting, it is best to present what you suspect in a way that is non-confrontational, and try to find out the truth during the conversation.
  • With evidence-based allegations, you must make clear what you think, and present the evidence you have. In these cases, there is little room for the person to get out of their responsibility.
Make Someone Tell the Truth Step 7

Step 2. Tell a version of their story

Indicate which facts are known to you by telling the story from your perspective. The person can step in and correct part of your story if a detail isn't right. This may get you a partial confession.

You can also intentionally change part of the story to trick the suspect into wanting to correct something. For example, you might say, "So you went to that bar last night," even though you believe the person has gone to another incriminating place. This can tempt the other person to correct you, which can lead to the truth

Make Someone Tell the Truth Step 8

Step 3. Change things

Ask the same question over and over, but in different ways. Make sure he/she answers the same things, as this could indicate that he/she has rehearsed answers. Answers can also vary, which could mean lying.

You can also ask to tell the story from the end to the beginning or to start in the middle. By having the story told backwards, mistakes can creep into the story, possibly showing that it is not the truth

Make Someone Tell the Truth Step 9

Step 4. Choose your words carefully

The language you use can play a big part in uncovering the truth. Accusative language can lead the person to withhold facts. By using less harsh words, you can encourage the other person to tell the truth.

For example, use the word "taken" instead of "stole" or "spent time with someone" instead of "cheated." The person may be more inclined to admit guilt as a result of less harsh language

Make Someone Tell the Truth Step 10

Step 5. Bluff, if necessary

Bluffing is a dangerous, but often effective tactic. This involves making a threat or stating what you believe to be the truth, even though you have no real intention of carrying out the threat and have no evidence. Your bluff may induce the person to tell the truth because of the feeling that they have been fooled, or out of fear of the perceived consequences.

  • For example, you could say, "I have witnesses who saw you at the crime scene." This may be enough to get the person to tell the truth. You can also threaten to go to the authorities, or to a supervisor if the person doesn't stop lying.
  • Keep in mind that verbal threats like bluffing only make sense if you're sure of the person's involvement or guilt. Also, try to avoid any threats as they often result in defensive behavior and reduce your chances of getting to the truth.
Make Someone Tell the Truth Step 11

Step 6. Avoid physical coercion

If a person looks you in the face and lies, it can be difficult to control you. If you need a break to regain your composure, do it. Never attack or use physical means to force someone to tell the truth.

Method 3 of 3: Recognizing lies

Make Someone Tell the Truth Step 12

Step 1. Make sure that your question is answered

Avoidance is often a hint that someone is lying. A clear indication is that the person is trying to change the subject or simply refusing to answer. Usually someone will talk about something if he or she has nothing to hide.

Make Someone Tell the Truth Step 13

Step 2. Listen to the voice sound

The sound and pitch of the voice often changes when one lies. The voice may become higher, one may speak faster, or it is even possible that a tremor can be heard in the voice. Any change can be an indication of lying.

You have to familiarize yourself with the person's voice to know if they are lying. Start by asking questions you already know the answer to and pay attention to how the person sounds when they answer. Move on to questions you don't know the answer to once you get used to his or her voice. If you notice changes in the voice, it is likely that you have discovered a lie. However, this is not the case with a compulsive liar or sociopath

Make Someone Tell the Truth Step 14

Step 3. Pay attention to body language

The appearance of someone who is lying can change drastically. Telling untruths can make people nervous, which can be seen in their posture. Even the slightest change in their behavior can indicate a lie.

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