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“You know who else lies?” she screeches. “LAWYERS lie!”

Friday, September 24, 2010
posted by Douglas Keene

Mark Bennett writes Defending People blog and we stole this line from him. Mark elicited this line from opposing counsel in a jury trial. (And no. This is not going to be a post on what one should never allow to pass from one’s lips during closing argument. That list is simply too long although we would think this line should be included.)

Instead we are turning again to our abiding desire to detect deception. You’ve seen the ongoing efforts to show deception via MRIs submitted to the court for potential evidence. We’ve tried to keep up with it on this blog. But the publication of new work in this area continues faster than we can keep up!

Lower tech efforts to identify deception are also afoot (thankfully!). Bob Sutton of Stanford wrote the (in)famous book on civility at work. Now he is focusing on practices that make for a good boss or a bad boss and blogs about how to tell if your boss is lying.  He cites a really terrific piece in the Economist emphasizing that it is “not just that his lips are moving”!  Sutton summarizes the ways you can identify deception based on comments in conference calls (and provides a link to the original article). The findings are certainly relevant to litigation advocacy and to life in general as they give insight into how we attempt to deceive in high-stakes communication.

We don’t want to be deceived. We don’t want to be tricked. We (above all) do not want to be lied to, believe and be seen as gullible. While we await the magic (high tech) answers promised by MRI purveyors—it is likely a really good idea to keep reading the lower tech research. (Plus it’s a whole lot cheaper!)

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