Let Their Words Do the Talking

Verbal cues to detect deception.

Push-Pull Words

Push-Pull Words require two or more words to complete their definitions.

Push-Pull Words

Push-Pull Words require two or more words to complete their definitions. The word "upstairs"cannot be defined without the word "downstairs." The word "hot" cannot be defined without the word "cold." Some words need more than two words to complete their meanings. The word"medium" cannot be defined without the words "large" and "small." The word "warm" cannot be defined without the words "hot" and"cold." Push-Pull Words provide people with vital insights into the thought process of the people they are talking to. For example, if someone says, "I don't remember," the listener can presume that in order for the speaker to not remember something, he must have had to remember it first. The same logic applies to the responses, "I don't recall" and "I forgot."

The following excerpt from a legal deposition, illustrates how an attorney identified and exploited the Push-Pull Word "straight."

LAWYER: So, you left your home at 6:00?
DRIVER: Yes. I gave my friend a ride to the hospital where he works.
LAWYER: And what time did you get to the hospital?
DRIVER: 6:20.
LAWYER: And you left the hospital when?
DRIVER: 6:22, maybe.
LAWYER: So you just dropped your friend off?
DRIVER: Yes, dropped him off and went straight home.
LAWYER: And the accident happened at 7:00?
DRIVER: Uh-huh.
LAWYER: Where did you stop on your way home?
DRIVER: My friend's house.
LAWYER: So, you weren't going directly home, you were going by your friend's house first?
DRIVER: Yes, that was my intention.

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The Push-Pull Word "straight" pushes off "not straight" or "crooked." If the driver truly intended to go straight home he would have likely said, "Yes, I dropped him off and went home." The lawyer instinctively recognized the Push-Pull Word "straight" and followed up with the presumptive question, "Where did you stop on your way home?," which forced the driver to reveal his true intension. 

Push-Pull Words and other verbal deception detection techniques are presented in a booklet titled Catch a Liar. These verbal deception detection techniques were adopted for parental use in Fibs to Facts. Fibs to Facts is a booklet that provides parents with practical tools to determine if their children are lying or are reluctant to discuss sensitive topics. 

 

John R. "Jack" Schafer, Ph.D., earned his degree in psychology from Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, California and served as a behavioral analyst for the FBI.

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