The Life and Times of LiLo...what has she gotten herself into this week?
Was it boring, these 5 whole weeks since leaving Betty Ford in your rearview? Life just not exciting enough without your name and likeness splashed across every rag mag in America? Really, how do you have time for Grand Theft in between AA meetings?
Last Wednesday, Ms. Lohan was charged with Felony Theft in a Los Angeles courtroom. She allegedly absconded with a "one of a kind" necklace worth $2500 from an LA jewelry store. Predictably, she pled not guilty, though later confirmed through her attorneys that a plea bargain could be struck provided she doesn't have to go back to the big house.
Oops, she did it again (oh wait, wrong pop tart).
And naturally, inquiring minds want to know whether or not LL is a poor, tortured starlet...wrongfully accused and quickly and brutally convicted by the court of public opinion...or whether or not she is possibly addicted to shoplifting as well as booze.
As a former ATF investigator, I have spent decades cultivating my B**L S**T barometer. Whether I am training law enforcement officers how to break a bad guy, consulting with a client on the best way to determine if a potential investment is legit, or helping a friend navigate the muddy waters of online dating sites (which are apparently fraught with liars and manipulators ~ who knew!?), I am constantly honing deception detection techniques we can all use to spot the liars in and around our lives.
What's that got to do with LiLo, you ask?
Well, while the rest of America is talking about whether or not this girl wore a bra to court or not...here we are going to analyze her verbal and non-verbal communication. After all, this is one of the best ways to determine whether or not she's trying to pull (another) fast one!
In response to the press surrounding her latest court appearance on January 9, 2001, Lindsay took to Twitter to defend herself. Naturally.
"Was on the phone with my sister&this movie Greenberg is on, i heard my voice which was odd- and ryhs ifans is watching Just My Luck in the movie- made me laugh.. i just want to be on set again, and left alone to just work! fyi- would never steal, in case people are wondering. I was not raised to lie, cheat, or steal... also, what i wear to court shouldnt be front page news. it's just absurd. god bless xox L"
Statement analysis is a truly fascinating tool, you will not believe what you can uncover if you look a bit further.
A few things stick out immediately on LL's latest Tweet:
1) Dropping the pronouns. Liars generally drop the pronouns from their statements (either written or verbal). In this way, they are able to figuratively distance themselves from the situation. Where most would put "I was on the phone"...LL's simply says "Was on the phone". The pronoun is picked back up again for several phrases, then dropped again for this bombshell "would never steal."
2) Future tenses. Untruthful people have a problem when it comes to using proper tenses. Because their brains are otherwise engaged in storytelling, when discussing the accusation directly, they will often utter their denial in the future tense. For instance, "would never steal." Not only is this statement missing its pronoun, it is also not properly addressing the question. LL, we aren't asking if you would steal something next week, we're discussing an event that already occurred. A truthful statement would be crafted something like this: "I did not steal" - present tense.
3) Never say never! Liars loooooove the word never ("would never steal"). They believe it emphasizes the denial in and will elicit a positive response from the questioner. However, in many of my seminars, participants will fight this one. They say, "'scuse me Ms. ‘Lyin Tamer, but I would defiantly say never if asked that question ~ especially if I didn't do it!" To which I respond,
"Oh really, did you take heroin this morning?"
And they reply simply "No."
Right, because they likely did not do drugs before heading to a seminar. And a simple "no" is the natural, truthful answer to that question.
So listen, one teeny tiny tweet does not a liar make.
We also need to understand Ms. Lohan's baseline in order to determine the likelihood she is telling the truth in this instance. A baseline is a person's natural way of being, taking in to account the standards of their culture and gender, recognizing personality quirks, and taking stock of their natural facial expressions and gestures. Simply put, you need to be aware of their standards in order to spot the deviations in behavior. When these deviations occur, we have a Deception Probing Point (DPP), which is when you start asking pointed questions.
In order to understand LiLo's baseline, it is necessary to take a peek at her past Tweets. Maybe she always speaks in the past tense, eschews pronouns or makes copious use of the word "never." If so, then the above statement is likely to be truthful. If not, there is defiantly more to the story!
"Today is the first day of the rest of my life "The future depends on what we do in the present." -Mahatma Gandhi... One step at a time...." Jan. 1, 2011 5:33 p.m.
"What a great place The Dream Center is here in LA... had a nice time there today, it's so important to give back. I feel blessed." Sept. 26, 2010, 10:44 p.m.
"This was certainly a setback for me but I am taking responsibility for my actions and I'm prepared to face the consequences." Sept. 17, 2010 11:47 p.m.
"Substance abuse is a disease, which unfortunately doesn't go away over night. I am working hard to overcome it and am taking positive steps." Sept 17, 2010, 11:46 p.m.
"Regrettably, I did in fact fail my most recent drug test and if I am asked, I am prepared to appear before judge Fox next week as a result." Sept. 17th, 2010, 11:45 p.m.
"@nickluv78 i know, i really didn't- i've literally done everything the court's asked of me to do&anything extra i can do to end this drama" June 8, 2010 9:10 p.m.
As you examine these Tweets, you will notice that they too, reference Ms. Lohan's legal troubles and personal predicaments. Now that you are statement analysis champs, you will probably also notice that she uses pronouns in reference to herself (my, I) in all the proper spots, except one:
"...had a nice time there today..." when referencing The Dream Center.
You have probably also noticed that she does not use the word never, and all of her Tweets are written in the proper tense.
It is likely that there is more to the story after all...if Ms. Lohan did indeed willfully steal the necklace in question, her words on Twitter have subconsciously belied what she does not want us to know.
In this age of digital diaries such as Twitter, we all need to remember that they leave a permanent imprint of our "fleeting" thoughts. Take care before sharing your musings on your life, events big or small, or your legal troubles (LiLo, this means YOU).
This legacy can and will be examined, analyzed and (perhaps) used against us.
Janine Driver is the NY Times Bestselling author of You Say More Than You Think! A 7-Day Plan for Using The NEW Body Language to Get What You Want (Random House, 2010). She is a world renowned body language and communication expert, currenty at work on her second book, You Can't Lie to Me!