This is Dr. Tori. Welcome to the Influence Every Day show where we make every day better and we influence for good.
Recently, I was teaching a master's level course on influence to health care leaders, and I was about to introduce the subject of difficult conversations. And we were about to go through some workshops and roleplaying and simulation for difficult conversations, but to introduce the topic and also to get people in a lighter mood. I used a common icebreaker that's used in many different workshops and organizations and conferences and seminars, and that is the one called "2 Truths and A Lie." That's where each participant writes down or just identifies two truths that they have about themselves and one lie about themselves. And what they do is they basically express all three (the two truths, and the lie) mix them up in any kind of order. And the other people have to sort of figure out which one is the lie. That icebreaker is pretty common. You may have been a part of it in some other event that you've been to, but we used it in a slightly different way.
Here's what we did. We divided the entire episode into two where the first half the participants, did their 2 Truths and A Lie, as they normally would, and they checked their own rate of being accurate. Then halfway through, I taught them the body language of deception, the body language of lies, the body language of change and discomfort.
The reason I brought that up is because I wanted to lead in to detecting discomfort. It doesn't mean you're detecting this deception per se, but you're detecting discomfort that is really vital to difficult conversations and to know where you are actually even any conversation really, to to know if something becomes uncomfortable. For those that you're speaking with, it's important to be able to detect that because then you probably have some work to do in terms of rapport or the topic or what have you.
We introduced 2 Truths and A Lie halfway through. Teach them about the body language of micro-expressions, the body language of discomfort, looking for and detecting change. And then the second half of the of the event, they essentially see if they improve after they learn these skills in tourists. And it's pretty interesting once you learn the skills of looking for change.
See, a lot of times you'll see stuff out there about body language where people say X equals Y. Folded arms means that their blocking or folded arms means that they are uncomfortable. Well, that's not true. That's simply not true. It may be true in some instances, but it's also not enough information. A single act of body language.
A single expression of body language is not necessarily enough to derive meaning. And in fact, even if you use a full cluster of body language expressions, you're getting a little bit more accurate, perhaps, but it's not enough to detect meaning. It is enough to detect a change, though. And so it's better and more prudent. Also, it's safer for your relationships, frankly, to look for change rather than assuming that X equals Y, that a certain behavior means deception or a certain behavior means dishonesty or anything like that.
So let me tell you a quick story. So there was a horse and this, by the way, like legit story, look it up. I mean, lots of people have written articles about it. It's been studied extensively and sort of it's like a reference exists extensively in the psychology literature.
In the early 1900s, there was a horse named Clever Hans. Hans was an attraction for a lot of people because they would come and the owner would ask Hans a question and then he would stomp out the answer. Typically, the questions were phrased as multiple choice, and then he would stomp out the correct answer. If it was an arithmetic question, you know, four plus six, and then given four choices of answer or gone through a series of numbers until you reached the right number, he would be accurate. This horse Clever Hans was accurate. And even when asked questions about like history and given multiple choice answers, people thought, of course, this is a scam. There's no way this horse knows this stuff.
Even when others put this horse to the test, he would answer the questions correctly. Now, what's interesting is that psychologists try to study this, right? So at first, they brought crowds of people. They would have different people ask questions. They would ask the questions in different ways. And then it wasn't until one psychologist in particular isolated the horse from the owner and then its rate of answering the questions correctly decreased, but it even decreased completely to zero when there were no people present.
In other words, the question is asked from behind a curtain. The horse would not get the answers right. And so what was determined by by the psychology team was that the horse was actually reading body cues from its owner primarily and then from other people. You can imagine if there's an ABCD answer and the answer is C. When they say "A", there's a certain response or lack of response, then "B", they're getting closer and then there's some anticipation or some body language change when he reaches the right answer that the horse was detecting. So it wasn't the fault of the owner who was trying to deceive people.
It was actually an unintentional internal expression that was outwardly manifested in body language. So in other words, his excitement or anticipation or whatever he was feeling as the horse got close to the right answer, that was expressed in micro-expressions and body language changes. And so Clever Hans wasn't really clever. I guess, he was in a way, but it wasn't a calculated kind of clever. It was more like he was able to detect the body language of his owner, of course, better than he was able to other people.
But still, nonetheless, horses are used actually in body language training for medical students. I know a neurosurgeon who happens to be also a horse whisperer, and he brings med students to his ranch and trains people on body language and rapport and how to establish rapport with animals and horses to then impact their ability to establish rapport with humans. Valuable stuff.
Here are a couple lessons to take away for you. First is that sometimes we focus so much on our content that we neglect the context. Context. The context is important. It's not enough to deliver your message. You have to realize that your message is being received and how is it being received? What's the state of the people who are receiving the message? Is it the right time? Is it the right setting? Is it the right pace? Is it the right tone? Is it the right order of things? You can sort of see where you are in a conversation. If you pay attention to the context, and specifically if you pay attention to the comfort level of the people you're speaking to or not only the comfort level, whether or not they trust you, whether or not they understand the level of language you're using, all of that matters and that can all be detected. Now, that's one lesson. Pay attention to the context. Don't focus only on your bullet points and all the things you have to get through or what's on your slides. Focus rather on the people that you're interacting with. That's who you're there to serve. So pay close attention to that context.
Another lesson to derive is that X does not equal Y when it comes to body language pursing of the lips or closing of the eyes. You know, those are common blocking behaviors that but in a cluster, they may mean that they're blocking, they may mean that they're uncomfortable. It may mean that they're lying or deceiving. But by themselves, it doesn't mean that they could be uncomfortable with public speaking. They could be uncomfortable with the topic, but not necessarily trying to deceive you and by by way of what their answers are. Right? So we can often misinterpret somebody folding their arms. They could be cold. It could actually be a cultural expression in listening. In other cultures, there are multiple reasons why somebody may do a particular behavior.
What you're looking for is change and you never apply meaning to the change. You just say, Hmm, you get curious. Essentially, do I have more work to do? Do I need to get deeper on rapport? Do I need to make sure they understand? Do I need to rephrase this or use better language or use words that they understand? Do I need to remove some objections before they get to a full grasp or even acceptance of what we're talking about? Right. It just means you have more work to do.
It could mean like, you know, you can detect change that where somebody all of a sudden realizes that they have to be somewhere else. They're not trying to get away from you. They're not necessarily uninterested or whatever. But something else is a higher priority and it's pulling them.
You're looking for the context. What is their comfort level? Don't apply meaning to the change, but rather look for it and get curious. It's that simple.
I hope you found this helpful if you're interested in something like 2 Truths and A Lie or I do have a course on Defense Against the Dark Arts of Influence. There are lots of ways that we are influenced by those with not-so-good intentions. I have a course on how to address those and by the way, it's not always detecting them. It's not always detecting somebody who is using the dark arts of influence, but rather it's actually more preparing yourself most of the time. But if you're interested in that stuff, check out InfluenceEverywhere.com.
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