Category Archives: Poltics

The One Thing You Must Understand In Any Negotiation.

Negotiation is so hard because we make it hard. When we attack the other side, we limit our chances for a mutually satisfying solution. We create our own prisons and then we wonder why we are trapped.

Jail

As I write, our politicians are locking horns in a contentious debate that will affect us all.  Debate is nothing new, but the level of acrimony seems to be on the rise. The acrimony is accelerated by the moral superiority that each side feels it has over the other. This leads to more hyper-partisan attacks, but it also reduces the chances that we will arrive at creative 3rd alternative solutions.

Identity.

The core of the problem is that each side sees their position as their identity. We have forgotten that when you attack the position, you attack the person.  Stephen Covey wrote:

3rd_AlternativeAlmost everyone identifies with one alternative or the other. That’s why we have liberals against conservatives, Republicans against Democrats, workers against management…spouse against spouse, socialist against capitalist, and believers against nonbelievers. It’s why we have racism and prejudice and war.

Each of the two alternatives is deeply rooted in a certain mind-set. For example, the mind-set of the environmentalist is formed by appreciation for the delicate beauty of balance of nature. The mind-set of the developer is formed by a desire to see communities grow and economic opportunities increase. Each side usually sees itself as virtuous and rational and the other side as lacking virtue or common sense.

The deep roots of my mind-set entwine with my very identity. If I say I’m an environmentalist or a conservative or a teacher, I’m describing more than what I believe and value–I’m describing who I am. So when you attack my side, you attack me and my self image. (pp. 9-11)

The One Thing You Need To Understand.

 Strongly held positions = Personal identity.

I am a Christian. For me, this is a primary identity. So when secularists attack Christmas  (e.g. renaming a Christmas tree a “Holiday tree” in order to embrace people of all faiths), I understand how many Christians experience this as an attack on them and their values.

I am a Conservative. So when the far-left seized the opportunity to advance their gun-control agenda in the wake of the tragedy at Newtown, I quickly penned three articles in defense of 2nd Amendment rights:

[Note: I believe that most ordinary Americans–even those who are now rethinking gun-control–simply want to ensure that a similar tragedy is not repeated. These people are different than those with a prepackaged agenda.]

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Notice that I said “I am” a Christian and “I am” a Conservative. I did not say that I think that Christianity or the Founding Fathers provided  rationally superior systems of thought. It is simply not that abstract. This is what I mean by identity. 

The point is this: If you are a Conservative, do not demonize Liberals if you wish to make any progress.  Remember:

Strongly held positions = Personal identity.

It Is The Same Way At The Office.

At work, if you have just disparaged Todd about the XYZ account at the last staff meeting, you are not likely to get Todd’s support on most basic items on your agenda.

If you say 2+2 =4, he will not attack your math, but you had better be prepared for him to ridicule your elementary thinking or your inability to think outside the box.  Why? He worked hard on the XYZ account and when you attacked it, you attacked him.  You violated his identity.

Whether you are in Congress or at the office, the one thing you must understand in any negotiation is that in order to gain cooperation you must not attack the other’s identity.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever experienced an attack on your identity that prevented your cooperation?

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 20, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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Why Gun Control Won’t Work: The Economics of Human Behavior.

In recent days, the chattering class has spent a lot of time speculating about what kind of gun control regulations they might achieve in the wake of the national tragedy in Newton, Connecticut.

No_gun

I appreciate what liberals are trying to do. They sincerely believe that by banning firearms, they will make us safer and rid the country of a great evil. I agree with the objective of safety, but I reject their means because controlling the weapon will not work if the real issue is the heart of man.

Jeremiah 17_9

Get your MBA at Charleston Southern UniversityHere I will address the economics of the issue, and I will go beyond the abstract discussion of supply and demand, incentives, and deterrence to provide seven historical examples of how real people have reacted to weapons controls.

All Guns Are Banned!

Let’s start with a thought experiment. Let’s assume that liberals get everything they  want:

  • All guns are banned.
  • We have massive “Gun Disposal Days.”
  • We melt our guns into iPhones.

Everyone is blissful and the world will live as one.  But are we safer?

Any serious student of history should question how much better off we would be. If, as I have suggested, the problem is not with the gun but the heart of man (and, to a lesser degree, culture), we might be in a more precarious position. In fact, historically speaking, populations who have been disarmed have generally been oppressed by those with arms. Examples range from Carthage to the Third Reich.

Behavioral Economics & Arms Control: 7 Examples

1. CrossBows. Throughout the Middle Ages, Crossbows were loathed and feared because they were very accurate and they could penetrate armor, eliminating a knight’s battlefield advantage. The Magna Carta specifically mentioned crossbowmen among mercenary soldiers who should be banished from the kingdom as soon as peace was restored.

CrossbowThey were banned by the Pope in 1139, but they were so effective that even the threat of eternal damnation  did little to reduce the proliferation of crossbows in Europe.

2. Have you ever wondered why Martial Artists use such funny weapons?

Martial Arts Weapons from Karatemart

You can trace the use of these weapons to arms bans in feudalistic Asian societies. When farmers were occupied and disarmed, they used whatever they had at their disposal (e.g. farming tools) to defend themselves. Looking at the images above, you can see how these would be helpful in threshing grain or bailing hay.

Cane Defense3. The Cane.  Combat Hapkido, which was only developed in 1990, has adopted the cane as its weapon of choice. Yes, the cane–just like your grandfather uses.

Why? Because the practitioners of this modern martial art understand that the cane is 100% street legal. This is a selling point in Combat Hapkido classes, books, manuals, and training videos.

Gangland Season 14. Hammers. If I learned anything from the time I spent watching an entire season of Gangland,  it was that the Hell’s Angles motorcycle club members sometimes carry ball peen hammers. Why? Completely legal.

I would imagine a group of Hell’s Angels could do a lot of damage swinging ball peen hammers, but if they were stopped by the authorities, who could say that they were not just on their way to a habitat for humanity build?

5. Knives. Let’s go back to Modern day China. Recently there has been a wave of violent knife attacks. According to CNN:

Guns are strictly controlled in China, but until recently possession of large knives were not. Chinese authorities have recently issued a regulation requiring people to register with their national ID cards when they buy knives longer that 15 centimeters.

Note: 15 centimeters is roughly 6 inches. Is this where we want to go as a society–registering with the government when you buy a kitchen knife at Wal-Mart?

Box-cutter6. But what about the assault weapons used on 9/11? The AR-15s and M-16s used to subdue the passengers…oh wait, they used box cutters and claimed to have explosives.

At this point, the gun-control advocate might cry foul and ask, “But isn’t it better to just have a society armed only with knives. After all, if a would-be killer did not have access to a gun he could hurt a far fewer people.”

This argument assumes that criminals will not still obtain guns, leaving the law-abiding population at their mercy.  After all, criminals have a nasty habit of ignoring and violating the law. Moreover, it also assumes that those who can’t obtain guns will not turn to some other, more deadly means. Here, I am not talking about knives, but explosives.

7. Explosives. A 2011 U. S. Army medical study found that of 7877 combat casualties, “almost 75% resulted from explosive mechanisms; just 20% were gunshot wounds.”  More to the point, additional studies found that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were directly responsible for roughly twice the number of casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq than in Vietnam.

The Heart of the Matter

From everything you have learned about how people react to these controls, does it stand to reason that bad men will recognize that Congress has passed sweeping legislation and change their evil gun-loving ways? A few might, but in an era where bomb building instructions can be found on the internet, do we really think we will be safer with more gun control legislation? Or, are we missing the point?

If the problem that we are trying to address is internal (the heart), an external solution (removing all guns) misses the point.

The heart can change voluntarily, but human nature is not easily subdued by legislation. Worse, an unintended consequence of robust gun control might be headlines about mall bombings and school bombings that take the lives of many more innocents.

Do you think Gun Control Legislation Will Be Effective?

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 19, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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Gun Control: How to Think Like the Founding Fathers (Part II – Solutions).

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Gun Control: How To Think Like The Founding Fathers

After writing Gun Control: How to Think Like the Founding Fathers, I received a number of comments on the blog, by Facebook,  Twitter, and  email.  While the comments varied, the majority of questions could be summarized as follows:

“Yes, I like the Founding Fathers too, but they wrote 200 years ago and times have changed. Don’t just tell us that the problem lies in the heart of man.We want a solution.”

So, here I would like to discuss solutions, but I would like to do so within the Founders’ framework.   Please allow me set up the discussion with a few of their own words:

Franklinface

Ben Franklin

“They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

John Adams

John Adams

“We have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Robert Winthrop (Patron of Winthrop University)

Robert_Charles_Winthrop“All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they may have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint. Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible, or by the bayonet. It may do for other countries and other governments to talk about the State supporting religion. Here, under our own free institutions, it is Religion which must support the State.”

Winthrop was not a “Founding Father” but a member of the next generation. I included his statement because it summarized the type of thinking I have been talking about. If we are internally controlled, we do not need external control. If, on the other hand, we do not control ourselves, we will lose liberty and demand that the government control us.

James Madison ThumbnailOn the floor of the Virginia Ratification Convention, James Madison asked:

“Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks, no form of government, can render us secure.”

Solutions

Let’s begin with suggestions that would not work (or are 180 degrees from the thinking of the Founders). These include:

  • Gun-free school zones (Sandy Hook Elementary was already a gun-free school zone. Criminals tend not to follow the rules).
  • Expand gun-free areas to all public spaces (see comments above).
  • Additional gun control legislation (20 or more laws were broken at Colombine. It is yet to be determined how many laws were broken in Newtown, CT, but let’s assume criminals have little respect for the law. Do we believe that another law will help or is this an effort to feel like we have done something?)

Here are the most workable solutions I have heard:

  • Moral and religious revival (a bit difficult to implement, admittedly).
  • Cultural shift that does not glorify guns and violence (unlikely while Hollywood and Rappers exist).
  • Focus on moral and ethical training of our children (which will be difficult in a society that can no longer agree on what is right and what is wrong).
  • “Resource officers” – More police stationed at schools (please reread the Winthrop quote above).
  • We have Air Marshals–why not have School Marshals too? (or armed administrators).
  • More armed auxiliary police (e.g. deputized civilians who can be called on in crises–expanding this number is cost-effective compared to the other models. We have a lot of vets who already have training).
  • Adopt a Swiss Model (There is a reason the Nazis did not invade Switzerland–they realized it would be too costly).

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityThe first two suggestions are internal. The latter are external and somewhat expensive, but if we are unwilling to do the real work of dealing with the root of the matter (the heart), we will be required to vigilantly monitor an ever-growing number of bad guy.

A colleague that I deeply respect emailed and privately wrote this about the Gun Control: How to Think Like the Founding Fathers article :

“I’m not sure how to improve [your argument]. Fact is, there is no way to remove all exigencies. Liberty requires character because it means taking responsibility for your own actions. Unfortunately, it also means bearing the cost of others misusing it.”

President Obama described the school shooting as his “compass moment.” If it is, this may be the political leadership issue of our time. I am convinced  that a departure from the Founders’ thinking will not lead us to the promised peace and security that we crave.

What Are Your Suggestions? I’ll add them to the list.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 18, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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Gun Control: How to Think Like the Founding Fathers.

The school shooting in Newtown, CT was a terrible tragedy. The loss of innocent life is simply heartrending.  With what seems like a rash of mass shootings, politicians and political pundits have been asking whether meaningful gun control legislation is not overdue. Even President Obama has pledged to “use whatever power this office holds…in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because, what choice do we have?”

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Sweedish sculpture of Non-Violence by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd

What Choices Do We Have?

Let’s begin with Michael Moore, the maker of Bowling for Columbine.  The day of the memorial service, he tweeted the following:

Michael Moore

This is simply illogical. Moore is equating legal ownership of guns and rape. But let’s be clear: Rape is a crime. Murder is also a crime.

According to the National Criminal Justice Reporting Services, in the last year for which we have data, “victims age 12 or older experienced a total of 188,380 rapes or sexual assaults” in the United States.

Now, this is 188,380 too many, but let’s apply his reasoning to rape and his tweet might read: “The debate is over! Rape has to stop now. We need universal male castration!” To borrow from Madison, the cure is worse than the disease.

Thinking Like the Founding Fathers

Placing this discussion in context is important. I will not here rehash the common arguments from either side of the gun-control debate (e.g. Gun don’t kill people; people kill people or “Fewer people would be killed if guns were illegal.”) I want to focus here on the way that the Founding Fathers thought through such issues.

I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the way the Founding Fathers thought and reasoned during the Constitutional Convention and ratification debates. You may never have heard of me, but I know what I am talking about here. I borrowed Madison’s language from Federalist 10 because it is one of the clearest expositions of the Founders’ thinking about important political issues.

In Federalist 10, Madison was specifically was talking about factions (or what we call partisan politics). We don’t tend to like the bickering that goes on in Congress, but have you ever noticed that in countries where the lawmakers all have the same opinion, there is not a lot of freedom?  When we consider the alternative, Congress does not look so bad.

Let’s examine how the Founding Fathers thought. Madison wrote:

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

James Madison

James Madison – Chief Architect of the Constitution

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. (Federalist 10)

Let me recap.

Madison reasoned that you only have two choices: remove the causes or control its effects. If we try to remove the cause, we destroy our own liberty. The only viable solution is to control the effects.

 The First Amendment Has A Dark Side Too

In the wake of this tragedy, the Westboro Family Cult (I refuse to dignify them with the term “Baptist Church” as this is an insult to Baptists everywhere) announced that it was going to protest at the funerals in Connecticut.

They protest against America, reveling in God’s judgement. They disrupt funerals of fallen soldiers and other solemn venues (e.g. the Holocaust museum as pictured below) in order to gain publicity and attract lawsuits when their rights are violated. It is a shakedown operation using protected non-profit “church” status and the First Amendment as foils for the venom that they inject into society.

WestBoro Baptist Church

Condemn them, ignore them, or  encircle them with bikers as Patriot Guard Riders have done at funerals (in order to drown out their protests). But, do not compound the evil by attempting to remove the cause. As horrific as the the Westboro Family Cult is, it would be a far greater tragedy for the government to remove non-profit status for churches or restrict 1st Amendment religion or speech rights because of their abuses of the system.

The Solution

Madison concluded, “that the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its EFFECTS.” Why? Because the “causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man.”

Now this is point. If the problem is internal (e.g. the heart of man), external solutions will not work.

The Second Amendment

We think of guns as a useful means to ward off criminals. It is, but it is more than that. It is also a preventative measure to thwart future tyranny.

In its historical context, the Founders reasoned that the people would never be subdued by an oppressive government (theirs or another) as long as the people were armed and free.

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityLiberals who rabidly defend the first amendment should apply the same logic to the second. We can destroy the liberty of citizens by removing firearms, but if the problem is the heart of man, strict controls on firearms will not cure what ails us and we will lose liberty in the process.

Guns in Newton, CT; machetes in Rwanda; improvised explosive devices (IED) in Iraq. What’s the common denominator? Evil in the Heart of man (not guns). Unless you can change the heart, your only remedy is to control the effects.

What do you think? I would like to know.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 17, 2012

UPDATE:  Looking for solutions? Have a solution? Read my next article:

Gun Control: How to Think Like the Founding Fathers (Part II – Solutions)

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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A Modest Proposal to End the “War on Christmas.”

As I write, Christmas is just weeks away.

Frosty the Snowman

Each year the drum beat seems to get progressively louder. Secularists clamor to  water down Christmas displays with gaudy arrangements that must include Frosty the Snowman and candy canes. Then they call for the outright removal of manger scenes and even the Christmas tree. Conservatives have dubbed this the “War on Christmas.”

I have never understood why people who claim not to believe in God are so troubled by others who believe in His existence. It doesn’t trouble me when people believe that Elvis is still alive.  To borrow from Hamlet, the atheist “doth protest too much, methinks.”

Christmas_tree

Last year Governor  Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island renamed the Christmas tree a “Holiday tree” in the name of inclusivity. So in order not to offend anyone, Chafee ignored the obvious fact that the 87.5% Christian population of his state might be offended by this politically correct shot over the bow.  Only 6% of Rhode Island self-identifies as non-religious (thanks, in large measure to Brown University).

“O Holiday Tree, O Holiday Tree” just does not have the same ring. This year, Chafee did it again, but he was smarter. To avoid last year’s protests, he gave only 30 minutes notice before the tree-lighting ceremony. Nothing suggests that public sentiment is on your side more than surreptitious behavior. Never mind that the White House “Christmas tree” was lit just a few days later.

4 Ways We Can Handle the Christmas Holiday:

1. Leave it alone

I celebrate Christmas. Jews celebrate Hannukah or Chanukah (and they can spell it however they like because it is THEIR holiday. They cash in on Christmas shopping deals and I got a day off from public school on Yom Kipper and Rosh Hashanah.

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I may have inappropriately said “Happy New Year” on the Day of Atonement, but my Jewish neighbors didn’t seem to mind. In fact, they appreciated that I was trying to be respectful of their tradition.  This is the way most people feel about the holidays.

2. We have competing holidays at the same time.  

In this scenario, you can’t be satisfied unless Kwanzaa is more popular than Hanukkah or Ramadan (or Ramadan gets more attention than Hanukkah depending on your persuasion). Moreover, all minority holiday celebrants must envy Christmas.

Borrowing the Marxist narrative, Christmas is bad because it is celebrated by the majority, where all of the smaller [proletariat] holidays are self-evidently virtuous.

Festivus for the Rest of Us

Seinfeld-Season-9-DVDFestivus_PoleFestivus has sprung up a humorous alternative to the traditional Christmas holiday.  In the last season of Seinfeld, George’s father celebrated Festivus “for the rest of us.” Festivus is celebrated on December 23. It includes a plain aluminum pole (to distinguish itself from the Christmas tree) and the “airing of grievances.” This was a funny Seinfeld episode, but it highlights the adversarial thinking I am talking about here. Can’t we just be respectful of each other?

3. We have only one standard holiday

This seems to be what the president of the American Atheists wants.

As our society increasingly unhinges from its mooring, someone will always be offended by what another person does. Our default solution is to make it accommodating for all, as if doing that will somehow satisfy all parties. More often than not, this solution leaves everyone dissatisfied.

What would one standard holiday look like? Cross the efficiency of the post office with the effectiveness of the public school system and I think you will have a sense of how bland the Winter Solstice holiday will feel. Just be sure not to bring religion into it–that is not polite.

4. Add a holiday.

Maybe we  should add an extra holiday in January for the rational free-thinkers who are offended by Christmas as a Federal holiday. Sure it will be one more lost day of productivity for the economy, but when we spend billions on non-productive bailouts, this will be a drop in the ocean.

Moreover, free thinkers will have their holiday or “Reason-Day” or whatever they want to call it. And, it should take the edge off of the silly argument that the government is “establishing a religion” by creating a Federal holiday that acknowledges that no one wants to go to work on Christmas anyway.

This is my olive branch to the politically correct atheists and it actually might be a good idea.

We can position Reason Day in late January when most people have already broken their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, get out of debt, and generally be a better person. Reason Day will be a stark reminder of our need to be better humans.

Moreover, another highly commercialized holiday would be great for business. If we have learned anything about economics from the mainstream media, it is that shopping helps the economy.

This would be a win-win scenario. The only reason that the Atheists wouldn’t embrace this generous offer would be if  the “War on Christmas” was not about “equal rights,” but about something else–the removal of Christianity from the public square.

I just hope the Reason-Day cookies taste good.

What are your thoughts? I would like to know.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 10, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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To Those Who Seek To Lead Well

Leaders talk about openness and transparency. That is good. It is nearly impossible in this age of empowered social media to be successful as a command-and-control leader. But talking about openness is not enough. You must act on that openness too.

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”  

-Patrick Henry

Openness Shrugged

 In the Obama team’s 2008 campaign book, Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama’s Plan to Renew America’s Promise, we find  a number of passages about what openness and transparency would look like under a future Obama Administration. They write: “When it comes to the corrupting influence of lobbyists on our politics, sunshine is truly the best disinfectant” (p. 149).

This is an ironic plagiarism of Justice Louis Brandeis’ 1913 quote “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,” but we can all agree with the larger point. It is better to expose potential corruption than to cover it up.

In a more interesting passage about openness, we find this elaboration:

It means opening up our government with greater transparency so average citizens can access the information they need to hold their leaders accountable. And it means inspiring and calling on all Americans to engage as citizens.
Our government has an important role to play in this work, and every aspect of it should be under review. We’ll eliminate waste, streamline bureaucracy, and cut outmoded programs. An Obama Administration will open up the doors of democracy. It will put government data online, and use technology to shine a light on spending. It will invite the service and participation of American citizens, and cut through the red tape to make sure that every agency is meeting the highest standards. It will hold true to the obligations we have as stewards of our precious natural resources. And an Obama Administration will make sure that the doors of opportunity and community are open to all. We can’t begin to tackle the challenges of the twenty-first century without the hard work, creativity, and patriotism of every American (p. 146).

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityNow, these ideas are compelling. Who does not want a transparent government that is open to all? But campaigning and governing have turned out to be two different things. The promise of the campaign was not redeemed by the actions of the administration.

Openness is defined not by the leader, but by the followers.

If your followers say that you are not open and transparent, odds are that you are not. In all fairness to Mr. Obama, liberals said the same thing about George W. Bush, particularly as it related to the war in Iraq.

The First Rule of Leadership

The first rule of leadership is simple: Do what you say you will do. Your actions must be consistent with your words. In  The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner wrote:

Here are some of the common phrases people use to describe how they know credibility when they see it:

  • They practice what they preach.
  • They walk the talk.
  • Their actions are consistent with their words.
  • They put their money where their mouth is.
  • They follow through on their promises.
  • They do what they say they will do.

A judgment of “credible” is handed down when words and deeds are consonant (p. 40).

[Note: The Leadership Challenge is required reading for aspiring leaders.]

What Does This Mean for Those Who Aspire to Lead Well?

When it comes to transparency, what is true in politics is also true in business.

It does not matter if we are talking about a scandal like Benghazi or the rumors of layoffs at the office (the premise of the hit TV show, The Office),  failing to be open leads to a breach of trust. You cannot lead effectively when your people do not fundamentally trust you.

Is your organization transparent?

November 27, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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How to Spot a Liar.

Yesterday I was watching a press conference of a well-known political figure. I will not say which one. I will leave this for the astute reader to check today’s date and draw his own conclusions.

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityThe politician was exhibiting deceptive behaviors–not answering the questions directly, using qualifiers, making true statements that were not related to what was asked, and becoming verbally aggressive.

As I watched the press conference, it was clear to me that the politician had something to hide.

How Do I Know?

Recently I read a fascinating book about lying behavior.

 Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception is unlike any other book I have read on the topic. Many body language books are patently unhelpful. Often they provide useless generalizations like “If the suspect has his arms crossed, he is defensive because he is lying” or some similar nonsense.

In Spy the Liethe authors rule out silver bullets. Instead, they teach you to ignore truthful statements and look for patterns of deception. They call these patterns clusters.

The Signs of Deception

The authors demonstrate 30 to 40 different deceptive techniques that liars frequently use. Yesterday, these 7 immediately jumped out to me as I watched the press conference:

  • Inability to directly deny an allegation
  • A nonspecific denial
  • Repeating the question
  • Attack behavior
  • Referral statements such as “as I said before…”
  • Inappropriate level of concern
  • Qualifiers that provide wiggle room

Again, How Do I Know He was Lying?

It worked for me.

About a week after I read the book I had an odd interaction with a high ranking executive at an organization not far from where I teach. When I asked the executive about a particular key project, I  saw a number of signs of deception. I not only saw the signs–they were vivid.

Previously, I would have walked away thinking “that was odd” and I would have written off this executive’s behavior to poor indigestion or a having a bad day.

However, unbeknownst to the executive, I had just run into one of his colleagues who told me that the same project was being scrubbed. I witnessed a confirmed lie and the signs were clear as a bell.

Need More Proof?

View this video of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY):

The authors of Spy the Lie called this lie 4 days before Weiner confessed. With the little bit that I told you in this post, you should be able to recognize the deception too. Want to know more? Get the book. You can thank me later.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

November 15, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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