By Matt Stiehm
Threat assessment, is part of any executive protection specialists job, but if the threat is not overt how can someone best protect their client whether in private or public. While working in the field the executive protect specialist needs to be aware of everything. But one area that most people cannot protect or guard against is there verbal and non-verbal clues of deception.
Now for this article deception is clearly defined as someone hiding some piece of information. It is the specialist’s job to determine what the person (target) is hiding.
In determining if someone is being truthful or deceptive the specialist needs to have a “baseline” of communication with the individual. This baseline is common behaviors, or tendencies. In the field you can pick up these tendencies rather quickly in a brief conversation with the target (potential threat). In establishing the baseline just as simple as having “normal” chit-chat with the individual prior to asking “hard” questions, the hard question is the one in which the target could be deceptive.
Once you have established their baseline of behaviors, then it is easy to ask directed questions that might cause stress. Stress and the targets reaction to the stress is key in observing the non-verbal signs of deception.
The stress and reactions is what you are looking for in their non-verbal behaviors. Some of the simple ones are looking away, touching their hand to their face; there is also the look away and of course the in ability to answer the question smoothly. Since you are all experts in dealing with people you understand human interaction, so if something is not normal it probably is a good idea to determine the veracity of the statements of the “target”.
Understanding signs of deception is a rather new science or field of study, and it always s changing. I would suggest in attending a Stan B. Walters training session (if possible) or a W-Z, John G. Reid interview and interrogation school. These schools have a modest price of between 400-600 dollars. However the ROI that you get will greatly increase your marketability.
For additional information I would suggest the following website
I thought I would let you know that if you have questions or comments….
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Good common-sense article. Protection readers interested in practical non-verbal communication should also check out Jim Floyd’s CUES course:
Ah, thanks for clarifying, Matthew. I’m sure there’s ongoing research into the specifics. It’s also very up to interpretation (an art more than science), but as you say, definitely another tool to master.
As for the snow… what is it?! SoCal has its downsides, but we don’t get much white stuff… lol
The Reid Technique should be considered part of your bodyguard “advanced training
Having attended both of Reids interview and interrogation schools (basic and advanced) I would say that both are highly recommended. But like everything else, use what applies and make mental note of what doesn’t. Not all information prov…ided is applicable but the themes definetly assist.
I have attended a number of other interrogation schools but most are questionable, again take what you can out of any course you may attend.
Good Evening Mr. Gomez,
While I agree that this is not a new topic, there has been recent research conducted by a vareity of people which provide and describe what micro-expressions are. These expressions are what the interviewer is looking for, these only provide an indication that the subject is hiding/decieving something.
It is up to the interviewer to determine what the person is hiding. There has also been additional research on word usage in cases of deception. While I have used these techniques, to some moderate success if you do not keep up on all of the research and actively use the material in your work you will lose it.
While I beliege that John. G. Reid is a great class for traditional investigators, I will suggest the one created by Stan B. Walters for people that work in the field.
I appreciate your communication and debate…
Also hopefully you are not all snowed in…(like us in Minnesota).
Just wanted to say that I’m not sure this is so new, Matthew. The basic detection principle (establishing a baseline with “control” questions before asking the “relevant” ones) you describe is how polygraphy works. And the overreaction of the target to apparently innocuous questions, revealing the subject’s emotional conflicts, dates back to Freud.
Deception detection is controversial to this day, but it’s been around for a long time and I agree that this is something we should all use.
Douglas Belton II
As I commented on the bodyguardcareers FB page this topic is an exemplar of the marriage of intelligence and security. This is where an EP operator truly gets the opportunity be proactive in his/her protective strategy. EXCELLENT topic!
Hucky: Very good tips on interviewing and interrogation; which is often neglected in the BG business.