So, you found out someone close to you has a secret they’ve kept from you. How do you approach them about it?
Assuming you know this person does not pose a serious threat to you, there are ways you can get them to spill whatever it is they’re hiding.
In this post, we look at the advice given by army intelligence interrogator, James O. Pyle.
First things first, use the right conversational approaches:
Ask for a narrative
Nobody likes to be confronted. Most people will probably clam up at facing an “interrogation.” That’s why you need to approach this person like it’s a normal conversation – but with information in it.
Don’t ask a question that produces a “yes” or “no” response. Instead, ask for a narrative.
For example, say you found out from a friend of your boyfriend that your boyfriend was flirting with another girl the other night while out with his friends.
You want to find out answers but don’t want a dismissive response. Instead of asking, “Did you have a good time the other night” (which could get you dismissive “yes” response), instead, ask, “How was your night out with the guys?”
Then you can follow up with questions like, “Who did you meet?” “What did you do?” and “Where did you go?”
According to Pyle, people who want to cover something up tend to minimize and dismiss.
Now check for truthfulness; which leads us to the next point.
Watch the reaction
Are they exhibiting the behaviors of a liar with their response?
Liars will often have simple explanations to avoid remembering all the complexities of the lie. They might also avoid being straightforward by creating long sentences filled with irrelevant details.
Are they looking into your eyes too much with a frozen upper body and no fidgeting? What about their body placement: are their feet pointed toward an exit or did they place an object between you?
These are more cues that this person may be lying.
Say something about yourself
If, say, you found out that the person you’re dating has been married and he or she hasn’t told you, then you might want to mention that you have – or have not – been married before and pay attention to how they respond.
“The eyes are the big tellers,” Pyle says. Do they seem to pull back (like they’re hiding something)? Pyle suggests that you compare how this person looks when talking about emotional versus non-emotional subjects.
The key to knowing more information from someone is to not make it obvious. “Have a conversation with information in it,” suggests Pyle.
To cut off or give a second chance?
If you aren’t getting this person to confess what you already know, you may want to reconsider your relationship with them.
However, only you can tell. Perhaps there’s more to the story you don’t know about that makes it emotionally difficult to talk about.
Then again, anyone who is not honest with you may pose a bigger threat to you in the future.
Pyle added that “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. But if you make ‘em thirsty, they’ll drink by themselves.” He suggests continuing to ask “What else?” until your persistence pays off.
Remember that conversation is key – not interrogation. You want them to reveal the secret by themselves, not because you’re pressuring them.