Dr. David Lieberman (@dr_lieberman) is the author of the book Mindreader: The New Science of Deciphering What People Really Think, What They Really Want, and Who They Really Are. He is a respected expert on human behavior and relationships, with a focus on improving communication and understanding between individuals.
What We Discuss with Dr. David Lieberman:
- Common misconceptions about body language that can be safely discarded as nonsense.
- The difference between self-esteem and confidence.
- Why guilty people usually want the conversation to end as soon as possible, while innocent people often want a further exchange of information.
- What spatial immediacy is, and its impact on how people interact and the nature of their communication.
- Why the less emotionally and mentally healthy someone is, the less comfortable they are with people who hold opposing viewpoints.
- And much more…
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With the increasing use of screens for communication, we are losing the ability to interpret nonverbal cues and expressions. This makes it harder to understand the subtext of a situation and discern someone’s true thoughts or intentions. Our guest Dr. David Lieberman, a leading lie detection expert, noted psychotherapist, and author of Mindreader: The New Science of Deciphering What People Really Think, What They Really Want, and Who They Really Are, offers a solution. He draws on the latest research in psycholinguistics to teach people how to apply cutting-edge methods to everyday situations.
David’s methods focus on detecting the underlying messaging in passive language, personal or impersonal descriptions, and level of detail. With these skills, you can determine whether someone’s account of an incident is truthful or a work of fiction, and whether a potential hire, dating app match, or babysitter is trustworthy or hiding something. David’s expertise has made him a sought-after instructor for the FBI and other security agencies. With his help, you can avoid being played a fool and identify who can be trusted. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Thanks, Dr. David Lieberman!
If you enjoyed this session with Dr. David Lieberman, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Mindreader: The New Science of Deciphering What People Really Think, What They Really Want, and Who They Really Are by David J. Lieberman, PhD | Amazon
- Other Books by David Lieberman | Amazon
- David Lieberman | Website
- David Lieberman | Instagram
- Robin Dreeke | Sizing People Up | Jordan Harbinger
- Joe Navarro | How to Identify and Protect Yourself from Harmful People | Jordan Harbinger
- Dr. Ramani | How to Protect Yourself from a Narcissist Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- Dr. Ramani | How to Protect Yourself from a Narcissist Part Two | Jordan Harbinger
773: David Lieberman | Deciphering What People Really Want
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:02] David Lieberman: What you want to do is you want to gather facts and then you introduce a piece of evidence that's not true but could be true, and you watch how your suspect handles it. So for example, "Oh, I heard there was a water main break and traffic was backed up for hours. It must have taken you a while to get out." Now, they've got a problem. If they weren't there, they don't know how to respond. They may think you're trapping them, they may not, but they're going to do the one thing that everyone who is lying about a story does, and that is hesitate.
[00:00:35] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating. We have in-depth conversations with scientists and entrepreneurs, spies and psychologists, even the occasional investigative journalist, arms trafficker, rocket scientist, or cold case homicide investigator. And each episode turns our guest's wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better thinker.
[00:01:01] If you're new to the show, or you're looking for a way to tell your friends about the show, I suggest our episode starter packs. These are collections of your favorite episodes or our favorite episodes, soon to be your favorite, organized by topic to help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on this show — topics like persuasion and influence, the subject of today's interview, disinformation and cyber warfare, negotiation, communication, crime, and cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or search for us in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:29] Now, today's guest, I have been reading his stuff for a long time, and I mean a long time. This is probably going on 20 years with some of the genesis of my interest in human behavior, even before podcasting was a thing I knew existed. He's one of the world's foremost experts on human behavior and interpersonal relationships. Teaches at the CIA, FBI, NSA. Also works with the behavioral analysis unit over in the FBI. Robin Dreeke, who's been on the show, was over there. Joe Navarro, who's been on the show, was over there. Today, we're going to discuss lie detection, not the YouTube stuff. We're going to debunk some of that stuff, the so-called lie detection and body language reading that you learn online, especially on YouTube. We're also going to dive into our use of language and what that tells us about the mindset of the people that we are talking to while we are talking to them, what they're thinking, whether they might be telling the truth or not. Also, a little tangent on ego, narcissism, threats busting people who are telling us a fib or a bad alibi. And this one, by the way, is great for kids and teenagers especially, and a whole lot more. David is really a fascinating guy who I really enjoyed talking with. I loved this episode. I know you will as well. This is the perfect way for us to start the year here on The Jordan Harbinger Show. So here we go with David Lieberman.
[00:02:45] It was surprising because when I booked this, I was like, why does that name sound familiar? Oh, the guy whose books I've been reading since I think the '90s actually. It was a superpower. Well, it still is a superpower, but it was kind of like a superpower at that time because I was 18, 19 years old, and I get this book where it's like, "Never be lied to again," or something along those lines. And I thought, "Wait a minute. Does everybody know about this? How do people not know about this?" And so I started reading these things as a, basically an old child, right, in high school, early college. And I remember being so giddy because I'd catch my friends or girlfriends or whatever, fibbing and I'd be using these tests on my parents. And it's like, nobody had ever heard of this stuff before.
[00:03:26] David Lieberman: Yeah. Well, I think, speaking about my second book and what it does or what it did is it introduced the public for the first time to formal techniques on lie detection. And before that book, there were no other books. Now, there's a million great books by the way, but that was really the first book that introduced the concept of being able to detect deception in everyday life.
[00:03:46] Jordan Harbinger: There's actually too much information on this subject now, in my opinion. I would imagine that you probably agree with that because a lot of the information is crap actually. So I'm curious what you think about some of these YouTube body language experts. Because you and I both know Rob Dreeke, Joe Navarro, these guys from NSA CIA FBI behavioral analysis unit who are using a lot of real stuff that you taught them in many occasions. But some of it is like, "If their feet are aimed towards the door, they want to leave," and I'm like, I don't know. Sometimes I just sit with my feet towards the door because that's the most comfortable position that there is.
[00:04:23] David Lieberman: Right. And I think one of the biggest misconceptions with reading people in general and lie detection specifically is the reliance on body language, which simply does not work. Now, there is an area where it is effective in terms of looking for congruency and certainly in unguarded situations, but the fact that someone's arms are folded, the fact that they're looking away, the fact they're scratching the nose doesn't mean anything in and of itself. And if you're talking to someone who's even a mildly sophisticated liar, you're going to get false readings time and again.
[00:04:56] Jordan Harbinger: That's interesting. So they have to be a sophisticated liar to trip you up because I would think what happens if their nose is itchy or the room is cold, then they're like this and they're going, "Gee, I don't know. I can't remember where I parked the car." And it's like, well, maybe the dude has a bugger stuck on his nose and he's freezing. I mean, that's happened to me before.
[00:05:14] David Lieberman: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. So you're exactly right. So there are some clues, you're right, in terms of arms being full to the person may be cold or may be comfortable, nose itches. There is some wisdom to some of them. For example, when we lie, eye contact increases intimacy. So an unsophisticated liar in this case maybe a small child might look away because they feel uncomfortable maintaining eye contact which is why I say when you're dealing with really somebody who's unsophisticated, but because body language, first off, it's so easy to fake. Anyone that relies on it, again, they're going to get misreads time and again.
[00:05:50] Jordan Harbinger: That makes sense because I suppose if I've read any book or even watched a few YouTube primers lying, and it's like, "What if they're not looking at you and they're closed off?" Now, I go, okay, well, I'm going to go lie about having not done something. So I'm going to spread one arm across the chair, look them in the eye, tilt my head, smile a little bit and be like, "I have no idea who forgot to take out the garbage. This was not on my list of chores. And you know, it's a shame when this kind of thing happens," and it's just like, "Oh, I've totally tripped everyone up because I watched 13 minutes of YouTube and now I know that tells they're looking for, and I'm just going to reverse those, at least in the short term."
[00:06:27] David Lieberman: Right. That's right. If something is too easy to fake, it's irresponsible to use them as markers of deception.
[00:06:33] Jordan Harbinger: It reminds me of these polygraph tests where the old stuff from the '70s was like, just clench your butt cheeks or put a rock in your shoe. And then, within a year or two, probably whoever designed these machines was like, "Well, we got to circumvent that stuff. Now, we're going to have a heart rate monitor. Good luck, faking that stuff," you know? And it just becomes more sophisticated. But our brains don't necessarily become more sophisticated at picking up deception, just because we've read a book about how people fake being a good liar or improve their skill at lying. Right?
[00:07:05] David Lieberman: Yeah, that's a great point. Also, the reason why, by the way, we want more books and more information on things that don't work, is because if they're easy to do, they give us the illusion of security. In other words, if I can just rely on whether somebody's arms are crossed or they're looking away, then I can feel that sort of, you know, sense of comfort in the conversation. And so that sort of diluting ourselves into feeling more secure, I think, trumps the fact that a person will go in eyes wide open and actually legitimately be more secure because they're looking objectively at the information rather than relying on some sort of outdated body language science.
[00:07:41] You know, body language, the reliance on it gives us the illusion of security. Meaning that if I know what somebody is thinking, what they're feeling based on a couple of gestures, then I can go into a conversation and feel more secure. But the opposite is true is because I'm not really present. I'm not really observing what's happening. I'm just relying on something that's not true. So I'm diluting myself into feeling more comfortable.
[00:08:03] Jordan Harbinger: What about a psychopath or a sociopath or somebody who's so delusional, they actually believe their own lies and they just don't have the same physical reaction to pressure and manipulation or deception? Because I'm actually a really bad liar, and I'm not just saying that to sort of, it's not a smoke screen. I'm just a terrible liar.
[00:08:21] David Lieberman: I believe you.
[00:08:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. When I try to make up something, which I don't even do now because I'm so bad at it. I find myself so self-conscious about everything that I'm doing, and at the same time, while being self-conscious, I'm still doing all of the obvious things that people do. So maybe a YouTube doctorate of body language would help somebody see if I'm lying, but it will definitely not help somebody who's even remotely good at it. This is why I would be a terrible, I think, probably, spy or undercover type of person because I remember people saying, "Did you do this?" And I'll go, "Uh," and I'm looking at the ground. I'm scratching my head, I'm scratching my note. I mean, it really is like what my toddler does, what my three-year-old son does, when he's lying about leaving out the Legos that are sitting right in front of me. It's just so bad. But if I could convince myself that I wasn't lying because I lived in an alternate reality or just didn't care about anybody else at all, I feel like I'd be so much better at deception.
[00:09:18] David Lieberman: Yeah. Well, you know, you suffer with this thing called integrity, which makes it difficult for you to lie with conviction over something that you have a conscience.
[00:09:26] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:09:26] David Lieberman: But just parenthetically, you had mentioned your toddler, I know we're not talking about parenting here, but a great technique I do with my own kids to make sure that they don't get in the habit of lying is I let them plead the fifth. Meaning if I ask them, "Did you leave out your Legos?" And I know that a no is going to follow, I'd say, "No, I want you to tell me the truth. If you want to plead the fifth and not answer, that's also okay." So pleading the fifth is tacit really admission of guilt, but at the same time, it doesn't allow for them to get into the habit of lying to me or to mom.
[00:09:55] Jordan Harbinger: That's interesting. So they can plead the fifth where they know they're going to have to lie to get out of something, but then you just know that the answer is they did it.
[00:10:02] David Lieberman: That's right. And they don't have to lie to me and get into that awful habit of lying to a parent. And certainly, the worst habit of lying to me, who's an expert in this.
[00:10:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:11] David Lieberman: And they're trying to double down.
[00:10:12] Jordan Harbinger: Like, "No, dad, you're wrong this one time in your career, even though you know me really well and it's completely obvious that I'm guilty." So what do you do then if, you know, they plead the fifth, they get punished anyways, I assume, right, because—
[00:10:24] David Lieberman: Ah, so in my house is, whatever it is you've done pales in comparison to lying about it because you want to raise kids who do have that sense of integrity and authenticity and honesty, and so what it is they done we can deal with. But lying, that's where we draw the line into the land of unacceptability and they're always better off telling the truth, which is why, by the way, whether you want to get a confession from a five-year-old or a serial killer, one of the mistakes I think people make is that we don't incentivize the truth. You know, we'll say something like, "Have you left your Legos out here? And if I find out you did, you're going to be blah, blah, blah." Where's the incentive for coming clean?
[00:10:59] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. "If you lie about this, you are maybe going to get away with it, but if you tell me the truth right now, you are definitely in so much trouble. You're never going to know what hit you." It's like, well, okay, this is a really easy choice now.
[00:11:10] David Lieberman: Right. And that's not the incentive program. Unfortunately, by the way, those, you know, in law enforcement who are not properly trained, will even engage in those types of tactics, which doesn't really offer much of an incentive for the bad guy to say, "I did it."
[00:11:23] Jordan Harbinger: Just being a former attorney here, I know better than to even try to talk to the police whether you're innocent or not, because that it's not their job to decide if you're innocent or not. It's their job to catch a criminal. And if you're not one and they can make you look like one or get you to say that you are one. They're probably not supposed to do that, but it happens all the time, et cetera. So it seems like the last thing you'd want to do is also make it an actual criminal disincentivized to tell you just about anything. I mean, this is one of the reasons we have all these checks and balances in the legal system itself. But I want to digress into all of that. I'm curious, you know, a lot of folks will count on these arms cross, feet pointing towards the — these sort of one-off observations or tactics. It's usually about a whole picture of a person, right? Like a profile, we've heard about baselines and things like that. You know, you got to get a baseline on them. That's why your mom can always tell that you're lying, but maybe like your teachers can't.
[00:12:14] David Lieberman: Right. So, look, you know, one of the reasons why the book has gotten so much attention is because it's practical. You don't always get a baseline on somebody. Meet someone in an elevator, I don't know the history, I don't know what's going on. I just want to know whether there's someone that's going to harm me or not. when it comes to body language, there are a couple of things that are effective. One is, you know, just to look in terms of congruency, to make sure that the non-verbals match up with the verbals. That's sort of low hanging fruits. So you know, a person who is saying one thing, but their body language is contradictory. That's something I would certainly pay attention to.
[00:12:45] In unguarded situation certainly is a whole field called embodied cognition, which explains that our thoughts are not just reflected in our posture, but they can originate from it. Meaning that if we are slouched over or humped over and our head is down, we're going to probably be thinking less optimistic thoughts. It's likely that we're in that sort of state, whereas you see somebody in a more expansive posture, it's likely they're in a more positive state. Again, if it's in a guarded situation where they know you're watching them, it doesn't work. But in unguarded situations, you can very easily just look, sit in the park and look at people, and you get sort of a snapshot into their mood. The problem is now when we enter guarded situations where I know you're paying attention to me, we are in a negotiation, we're in an arbitration, mediation, whatever it is, or conversation, and I know that you are watching my posture, forget about using it as any sort of barometer.
[00:13:39] Jordan Harbinger: It's almost like the, what's that? The Heisenberg uncertainty principle, right? It's like if you're watching it and people are paying attention to that, and I know you're doing that, then everything changes. And the second I start focusing on these things, they become irrelevant and can't be used.
[00:13:53] David Lieberman: The slit particle experiment.
[00:13:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:13:54] David Lieberman: Wow. Didn't think we'd hear from that one. Yeah. Right.
[00:13:58] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, it's not really a perfect metaphor for what we're talking about, but yeah—
[00:14:00] David Lieberman: No, no, but you're raising an interesting point is our perspective is going to change the objective reality. And in fact, if our perspective becomes our reality, meaning that the subjective lens through which we've used something is how we're going to act, then we want to make sure that subjectivity is limited to become as objective as possible. We all look through our own lens of subjectivity, right? Our perspective. So the less I we have in the picture, the more clearly we're going to see reality. The more clearly the objective reality will line up with our experience. But if we are looking vis-a-vis, you know, heuristics or cognitive biases, which is where stereotypes come from, if we're looking through our own lens, we're not seeing what is we're seeing only in projection of our own wants, insecurities, what we need to see. And that's really when we become less emotionally stable in general and also less able to read the person. Because if I'm looking at you with the end in mind, I'm not seeing what is, I'm already deciding what is, and then I'm going to see what fits that narrative.
[00:15:03] Jordan Harbinger: That is often the problem I think with witness testimony too, right? Or eyewitness testimony, I would say, not like court testimony, but people you hear about leading questions or you see all these problems where the police officer says, "When did you see these cars smash into each other?" And the person's like, you can just see the whirlwind of their story rearranging because maybe they didn't, maybe a truck hit both the cars, but then they just change the story based on the question and it becomes a completely different thing. It can become something along the lines of — we're almost pre-programmed to feed the person what they want to hear or what they want to see, or what we want to hear or what we want to see, even if we're not paying attention to that kind of thing. Like it could happen on a subconscious level, which is a little scary.
[00:15:45] David Lieberman: It is. I think you're raising a great point. Not just leading the witness is an issue. But also when you use the word smash, you're going to get a different answer than if you say an attorney would likely object when the car hit the other car. When you say smash, you're already framing it at something other than, you know, as a fender bender. What's your expression?
[00:16:02] Jordan Harbinger: Fender bender.
[00:16:02] David Lieberman: Fender bender.
[00:16:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:16:03] David Lieberman: Right. So, you know, the language you use is very powerful in terms of framing it. Sure.
[00:16:07] Jordan Harbinger: It's funny you bring up fender bender because I was going to ask you about euphemisms and psychological distance, right? We have a friendly fire, we have the powder room. We don't say — well, I mean, my family, we do say I have to go to the crapper, but what we mean is the powder room. And when we say I got laid off and I remember when I was younger, I would go, "So what's the difference between getting laid off and getting fired?" And my mom would go, "Oh, sometimes they call you back to work after you get laid off." And that might have been true in the '80s in the auto industry—
[00:16:31] David Lieberman: Right
[00:16:31] Jordan Harbinger: —but it wasn't really true anywhere else and it still isn't.
[00:16:34] David Lieberman: That's right. That's right. You know, euphemisms have a powerful way of how it shapes our perception. Certainly, we'd rather hear about friendly fire than our forces firing on each other, casualties rather than deaths. Collateral damage rather than innocent people died. It changes our perception. So certainly, it comes in handy when somebody's using the euphemism. It's likely that they feel uncomfortable using the language outright. And certainly in politics that it's very charged with euphemisms. I remember back in late '70s, when the term was changed from unwed mother to single parents, it completely sort of shifted people's perceptions and polls. So language has a lot to do with how we frame not just our world, but how we see things.
[00:17:18] Jordan Harbinger: That's, I think, one of the problems that, and this is heavily politicized and we don't have to go down that road too far, but it's one of the reasons I think a lot of people on certain, especially extreme sides of the aisle, try and change what we are allowed to say and the other side says, "You're not going to make me use that," right? Or, "You're not going to make me say that," because we do, even if we don't know consciously, we have a subconscious appreciation for the effect that language has. And we see this in countries that have totalitarian or authoritarian regimes, right? You're not allowed to say, "This is a war," in Russia, because that would change the perception. It would bring back psychological baggage from other wars that Russia has been in. In North Korea, for example, in China, you can't say certain things about, forget the leadership, you can't say certain things about the party that the leader runs, about the country. You have to use certain words when you're talking about the United States or other enemy countries. It's really, really controlled. I don't know if we're slaves to the language we use, but certainly, we are guided heavily by the language that we are using.
[00:18:21] David Lieberman: No. I don't know if most people appreciate the impact from a neurological level. It has language and the visceral response that it can come about. You know, an incursion is going to be felt differently neurologically than the word war, you know, rape or assault. These are words that there's a very real reason why people choose to use different language because it's going to change how the person hears it. They'd much rather hear, they have to undergo a procedure than a surgery. You know, it's going to impact on how we feel about it. So languages, make no mistake. It is a powerful weapon, and if we don't realize the impact it can have on how we feel about things. We are being unduly influenced to a great extent.
[00:19:06] Jordan Harbinger: Tell me about spatial immediacy. This is an interesting concept I really had never heard of before.
[00:19:11] David Lieberman: Right. So that's something we actually developed, which is why you probably never heard of it before.
[00:19:16] Jordan Harbinger: Huh? That'll do it.
[00:19:16] David Lieberman: Yeah. In terms of the language, and you'll notice that when people use words like here and there, like, here's a nice idea, there's a nice idea, there's my boy, here's my boy, here's and so on. When we feel more comfortable and confident with something, we use spatial immediacy. We want to bring it closer. When we feel uncomfortable, we sort of want to distance ourselves from it. I mean, that much makes sense. So you'll notice it comes up in language. And specifically what we brought up here is the word here and there. By the way, and I encourage everyone to recognize that there is no one-trick pony. Just because somebody says one thing, there's one marker in a sentence, it means absolutely, positively nothing. Don't assume something based on that. When you've got seven, eight, nine markers in a single sentence, okay, then you've got a higher degree of reliability. But you know, we're not speaking in absolutes here. These are tools. They're not, you know, undeniable, 100 percent absolute givens.
[00:20:10] So when a person says, for example, "Here are the blueprints," versus, "There are the blueprints," or, "Here's a nice idea," versus, "There's a nice idea," when they use the word here, there's a greater likelihood that they appreciate what it is that is in front of them. If they use the word there, they're already setting themselves up for some sort of distance. And you mentioned before in terms of, you know, sociopaths or psychopaths. It's different if somebody believes what they're saying is true because then they're technically not lying. But even the most polished liar can give themselves away when it comes to this field of psycholinguistics because we're not paying attention to these small words or to our language as much as to how we're giving it over. So we're well practiced at making sure that I convince you of something in a certain way, but the actual words that I use were not well rehearsed in that. And that's how you can more easily view somebody, what they're really thinking.
[00:21:05] Jordan Harbinger: It's sort of along the same lines as the use of personal pronouns. Tell me about those, what those indicate about whether or not somebody is telling you maybe the truth about how they feel, for example.
[00:21:16] David Lieberman: Sure. Right. So when you've got a pronoun like "I," "me," "my," there's a greater likelihood that the person believes in what it is they're saying because they're looking to attach that linguistic "I". In much the same way we mentioned before, that eye contact increases intimacy, that linguistic "I,", that personal "I," it is a greater stamp of integrity on what is the person saying. So for example, I say, "I like your shirt," versus, "It's a nice shirt." "I like your podcast," versus, "It's a nice podcast." Now, I'm saying basically the same thing, but when I say, "I like it," I'm taking ownership of what it is I'm saying. When I say, "It's nice," again, there's reasons why people would take the "I" out. Introverts are more likely to do that and so on. But in broad strokes, when we remove the "I," the "me," the "my" from the equation, there's a greater likelihood that the person may not be as sincere as if they attach the "I" to it.
[00:22:05] Jordan Harbinger: Is this because I want to be closer to things that are positive and further away from things that I think are negative? Is it that simple?
[00:22:13] David Lieberman: Yeah. No, that is the genesis of the psychology and it unfolds in a myriad of ways. Let's say you've got two people walking out after first date, Jack and Jill. And Jill says to Jack, "Where do we park the car?" Now an innocent question, but there's a subtext of affinity and of relationship there because if she didn't like Jack, she would never use the word" we." She would say, "Where did you park the car or your car?" As soon as she begins to see themselves as a unit and uses the word "we," that's very telling. Now, certainly just because she asked Jack, "Where did you park the car?" doesn't mean she doesn't like him, but the converse is in fact revealing. Once she uses a word like "we" or "us" or "our." It already indicates that she's begun to see themselves as a pair and identifies in that way.
[00:23:01] Jordan Harbinger: I remember trying to reverse engineer this when I was dating and being like, okay, I need to think of ways in which I can bond with this person quickly by using "we," and almost coming up with like little, I guess little tiny, little conspiracies. Like one of them would be something where I would try to create a situation in which we were doing things together, but psychologically, even if we were just eating dinner, it would always be we, we, we. I don't know if it worked, but it certainly felt like it worked. I don't know what that means in the context of dating not real, probably means nothing. It's not really that empirical, but it certainly felt like something that would work. And I probably did get that from one of your books and I tried to use my powers for good, but I don't know if I always succeeded.
[00:23:42] David Lieberman: Yeah. As do I, by the way. Increasingly so. But I will tell you there, there's a psychological basis for that. Unfortunately, con artists will use the word "we" and "us" and "our" because it does trigger that sense of we-ness, togetherness, a bond that's artificially created.
[00:23:59] There's a great book called The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker. And he talks—
[00:24:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:24:02] David Lieberman: Yeah, and he talks about how people will go ahead and use these words to create an artificial affinity that doesn't exist but once again, an unguarded conversation, the reason why it's effective is because when somebody does use that language, we can tell that there is a subtext of interest.
[00:24:17] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. He was on the show episode 329 and 330 and we did talk about that a little bit, especially the con artists and the people who try to push your boundaries.
[00:24:27] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[00:24:27] Jordan Harbinger: They'll try to do the pairing thing that we just talked about, but they do it in a very forceful way and I think one of the examples from the book was, he had followed this woman up to her apartment up the stairs, and she had trouble with her groceries. He was like, "Let me carry your groceries, let me help you with your groceries." And she was like, "No." And he is like, "Let's do this. I'll help you. We'll get your groceries to the—"
[00:24:46] David Lieberman: We've got a hungry cat to feed.
[00:24:48] Jordan Harbinger: Something like that.
[00:24:49] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[00:24:49] Jordan Harbinger: It was just creepy, extra boundary pushing. And then, of course, he forced himself into the apartment and horrific things ensued from there out. But she knew, and that was, I think one of the things that she had mentioned during the debrief or whatever you call it with the police, is she just said, and Gavin had, or whoever had figured out that this guy was just consistently forcing the issue of "we are doing something together." And she was like, "I don't know you, you're a stranger who walked up the stairs behind me." And he kept trying to do this in a very, I guess, clunky way, but that was part of his spiel.
[00:25:21] David Lieberman: Yeah. And language is very telling. And one of the giveaways of somebody who is emotionally unhealthy in a potentially dangerous way is somebody who pushes past the boundaries of acceptability and doesn't hear the word "no" in any form or fashion. You know, somebody who doesn't respect boundaries of social norms, that's an immediate red flag and not in your favor. There are people who don't have a good sense of boundaries, but there's sort of that people please a doormat mentality that will let people into their space in an unhealthy way. If they're not going to be dangerous to us, there'll be a danger to themselves, unfortunately, at the extreme. But somebody who comes into our space after we've already drawn that boundary line doesn't respect it, that's one of the, a hard giveaways of emotional unwellness and a potential for danger.
[00:26:04] Jordan Harbinger: So ladies and guys, watch out for this. But I think a lot of this happens with, I think women are the common example here, because one, many are raised to be more, maybe not to have as stronger boundaries and to be a little bit more people pleaser than a lot of guys are. That's not as true maybe now as it was 10 or 20 years ago, but it certainly can be problematic, and I think also just from a physical danger perspective, it makes sense to pay attention to this kind of thing.
[00:26:29] David Lieberman: Yeah. And if you ask people, you know why they didn't say something, and he talks about this, is that they didn't want to offend the person.
[00:26:35] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:26:35] David Lieberman: They didn't want to say something, they'll walk out of the elevator because they knew something was just not right. Their gut told them, but they ignored it because they couldn't sort of put a logic to it. And so they didn't want to feel foolish and make the other person feel uncomfortable. I encourage everyone, risk somebody feeling uncomfortable, if your gut tells you something is not right, the worst case is you will have offended somebody unintentionally. And if they are reasonably healthy, they will understand what's happened. And if they're not, then certainly you made the right choice anyway.
[00:27:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I remember in New York where people are on top of each other and I used to live there. I came home later at night from the gym and I looked like crap and it was cold. I had a hooded sweatshirt on. My hood was up and I wasn't paying a lot of attention. I probably looked kind of scary and it was dark. I lived downtown in the financial district. And there was a woman from my building and I walked in the building behind her and she said, "What do you want?" And I was like, "Oh, I'm your neighbor." And she was like, "Get away from me." And I saw her the next day and she didn't recognize me because I was dressed like a normal person. But I just remember thinking, "Wow, I'm really bummed that I scared my neighbor like that. I feel like such a jerk. You know? She must have been really, really scared to react like that." And that's, I think, an emotionally healthy response to that sort of. She was scared. I didn't take it personally because I mean, what am I going to do? I'm not a, I'm not a serial killer. She thought I was maybe so, who cares? Right?
[00:27:55] David Lieberman: Yeah. That's just what I was thinking is you had an emotionally healthy response of, "I feel bad for her."
[00:28:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:28:00] David Lieberman: Your focus was on her pain and having empathy for her, not like, "What is she doing? Why does she think I—?" The person who would think that, unfortunately, would be the bad guy, right? Who would be upset that she saw through him, even though it wasn't maybe his intention at that point? His insecurities and sensitivities are going to cause him to react in that way, but your response is perfectly healthy. You felt bad for her having put her in that situation.
[00:28:24] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest, David Lieberman. We'll be right back.
[00:28:29] This episode is sponsored in part by Grammarly. There are a few tools that I use and I cannot imagine how I survived without it. Grammarly is one of those tools. As somebody who's used Grammarly for years, every single day, in pretty much all of my written communication. I can say, if you haven't tried it, you are definitely missing out. Having Grammarly is like having somebody over my shoulder gently, but not annoyingly reminding me in ways that I can make my writing more clear, concise, professional. Grammarly will suggest better synonyms to use, which make you sound smarter. And Grammarly's tone detector somehow checks how my message comes across, and I always, well, let's just say I need a little work there, personally. It's easy to implement because it runs in the background and pretty much everything that you write, you just install the plugin or browser extension and you're good to go. Grammarly will underline incorrect words or grammar and show you what to replace it with and why to replace it if you simply hover over that. Grammarly's free version offers comprehensive spelling, grammar, and punctuation suggestions, instantly proofreading, and providing suggestions. So your writing always comes across as professional, mistake-free. I actually use Grammarly Premium, it's a paid version, that has clarity-focused sentence rewrites. That'll keep your writing clear into the point so you can get through work emails faster and back to the fun.
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[00:31:54] Now back to David Lieberman.
[00:31:57] I felt guilty for a long time and I was like, oh, I hope she's not just being polite and seeing me around now and smiling. I just hope she didn't know that it was me because I felt really embarrassed having done that because especially you know now as a married guy with kids, I'm like, come on, dumb ass. Take off your hood. Make some small talk even if you're a little cold. Oh, it's cold out there. I'm freezing going to the gym. It takes extra effort just to get my butt there and back these days. You know, just do something to make the other person feel comfortable. Because imagine her coming back with groceries at 10:30 p.m. or whatever time it was in the winter, in the dark in New York with nobody else on the streets. That was my mindset at the time. But you're right. When you read about the serial killer types, there's a lot of like weird narcissism involved. And I guess this is probably a different episode to just analyze these types of people. But I want to get a little bit back on track here. You write about high versus low performer answers, and I think the high performer answers usually include more personal pronouns. Is that because they're taking responsibility for things more personally?
[00:32:55] David Lieberman: Yeah, that's right. And also, they're drawing on real experience. In other words, if I'm applying for a job and you're asking me about my past sales performance, I would say, "I did this. I make 50 calls a day, I follow up," but if you asked me about what makes a high level performer, I would probably use language that would be more in the third party. "Well, one should always follow up with a caller. You want to make sure that you make at least 50 calls a day." This is someone that's never done it.
[00:33:23] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm.
[00:33:23] David Lieberman: Because as soon as they say "I," again, they're taking ownership of it. Now, it doesn't mean that somebody won't use different pronouns in different situations. But by and large, when we say "I," "me," "my," you can be sure that this person is coming from a place of either experience or authenticity. And if they look to sort of push it away — you know, this comes up in therapy a lot — when somebody's talking about maybe a trauma or something traumatic that's happened, if they're not really ready to accept it, they'll talk in the third person. You know, a child growing up like this, you know, I'm sure any child would feel this way rather than, "When I was growing up, this is what happened," right? That's somebody who's already sort of moved past the trauma to some degree. As soon as they put it into a third party, you can tell there's a degree of discomfort. Of course, it doesn't mean they're lying, but it does mean that there's something, there's a reason why they're not taking ownership of what is they're saying.
[00:34:14] Jordan Harbinger: This topic always reminds me of that Seinfeld episode. You remember where, "Jimmy doesn't like that, Jimmy doesn't—"? She thinks she's going out with the other guy, but he's just a weird guy who talks about himself in the third person.
[00:34:24] David Lieberman: In the gym, yeah?
[00:34:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. In the gym, yeah, yeah. Jimmy would love that.
[00:34:28] In violent crime reporting — I may get this wrong, so correct me where I do, but the victim when talking about the offense and the offender in the scene, it's always, "He put me in the car," not, "We got into the car." Is this the inverse of what we were just talking about, where they're distancing themselves from this, they're unpairing because they're not doing it together, willingly?
[00:34:49] David Lieberman: That's right. You know, this comes up a lot when a person identifies themselves with somebody else, they use cooperative language, "we," "us," "our," so if somebody's recounting a crime where they would take in and they were the victim, they're not going to be using language that connotes a bond or a unity. In much the same way, when I speak to couples, if there's a lot of "we" and "us" and "our" language, I know that, you know, there is something there other than "you," "me," "I," there's no "us," there's no "our," there's no cooperative language. And the research shows that whether or not a couple uses cooperative language is going to be indicative of how they work through conflicts and the status of the relationship.
[00:35:29] Jordan Harbinger: I became hyper aware of that when reading the book and I was thinking, "Oh man, do I say our car?" Because I share a car with my wife. Do I say our car? Because it really is our only car. So what am I saying that because I'm in a paired bond with my wife? Or because, you know, I don't even know, I started, of course, overthinking it. I would imagine one of the common side effects of reading a book like this is overthinking every damn thing that you do for the next two weeks.
[00:35:51] David Lieberman: Yeah. Right. And then the good news is it's sort of like a second nature, it becomes a part of you. So while it may amp up the paranoia in the first—
[00:36:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah
[00:36:00] David Lieberman: —couple of weeks — yeah, I understand — afterwards when you've got that sort of, you know, antenna up and it puts you in a much more relaxed position because you can easily dismiss threats and easily read the situation rather than sort of stumble through it and hope you're getting it right.
[00:36:15] Jordan Harbinger: Using language to put people or things in a specific order. What can we tell by the order somebody puts a list of people or things? You'd mentioned this in the book and I thought this was pretty interesting given that I always assume I put things in a random order or the order at which I think of them is not necessarily relevant, but I guess maybe that's not true.
[00:36:35] David Lieberman: Yeah, that's true. And I actually became aware of this as I've been seeing people for about two decades now. And you know, when I asked them to recount different situations or talk about different, what they prioritize, what they bring up first is very telling. Now, you know, if you have, you ask — I think the example I speak about in the book is, you know, you ask a small child to describe your family and if she walks through, you know, mom and her sisters and her aunts and the goldfish, and then eventually rambles on to dad, that's telling. Again, we don't want to call family services based on that one conversation, but it is something that's quite revealing.
[00:37:11] Jordan Harbinger: That does make some sense, I suppose, if it's really obvious, right? Here's this and here's the hamster, and then there's daddy and he's like on the far end of the paper.
[00:37:19] David Lieberman: Right.
[00:37:20] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:37:20] David Lieberman: Right.
[00:37:20] Jordan Harbinger: You don't probably need a PhD in psychology to dig into that one. Is it more nuanced when you're actually using this kind of thing in practice?
[00:37:28] David Lieberman: Yeah. Oh, for sure, certainly. And that's just it. The gradations are everything, and it also depends on whether or not, once again, we bring back guard and unguarded. If you're in a guarded situation where the person knows certain negotiation, the rule negotiation is you don't bring up what you want first. You've got to let it sit for a while. So we're speaking in terms of priorities and how people bring things up, you have to be cognizant of whether or not it is something that they're paying attention to or not, which is why it does make a very big difference as to whether these are guarded or unguarded scenarios.
[00:38:01] Jordan Harbinger: Sometimes what people ignore or omit would be a big clue as well. You have a story in the book about an art dealer evaluating paintings in your house. Tell us about that because I think this is probably something that happens to us every month and we just don't even notice.
[00:38:15] David Lieberman: Yeah. Yeah. This is those cases why — it happened to me. I should have known better, but okay, let people learn from my foolishness. So I had somebody come to my house years and years ago, and my great aunt who left me a number of paintings, a lot of stuff, and it was paintings. I know nothing about art. So I had somebody come down and he looked at each one and was on the phone. I remember going back and forth and one painting, it almost was like he made a point to avoid, which I found curious because each one he looked at. So it's either it was just a kid's drawing or something completely irrelevant or it was something of value that he didn't want to spend time looking at. Lest I think that it was something valuable. . And you know, as a story goes, certainly it turned out that was the only painting that was of value. The others weren't so valuable, he wouldn't single that one out. He offered me money for the entire lot and kept on upping and upping it, and it was obviously he couldn't be trusted. I just wanted to see exactly where he'd go and he left and I called in somebody and you know, I was smarter this time and paid a fee for the evaluation, for the appraisal. And it turns out that that painting was something like seven times would it offer me for everything altogether.
[00:39:24] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, wow. So he was probably going to buy all of them, throw all of them out in a dumpster on the way back to his office and keep the one that was valuable. That's so interesting.
[00:39:33] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[00:39:33] Jordan Harbinger: When you recount the story like that, it seems so obvious that that was the wrong way for him to handle that. And I think like, oh, if I were doing this, I'd say, "This was not valuable," and I point right at that, you know? But I don't know, I think I probably would. It's subconscious, right? This guy just goes, "Oh, I don't want to draw attention to that, so I'm going to ignore it."
[00:39:50] David Lieberman: That's right.
[00:39:50] Jordan Harbinger: It just seems like we can't really avoid this kind of behavior.
[00:39:54] David Lieberman: And as human nature based was his behavior, unfortunately, so was mine. I should know better and I didn't. I mean, yeah. And I knew something was wrong and if I want to look kindly back at my thinking, I didn't want to spend a lot of time on this, and he already come out and I'd spent the afternoon. I was like, "All right, fine." In retrospect, obviously, it was silly for me to even not recognize right away that something is quite amiss.
[00:40:22] Jordan Harbinger: Conversational spotlights, these are words used to magnify something in a sentence. And in interrogations, they often signal deception. Now, here's the list, here's a partial list. And unfortunately, everyone's going to recognize something they use a hundred times a day — honestly, frankly, basically, et cetera. How do you know if this is deception or they're magnifying something or they're just a nervous talker?
[00:40:45] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[00:40:45] Jordan Harbinger: And they're overusing a word that everybody says a thousand times a week.
[00:40:49] David Lieberman: Right. So that's okay. And a big proponent of filters and not putting things into big baskets, you have to filter out false positives. And certainly, you know, somebody who's nervous and they're speaking to somebody, that's going to go in the category of, as we talk about in the book, like a flirty exchange and somebody who wants to keep the conversation going. They'll put in these conversational spotlights — basically, honestly — to sort of draw more attention to what is they're saying, try to extend the conversation. When a person is doing it in a situation where they're being interrogated or interviewed, and deception is a possibility, they usually indicate deception rather than a strong interest in engaging with the person.
[00:41:29] Jordan Harbinger: That means that, look, if you're asking me whether I've done something, we're in a police situation, in the interrogation room, and I say, "Honestly, I have no idea who did it. Frankly, it could have been anybody. Basically, I have no idea how this crime would've even happened." That indicates deception. But if I'm talking about it with a bunch of friends, it just means it means nothing.
[00:41:47] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[00:41:47] Jordan Harbinger: Or it could mean nothing.
[00:41:48] David Lieberman: That's right. Again, but if the person is telling this story that is of dubious nature and you want to question the story, then those could very well be indications of deception. And the nuance here is if you're just in a conversation, there's no agenda here. They say, "honestly," they're just trying to be more interesting. They're trying to be more engaging. So it's something that tells us that they're interested in the conversation, whereas it will be the complete opposite if you're in a different scenario.
[00:42:16] Jordan Harbinger: I see. Yeah, because I find myself saying, "Honestly, you know what, I have no idea." And that's me telling a story that is truthful and totally normal.
[00:42:25] David Lieberman: Sure.
[00:42:25] Jordan Harbinger: But I'm—
[00:42:25] David Lieberman: That's right.
[00:42:26] Jordan Harbinger: —usually not telling it to a police officer who thinks that I did it.
[00:42:29] David Lieberman: That's right. And if you are a police officer, you're going to listen for that word "honestly" because honestly, you can be sure whatever follows is going to be anything but honest.
[00:42:38] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, interesting. Interesting. Status is something you discuss a lot in many of your books. But in Mindreader, the status stuff always fascinated me, especially because when I was doing the dating stuff back in my '20s especially, if you're not a guy in your 20s and 30s obsessed with status, then you know — who are you? Bless you. But you know this is like where we live for that decade, decade and a half where we're dating and we think about our status and other people's status, and the people that we're dating and their status and all this stuff seems to be quite subconscious. And I remember when I used to go out all the time and I used to work at nightclubs and things like that depending on how early in my 20s we're talking about, I used to look at the status of the people working at the nightclub. So you don't necessarily know if the bartender is also the manager, if the promoter is the bouncer or if it's the guy behind, you just don't necessarily know. So you could observe the way people are interacting. And one of the things that I used to look at, and I remember this because when I saw it in the book, I knew right away, people of lower status, they don't usually give people of higher status any sort of command, but of course, sometimes you need to do that and they will soften their language when they do that.
[00:43:49] Can you give us some examples of this and explain this? Because I find this concept quite useful if you're trying to, if you're trying to convince people to do something or find maybe the influencer personality in a group of people, this can be really helpful.
[00:44:02] David Lieberman: Yeah, sure. There are a number of markers to look for with status and one is just that. Certainly, the lowest status person doesn't give commands the person of higher status. If you were in a classroom and a student barked out an order at a teacher or a child to a parent, you'd be horrified, or maybe not so much in today's age, but you know, in our generation ago, you'd be horrified because higher status people will give orders, will give command. So when a lower status person has to give a command or ask a higher status person to do something, they're going to couch it in language of either uncertainty or they'll put it into a question. They'll certainly be more polite. And, you know, rather than close the door, "could you close the door? Can I trouble you close the door? Please close the door." You know, other than close the door, they're going to frame it in a way that's much less confrontational.
[00:44:46] Certainly, a higher status person is going to be less focused on themselves. And this is sometimes counterintuitive. The lower status person is much more eye focused. So if you look at an exchange, and James Penny Pennebaker, who is brilliant in this area of pronouns and linguistics, talks about different exchanges with this and basically is that, you know, when you have, whether it's an email or a conversation or a text, the lower status person is much more I focused, whereas the higher status person is much less likely to use the pronoun I or me, and they're focused on the situation because they don't need to be hyper-focused on themselves. They have that security, but the lowest status person lacking that security is now going to be more focused on the "I."
[00:45:29] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting. Yeah, that requires a little bit of unpacking. I think, again, people might rewind that and listen to it again, and I think it'll be helpful. I know what you mean in this especially because I don't know, I spent a lot of time as a low status person and now I'm a higher status person. What can I say? That's the truth.
[00:45:42] David Lieberman: Let me give you an example. So for example, I say something like, "I'm so sorry," that's different from, "Forgive me," right? I'm so sorry is I am so, sorry, I'm taking ownership, I'm apologizing. Forgive me is a command. I'm not even in the equation. So two people bump into each other. The one who says, 'I'm sorry," is of going to be of lower status, or at least going, if you've got assumed same status, meaning they don't know each other, is going to be the less secure person than the person who says, certainly, the person who says, "Watch it, buster." Or the one says, "Excuse me." All right, 'I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," that is a more insecure response than, "Forgive me. Please forgive me." That person is literally issuing a command, and if you think about it, it's going to come from somebody who's going to have the higher ground.
[00:46:27] Jordan Harbinger: What's really interesting and where this becomes in my mind quite fascinating, is when you meet somebody who should be a really high status person, but they start using language like a low status person, and I'm trying to think of a way to tell this story without mentioning any names or giving anything away, but let's say I met somebody who is worth, they're in the three comma club, right? They're a billionaire and you could just tell that they still thought of themselves as, I don't know, whatever way they were raised as the youngest kid or maybe the kid who got bullied for being a little bit of a computer geek type of person. Their body language was small and submissive and the language they used was small, a lot of "I" focused, a lot of, "Oops, I'm sorry," or preemptively moving out of the way when I needed to reach for something, even though they weren't actually in the way. A lot of the sort of low status behavior and you realize, man, it's really hard to cover this stuff up. You can apparently earn a billion-plus dollars and still have these patterns in the back of your mind, and it probably takes years of people treating you differently to unwire that if it ever happens at all.
[00:47:27] David Lieberman: Right. That's such an astute point. I would say it's going to take years of you seeing yourself differently to unwire that.
[00:47:34] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:47:34] David Lieberman: Right. We're going to act consistently with our self-concept, how I see myself, which is why, you know, the world could see me one way, but if I don't own it, I'm going to act based on how I see me, not based on how you see me.
[00:47:44] Jordan Harbinger: I suppose trying to see yourself differently would require, well, one, possibly some therapy, probably a lot of it. And two, I think people would have to treat you differently for a really, really long time. But whether they do that, because they're going to respond to you as well, right? They're going to respond to your body language and your vocal tonality.
[00:48:00] David Lieberman: Sure.
[00:48:00] Jordan Harbinger: And the language that you use. So even if you start off as high status, if you start acting low status, people might fall into that pattern even though you're the billionaire in the room.
[00:48:08] David Lieberman: That's a great point and no doubt we are going to respond to the image that people project. And interact with them based on that, which is why you'd mentioned, you know, assault before. And unfortunately, a woman who's been a victim of assault is going to have a great likelihood of being assaulted again than would somebody else statistically is because her body language, her entire countenance, her demeanor is one of insecurity and vulnerability and the predator recognizes that and he hones in on that. And so, you know, we give ourselves away whether we want to or not.
[00:48:42] Jordan Harbinger: I was doing another show about people who are basically psychopathic predators. It was with Kevin Dutton. I don't know if you know him or you may, Wisdom of Psychopaths, that's a book from like 2010, 2012. He was talking about how, I think it was Ted Bundy who said, "I can tell by the way a woman walks if she's going to be a good victim or not," which is freaking terrifying because you're like, I want to see videos of people who walk like victims and just not do that.
[00:49:06] David Lieberman: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Actually, you can, by the way, there are, there's a lot of research that shows exactly what that style looks like, what that whole demeanor countenance looks like. And unfortunately, these predators are so astute. They are really experts at human nature because that's how to a large extent they've been effective at what they're doing is because they're able to read people so well.
[00:49:27] Jordan Harbinger: That is, of course, terrifying because what you think is, how can I change the way that I walk and stand and talk? It's not easy to do that. I mean, that's a whole mindset shift because unless you're an award-winning act, even if you are an award-winning actor, what are you going to do to stay in character your entire life? I mean, that's going to be, it's a tall order.
[00:49:45] David Lieberman: It is, it is. But what's interesting is we had mentioned embodied cognition before that whole field, and basically what the research shows is that you are walking that way will to some degree, impact on how you feel on your mindset. It can be thought driven and it can also be sort of physiologically driven. And certainly, one way to change our state, how we're filling a specific time is to change our physiology. It's one of the quickest ways to sort of snap ourselves into a different state.
[00:50:11] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man. Of course, now, you're sort of rolling the boulder up the hill though, unless you change the way you actually see yourself, right? You can maybe say, okay, Jordan, stand up straight. You walk through that door and you put on a bright smile and you show everyone that you're confident and friendly and charismatic, but it doesn't really matter because that's going to fade after a while if you're not really that person. Right?
[00:50:31] David Lieberman: True. And that's the distinction between states and traits. You can change your state, right, but your trait, how you see yourself, that consistent enduring self-concept, that's not going to happen in the moment. That has to come from a mindset shift.
[00:50:44] Jordan Harbinger: Let's throw a wrench in one. Narcissists seem like they operate almost in the opposite way. They make up for their deep-seated insecurity by using that absolute language, the command, giving the commands. And you see these people when they do it in a clunky way, because it's really obvious, right? It's a young cocky guy who walks into a place and goes, "All right, here's what's going to happen, da da, da da." And everyone kind of looks at each other like, "Why does the new guy think he's in charge right now? What's going on here? Who is this idiot?"
[00:51:10] David Lieberman: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, right, so narcissists contrary to popular belief, suffer with a perverse deep sense of low self-esteem. They don't like themselves contrary to the image they project. And it's sort of like a seesaw. The more self-esteem, the more self-love a person generally has, the small, the ego. As self-esteem decreases, the ego now is going to engage to compensate for feelings of guilt, inferiority, and shame, and so on. So the more egocentricity that exists, the more ego-centric a person is vis-a-vis narcissism, what they're trying to do is project an image of what they're not and protect their soft inside.
[00:51:45] So things that they're going to do that give themselves away is, one, to speak in absolute language because they're trying to ground themselves. A person who's very anxious will always, you know, say things like "always," "never," and "a hundred percent." We may think that they're confident, which is different from self-esteem, but they're trying to sort of ground themselves in their language to feel more secure because a person, if you think about it, who genuinely is confident, they're willing to use language that conveys a degree of wishy washiness of being unsure. But if a person, for example, is just invested a million dollars in cryptocurrency, they're going to google Bitcoin will definitely go up.
[00:52:20] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:52:20] David Lieberman: They're not going to Google what's the best investment right now. If I haven't invested my money, then I'll maybe type in what's the best investment. As I become more anxious, I'm going to move in the world of absolutes to insulate myself from those feelings of insecurity.
[00:52:35] Jordan Harbinger: Let's talk about the difference then between self-esteem and confidence, because I do think this is confusing for a lot of people. I'm trying to think how I would explain this. But I mean, here you are right in front of me. Why don't we, why don't you do it?
[00:52:46] David Lieberman: So you'll let me know how this goes.
[00:52:48] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:52:48] David Lieberman: Self-esteem refers the degree of self-love, the degree to which a person genuinely loves themselves, feels worthy of love and connection of good things. Confidence is how effective a person is in a certain area, or comfortable with a certain trait of characteristic. So, for example, I can consider myself to be a good tennis player, a good cellist, a good looking, intelligent, whatever it is. I can have pockets of confidence. It doesn't mean I like myself. And two, I can have high self-esteem. I can generally have a sense of self-esteem, self-worth, but I consider myself to be a poor tennis player, poor cellist, or not smart, or whatever it is. So high self-esteem or self-esteem refers again, the degree to which I love myself. Confidence is how effective I am in certain areas. So this comes in very, very handy when you want to gauge somebody's sort of emotional health as well as their mindset.
[00:53:37] Because if you take somebody with low self-esteem — let's take a hypothetical tennis player, low self-esteem and high confidence in his ability to play tennis. He gets a bad tennis call. You know the judge says something, the ref says something, I don't even know the line, judge, whatever it is, and he's going to explode because his entire image, who he is, his identity is wrapped up in his ability to play tennis. And you can sort of re-engineer this in different ways, whether high self-esteem, low self-esteem, confidence or not confidence, you're going to be able to predict the person's response. You're going to able to predict and reverse engineer it to see what their emotional health is.
[00:54:11] Because a person with higher self-esteem, if I walk into a room with somebody who's a better tennis player than me, I'm not going to throw a fit because I lost the game. But take somebody now who has very, very low self-esteem, but I've got confidence in these certain pocket areas. My whole self-worth, my identity, my value as a human being is wrapped up in these places because it's not really self-esteem, it's an inflated ego. So when that bubble gets burst, I become very upset how that anger manifests, by the way, it's going to depend on my personality, whether it's overt, whether it's passive, and so on. But make no mistake it's high self-esteem and confidence, they're different animals. Does that make sense?
[00:54:49] Jordan Harbinger: It does make sense. It almost sounds like confidence is more situational and self-esteem is a little bit more deeper and wide-reaching. The problem, the unfortunate situation here is I'm thinking, okay, I have a lot of confidence in my ability to, let's say, run a good podcast. But if somebody who I respect generally says like, "Oh, this show sucks and there's all these things you could do wrong," I'm definitely going to get mad. Does that mean I have low self-esteem or is there something else going on here?
[00:55:14] David Lieberman: Well, look — it's a good question. Any time we put a lot into something, right? In other words, it's just not a podcast, by the way, I would say maybe it's part of your identity. Would that be fair to say?
[00:55:24] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, definitely.
[00:55:25] David Lieberman: Right.
[00:55:25] Jordan Harbinger: Absolutely.
[00:55:26] David Lieberman: Right. So it is part and parcel who you are. So, you know, it's not so easy sort of to divorce yourself and say, "Okay, fine, this is my podcast and this is who I am." Who you are to some extent is the podcast. So you have very sense of self is wrapped up in this. You're going to, by definition, be a little bit more raw to possible criticism because it is, for all intents and purposes, your identity.
[00:55:50] Jordan Harbinger: Shouldn't have named it The Jordan Harbinger Show. That was my first mistake. If I named it something else, I might not have this problem it. It does make sense though. I suppose it's fair then that we can get upset when somebody knocks something that we've invested a lot into, and it doesn't necessarily mean we have low self-esteem. That's, one, a huge relief and two, makes a lot of sense.
[00:56:09] It was interesting to see, and I think this is a realization we all kind of come to in our 20s, that a big ego means you actually don't like yourself. Ego, you really fool people maybe up through high school, and then it's like, "Oh, wait a minute, this guy's an insecure knucklehead." The ego blocks perspective because the person who's using it or overusing it is focused inwardly to a fault. And I heard you talking about this, I think with Dax Shepherd, I always worry about people who are trying to sell me a story that is inauthentic or if they're trying to sell me, basically, the ego, I'm talking to their ego and not their authentic self, right? And not to get too, sort of, metaphysical here, but if somebody, let's say they're acting really brave. They're a tough guy. Nothing ever gets to them. I don't want to get in a car with that guy.
[00:56:57] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[00:56:57] Jordan Harbinger: Because they're probably going to be an aggressive, dangerous driver because they think it's going to further the story of like, "Yeah, I'm in charge. I'm the alpha dude here. Nothing can hurt me." And I'm like, "I don't really need you to find that out the hard way while I'm in the passenger seat." And it makes people predictably dangerous in some ways, but also possibly unpredictable, which is also dangerous because they will do anything to further that story. And let's say you go out to dinner with that person and then they try and talk to a woman and then she's like, "Hey, sorry, not interested." Now, you've got a kettle that's just boiling over on your hands because the story's got a little hole punch there.
[00:57:32] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[00:57:32] Jordan Harbinger: He's got to plug that hole with literally anything.
[00:57:35] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[00:57:35] Jordan Harbinger: And it could be dangerous. Those are the guys that start fights.
[00:57:38] David Lieberman: Yeah, a hundred percent. He's got to double down, triple down because his sole sense of self-worth is wrapped up in this and people make the mistake time and again of assuming that arrogance is strength. Humility, you know, that's really what identifies a great leader in the Special Forces. I'll tell you this time and again, that you know, any leader that doesn't have humility is not going to last long because they have to be able to learn from their mistakes and acknowledge and recognize when they've made a mistake and see maybe there's a better way of doing something.
[00:58:03] So a person who is egocentric and a narcissist in the extreme is completely about their image, which is why they become so consumed with how they're coming across. And if you call them out on a lie, it's going to be the beginning of the end. And as you said, they will fight over it because it's an existential threat. Their entire self is wrapped up in, as crazy as it sounds, that one story.
[00:58:26] Jordan Harbinger: You wrote in the book, arrogant people aren't fearless. They're just afraid of something bigger than the task at hand. I'm paraphrasing here, but it's—
[00:58:32] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[00:58:33] Jordan Harbinger: They seem fearless, right? Because they'll do anything, they'll go and do it, but they're actually just afraid of being seen as whatever, maybe the opposite of that is. So it's not that they're super brave and they're going to rush into the firefight, it's that they're afraid of being seen as weak. So literally getting shot by ISIS is less scary than people around them knowing that they're actually terrified of a bunch of other things.
[00:58:53] David Lieberman: That's right. That's right. You know, you take someone who grew up. Their father told them, "You're a nobody. You're a nothing. You're nobody, nothing." And they go out and they become a salesperson. And you know, by hook or by crook, they're selling everything in sight, knocking onto doors fearlessly. You think this person is just as great, a lot of self-esteem, not necessarily. Now, again, they may very well have self-esteem in a different scenario, but here the larger fear is not the rejection. The prospects say no. It's that looming fear of being a failure, what they've been told. And so if they don't become a billionaire in their eyes, then they're going to reinforce what their father said, that all along their failure, they're very scared. They're just driven by a larger fear.
[00:59:30] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest David Lieberman. We'll be right back.
[00:59:34] This episode is sponsored in part by Peloton. A lot of people ask me how I'm able to stick to my fitness routine, especially since I have such a bananas schedule. Must be those six-pack abs I'm showing off. For me, it's really creating a routine that is sustainable and can be duplicated on an ongoing basis. Consistency is the key, right? And Peloton helps me have a sustainable fitness routine because there are thousands of classes to choose from. It's also 24/7. I've always got time for it. I might only have 15 minutes in between calls, but I can still fit in a Peloton class. The instructors are next level motivating. They do inspire you to push further even when you're ready to quit. They're funny. That's kind of important to me when I'm doing a workout for some reason. Peloton is really famous for their bikes, but they also make a top-notch rowing machine that stores upright, which you think no big deal but when you try to have a rower on the floor, you'll be so glad this thing goes upright. Rowing is a great full body workout. It's low impact. You can work 86 percent of your muscles in only 15 minutes of. It's funny that they measure that. If you're a newbie to rowing, the Peloton Row has sensors that can track your movements to determine whether you're performing each stroke correctly. There's a little like ghost guy that shows you how your form is doing, and it warns you if you're doing something wrong that could injure you or whatever. It's also got a neat feature called Form Assist. That's actually the little ghost guy. It's a real-time indication of how to improve your rowing stroke in the class, as well as a detailed post-class breakdown. So it'll show you, "Hey, here's where you're kind of messing up. Here's where you're doing really well." Really kind of a fun way to get better at fitness. And the Peloton Row has definitely helped me. Yeah, get towards those six-pack abs, the dad bod. And right now is the perfect time to get rowing. With Peloton Row, we can promise you've never rowed like this before. Peloton Row offers a variety of classes for all levels in game-changing features that help you get rowing or advance what you can already do. Explore Peloton Row and financing options at onepeloton.com/row.
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[01:02:56] Now for the rest of my conversation with David Lieberman.
[01:03:01] I've got a friend who is very driven, but overly money focused in a way that's a little bit gross. I always tried to figure out why, because he is already loaded. And then I met his dad and it all fell into place. We were going out to dinner and I said, "Hey, I'm ready to go." And the dad said, "Well, I hope you have your own reservation. There's no room for you," or something, kind of rude. And I thought, like, "This is how I'm meeting your dad for the first time. This is really very weird. Maybe he's in a bad mood." "No, he's just always like that." And then when we went, turns out that somebody had made the reservation for the wrong restaurant. It was like a different location of the same chain.
[01:03:36] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[01:03:37] Jordan Harbinger: And so we didn't have any reservation. You know, we'd made a reservation in Florida or something instead of California, whatever it was. And so I went on my phone and I used Yelp or Open Table or one of those things, and I booked a table at another place, got the private room and just redirected everyone there. And I remember he came up later and said, "That was pretty good." But he did not want to give me that win, man. He really, really, really, really, really didn't want to give me that win. And his son was looking at me while he did it and he was actually kind of upset that I got even this crappy level of approval from his dad.
[01:04:08] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[01:04:08] Jordan Harbinger: He was not happy that his dad patted me on the back and said, "Oh, okay, well, you win this round." And I thought, what a weird way to grow up with a guy like this. Massively overly competitive, just in a completely ridiculous way. And I thought, this is an environment that breeds an unhealthy attachment to success and money, for sure.
[01:04:25] David Lieberman: Yeah. Oh, that's so sad. That's so sad.
[01:04:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. And the guy's doing so well and he is married and he is going to have a kid. I mean, he's, by all accounts, a successful person. He doesn't have to be miserable, but he is.
[01:04:35] David Lieberman: Yeah. No, but again, he doesn't see himself as a success because that program, that loop running in his head, tells him that he is not. And no matter how much money he gets, he's always going to want more and will never, unfortunately, satisfy him if that's going to be his yardstick.
[01:04:49] Jordan Harbinger: Unfortunately, in his business, he has the option to be really helpful to people and he does that sometimes, but then he can always take it too far and upsell people on a bunch of stuff they don't need. And he always, always takes that too. And I thought, man, your reputation would be so much better if you just had a better, nicer refund policy. You might make a million dollars less over the next five years and you're just going to die with that amount of money anyway, so who cares? And he always chooses—
[01:05:14] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[01:05:14] Jordan Harbinger: —the kind of dirtier option because I don't think he feels like he has a choice.
[01:05:18] David Lieberman: And that's just it. Unfortunately, he's reinforcing the real message that he's not a good guy because he's doing the very thing that is doubling down on the idea that he's not being responsible, not being good. And if he were able to hold himself back and not sacrifice a dollar, he would feel better about himself, obviously.
[01:05:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It's such a crappy dichotomy. And, of course, now that he's having a kid, I'm thinking, "Man, you have to break this chain—"
[01:05:46] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[01:05:46] Jordan Harbinger: "—you can't do this to your kid." And I hope that he can make it through that. I don't even know if he's aware of this pattern. I guess we'll see.
[01:05:52] I've heard you say that it takes more brain power to lie. I think I know what you mean by this, but let's talk about that because I think, well, one, we all run into liars and they do a lot of damage.
[01:06:02] David Lieberman: Sure. Well, look, I mean, you know, I don't think I came up with that. A number of people have said it, and we've found from our own experience, when you tell the truth, it's organic, it's authentic. You can repeat it, you can remember it, you can say it over time and again when you lie, you've got to keep track of what it is that you were saying, which is why liars will often default to these patterns because they want to remember what they're saying. They obviously can't give a lot of real details, so they'll end up, you know, sort of padding what it is that they're saying. They'll use a lot of self-referral statements, as I said previously, things like that to conserve the amount of energy it takes to tell, to keep that lie going.
[01:06:42] Jordan Harbinger: Clear denials are the best indicator that somebody didn't do something. This is from the book as well. If their denial is buried under two pages of qualifiers or they start talking about how they're not the type of person that would ever do anything like this, and my reputation is sterling, then you've got a problem potentially. Can we get examples of denials that are genuine and others that are shady? I mean, I know I just kind of gave one, but I'm curious what's top of mind for you?
[01:07:05] David Lieberman: The top of mind is a text someone just sent me about former President Clinton when asked about his involvement with Epstein and he had said, "I think the evidence speaks for itself." Wow. Really? That's not a no, that's not a "How dare you?" I mean, that is a lawyer talking as you well know.
[01:07:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:07:23] David Lieberman: So, if you've asked somebody, think about it like this, if I asked you, "Jordan, did you rob the bank?" What would be your answer?
[01:07:30] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[01:07:31] David Lieberman: Right. There you go. No. Now, if you are a bad guy who robs banks and maybe you robbed this bank, and if I ask you, did you rob the bank? And now, obviously, you robbed the bank, but you want to explain to me why you would never rob banks? You are a good guy. There's so many banks you walk by, the point is that when a person's telling the truth, you're going to get a very quick denial, and then you might get a lot of other stuff. But the "No, I didn't do it," is not going to be buried under two pages of, "I'm not this kind of person. Why would you say that? What have you heard? That's something that, you know, ask anyone. I would never do such things." You want to hear a no. You want to hear fast, you want to hear it upfront.
[01:08:11] Jordan Harbinger: It's amazing to me that somebody who could rob a bank would just be bad about lying about robbing the bank, right? Like you've already held somebody up at gunpoint to get money. Why are you then hung up on just telling somebody you didn't do it, flat out?
[01:08:25] David Lieberman: That's just it. Because human nature, it hasn't changed in how many thousands of years, people are people. And at some level, this person feels a degree of guilt.
[01:08:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:08:35] David Lieberman: Doesn't want to lie. They know lying is wrong. They don't robbing a bank is wrong, but they've justified why they've got to rob the bank and they're going to justify why they're going to lie about it as well. But we have a hard time. And if you look at interviews from people, you know, high profile who have been caught in crimes and what they say initially it is so, my goodness gracious, it's things like, you know, "The truth is going to come out and this is a besmirch against my character." It is not, it is almost never, "I didn't do this." It's always, "I'm looking forward for my day in court." That's not a no.
[01:09:09] Jordan Harbinger: That's true. That is kind of the mantra of the possibly guilty. "Look, we're looking forward to our day in court," one, nobody's looking forward to their day in court.
[01:09:18] David Lieberman: Right.
[01:09:18] Jordan Harbinger: Innocent or not. I mean, even if just from having to pay your lawyer to be there kind of perspective. Nobody's looking forward to that invoice. I think where this gets a little bit confusing for me is, you know, if I'm accused of something, I mean, my reputation is sterling. I would probably say, "Look, I mean, why would I do that? I have no reason to do something. I have no reason to rob a bank. I make money from this podcast. I have two kids. Like I definitely would not rob a bank." I would still probably say something like that, but I'd probably say no first. Is that really—?
[01:09:46] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[01:09:47] Jordan Harbinger: You know, I'm not just going to say no and then leave it at that and hope you believe me.
[01:09:50] David Lieberman: Yeah, for sure. Well, two things, first is, again, you're trying to imagine robbing a bank. So you're thinking like what a bad guy would say and do, which is different because yes, you're right. You would get that no out, but you wouldn't really feel the need to defend why you didn't rob a bank. And the fact that you earn a living doesn't mean that you're not capable or have an interest in robbing a bank. That's not really a valid reason, right?
[01:10:14] Jordan Harbinger: That's true.
[01:10:15] David Lieberman: You're projecting what they might say, and that is what they do say, by the way, it's like, you know, "I have tremendous respect for women," or, "I follow the law," those aren't valid reasons as to why you wouldn't do something wrong. Which is why in their mind, they may very well say those things, but an innocent person is looking for a free exchange of information. They're not looking to sell a story, right? Like you had mentioned before about somebody who's trying to convince you of something. A person who's innocent doesn't have to convince anyone that they didn't do it. All I have to do is say the truth that speaks for itself. Certainly, there are times we're going to get defensive or we've been wrongly accused and so on, but somebody asks if we've done something wrong, we haven't done it. A simple no is going to suffice. The guilty person feels like they've got to now sell that story.
[01:11:00] Jordan Harbinger: That actually makes a lot of sense, right? Because they probably know or feel that other people don't believe them because they know that they're not telling the truth.
[01:11:07] David Lieberman: That's right.
[01:11:08] Jordan Harbinger: Thus, the oversell, so people who bluff habitually probably overcompensate—
[01:11:11] David Lieberman: There you go.
[01:11:12] Jordan Harbinger: —in that direction, right? So then, if we want to uncover a bluff, what do we do? Notice how they're trying to appear in the moment. Is that where we start with that?
[01:11:20] David Lieberman: That's right. That's great. And the example I give in the book is in terms of the poker corners, which I don't know if you're a poker guy at all.
[01:11:26] Jordan Harbinger: Not really, but I know some stuff about it just because, you know, Annie Duke comes on the show and uses all these analogy. I've played poker before.
[01:11:33] David Lieberman: Okay. So, you know, maybe if you played with some of those eight figure or those high value friends of yours, you might enjoy it more.
[01:11:42] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I'm a terrible liar. See, also, right earlier in the show, I'm a terrible liar. So when I have a good hand, I'm always like, "Yeah, bam. Oh wait, I shouldn't have done that."
[01:11:49] David Lieberman: Right.
[01:11:50] Jordan Harbinger: And even when I try to overcompensate, sorry, even when I try to compensate, I end up overcompensating so I'm like, I have a really good hand. I'm going to sit up straight and then, oh, I shouldn't sit up that straight. I should probably act really relaxed because I got this really good hand and I probably shouldn't just keep looking at my cards. I just looked at them again, you know, that's me playing poker. It's pretty hopeless.
[01:12:08] David Lieberman: Okay, so you and I should play someday?
[01:12:09] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:12:10] David Lieberman: Yeah. And that's just. You know, somebody who is bluffing will overcompensate whether in poker in the real world. An example I often give is like this, if you've got a really good hand in poker, you're likely to sort of deliberate, think a little bit, put your chips in, slowly look around to give the impression that you're not sure what to do. If you've got a poor hand, you're more inclined to put the money in very quickly to give the impression that you do have a good hand. Now what happens is when people are bluffing in poker, in the real world, they typically well overcompensate. And if you look for, it's glaringly obvious, they try to think what would give the right impression and they do that. And that's when you can catch them. Much the same way that, again, a poker player, unless they're super sophisticated, if they're bluffing, they're going to put their money in very quickly because they want to give the impression that they're confident.
[01:12:58] Jordan Harbinger: I see. And also the use of what you call oversell expressions, right? I'm a hundred percent certain that I've never robbed a bank.
[01:13:04] David Lieberman: That's right.
[01:13:05] Jordan Harbinger: And I guess innocent people just say no.
[01:13:07] David Lieberman: Yeah, yeah. You see this in court all the time. "100 percent, absolutely, positively not guilty." Okay. Very good. You know what? A simple, "not guilty" would've sufficed. So yeah, these oversell expressions point to, as we mentioned before, and insecurity.
[01:13:20] Jordan Harbinger: "When it comes to threats, the less a person says and the less he tries to sell you on his stance, the more credibility we give the threat. I'll repeat that." So this is from the book. "When it comes to threats, the less a person says and the less he tries to sell you on his stance, the more credibility we give the threat." That seems like it could be dangerous if the stakes are really high. And I'm thinking of Vladimir Putin with his nukes threats. He's threatening it a lot. So maybe we give that low credibility. But what happens if we're wrong? He nukes something. Oops, we probably should have taken it more seriously. So does that always hold? I guess is what I'm asking you?
[01:13:55] David Lieberman: Sure. And no, it doesn't, you know, statistically, you've got the advantage in much the same way that 99.9 percent of bomb threats that are called in are just that. They're threats. They're not real. It doesn't mean that you have to, that you don't take them seriously. You need to. But the reason why the person is calling in the threat is because they want to create panic. They're not looking to hurt people, you know, physically. If they were looking to hurt people physically, they wouldn't call in the bomb threat. I mean, that makes sense logically, but when somebody talks a lot and they're very threatening and whether it's a phone call or an email and you know, anyone in the public eye has been on that receiving end, it can be very scary. But the more, again, we're printing with a broad brush here, the more a person is talking and telling you, there's a better chance that they're less likely to act on it.
[01:14:39] Jordan Harbinger: One thing I thought was really fascinating was that a lot can be ascertained by the details in a story, right? Vivid, they're relevant, they're coherent. When somebody's telling the truth, the prelude to the story is often light on details. And deceitful people, their story will often contain a litany of irrelevant facts, especially at the beginning. And this is so insightful, and you can see this with teenagers all the time. Somebody who's being deceitful will they want to mimic the level of detail that an honest person would convey by filling the story with irrelevant detail. What's going on here?
[01:15:14] David Lieberman: That's right. That's right. And there's so much to unpack here. And once again, as you know, once you know what to look for, it becomes so glaringly obvious. You know, a person who is lying about a story, a narrative, an alibi, whatever it is, obviously is not drawing on a real experience. But they know intuitively, as we all do, that you have to have details because details show that you are being honest. But since, they don't have real details. They've got to put in superfluous details. Details that may be truthful, but are so not relevant because they want to pack their story with densely, with details that are truthful because a real story in their mind needs details. And they want to make them truthful so they can remember them.
[01:15:54] So, for example, they'll be recounting a story about in the morning when they got up and they'll say, "I had breakfast," and now this is all the truthful part. "I had breakfast. I had two eggs because you know what? You got to start your day with protein. If I don't start my day with protein, Jordan. I'm just no good. And you know, I like my—" It's so unnecessary. The person's talking about a violent crime. The person, you know, "I got attacked and they smelled like cheap cologne," that's fine, but when they add, "You know, that stuff that you can get for five dollars a bottle in the store. I remember my great-grandfather used to wear that stuff, that Old Spice so disgusting." Well, how is that relevant? It's not, right? But if they're putting it into a dramatic story, a traumatic story, it is only because they're lying, they want to pack it dense with details. And so they're putting in things that are truthful but are obviously so irrelevant.
[01:16:41] Jordan Harbinger: And is this because they want to have a detailed story, but they don't want the detail to circle around the thing that they did? So they're putting the detail on the outsides of the periphery of that particular event.
[01:16:53] David Lieberman: That's right. Because the main event, what they want to say happened didn't happen. So there are no details. So you have to, on the spot, think of a lot of, there's a lot of layers and density in order to buttress something that you're saying that you're making up with details. You're going to make it detail rich in areas that were true, maybe the lead up or afterwards. And so yeah, that's when you're going to end up with a lot of details. But because you're putting them in, they're just superfluous. They're not really relevant. So superfluous, irrelevant details that have no place in the story, that's one of the giveaways of a deceptive story.
[01:17:28] Jordan Harbinger: This is a funny sort of cap to a story where somebody says, "And that's all I know and I can't tell you any more than that, really." Those being red flags makes perfect sense because I suppose if I don't really know anything else, I just stopped talking. We kind of mentioned this before where I just say, no, I didn't rob the bank.
[01:17:45] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[01:17:45] Jordan Harbinger: So somebody who does know something else and is hiding it is going to say, they're going to go across that detail in their mind, realize they've done that, and then go, "Well, I just don't want to say that. So now I have to say something else—"
[01:17:56] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[01:17:56] Jordan Harbinger: "—to end my testimony here, to end my tale here.
[01:18:00] David Lieberman: And what's wild is it's seemingly always that same phrase of "that's pretty much all I could tell you."
[01:18:06] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:18:06] David Lieberman: Or, "that's pretty much all I could say." And it's like, "Why are you saying this?" Ah, it's because that's pretty much all they can tell you. They can't tell you anything more, but they do feel the need to say that. A truthful story end — a deceptive story will very often end after the main event. The person thinks, "Okay, I've told you. I told you, you know, the gun went off. It wasn't me. It was that other guy." A real story, it's going to follow that trajectory afterwards, what I did, how I felt, what happened. But a person who's lying about his story, they're just happy to have gotten the story over with. They look to change the subject, and they don't realize that they now have to keep on talking to explain how things unfolded afterwards because certainly there was no afterwards anyway, so you notice these made-up alibi or made-up story is truncated right after the main event.
[01:18:51] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That's really interesting. Because they know the salience of that event, whereas if they're innocent, maybe they don't really know when things start and stop because they didn't have anything to do with the crime itself.
[01:19:03] David Lieberman: That's right. And they're also going to be talking about not just, right, they're going to go past that point because they don't really know, may know where that point is. Even if they do, they still have experiences that they're giving over.
[01:19:13] Jordan Harbinger: Speaking of being innocent or guilty, tell me about the alibi buster. If you have teenagers, you have to have this and or just kids at all, or if you're in law enforcement, of course, but I think it almost comes in handy for parenting.
[01:19:25] David Lieberman: Yeah. I love this technique. Basically what it does is when somebody says, let's say, you know, they were at the movies with their friend. Now, a typical case where we think the person may or may not be lying, you know, we'd sort of say, "Yeah, you went to the movies," and they'll double down, say, "Yeah, I went to the movies." But what you want to do is you want to gather facts and then you introduce a piece of evidence that's not true but could be true, and you watch how your suspect handles it.
[01:19:49] So for example, you'd say something like, "What movie do you see?" "I saw Planet of the Apes." "Oh, the 8:30 showing on Main Street." "Yeah." And now, here's where you introduce the fact, again, a made-up fact. I guess in today's language, we can call the made-up facts. That's perfectly fine. Say, "Oh, I heard there was a water main break and traffic was backed up for hours. It must have taken you a while to get out." Now, they've got a problem. If they weren't there, they don't know how to respond. They may think you're trapping them, they may not, but they're going to do the one thing that everyone who's lying about a story does, and that is hesitate. if in fact they were there, they'd be able to tell you in two seconds. "No, what were you talking about? No break, no whatever." But if you say, "Oh, I heard the traffic was backed up." They're like, and now they're thinking and now they're going to answer, maybe you're trapping them, "No, no, it was fine. We got out." Or in which case then, you know, they're lying, they'll say "There was no water main break." If they say, in fact, they confirm what you said, then you know that they're lying. And even if they don't, where they're going to hesitate deciding how to answer, and that's how you typically will trip up a person who's making up an alibi.
[01:20:51] Jordan Harbinger: Just one sort of recap here. You give them, what, the confirming questions?
[01:20:55] David Lieberman: You want to confirm the details.
[01:20:57] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[01:20:57] David Lieberman: And then, you sort of throw up a possible but not true fact and you watch how they handle it. And it can be anything that will force them to think about whether or not this is true or not. And again, if they were there, they would know instantly that it wasn't true, but they're going to do one thing that everyone who's lying about a story does and that's hesitate. Once again, I remind everyone, listening or watching, is that when I say they're going to do the one thing, I'm speaking definitively, but we don't want to end the relationship because somebody failed this one marker. You know, you've got many others to rely on in these situations.
[01:21:32] Jordan Harbinger: I was going to ask about that because if somebody said, "What movie did you guys see?" And I said, "Ah, Batman." And they said, "Oh, the 8:30 showing." And I said, "Yeah, something like that." "Ah, well, I heard traffic was horrible on the way home." I might stop and go, "Was it? I don't know. I was on my phone. I wasn't even driving." You know, I'm thinking to myself, was it bad? I didn't really notice. And then, so I may pause there and go, "I don't know. It seemed fine to me," but there's still a pause.
[01:21:52] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[01:21:53] Jordan Harbinger: I wasn't lying. I was just on Instagram.
[01:21:55] David Lieberman: True.
[01:21:56] Jordan Harbinger: I'm not—
[01:21:56] David Lieberman: True.
[01:21:57] Jordan Harbinger: I'm on another planet.
[01:21:57] David Lieberman: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[01:21:58] Jordan Harbinger: I wasn't paying attention.
[01:21:59] David Lieberman: True, true, true. So you want to certainly pick a, quote-unquote, "fact" that is relevant to the person and something they paid attention to. You wouldn't say something like, "Oh, I heard, there was a parade. So, they sent some of the traffic down Third Street," if the person's on Park Avenue, whatever it is. It has to be somewhat relevant. And again, yeah, you could not have been paying attention, but if you'd said that to me, responded in that same way, I would say that's an honest response. Because you're not looking to sell me, because you're not arguing with me. You're not saying there was no water main break. I think you're trying to trap me. You're not saying that there is, in which case, I know that you're lying, rather you're saying, you know what, maybe I just don't know. That's okay. I'm almost okay with that as an answer.
[01:22:39] Jordan Harbinger: I can definitely see, and especially a lying teenager, be like, they're expecting the trap, right? So they're going to go, how do I answer this if it's a trap?
[01:22:47] David Lieberman: Right.
[01:22:47] Jordan Harbinger: That's what you're looking for a lot of times when it comes to this. Man, that's really, that's going to be useful to a lot of people, especially people with kids, I think, and I'm going to put a pin in that myself to use when my kids are older.
[01:23:00] I know we're running short on time. Something insightful I took from the book was when you explained that the less emotionally and mentally healthy someone is, the less comfortable they are with people who hold opposing viewpoints and don't share that person's same opinions.
[01:23:15] And here's an example. I go on Twitter the other day. That was my first mistake. A guest had shared the episode and somebody replied and tagged me and said, "Oh, that show is always the same. Every episode is the same. That guy is so boring." Which is kind of funny because we have tons of different formats, tons of different guests, tons of different types of content on this show. So I think of all the criticism you could level of about The Jordan Harbinger Show, that's probably not a good one but anyway. I said, "Hey, well, I'm sorry you don't listen anymore. Welcome back anytime. But please remember to be kind to people this holiday season," because I thought it was a little bit of a crappy thing to say, and she replied, "I am being kind. I don't know why you think I'm not. I'm just stating an objective fact that your show is stale." And this is not a young person. This is an older lady. She wasn't trolling other people online. It just made me think that perhaps this person really cannot somehow understand that her opinion, which is very clearly an opinion, is not actually a fact. This is lost on her. It is lost on her. That other people may not hold that same opinion. And you'd think that it would be a little obvious that one of the most popular podcasts in the world has people who think different things about it, including some people actually liking it. But this seemed to be completely lost on her.
[01:24:22] I wasn't sure what the hell was going on here until, of course, I've read the book and I thought, aha, this person is giving off real, "the kids don't talk to me anymore" vibes.
[01:24:31] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[01:24:31] Jordan Harbinger: And it might be because she pulls this crap with everybody who disagrees with her on something.
[01:24:36] David Lieberman: Yeah. Yeah. Unfortunately, it's — look, yeah, it's good to appreciate that one percent of the population at a minimum is really just, unfortunately, unwell. So that includes your fan base.
[01:24:49] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:24:49] David Lieberman: You know, and I guess, you know, higher for some podcasters than others. And they're just not in touch with reality. And look, as I know you well appreciate constructive criticism is one thing and if they even get it right and don't like it, that's something else.
[01:25:02] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:25:02] David Lieberman: But they say something that's so blatantly, just not even the case is unsettling.
[01:25:06] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:25:06] David Lieberman: Because there's no basis for it. And it's like, you know, they're telling the sky is purple and you have no common ground here. And yeah, that is an indication of emotional unwellness is a person who takes their opinion and assumes it to be an objective fact, which is, you know, we meet these people all the time. You know, you got to try this apple pie. You don't like it? This is the best apple pie you've ever eaten. Anyone that doesn't like it should be hung. Okay. Now, you're entitled to be enthusiastic about something. Sometimes we all are. Be passionate. But for the person who their opinions get morphed into objective fact that we're already drifting to the land of emotional unwellness.
[01:25:42] Jordan Harbinger: We see this in with political extremists on both ends of the spectrum. They also seem to do this deliberately or otherwise, right? They'll speak in absolutes and they will, of course, trivialize to the point where the other opinion holders seemingly in their mind, literally shouldn't even be allowed to exist. And you see them twisting the language too, where they're saying, well, if you believe this, then you must believe all of these completely ridiculous things like, "You must be okay with people drinking kids' blood to stay young." It's like what child trafficking or something. Like where did you get that? I'm talking about people being able to mail their votes in or something, whatever it is, you know the political sphere?
[01:26:18] David Lieberman: Yeah.
[01:26:18] Jordan Harbinger: And they simply cannot understand how anybody would have a different opinion or viewpoint, which to me is terrifying. Not just because of their own views, but because of the seeming inability to understand that others might think differently. That seems like a real hindrance to being able to just function in a modern society.
[01:26:35] David Lieberman: That's right. And the trajectory has been, in the old days, you and I could have different opinions. We could disagree. That's okay. Now, it becomes, you're not just wrong, but you're bad.
[01:26:44] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:26:44] David Lieberman: Meaning if you have a different opinion perspective than me, you're not just wrong about your opinion, but I'm putting a moral stamp on it and saying, you're a bad human being. That is what's going to become more problematic.
[01:26:54] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you so much, David. There's a lot in your writing. This was one book out of many and we got to have you back some time to discuss your other work as well. Thank you so much for your time and for coming on the show, man. Really, really interesting stuff.
[01:27:04] David Lieberman: You're an amazing talent, Jordan. Much continued success and I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you.
[01:27:08] Jordan Harbinger: You're a terrible liar, but I'll take the compliment. Thank you, David. Why did he scratch his nose and look down when he said that? Thanks so much.
[01:27:16] David Lieberman: A pleasure. Lots of good luck to you. Be well, thank you.
[01:27:20] Jordan Harbinger: We've got a preview trailer of our interview with poker star, Annie Duke, on how we can learn to make better decisions by thinking in bets instead of trying so hard to be certain all the time.
[01:27:31] Annie Duke: The quality of your life is determined by the sum of two things, the quality of your decisions and luck. When something bad happens to us, we act as a skill wasn't involved at all. We just sort of pawned off to the luck element. But when good things happen, we sort of ignore the luck element and we say that it was because of our great skill.
[01:27:50] A self-driving Uber just hit and killed a pedestrian. But what I thought was really interesting was that the reaction was to suspend the testing and just to take the cars off the road, not just the Uber cars, but other self-driving vehicles. And what I didn't see were any comparisons to how self-driving vehicles did per thousand miles traveled versus the technology that we already have on the road, which is cars that are driven by humans. We know that 6,000 pedestrians died per year by regular driven cars.
[01:28:26] Let's say that you're on the side of the road and you've got a flat tire. And of course, what everybody's thinking in that moment is, "I have the worst life ever. Like, why do these things always happen to me? I'm so unlucky, I'm so miserable." What's really interesting to me about it is like you could have gotten a promotion, like the biggest promotion of your life three days before and you're not standing on the side of the road going, "My life's great because I just got the biggest promotion I could ever imagined."
[01:28:53] So imagine that you had this flat tire a year ago, and now I'm asking you today, a year later, how much do you think that that flat tire would have affected your overall happiness over the year.
[01:29:07] Jordan Harbinger: For more with Annie Duke, including some common mistakes we make when evaluating decisions, check out episode 40 here on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:29:17] This book was so interesting and he has a ton of books that are just full of amazing stuff. Lot of cool ideas and ways to decipher thinking. For example, a person who does not want their true feelings exposed will often smile. It's interesting. Smiles mask other emotions. Not all the time, of course. Genuine smiles light up the whole face. The book talks about how to decipher between fake smiles, real smiles, and know when people are smiling to hide another emotion, such as when they're maybe angry about something or hiding another uncomfortable feeling.
[01:29:46] Also, asking someone for advice on a problem is a good way to gauge their reaction. Now, this isn't the Benjamin Franklin trick where you say, "Hey, this guy doesn't like me. I want to ask him for a favor," and then he develops an affinity. We've talked about that on the show before. This is more like, well, the example in the book is there's a bus driver, he's drinking on the job. You might ask him what he would do or what should be done about another driver that people suspect is drinking on the job. If they get really defensive, maybe they're guilty. If they say, "Hey, you know what? Screw it. Throw the book at them. I don't even care what you do," then maybe they're not, but we don't know. It's just a good sort of litmus test for how this person feels about something.
[01:30:25] And I remember learning about this so long ago from an ex-cop. He told me that if you did something wrong and they say, "What do you think should happen to somebody who runs red lights regularly?" If that person runs red lights regularly, if they're talking to you, you might say, "Well, I don't know. Everybody's got reasons. Maybe they in a hurry, and whether there're other cars, it's all based on the circumstance." That's measured, but also might mean that person is guilty of whatever that is. But if you say, if they say, "I don't care, screw it. Hang them. Shoot them for all I care, people like that can get somebody killed." That's a different kind of answer. So people hedge in weird ways when they are guilty of behavior. Again, not a foolproof test, not something that can decide if someone's lying or guilty completely, but certainly an indicator in one direction.
[01:31:09] Another thing is when you're talking with somebody who's guilty, they want the conversation to end. They do not want further exchange of information. On the other hand, innocent people often want a further exchange of information. They want to clear the air. They want to make sure that all the cards are on the table. They want everybody to know everything because they are innocent and they want to figure out how to prove that. There's also a lot of poker tells in the book as well. I guess he's really into poker, so he applies a lot of this stuff. Just some really fun, interesting topics that are very, very practical, and this book is worth a read and a reread as are all his books as well, in my opinion.
[01:31:45] Again, big thanks to David Lieberman. Links to all things David Lieberman will be in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show notes. Videos are up on YouTube. Advertisers, deals, discount codes, and ways to support the show are all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who make the show possible. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. And I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using systems, software, tiny habits. That's our Six-Minute Networking course. That course is free. It's the same stuff I use, jordanharbinger.com/course. I want you to dig that well before you get thirsty. Make 2023 the year you finally reengage your network and do it in a non-gross way. Many of the guests on this show subscribe and contribute to the course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company.
[01:32:32] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's into human behavior, maybe has teenagers and needs that alibi trick, definitely share this episode with them. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[01:33:06] Special thanks to Nissan for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
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