10 Tips for Lie-Proofing a Home Closing, Pt. 2

On Friday, HousingWatch published the first five of my tips for detecting lies related to closing on a home purchase. It's a little like a good card trick -- you have to pay careful attention to figure out what's really going on.

I wrote my book "Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception"to give ordinary people access to the professional techniques practiced by law enforcement negotiators and intelligence investigators. Here are tips six through 10 for those crucial just-before-the-finishing-line days:

6. Watch for the nonverbal tells.
High stakes elicit high emotions – and the more intensely felt the emotion, the more likely it will leak out through slightly pursed lips, a half-shrug, or a smirk. Since a deceptive person will concentrate heavily on getting his words right, watch for anomalies in his body language – does he freeze his upper body, look down more often, slow his breathing and blink rate? Does he exhibit what's known by detectives as "post-interview relief" – a fleeting moment of relaxation when he's no longer being questioned about the tricky stuff?

If you went to the trouble of getting to know your negotiating partner's normal gestures -- the style and duration of his laugh, his typical standing or seated posture, his fidgeting patterns, you will be able to detect abnormal responses to particular lines of questioning. This process of observing your partner during normal times, in order to obtain a reliable reference point for measuring changes in behavior, is known by interrogators as "baselining."

7. Frame outcomes in terms of gain, not loss. Let's say a buyer initially offers 20 percent less than your asking price, but ultimately you both agree on a price that's 10 percent less. If you help him view it as a win – he got 10 percent off the original asking price – rather than a loss – he paid 10 percent more than he wanted – it will make a big difference in subsequent negotiations. Studies show that framing in terms of losses causes people to bargain harder and operate less ethically.

8. Ask the last crucial question – Is there anything you haven't told me? In one study, 100 percent of negotiators actively lied about, or failed to reveal a problem, if no one directly asked them about it. Liars are far more comfortable concealing information than falsifying it.

9. Get it in writing. After everything has been agreed to face-to-face, ask to get confirmation in an e-mail. With written documentation, there's no escape – there's no way an accused liar can say you misunderstood, or he expressed himself poorly, or you're flat-out misremembering what he told you.

10. Surprise! Bluffing might not be the best tactic. Continually reaffirm your integrity. A negotiation is a signalling system. If your partner signals that he is dishonest, you are likely to feel more justified in lying to him. Studies show that negotiators who suspect or are directly informed that they are expected to tell the truth, behave more honestly throughout the negotiation. So think again before you assume that we are all expected to bluff; it may not be in your best interest. People feel justified in lying when they think they're dealing with a liar. Signal to your partner that you are honest and you expect honesty in return. For example, tell him that the renovation you did on your basement was expressly done to code because "in our family, we don't break the law."

My overall message? Approach the negotiation in the spirit of win/win. Not only will you have a far less stressful time, you'll also cut down on the opportunity and temptation for your negotiating partner to lie. And hopefully you'll be moving into your new house with only the decor and furniture arrangement to worry about.

Pamela Meyer is founder and CEO of Simpatico Networks, a leading private label social networking company that owns and operates online social networks. She holds an MBA from Harvard, an MA in Public Policy from Claremont Graduate School, and is a Certified Fraud Examiner. She has extensive training in advanced interviewing and interrogation techniques, facial micro-expression reading, body language interpretation, statement analysis, and behavior elicitation techniques. For the book "Liespotting," she worked with a team of researchers over several years and completed a comprehensive survey of all of the published research on deception detection. The most interesting highlights from the research survey are included in the book, while additional new findings are regularly featured on her blog, www.Liespotting.com.

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