This article explains how the brain processes truth by measuring certain signs.
SOUND LIKE THE TRUTH?
By Bill Cottringer
Why is it important to “sound” like you are speaking, reading or writing the truth? If it is so important, how can you make sure you are doing it? First question first.
1. First of all, our perceptions and versions of the truth are what we act on, so it seems to make sense to be acting on a reasonable degree of truth about something—truth that is as accurate and complete as it can be, given time constraints and other investments to determine its validity (of course at the end, you eventually have to let go of rationality, logic and facts and either believe or not believe something based on your feelings about it being true or false).
2. If you are trying to sell, market, persuade or otherwise influence someone else to listen to you, believe you or “buy” what you are “selling,” it is probably a pretty good idea to understand how the brain processes truth. The conscious brain wants quick, easy and simple explanations of problems and events and even quicker, easier, and simpler solutions. The human brain is an efficiency machine that has divided the whole world into simple either-or, polar opposites—yes or no, right or wrong, true or false, etc.—that can be resolved in a word. But, because of this artificial duality, the unconscious brain, intuition or whatever else you may want to call it, has to mediate the real truth past, above and beyond the artificial, superficial dichotomy. And this unconscious part of the brain is an expert at instantly and directly perceiving, judging and knowing the truth of something, in spite of the facts, so to speak.
3. Honesty, truth-telling, trust and “realness,” as they are very inter-related, account for the lion’s share of all success in the interpersonal arena. And of course it is very hard to be successful without mastering the people world with sounding like the truth.
So, there you have three substantial reasons to learn better truth skills. Now, how can you do that?
1. It is obviously smart to start with truth and honesty from the get-go because that is much easier to communicate and otherwise deal with effectively. Lies, half-truths, omissions, embellishments, manipulated information and other forms of dishonesty just create more difficult realities, tax the memory more, and pose more questions than provide answers. This side of the equation ends up being a waste of valuable time. Enough said.
2. There are certain ‘signs’ that the unconscious brain uses as smart criteria to accept truths and reject untruths. Now there is probably one primary, ultimate BIG Truth that more and more people are accepting today and that is everything is connected to and part of one single energy (call it God if you must put a name to it). Although you may not embrace this truth, I don’t think you would be truthful if you say you outright reject it (that is how I know it is one basic truth I can take to the bank, while I spend the rest of my time evaluating the lesser, littler relative truths that seem to be still evolving). Of course the real challenge is to separate the few 5% truths from the rest of the 95% nonsensical BS crapola.
3. I have often thought that if we could do one great communication improvement, we would all benefit greatly and spread more success around for everyone. This one great improvement involves diminishing the power that the ‘moral flavor’ of good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, true vs. false, has over reality, that we somehow ascribe to some words that represent some things. If we can somehow delete this ultimate dualistic notion of good vs. evil and replace it with useful or useless in helping us get to were we want to be, we can get past failure and learn what we need to know to be successful. At least this idea sounds like the truth to me!
It would be good to approach the following with # 3 above in mind (try not to over-flavor truth as ‘good’ and untruth as ‘bad.’ At any rate, we do know this: The brain quickly perceives the strengths of the signs as to which direction something is leaning between A and B, left and right in the following columns of pairs of “opposites” on a continuum. Then it judges the information, person or event as either truthful or untruthful according to the collective weighted strengths in the truthful column (A) or the strengths of the signs in the untruthful column (B).
Column A—Truth Signs Column B—Untruth Signs
• equality • superiority
• tentativeness • over-certainty
• accepting • judging
• including • excluding
• freeing • controlling
• enabling • disabling
• humble • arrogant
• balanced • extreme
• sensitive • insensitive
• open/approachable • closed/guarded
• agreeable • disagreeable
• familiar • unfamiliar
• heartfelt • intellectual
• positive • negative
• appealing • unappealing
• consistent • inconsistent
• requested • imposed
• spontaneous • contrived
• fair, reasonable • unfair, unreasonable
• productive • disruptive
• giving • taking
• unselfish • selfish
• verbal-non-verbal congruence • verbal-non-verbal incongruence
The paradox here is that you can’t fake truth to the brain until you find it. Consequently you have to work bassackwards, starting with becoming more conscious of the truthful signs you recognize in others and then eventually in yourself—so you can catch your own hand in the untruthful cookie jar and learn to keep it out. Sound like the truth?
William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA. He is also author of several books including You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, The Bow-Wow-secrets, Passwords To The Prosperity Zone, “P” Point Management, Do What Matters Most, and Reality Repair. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or bcottrigner.pssp.net