Episode #7 Transcript - Common Manipulation Tactics: Are You Being Emotionally Manipulated? with Guest Justin Black

Kelly: Justin Black is a former member of the U.S. Intelligence community who has worked in the Middle East, Central America, and Asia. Over more than a decade of service, a lifelong passion for history and storytelling drives him to explore the hidden side of Spycraft. He is the host of an espionage history podcast, as well as a blog and Instagram account, all under the name Spycraft 101. And for those of our listeners who have been with us, you might remember that we spotlighted Spycraft 101 Podcast in our first episode because my esteemed co-host, Doug Patterson, was a guest on the Spycraft 101 podcast. Justin, it’s great to have you.

Thank you so much. We connected over the hidden behavior and some of our conversations back and forth about mindset, and [00:01:00] I’m really excited to have you on the show tonight or to talk about some of those mindset. Life hacks, I guess you could call ’em, people overcoming impossible odds, really based on the mindset that they kept and stuck with that saw them through horrible things.

I know you had mentioned one of the prisoners in China, or a story somewhere along those lines.

Justin: Thank you for having me, Kelly. I appreciate it. I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time now, actually, and I’m glad you bring that up really quick. So his name was Hugh Redmond. He was somebody we had talked about a little bit. I did a post about him on Instagram over a year ago now, and his story is not very well known at all because there really is just so little concentration on it, unfortunately, and it’s very sad to see someone like [00:02:00] him who seems like he was just a tremendously strong and resilient person.

He got caught up in the tides of history and forgotten by almost everyone it seems so. He had, he started out, I believe he was in the OSS to begin with during the war. A lot of these kinds of people were in the mid to late forties. And people who are very familiar with that era of history, especially for the US Intelligence community, they might know or they might not know that the OSS Office of Strategic Services, it was essentially disbanded just a couple of months after the war ended. So a lot of those people that had fought, all the way through both theaters or all three theaters really kind of scattered to the four wins. Some of them went to the state Department, and then a few of them went back to private life, civil service, whatever have you. And some went into a couple of organizations that were very, had very short lifespans kind of, [00:03:00] transitional organizations.

I would call them. It was the strategic services. which only lasted I think like a year. And there was also the central intelligence group, which came right after that, which lasted I think maybe eight months or so. And then in 1947, the Central Intelligence Agency was formed.

Kelly: So they were kind of the original attempts at creating a CIA type organization. Is that what I’m getting from you? 

Justin: It was, I think that the entire government was in such a transition. During that time period that they didn’t have a clear idea of what was happening and, the, the, the threats were changing so completely at that time because, the Soviet Union, we had been allied with them just months prior and suddenly we’re realizing that they had kind of had it out for us for a lot longer than we had realizing, we’d been thoroughly penetrated in the United States government.

And Society by Soviet agents since at least the early 1930s. And so once we kind of realized that they were the threat, now that the access powers had been [00:04:00] conquered, that they had to be a massive pivot in strategy towards them. So these OSS disappeared. These other two organizations came and went fairly quickly, and Hugh Redmond was a part of all three of those.

Kelly: Oh.

Justin: Basing this on an article that was written a few years ago about him. It appeared in Studies in Intelligence, I think, which is kind of a professional publication. It’s a journal and a lot of the articles are unclassified and they can be found online still, but he was sent to China because of the malice government there, ch or I’m sorry, the government hasn’t taken over yet, but, Mal was considered a threat.

So he was building a source network in China with the SSU, the Strategic Services Unit. And he had a network. He was in Shanghai. I think he had at least seven Chinese agents that he was kind of running there. And he eventually [00:05:00] got picked up in China by the police there.

In fact, he was boarding a ship. back to the United States, I think, and they came on the ship and they took him off the ship just as he was about to leave. And

Kelly: That’s the worst. You’re so close. You’re so close to safety and freedom.

Justin: I know it. So, he was imprisoned and it kind of went into a black hole at that time because we had very little visibility on what was really going on there.

He was one of the very few trustworthy people in-country at that time. So after that, The US government had almost no news about what was happening with him at all, and

Kelly: And what, I’m sorry. What timeframe was this? What year was he captured?

Justin: he was captured, I think it was, let me see.

Kelly: Or decade, I mean, you.

Justin: Yeah, here we go. So by 1951. So he had been through those organizations. He had been sent over by the strategic services unit and just stayed there after that. So then he was in the CIG and then the [00:06:00] CIA after. So then by 1951, he’d been there for years. He’s our man in China, I guess. And ultimately he gets picked up and there’s just so little visibility.

There’s really nothing that the U.S. government knows about him or can do about him or influence his wellbeing or anything like that. And unfortunately, for years, he has gone, he does go on trial and we can kind of call it a show trial, but he was conducting espionage there. I mean, he certainly was an American intelligence operative in China.

So he goes into prison and after that they don’t really hear much about him at all, except when other western prisoners are released that were held with him. And some of those people are debriefed. And that is not including other U.S. government employees. It’s French priests and just a few other westerners that were thought to be maybe conducting espionage or something like that.

And, sporadically they’re released so they get debriefed eventually. And [00:07:00] that’s really the only record of his life that we have anymore. But he was held for the next 15 years in prison in China. There was a little bit of discussion back and forth and at one point, let me see when it was, it was 1957, so about six years after he was taken, eventually they worked out a compromise where his mother was able to fly over and visit him.

And, she’s 75 years old or something like that. He’s in his forties. Already. I don’t think he was married before he went over, so, and she’s the only one allowed to come visit. So there is a picture of the two of them together and he’s very happy to see her. She’s very nerve-wracked, you can tell from the photo.

Very stressed out. He doesn’t look particularly healthy. He’s a very big strapping guy who’s clearly a shell of his former self, in borrowed clothing in the photo. And it’s really tragic to see. But some of these debriefs that happened over the years painted a really incredible picture [00:08:00] of this guy because even though he genuinely had no hope of rescue and no apparent hope of being traded back or anything that is more common these days.

The Chinese were absolutely not willing to let go of him at that time. So he was pretty constantly interrogated. , they would always try and get him to admit to what he had done. I mean, for years and years and years he was in. And one of the things that they said was that he would play these mind games back with the interrogators all the time.

And he won a bunch of little psychological victories, even though he had no chance of any kind of tangible victory at all. But he would just have this battle of wits with these interpreters all or these interrogators all the time. And one of the things that the former prisoner said was that he would refuse to speak until they gave him a cigarette and lit it for him.

So after that little act of servitude there, then he would open up to them. So just a tiny little thing, but it really sets a tone for what’s to come after that, [00:09:00] in my opinion. And really sets who is the dominant figure in that room. , not in any meaningful sense, but in that psychological sense, which is just so, so impressive to me that he could keep something up like that over the years.

So he also. , he was in a room, he was in solitary confinement by himself and for fitness. He would walk a circle in his room, which was, it’s an eight by eight cell or something like that. He would walk circles in that room 15 miles a day to keep up his health as best he could. So that’s, I don’t know, 10,000 circles in that tiny little cell of his, probably something like that, 15 miles a day.

So that’s gotta be, roughly five hours of walking in circles every single day just for his health. So it’s, it’s hard to know what that would do to someone’s mind, but he apparently was resilient enough. to stay strong through all of that and not give up anything according to the other people who are serving their service, their sentences with him.

Kelly: Really his history, his story was pieced together through others’ accounts. [00:10:00] So when you think about it, They didn’t have very many interactions with him. If he was in solitary confinement, he was there for 15 years. He wasn’t allowed to see anyone except his mom. And so to be able to communicate or project the mindset that kept him alive for that long, in such short snippets that people still picked up and were so impressed with that they shared it when they got back.

Do you have any examples? Of, besides the psychological game with interrogators, any examples from the mindset that were told through some of these debriefs from other prisoners that were released?

Justin: Gosh, I would’ve to go back and read the original article again because it’s been over a. Since I read it. Yeah, it’s been a year and a half actually since I read it, I think. But it’s a really wonderful story. It’s very, very in depth from what they know. And, if I recall correctly, [00:11:00] a lot of it had to do with how they took care of his family members’ stateside as well to the best of their ability, the organization did.

Kelly: The U.S. government side. Yeah.

Justin: A lot of the administrative stuff like a person who’s a prisoner of war, they still get pay and they still get benefits and that sort of thing, and how all of that is handled. So, there was a lot of efforts to take care of the family, but there was really nothing that they could do for him where he was, he was able to write home one letter a month.

I’m sure that they were very carefully examined and censored and that sort of thing. So I don’t. Recall that there was any kind of useful information that came out of those letters, but it did give insight and it was a mindset. It was his own narrative of what was happening there. What, he was able to get out and towards the end he was, he was in a difficult position physically and psychologically by the very end, he had not given up hope, but he, he had truly acknowledged, he would acknowledge in a letter to his mother just how miserable the conditions were, which was something, it took him many, many years to get to the point.[00:12:00] 

Expressing that kind of physical complaint to the person who would be hurt most, to know about her son suffering. Of course. So that’s tough. And apparently his teeth all fell out, from the diet after almost 19 years he was held. So he was just, rotting away in a literal sense in this jail cell, for years and years and years.

And finally in 1970. Now he was taken in 51. Chinese government announced that he had passed away and they gave no other details about it. They didn’t say we executed him. They didn’t say, he committed suicide. He died of a disease, preventable disease, anything like that. So, as far as I know, there’s still no actual cause of death that’s been released.

Maybe he succumbed to a beating or something like that, or maybe his heart gave out. , who knows really? But his family felt like it was a murder. And, when you control the circumstances to that extent, I guess it could be called a murder, no matter [00:13:00] what happened, but just a terribly difficult situation.

But he really set a tremendous example for the other prisoners. , and they all spoke in very, very high regard of him. And those were just about the only people to see him for all those years were, French guy, a couple of other Europeans, just a handful of people. But they were deeply touched, deeply moved by his own behavior, when there was, the odds were stacked against him.

Kelly: Right. Well, and it’s, I think it says something about being able to stay in touch with reality, in that environment.

Justin: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: And admit that this is not, not completely checkout from reality. To create a world that you could live in mentally, really, because physically you can’t escape, you’re in the cell. And then yet keep the mindset of not giving up. I mean, it really reminds me of Victor Frankl’s book, Man Search for Meaning. And I don’t know if you’ve read that or, or Doug, if you’ve [00:14:00] read that, I feel like people mention it a lot of times, but Dr. Frankel was basically in a concentration camp and he, it’s a firsthand account of what he experienced, how he knew which prisoners were going to make it and which we’re not because of mindset.

Doug, have you read that book?

Doug: I’ve not read that book, but, but the concept certainly is, is familiar. When you look at many of the soft units, they often can tell, Who is most likely to make it from the beginning, not based on physical prowess, but based on mindset.

Kelly: and soft is special operations forces.

Doug: Sorry. Yes.

Kelly: That’s okay.

Doug: Well, the other thing about Redmond’s story too that connects, I think is it’s a pretty tremendous example of how he managed even in, in difficult times to, use emotional manipulation to [00:15:00] control. His captors and, and improve his situation along the way as well.

Justin: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: Right?

Justin: Absolutely, no indication that he took the other route, which was trying. Be complacent or any, or not complacent, but , to, give them what they wanted essentially. , I’m sure that they were promising a lot of things at one time or another that would’ve tangibly improved his circumstances.

They probably dangled a lot of things as well, that they were, had no intention of giving, but apparently he did not give into that by any account.

Kelly: Do you have any female examples? Justin  I only ask because I feel like so often that the females don’t find themselves in a prisoner of war situation. typically, and correct me if I’m wrong, Doug, if there are stories, and I’m, I’m unaware of them, but do you have any examples to talk about that female mindset?

Because for me, I think women tend to think of others more than themselves, so I’m [00:16:00] curious how the mindset would be different

Justin: Sure. So not a prisoner story, like you said. Not exactly, but I did have an episode several months ago about the women agents, female agents of the British Special Operations Executive during World War II, and the guest was Kate Vigers. She’s a British historian and she wrote a book called Mission France, which I read, which was very, very good.

And it focused on, I wanna say about 32, mostly about 32 specific, female agents, because there were more than that. There were a lot more than that, but a lot of the records are very incomplete, so she was able to pull a lot of stuff together for these various agents. And some of them are very well known, like, Virginia Hall is one of the most famous ones, especially because she was an American and she later joined the CIA as well.

But, there was one woman that, the story just kind of struck me, like a lightning bolt. Honestly, when I read it in the book, and then I had to discuss it with, [00:17:00] with Kate as well, it’s a woman named Mary Herbert who was deployed to France. And, a lot of them were picked because of their ability to speak French.

Of course, A lot of ’em had no kind of military or intelligence background or anything like that. But the whole country was mobilizing, the whole, the whole continent was mobilizing really at that time. So, trained up and sent over and stayed there for a very long time, months and years, even in occupied territory working.

So Mary Herbert was a part of a circuit, which was the British term at the time for one of their, one of their operational teams. And these. Teams were in incredible danger all the time. Many of them, many of them were killed or captured, or disappeared. I wanna say something maybe 50%. I don’t, I can’t quote that for certain, but I, many, many, many people that went over there, never made it back in the end.

So Mary was on a team for quite some time and she ended up falling in love with someone else on the circuit, one of the male agents on the circuit. And while [00:18:00] she’s in France on mission, in occupied territory, she became pregnant. , she carried the baby to term. She had the baby in France all while living undercover and, performing missions, as a, as a courier and, and that sort of thing.

So, I mean, she was literally carrying her baby…

Kelly: I was like, that’s actually the perfect cover. Most people aren’t going to be suspicious of a pregnant lady.

Justin: I know it, I know it. Absolutely. That’s, it’s hard to imagine. She would have a lot of good reasons I think to be out in the night, “Oh, I can’t sleep,” or, “Oh, I’m on my way to see the doctor.”  Something like that would explain riding around on our bicycle in the country.

that sort of thing. So she gives birth to the baby and not long after that, the gestapo were on the trail of all of these circuits and they rolled up a lot of them. I mean, they were very, very good at what they did. They were excellent, counterintelligence/counterespionage teams there.

And so they end up tracking this circuit to a safe house and Mary is in the safe house at that [00:19:00] time. and she is, they don’t know that, they’re not looking for Mary specifically, but they have figured out that there might be someone at this particular house that’s working for British intelligence. So they go to the house, Mary is asleep in bed with her baby when the Gestapo break in the German, secret police break in or they come to the door and forced their way inside anyway.

And  when I read that, I’m not a woman and I truly understand what’s going through her mind. But it’s gotta be the most horrifying thing imaginable. It’s terrifying enough as an adult, fending for yourself. But to have a defenseless baby at your side, your defenseless baby at your side, when this nightmare scenario finally happens is it’s just, it’s hard to put myself in that place.

And she’s gotta maintain her cover, she’s got to stay calm, that sort of thing. And,

Kelly: Well, and in your head,  you’re guilty,  that they really want you and you’ve gotta pretend that you don’t know that.

Justin: Yes, yes. I don’t recall exactly. I’m not sure if she had anything compromising on her or in the room [00:20:00] at the time. You know what I mean? I’m not sure if there was a… if it was cashed away somewhere else, or if there was anything that they could have found during a search. But, as it turned out, they were looking for another woman, not Mary, who was a member of the circuit, but she was not there at the time.

So Mary was able to deflect, say, that’s not me. , they had a photo of the woman, they could tell it was not. And so I guess they decided there’s no way that a woman with a newborn baby would be a British agent here in France. So they ended up leaving without doing anything to her or taking the baby.

And, I don’t know how she didn’t quit right after that, but she stayed on mission. , she was able to send the baby away, for the remainder of her time in France, if I recall. and , they were reunited after the war and, many years together after that, thank goodness.

And actually, I think the baby is still alive. Well, the baby, the woman is still alive now, she’s in her eighties I think. But I believe that Mary’s daughter is still alive right now and certainly no memory of that event, but I’m sure great memories of her [00:21:00] mother. But yeah, that was one of those.

I read a lot of interesting stories in these books. I do a lot of research into some interesting characters, and that is one that absolutely stuck with me. How in the world do you find yourself in that situation and then talk your way out of it in a way that deflects the attention of the people who are here to take you away, brutalize you, and probably execute you, if they figure out who you are.

Kelly: Well, I think this is the perfect little segue into what we had wanted to also discuss was manipulation. In my mind, what Mary sounds like she was doing was manipulating. Her truth or manipulating the truth to keep herself and her baby safe. A lot of times when I speak to women, when it comes to their personal safety, immediately the Mama bear thing isn’t always about a physical aggression, but it’s always about how do I keep my kids safer?

What will I endure? In order to [00:22:00] protect my kids, what do I need to say? How do I react? How can I manipulate the predator, the attacker to kind of forget about my kids and focus on me? And hopefully no matter what happens, my kids will be okay. And , we had talked on our pre-conversation to this call we had talked about.

I think it’s interesting that manipulation. It’s a dirty word. It feels icky, feels gross. But really me trying to get my kids to clean their room some days is manipulation because me telling them over and over again doesn’t always work. So how can I make it a game so that they feel excited, about cleaning their room, how can I make it a game so they finish their vegetables, whatever it may be.

So I mean, I’d love to, if you’re okay with it, jump right into that conversation and get both of your opinions on manipulation in general, [00:23:00] and then we can go into some tactics used.

Doug: So manipulation’s morally neutral is what you’re saying. It can be used for ill, or it can be used for good, but on its own, it’s just a morally neutral tool.

Kelly: Is that another taoism or is that a real thing? because that, no, that’s, I’ve never, I’ve never heard that term before, but I think that’s a

Doug: mean morally neutral?

Kelly: Yeah, I think that’s a really good way to explain unbiased thinking.

Doug: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: No, it’s how you use it. A tool is just a tool. It’s how you use it that really makes it. , one way or the other, lethal or not, or whatever. Everything to me can be, it’s moderation. Don’t eat too much cake. You’re gonna get a cavity.

Doug: I think it’s gotten such a bad rap because most folks don’t like thinking that they are easily manipulated, and [00:24:00] so

Kelly: And do you think it’s, they don’t like to think they’re manipulating. I’m a good person. I would never manipulate someone.

Doug: No, I think everybody would acknowledge that they are more than happy to manipulate others to serve their own goals because they think their goals are better goals. However, I would. Hate the idea of being manipulated. The.

Kelly: Interesting. What do you think about that, Justin?

Justin: Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think that we, well, first of all, whatever manipulation we’ve decided to do, we’ve already justified it in our own mind somehow, some way. So to us, it is the correct thing to do because we’ve decided to do it in that sense, we’re not being coerced into manipulating, because that would be manipulation as well. , I have a

Kelly: …of manipulation, which does happen.

Justin: Yes, yes, absolutely. So I’m of the opinion now that I’m a student studying it rather than a teacher or a master of manipulation or anything like that. I’m constantly learning about it, but I’m of the opinion that almost any interaction between two people involves [00:25:00] manipulation, subconscious sometimes, but, or unwitting sometimes.

But I mean, all of our interactions essentially are manipulation. They’re not necessarily for a zero sum game or anything like that, but everything, our posture, our tone, all of that, involves presenting our argent or our desire, or, what we’re the idea that we’re trying to communicate in a way that will be received effectively by the other person.

So in a sense, all of us are manipulating each other to a certain extent every single day and every single interaction. 

Doug: right? I want to strengthen this friendship. I want that person to think better of me. I like the outcome of my report. I want this, that, or the other thing.

Kelly: Wow. See, I, I have to disagree with you two. I, I feel like, gosh, does that mean that everything is premeditated? All my conversations can I. , and, and I’m not saying I’m right.

Maybe I’ve just never really [00:26:00] thought of it from that perspective, but that makes me feel like there’s no such thing as just a great conversation with authenticity and curiosity for another person versus I’m trying to get something back from it. I’m trying to get a friendship, or I’m trying to get your approval from me or who I am, even if you’re a stranger and I just happen to sit next to you on the airplane. To me, I don’t know. Is there a difference between that or is it always the end, there’s some game that I’m playing that I’m trying to improve my position socially or,

Doug: Well, as Justin said, I think it’s not always intentional. Right. That, that was your, your goal. It may just be the pattern that folks operate within, it may be that the goal is to make the other person feel good. [00:27:00] The goal may be to learn something, which could be a, you’re manipulating the conversation in order to learn something from that Aon that you sat next to on the airplane.

So I, I don’t think you have to think of it as wholly a negative outcome.

Kelly: Well, right. That goes back to the moral neutral conversation.

Justin: I think, for example, having good manners is a form of manipulation because you are trying to create a desired outcome from this interaction, which, might just be, you want to, be the recipient of those good manners from the other person as well.

Saying Please and thank you. They’re creating a little bit of a social contract there in a way, and people might be listening and, it’s, it’s not a cynical way of looking at it at all. It’s just, an interaction involves a give and a take at all times. So I think I try to be cognizant of that and use it not only to my benefit, but to the benefit of others because quite frankly, you can manipulate somebody into doing what [00:28:00] is actually best for.

and what is best for the team and what is best for you as well.

Kelly: Getting my kids to clean their room. Well, I did find this article on how to identify 12 most common manipulation tactics because I think there is a fear out there, h h when it comes to my personal safety. How do I know if I’m being manipulated? And we’re gonna put all of the 12 tactics in the episode key.

So for anyone listening, you can go download these so that you can kind of see, gosh, is my coworker using some manipulation tactics right now in a negative way with ill intentions? Is this stranger who’s offering their assistance? Good Samaritan. So you can go to the website, thediamondarrowgroup.com and check out the podcast page and get the episode key for this episode. But there were two on here that I really thought tied [00:29:00] together and were some interesting things underneath that we could talk about and lies and denial. It says some manipulators lie quite often and they often have to cover their tracks with further falsehoods to cover up the original lie. Yeah. Once you start the lie, you gotta keep lying. And to me, I don’t know how people do that. I don’t know how they keep their lies straight. If I’m, I just have to be honest because it’s, it just doesn’t work for me. My brain can’t process and keep track of different stories.

Who did I tell what to? No, thank you.

Justin: Oh, I know it. I know it. Yeah. I instinctively go towards the truth, which actually doesn’t always serve your interests. Sometimes, you would think it does, and most of the time in the long run it will. But, giving the truth to somebody, especially a stranger, won’t always lead to exactly what you need. Especially if you’re trying to gain entry somewhere or get a discount or, [00:30:00] some simple things.

Kelly: I want VIP access, come…

Justin: Right. Exactly, there’s some very harmless ways to manipulate somebody and gain a benefit, but it doesn’t actually hurt anyone. It doesn’t break the law or anything like that.

But yeah, the lies, when I’ve gone through training scenarios, many years ago, the thing that served me very well at the time was to stick as close, close, close to the truth as I possibly could. So that only 5% of what I was saying was actually a falsehood, and everything else was like, “Oh, I see why you would think that.” But it’s actually because of this specific scenario. And that is a lot easier because you don’t feel as though you’re telling a big lie. You’re telling a very, very small lie in a multi sentence story, for example. So that did serve me well in these training scenarios. Certainly

Kelly: So I have a thought on that before I just talk right away. Doug, did you have anything you wanted to mention?

Doug: Well, I might have some experience with lying for a long time.

Kelly: Okay. Well then I will say my bit is how the heck, if you’re telling. [00:31:00] just to use your example, Justin, 95% truth and only 5% lie. I feel like that’s finding the needle in the haystack. If I’m trying to evaluate a predator or somebody with ill intentions, how do I know if you’re lying to me? So, Doug, I’ll let you take it away way

Doug: I think you have to learn well, one you have to assess motivations. Right? And, and thinking through what, what’s the motivation that this other person is bringing to the table? Is that motivation something that’s gonna drive them towards, an end that may serve them better than it’s serving me?

Kelly: Can you use an example,

Doug: No. I think it gets rooted in understanding how to listen to that voice inside you. That’s, that says there’s something off here, or that, that this person is pushing me towards [00:32:00] something that doesn’t feel right, that’s pushing me towards an outcome that benefits them from this interaction more than it benefits me.

And are they willing to manipulate or lie or, or push through that in order to accomplish their goal?

Kelly: That makes me think of the security door surfing. So kind of Gavin, Deb Becker’s book, Gift of Fear, the opening story he uses. Well, no, actually I take, I’m gonna take that. When somebody is, oh, it’s raining outside, we better hurry. And both get in the building and you pull out your key card to swipe and they don’t, and you, maybe you don’t recognize them, you’re who are you?

But oh yeah, you’re telling the truth. We should get out of the rain. But wait a minute, do you have a key card? So I think to me, that assessing the motivation you wanna get inside, but you don’t have a key. So getting in would, do you think that matches?[00:33:00] 

Doug: Oh yeah, for sure. And, and I think listening for other clues in the story, so liars. People who prepared lies to tell, to accomplish some sort of goal, often end up sharing far more information than a normal story might have with it, or a normal line of, of statements. And because they’ve built this narrative and now they want to get all of this narrative out and, and use it, so listening for too much detail in there may be a mechanism by which you can understand this person’s lying to you.

Body language is another key as.

Kelly: And when you say body language, the non-verbals.

Doug: Yeah, non non-verbals. And how they’re, how they’re engaging with you at, at, again, barring somebody, being an actual psychopath. Lying is still a moral challenge for many folks. And so their bodies will provide clues that can be picked up.[00:34:00] 

Kelly: What are some of those clues? Because to me, again, in your past as a CIA officer you had to lie, so you had to come up with those narratives.

So how, how did you untrain your body clues, or how did ? I know that I do this fidget when I’m lying. Or my tell…

Doug: I didn’t fidget, I mean.

Kelly: Well, yeah. Or whatever your tell was. 

Doug: Barring being a psychopath.

Kelly: I’m not saying you’re a psychopath Doug.

Doug: No, I am. No, I think… Well, one, they’re not the same for everybody, so they have to be assessed in the context of each individual person. So somebody who says that somebody who always looks up into the left is lying and somebody who looks up and to the right, there’s some science behind some of that because at one level, you’re looking to your memory versus looking, so you’re, [00:35:00] you’re drawing information from your memory versus drawing information from a made up place and there is some training that can be done and hypothetically might be done on how to reduce tells like that for folks.

Kelly: And I’m so glad you bring that up because I hear that. I remember that sticking in my head as a myth. If somebody looks up into the left, they’re lying. And I was like, ah, I do that when I’m trying to think or jog my memory to recall a fact. I’m not lying. I’m trying to remember. So I’m glad you

Doug: You’re accessing your ram,

Justin: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: Blowing the dust off of it most days. What do you think Justin?

Justin: Yeah, there are definitely some tells. I read a very good book a number of years ago called What Everybody Is Saying. Everybody Is Two Words by Joe Navarro. And, that book is [00:36:00] great because not only does it have a lot of information, it has a ton of pictures as well, so you can actually see the posture and the, and the, expressions and that sort of thing.

So very, very helpful. I’ve, I’ve actually read it a couple of times and. So after I read that book, I started looking around and I started seeing some of the things from the book. So, I don’t recall every single thing from it, but I’ve definitely picked up on body language cues a number of times since then.

Things like if a person’s sitting across from me and their feet start moving under the table, because they can’t see their feet because they’re under the table, but I can see them because of the angle. That’s a real indicator to me, for example, and shifting in the seat. That sort of thing.

And my child, obviously, I can tell when she’s lying to me, but I guess, everybody can tell about that just cuz  them so well,

Kelly: Right. Well, that’s, you have a good baseline. To Doug’s point, everyone’s gonna have a different tell and your own child or the somebody that you live with, spend a lot of time with, you’re going to get to know them. That’s why best friends don’t have to say a word, and they know when something’s [00:37:00] up.

Justin: Absolutely. So one of the things that I do when I am being interviewed for a job or something like that, ever since I read that book, I really plant myself in that seat. And it’s not because I’m planning to lie and I don’t want any of my tells to give me away, it’s because I don’t want any of the nervous body language showing that’s typical for a job interview.

Excuse me. So I tend to be very, very cognizant of my own body language when I’m really face-to-face with a person, three feet away and we’re discussing something of any importance at all. I’m paying a lot of attention to myself and I’m paying a lot of attention to them as well. Mm-hmm.

Kelly: …and you break up. A good point is studying and watching people’s body language. It’s People Watching 101, and I hear often that people love doing that. I love people watching. Okay, we’ll take it a step further and make it a habit. When you’re out, instead of going on your phone and looking at your phone while you’re in a public place, keep it away.

Keep [00:38:00] it down, keep whatever in your pocket, and look at the people around you. What does their body language tell you? If you see two people sitting at a booth or, or talking to one another, what is the body language telling you? , is one wanting to get away one really nervous by having the conversation?

Or are they both comfortable and engaged? But that’s… we’ll make that the daily habit for this, this episode, which we’ll put in the episode key that they can download, but give some tips and tricks for watching and reading body language when they’re out in public. But when it comes to that manipulation and the lies, are there ways, is there anything that you can give us or tell us, either of you, either Doug or Justin?

How do we know? Is there anything that we can do when it comes to the lying to test? You [00:39:00] know, is there a way to ask back or do anything like that?

Justin: Well, something Doug said very early on stuck with me because it seemed… it rang so true, and that is people giving you more information than is totally necessary. I pick up on that relatively frequently, especially if I’m asking a yes or no question, and then I get a three sentence answer. I know that they’re spending a story out there and it is a, either they’re a, their mind is going, a hundred miles an hour or they’re trying to spin that web of lies, to kind of reel me in. So I pay a lot of attention to that. With the lies, for me, it’s so different from some of the context that a lot of your listeners might find and that the personal security perspective. But I do think that the paying attention to everyone around you, it can be equally or more entertaining and useful than whatever is on your phone at that given moment, quite frankly. Yeah, if, if you spend time looking and the more time you spend looking, three months [00:40:00] from now, a year from now, you might be able to pick up on those cues that you’ve never read in a book and nobody’s ever told you about. You just learn them through observation and that could absolutely be a lifesaver one day.

Kelly: I agree.

Doug: Building on that, go, even Shakespeare said me thinks the lady doth protest too much.

Justin: Mm. Mm-hmm.

Doug: Right. And what he was talking about there, and Hamlet was that this insincere overacting was able to be interpreted as, not truthful.

Justin: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: So the dramatic or over the top?

Doug: Hmm.

Kelly: Basically. Well, and it…

Doug: …including too much information.

Kelly: Right? I mean, some of the others in this article… It was Changing the Subject. Oh, Moving the Goalposts, Using Fear to Control Another Person. So there. All these things that we can talk about. Like I said, we could talk for hours, but I really wanted to then focus on another [00:41:00] topic in this article or another call out they did for manipulation tactics was gaslighting.

I feel like there’s a lot of conversation around gaslighting, or we’re hearing that word more and more, and it not only applies in personal relationships, but it can apply in work. It can apply in friends, basically the gaslighting then causes the victim to doubt their own perception of reality by denying or distorting the truth, and they may deny certain events happened.

I feel like I hear this a lot when women are sharing their story and another person says, oh, you were probably overreacting. That’s not how it happened. and they start to j second guess their perception of an event and having to remind them the other person wasn’t there in your shoes if that [00:42:00] manipulator was targeting you, they, they’re gonna wanna create witnesses.

And it talks about this in the article, is that recruiting others to aid in the manipulation. They want everybody to think they’re phenomenal so that they’re gaslighting you almost. unintentionally. Well, he’s always been great to me. She’s always been fair with me. It must be something that you’re doing.

Justin: Yeah, absolutely isolating that person because I think that a true gaslight, they’re not gonna be targeting everyone. ? It’s not gonna be a broad swath of people they’re doing it to. I think that they’re going to target an individual, the one that they think is, either that, they need to convince that person of something or that they think is the most easily.

Manipulate, especially in an office setting or a peer group or something like that. Like you mentioned, if you’re talking about a domestic relationship of some sort, romantic relationship, then of course there’s only gonna be one target for that generally. But, yeah, if you’re [00:43:00] talking about, within a group of people, there’s gonna be a shark circling somewhere and they’re gonna be looking for the perfect prey.

Doug: No, I do think there are people who engage in habits, right? And I can envision somebody who has a habit of gaslighting others in order to avoid personal responsibility or things like that.

Justin: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: Responsibility. I think it happens. We talk about the moral neutral conversation on manipulation. I’d be curious, because I’ve wondered this myself to get both of your opinions on, is gaslighting morally.

Justin: Yeah, I definitely don’t think so.

Kelly: Okay. Why?

Doug: Because it’s specifically as manipulation intended to cause the other person to doubt themselves.

Justin: Mm-hmm.

Doug: Right? So it’s out of the gate, has a negative [00:44:00] intent as it relates to the other person.

Kelly: Well that makes it a negative intent. So what if you’re using…

Doug: It’s not morally neutral.

Kelly: Okay Justin, do you wanna…

Justin: Yeah, I agree. If you’re using this definition where you’re trying to convince someone that something didn’t actually happen, then, denying the existence of an event, or convincing someone that an event never occurred, I don’t see any positive benefit. To that at all. I don’t see a morally, upright use of that particular technique at all.

A moral technique is, convincing some, or, showing someone your perspective and putting it in the best light possible. There are plenty of benign uses of that kind of thing, but telling someone that you’re completely wrong and what you think happened didn’t happen.

Kelly: tell

Justin: unless they are actually wrong, then it’s not gaslighting. But yeah, I’ve never seen a positive spin on that, honestly.

Doug: Yeah. It’s intended to sow [00:45:00] self-doubt and confusion and…

Kelly: Well, that again goes back to the intention of the user, A person using that tactic.

Doug: Right? But if it, if so, in, so gaslighting must have a negative intent, or it’s not gaslighting,

Kelly: Okay. What would it be if it wasn’t a negative intent?

Doug: It’d be legitimately telling the other person that they were wrong about the thing that they didn’t…

Kelly: Well, their perception, because that’s one thing I was like, okay. But it’s to doubt their own perception of a reality. And our perceptions are a reality.

So if someone is stuck in a perception, I use the example, a lot of times I thought Volkswagens were hor Volkswagen, Beetle cars, bugs were awful cars because my dad had a negative experience when he was 18 on a motorcycle. And so from the time I was very young, I was like, those are the worst cars in [00:46:00] the world. That was the perception of a real reality. It’s not a reality, it’s just my perception. So if somebody’s

Doug: Were we to correct your perception by stating they’re not the worst cars in the world. That’s not gaslighting.

Kelly: right. So what is, so that would be a positive way to help someone change the perception of their reality. So what would that be called? What would that be?

Doug: I’m not a shrink. I don’t know.

Kelly: These are the questions I have in my head. I don’t have the answers either. Justin, do you have any idea?

Justin: The only thing I’m thinking of right now, I mean, there are people that do genuinely perceive things incorrectly. I’m someone with a legitimate mental illness or something like that, like a schizophrenic person who’s in therapy or something like that. They might need help seeing the world as it actually is.

So they’re, if you’re approaching it from a therapeutic kind of, and you were a licensed professional or something like that. Then you do, you are [00:47:00] charged with maybe potentially changing someone’s perspective and convincing them that what they saw isn’t reality.

So I’m also not a psychologist or psychiatrist, so I can’t really speak to that , super knowledgeably or authoritatively. But I mean, some people do perceive things incorrectly and it can be helpful, but those are, I wouldn’t necessarily call them rare cases. But you’re talking about in the context of a, of a visiting with a professional.

because you generally need some help, not because you’re in a relationship with somebody who doesn’t have a job and wants you to continue paying for everything , or something like that.

Kelly: Right. And I, it’d be, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of comments we get on this episode.

Justin: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: Yeah, I should feel like the disclaimer that we’re gonna put on this episode is none of us are licensed psychologists, psychiatrists. This was us having conversation and asking some of the questions that maybe other people have and having a good discussion around it.

I mean, there’s

Justin: I would actually love to see [00:48:00] some,

Kelly: How, oh, go ahead. Sorry.

Justin: I, I would actually love to hear some or read some comments from your followers on their own examples of gaslighting in their life. I’m sure that some of them have some of those, or a friend, that’s been through it and told ’em all about it or something like that.

I’m sure there’s some very, very useful examples out there to learn from.

Kelly: Useful. Oh, I mean, when I deal with anyone, with someone who has a substance abuse problem in their life and their loved ones or their closest ones, there’s a lot of that gaslighting, a manipulation in order to continue.

Their habits. And so it, it’s experienced by a lot of people, I think, and not knowing that’s what it is or is it that, because it’s not necessarily that they have ill intentions, but they do, so it’s, it’s one of those gray areas that I like having discussion on to expand my understanding. I mean, there’s so many other, [00:49:00] common manipulation tactics in this article. That’s why we’re putting together the episode key so everyone can go in and look at it themselves, because that’s really hard from my perspective, what I hear from women. How do I know I’m being manipulated? How do I know this person? I love this person. I trust my boss, my best friend of however many years because I might be in denial.

Justin: Oh yeah. I was just thinking that there are people that they’ve been so thoroughly gas lit for so many years that they will, it’d be almost impossible to convince ’em that that’s actually what’s happening. They’re gonna think you’re the one doing the

Kelly: right? They’re gonna gaslight you back. That’s You have the wrong perception of my reality. , right?

Justin: Like, I gotta cut that Kelly outta my life. She’s toxic. 

Kelly: Well…

Doug: That’s that part.

Kelly: Oh, stop. You guys, are you gaslighting me? And I’m not making fun of this. See, now I’m [00:50:00] gonna get in trouble. Thanks gentlemen. Throwing me

Justin: Doug and I both be wrong about this, Kelly? I don’t think so.

Kelly: Is there anything though? I know we’re getting close to the end here, so I don’t, I could talk for hours on this, especially with you two and asking these questions.

I love it. It’s challenging my thought process, but is there anything else when it comes to manipulation that if you said, I just want everyone to think of this next time they feel like they’re being manipulated, ask yourself this or get curious about. or what would be that one hint that you would offer?

Justin, you wanna start?

Justin: That’s a good question. I need a second to think about it honestly. 

Kelly: Doug there, we’ll have Doug go.

Doug: I’ll jump in for you, Justin. I think I’d ask them to think.

Kelly: about

Doug: What the end goals would be for this person, who they feel like is perhaps manipulating them. I wanna be really cautious to send everybody [00:51:00] out in the world and turn them into pop psychologists evaluating every single conversation, every single behavior, every single sentence that’s made, even the point about turning people watching into a more intentional activity.

Brings with it risks, right? So we want people to be measured in how they think about this, right? In some respects, it is out to get them, but the world is also not out to get them. And, and so you, there’s a, there’s a balance in there and the balance is different for every single person.

So as I look at whether I’m being manipulated, I want to think about what is it that, that I would offer that this person might.

Doug: Be working towards. Right. And , back to the, the core measures of thinking about personal security is what is it I’m trying to protect? What do I have to protect it with and what am I trying to protect it [00:52:00] against?

Right? So even at that personal level, what is this person hoping to get at that would cause them to want to go down a path of manipulation and how do I harness my awareness towards it?

Doug: Defending against that, through listening to, and monitoring what they’re doing…

Kelly: That’s great.

Justin: Absolutely I would want to instill confidence rather than paranoia in people. And quite frankly, it’s easy to branch often go down that path to paranoia. And many people do. And then you can find online communities that will just continue to, build on that if you want to because of health, many splintered communities there are out there.

But, yeah, I think that everyone’s circumstances are different, but most people are not out to get you that you see in your daily walk. In life, even most people trying to get something from you aren’t necessarily trying to harm you in the trade right there. So, I have to keep that into consideration.

But I think that if you really [00:53:00] take some of the, the lessons of that and just use your powers of observation that we all have, and I mean, I really use ’em, really concentrate on those and exercise it like a muscle that you’ll start to it, it will shift your perspective on a lot of things and it will show you the bad and some people will show you the good in others as well, the good in many others as well.

Kelly: Excellent. My one thing that I would ask or ask the listeners to think about is you can’t control the other person, right? And you’re not really truly ever going to know their full intentions because you’re not in their head. So keeping your safety your priority in any situation where your intuition is telling you, Hmm, something’s off with this person. Are they manipulating me? You start questioning their intentions. Pause and keep your priority of your safety, of your personal safety, and if [00:54:00] you don’t feel comfortable in a situation, focus on you and what you control and, and stick with that because you don’t, it’s not up to you to figure out someone’s intention.

as long as you’re safe. If something makes you uncomfortable, it’s completely okay to say, if they’re asking you, let’s say, so they’re telling lies, oh, why They need something, they, they need you to help on this project. Or, Hey, I need some money. I’m, I ran outta gas down the road, whatever it may be.

If something feels off to you and you don’t feel comfortable engaging further with this individual, keeping your safety a priority might look like, in the example of the project at work, let’s say. I don’t, I don’t have an answer right now. I have to think about that. I’ve gotta look at my calendar.

I’ve gotta look at some of the things that I have to get done or the deadlines approaching. So [00:55:00] let me get back to you by yourself some time to get a definitive answer to someone. If something doesn’t feel right, but you can’t quite put your finger on it or in a situation. where, let’s say it’s outside of work. Buy yourself time by saying, oh my gosh, I forgot . , like when I talk about getting into an elevator, if you don’t wanna get into an elevator with someone that’s making you uncomfortable, you don’t have to step in. You. Think of some lines that you could use. Hey, I, oh my gosh, I forgot the coffee pot on at home.

Or I’ve gotta call my mom. Or, oh, I think I left my car unlocked. Buy yourself time, create space. Making sure your safety is a priority is always going to be the best option. So that’s what I would want listeners to walk away from is trusting your intuition and keeping your safety a priority. Well, thank you so [00:56:00] much Justin, for coming on and spending time with Doug and I. That was, that was an interesting conversation. I hope as the listener you enjoyed, as well. Please take Justin up on his offer to. Share comments or questions or stories about times that maybe you experienced some gaslighting or things that you found helpful to combating manipulation techniques.

Like I said, we’re gonna put all 12 of the manipulation tactics from this article in the episode key, so you can go download that key and take a look at it and consider some of them. To think about, Hmm, am I being manipulated right now? And questions to ask yourself. , special shout out to our main podcast sponsor, mace Mace and the community safety that they are building, that’s part of their mission.

They’re not just about a product, they’re more about [00:57:00] building safety. In the communities bringing awareness to personal safety. So we’re so happy to be partnered with them on the Thrive Unafraid Podcast. With that, I wanna thank all of you listeners for downloading and tuning in every episode. We look forward to recording many more and bringing many more interesting conversations your way.