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“Bobbles”: The Gift That Keeps On Giving.

May 19

Yo’ “Bobbles”, guess who? Sorry for being such a pest, but you are too great a source of personal mismanagement for me to pass up. I’ll start right off by saying there are many who don’t believe you on the, “I said no three times but then caved on a less severe form of spying on journalists Joel-Denis Bellavance and Gilles Toupin” thing. These disbelievers have watched you closely and heard about too many of your manipulations of the truth (e.g. speeding tickets, the degree of your involvement in “witch hunts”, what you did and didn’t know about the CPC thing). And by the way, allowing the boys to spy on journalists, “on a limited basis” only, is sort of like only punching the assault victim once; or only being a little bit pregnant. You did it!

So here’s the deal. Not only is the consensus that you were untruthful, but I’ll try and illustrate what has given people (mostly RCMP members) the sense that you were untruthful.

Perhaps you remember that for approximately 20 years I instructed on several investigators’ courses at the Canadian Police College. The units of instruction I provided were variously titled “The Detection of Deception” and on Undercover Courses “The Techniques of Social Influence”.

I, of course, and as you would expect, am entirely in your corner, but here is what is making others uneasy about your performances. Just to put it all in perspective “Bobbles”, did you realize that with each outing you are providing between 200-5,000 bits of information per second. And only the tiniest percentage of all that data is verbal; the rest being non-verbals running from body movement to what you do with your eyes.

Your speech (i.e. sounds, words, sentence and paragraph construction) stood out for some. The smallest units of your speech (sound?), referred to as “morphs” and the largest referred to as “morphemes” really caught some of your investigators’ attention. You know, that using big words thing you do, the meaning of which you have no idea of? You seem to stumble over them regularly. Almost as if you have a coach who has no idea of how to create credibility other than to get you to tell “stories” that awkwardly fall from your mouth?

Your body movements were another area of interest to some of your better interviewers. These can be divided into “kines” (the smallest) and “kinemes” (the largest). This is an area of great potential for detecting deception as there are approximately 700,000 distinct gestures, postures, movements of arms, hands, and fingers. In North America we regularly use about 50-60 of these “kinemes” for face and head (recall here that “deer caught in the headlights” look of yours, and your penchant for “cocking” your head to either side…..feigned confusion?, interest?, surprise?, designed to mislead?)

Then there are “signals” and “gestures”. The “signal” is made with the conscious intent of communicating a particular message (e.g. the way you glare at the Senator, as if to say, “time to back off, you’re making me look bad”?). The “gestures” are movements made without conscious intent to communicate. “Bobbles”, you would make these out of your awareness and moreover, they would have become habitual behaviours by now e.g. your eyeglasses to make you look intelligent and beyond reproach?; your “scowl” used to intimidate?; the dazed (“duh, I just got here, how would I know?”) look; the lip thing (“puffing”)?, designed to look relaxed?; reaching forward (“the warm up”) designed to appear ready or relaxed?; and the clasped hands (the “reverential look”) designed to convey piety?. Your faithful observers have remarked that the forgoing seem to be your “go to” moves. All intended to make you appear honest and in control?

Your fans are also taken with your finger wagging thing (you don’t think you do…. check the films coach?). This “tell” is often associated with someone who wishes to portray himself as an authority and scare off challenges to his position. It is also thought to be used by the “authority” in the presence of “underlings” who need to be reminded of their place. Getting too close to embarrassing “the boss”?

You know those things you do with your eye-glasses i.e. the “professorial peek-over” and the gesticulating with them? There are some who think that the former is designed to intimidate others with your knowledge of whatever is being talked about; and to scare them off of the topic? The latter is often interpreted by some of your observers as you using your glasses as a weapon; to slash at your questioners and scare them off?

I admit that what is to follow is my favourite, as you provide so much data here. The eyes are the most revealing of the non-verbal behaviours. What I find so interesting here is that your eye can’t take (observe) without giving (telling). For example two parties, like you and the Senator, who are neither intimates nor total strangers would provide a good exemplar. When the Senator talks he tends to look away from you. The Senator will glance at you from time to time, usually as he pauses at the end of a phrase or sentence. When he does look at you, you respond by nodding or saying “uh-huh” to indicate you are listening.

The Senator then looks away again. His glances at you last about as long as his glances away from you. When he arrives at the end of his speaking turn, he’ll look at you for a longer time. Now you speak. The Senator begins to spend more of his time looking at you, much more than when he was talking. The next time you two meet, you’ll likely follow the same set of rules, but neither of you could elucidate the rules you followed previously.

This conversational eye traffic control makes good social sense. Looking away while talking allows you to formulate your thoughts; as looking back at the speaker signals interest. The head nodding is feedback, or at least a show of politeness. “Bobbles”, your variations from this choreography are significant (you either never learned how to do this dance or you have a hidden agenda) and might indicate a greater or lesser degree of anything from dominance to veracity? (No? Check the game films big fella’).

Not to beat the eye-glasses thing to death, but some think that constantly perching them on your nose when “on the carpet” is an attempt to avoid eye contact or to create an illusion (i.e. “I’m not really here”; “You can’t see me”). Why?

Your stare (“glower”?) is also interesting. We can stare at each other safely at around 8 feet. When we get closer it is more appropriate to cast eyes down as if to say, “I respect you enough not to make you feel uncomfortable”. When you “glower” at the Senator (or Reporter) up close and for longer than 3 seconds you may be trying to communicate something different (e.g. “Do you know who you are messing with?”; “I’m dominant here.”) and create an emotional reaction in the other?

Just one more thing about your facial expressions before we shut ‘er down for now. Of course these are culturally programmed and must be regarded in context; but that “knitting the eye brows” thing that you do…….a threat?…..a warning to tread lightly?…… a signal that you’re not very bright?……confusion?…….interviewer getting too close?

Anyhoo….time to give it a rest. I imagine the next time you know I’m watching you, you’ll be so worried about me, you’ll be like the batter that is so intent on his own process, he just freezes and couldn’t hit a beach ball! (I’m in your head aren’t I “Bobbles”? And the more you try to push me out, the more I set up house.) Until next time “Bobbles”!! (Don’t panic, it’s this kind of banter that sells tickets!). This one’s for you………

“IT’S LESS ABOUT BECOMING A BETTER COMMISSIONER, THAN IT IS ABOUT BEING BETTER AS A COMMISSIONER”

Dr. Mike Webster
Registered Psychologist
#0655

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4 Comments
  1. I love how you nail down the dynamics of non verbal communication. I used it, what little I was taught ,while conducting interviews when I was still on the job.

  2. The Commissioner dropped by one morning before coffee and asked his Administrative Assistant, “I’ve heard that the opposite of the truth is also true. What do you think of this idea?” She said, “Let’s go for coffee.” The Commish asked, “Aren’t you ignoring my question?” She responded, “Not at all. They just put on a fresh pot.”

  3. Dear UMC,
    You’re right your submission is a bit off topic. I’m attempting to see which specific topic will bring the most interest. Let me save yours until we have a series closer to your thesis here?

    Thanks,
    Mike

  4. Anonymous permalink

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    (We return to our regular programming)

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