Strippers, homeless witnesses and police investigations. It has been a rough week for Robert Allenby. In the days that have passed since his alleged kidnapping the two homeless people Robert referenced in his original depiction have publicly discredited aspects of his story, a Golf Channel investigation uncovered a $3,400 tab Robert allegedly ran up at an adult entertainment club during the time he was allegedly kidnapped and the police decided not to investigate the kidnapping aspect of his story. These events have cast increasing doubts over Robert’s explanation of what happened to him that fateful Saturday evening in Hawaii.
Assuming Robert’s story is not entirely true, he was left with two choices after his initial explanation was challenged.
- Admit that he fabricated parts of the story, explain why and ask for understanding and forgiveness
- Defend the story as it was originally told.
If his story is not completely true, he has definitely chosen the second option. Robert Allenby took the stage at a press conference at the Phoenix Open this past weekend and doubled down, once again, creating learning opportunities for observers.
Take a look at the video below and see if you identify anything that causes you to believe Robert’s original story, or doubt it.
Avoid Forcing People To Take Public Positions: No one forced Robert to go public with is story, he chose to. Once people take a public position, honest or dishonest, they are forced to defend it. Often times the perceived consequences of admitting you lied can be worse than perceived consequences of sticking to your story until the bitter end. When we avoid forcing people to take public positions we create one less hurdle to clear on the track to the truth.
Evaluate Non-Verbal Behavior for Indications of Conflicting Emotions: As Robert spoke his top lip pulled down tight over his teeth and he is breathing very heavily appearing to indicate that Robert is agitated. He could be agitated at a person who made him late for the press conference and out of breath because he ran to the stage. Or he could be agitated because he his story has been challenged and he is not being respected like the victim he has portrayed himself as.
Listen for References to the Truth and Consequences: During his opening statement Robert said “We’re hoping in the near future that, ah, something will be reported and that, ah, we will definitely get to the bottom of this.” He didn’t mention anything about his kidnappers being identified, arrested and prosecuted. He also said that the he “hopes” these things will happen, he doesn’t indicate any confidence or knowledge that they will happen.
Robert also said “I think the number one thing you should all remember is that my story stays exactly as the way I told it.” Robert did not say he told the truth. He did not say the investigation would support his story. He simply said his story stays the same. This is similar to many comments we have all previously heard from children and politicians when their stories are called into question.
Avoid asking “Do you remember?”: Robert said “I never lied to anyone. I only told you what I know and what some one had told me. That is the bottom line.” No one likes being called a liar or being accused of lying. Such statements are routinely met with denials. One of the best ways to avoid being caught in a lie is to play the ”I can’t remember” card. If Robert’s story is not true, he did a great job building this excuse into his story from the outset. One of the ways we can avoid falling into this trap is to stay away from asking the question; “Do you remember?” Alternative and potentially more beneficial ways to phrase the questions include: “Walk me through…” “Help me understand…” and “Explain to me…”
Look for Inward Gestures: When Robert says “all of a sudden you’re putting the blame on me” he gestures towards his chest with both hands. Multiple researchers suggest that people gesture towards themselves more when they are not being truthful.
Listen for Incomplete Thoughts: Toward the end of his opening statement Robert said “I take full responsibility if I did something wrong. I have no question…no, no…problem in the world to own up to…ahh…if I did do something wrong.” There are several concerns with this statement. The first question is why would he talk about the potential of him doing something wrong if he told the truth from the beginning? Second is when he said “I have no question…” It appears as though he was going to say “I have no question that I did nothing wrong” and stopped himself.
Listen for Specific References: At the end of his opening statement Robert stated “but as I said from about 11:06 to about 1:27 AM I have no memory in my brain.” 11:06 and 1:27 are very specific references. He likely obtained those numbers from the CCTV footage he looked at. It can be important to confirm where people get specific points of reference.
It is important to remember there is still an ongoing police investigation, which at its conclusion will likely provide clear insight to the truthfulness of Robert Allenby’s kidnapping story. If it is proven that he fabricated the story he will surely be thinking about his family, friends, and sponsors look for ways to save face move on. However, the lessons his statements have taught us can be applied in our boardrooms, negotiations and interviews today.
UPDATE: The Honolulu Police have arrested and charged a man for stealing and using Robert Allenby’s credit cards. The Honolulu police have also said there is no evidence that Robert Allenby was at an adult entertainment club and those reports may have been a case of mistaken identity. The Honolulu police continue to say there is no evidence of Robert Allenby being kidnapped.