Drugged, kidnapped, robbed and thrown from the trunk of a car. This is what Robert Allenby told Steve Sands from the Golf Channel happened to him Saturday night after he missed the cut at the Sony Open golf tournament in Hawaii. This alarming story was initially supported by the bruises on his face and the fact that his credit cards had been stolen. However, further examination of his story appears to identify some potential concerns regarding his truthfulness. As executives we can use the same techniques to analyze the stories we our told during our business interactions to make more informed decisions.
Watch the video below and see if you pick up any indications that Robert may be fabricating parts of his story.
Be Aware of Over Emphasized Details: Robert begins his story by saying he was out to dinner at “nice restaurant with a wine bar attached to it”. Later in the conversation he states that the building’s CCTV shows him “leaving like a normal human being, walking straight”. At the end of the interview Robert reasserts that he “was in a very, very, really nice establishment. It wasn’t one of those off the beaten wall ones. This is where, it’s an expensive one…the restaurant was amazing…” The question here is why is he overstating how nice the restaurant is and how normal he was walking when he wasn’t asked about it? If he wasn’t kidnapped, this could be an indication that he went someplace else that isn’t a quality establishment, and he potentially wasn’t sober enough to walk straight later in the evening.
Listen For Gaps In Time: Robert starts his story by saying the arrived for dinner about 8:15ish, immediately jumps to just past 10PM when he is signing the bill, and quickly jumps to almost 11PM when the wine bar is preparing to close. Robert may have omitted details from these time frames because they are irrelevant. Or Robert may have omitted details from these time frames because he and his friend discussed where they were going after they left the wine bar, and in turn, where he was when he was allegedly kidnapped.
Identify Missing Statements of Action, and Missing Relationships: When Robert was recounting how he left the wine bar he stated that his buddy was talking to some one at the bar so he went to the bathroom. He continued by saying when he came out of the bathroom “group of guys said my buddy was downstairs I thought oh, ok, no worries. Downstairs. Got in. And you come out the lift and ah you go out into the car park and ah and that’s where some one hit me.” There are several red flags with this part of the story. Robert doesn’t say “a group of guys” or “the group of guys” which may indicate he didn’t interact with any group of guys when he came out of the bathroom. He also just said “downstairs” and “got in” he never said that he, or we, went downstairs or got in anything. He concludes by saying “you come out of the lift…you go into the car park.” He never said that he came out of the lift or that, he or we, went into the car park.
Be Patient: The interviewer did a fantastic job staying patient and letting Robert finish his story uninterrupted. This allowed the interviewer to get a complete understanding of the events as Robert wanted to portray them. Had the interviewer interrupted it may have caused Robert to alter his story or leave out important aspects of it.
Listen for Confident Language: The reporter asked Robert how he felt about the skeptics who may not believe his story. The expectation is that most honest people would answer with a confident and concrete reply such as “When the police catch the people who kidnapped and robbed me the police report will prove I have been truthful.” Robert’s response was much less confident when he said “I think eventually everything should come out.” The terms think and should indicate a lack of confidence and the word everything does not reference his story being true.
Listen for Changes in Terminology: Robert is from Australia where it is common to refer to elevators as lifts. Early in his story Robert said “you get out of the lift.” Later in the story he said “you can see me come out of the elevator.” Many times when people change the terminology they use to describe the same thing during a story it can be an indication that they are fabricating the story.
The Story Teller May Reveal the Source of A Fabricated Story: Roughly three quarters of the way through the interview, without being directly, Robert said “You see this in movies. I’ve watched Taken and Taken 2 a few times it’s kind of a spitting image.” If the investigation reveals that Robert was not kidnapped, this quote may reveal where the inspiration for his cover story came from.
It is Critical to Save Face: As of this writing it has not been proven that Robert Allenby fabricated any of his story. If he did, the most likely reason is that he needed to save face. Something clearly caused him to sustain facial injuries and he definitely had his credit cards stolen. It is possible that true story of how this occurred could be embarrassing to admit and he felt that he needed a cover story to protect his image with his family, the PGA tour, his sponsors and his fans. Anytime we believe people are being dishonest during difficult conversations we need to ask ourselves two questions:
- Why are they trying to save face?
- How can I use this reason to help them feel better about telling the truth?
Obviously our first concern is for Robert Allenby’s health, safety, and justice for what was stolen from him. Hopefully the police investigation will identify what really happened. Interviews like his provide us with opportunities to sharpen our skills and reinforce important lessons on how to spot inconsistencies and help people feel better telling the truth.