You have undoubtedly encountered these expressions before:

To tell the truth…

Honestly….

To be perfectly honest with you….

Without a word of a lie…

Candidly…

Truthfully…

Frankly…

I cringe when I hear these expressions, particularly when someone is selling me a product or service. I ask myself:

Does this mean that you were not truthful with me before?

That you were lying to me and chose this particular moment to be honest?

You are a liar and selectively tell the truth?

According to former CIA officers Philip Houston, Michael Floyd and Susan Carnicero in their book Spy the Lie, these are called perception qualifiers and are used to enhance the interviewee’s credibility.

When you hear these perception qualifiers, don’t rely on just one as an indicator of untruthfulness. The authors recommend that you consider the use of multiple qualifiers in a response to a question as one indicator. They are a red flag that additional questions are needed.