How directly someone speaks to you can be a big indicator of how forthright she is overall. This is something we look for when we’re working with witnesses but also when we’re looking at jurors. When someone immediately answers the question, we usually feel she is being honest with us. When someone talks and talks in a roundabout way, giving 15 explanations for what she’s about to say, and then gives you the answer at the very end, she might be telling the truth, or she might be wrestling with it. It hurts your credibility if you’re not immediately direct.
—Leslie Ellis, Ph.D., is a jury consultant at DecisionQuest, a national litigation consulting firm. She lives in Washington, D.C.