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Interrogation: A Battle of Persuasion

by Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”

For most interviewers, their concept of interrogation is that all they have to do is present the facts and the subject will just collapse under the weight of proof.  Interrogation is a little more complex than making a good argument that a person is deceptive.  It is a back and forth battle of persuasion and decision-making.

 

The battle of persuasion goes both ways.  On one side, by deception, your subject is trying to get you to change your point of view that they may be responsible for some inappropriate act or behavior. The more persuasive and convincing the better the chance the subject has at getting away with their deception. On the other side, you as the interviewer are trying to persuade the individual that their attempt at deception is not being successful and therefore they must accept your evidence of proof and change their position on the issue.

 

The interviewer needs to remember however, that the main reason a person chooses to lie is for some perceived personal benefits or to avoid some type of punishment.  A person will also confess for the very same reasons – they will confess when they perceive it will be beneficial to them.  They are not just confessing because the proof is there although that is part of the equation.  Think about it. The only time you change your mind about a previous decision you have made is when someone or something has overwhelming convinced you or persuaded you to believe that the new position, point of view or decision is far better than the previous  The better job you do as an interviewer convincing your subject of the very distinct differences between those two points  the easier you will make it for your subject to change rejection to admission or confession.

 

Don’t totally focus your efforts on just getting a subject to confess. Persuade them that admitting to the truth is far more acceptable and advantageous for them than sticking to their deception.

Interviewing: My Subject Won’t Talk

Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”

A frequent frustration many interviewers face is the inability to get the subject to talk to them. Obviously in any investigation if the person we’re talking with is the subject of that investigation he or she would be better advised not to talk to us anyway. But how do we not only get the subject to talk to us but also the uncooperative victim or witness?

 

We can certainly lay a lot of blame at the feet of the uncooperative person but that will get us no closer to the critical information that he or she has chosen to withhold.   Our objective is to find the truth and blaming the subject and giving up our pursuit of the truth is not an acceptable option.  Half of the responsibility for the failure of a subject to talk lies with the interviewer. We can’t expect a person to talk to us merely because we’re the interviewer.

 

First, if we intend to persuade a subject to talk we’ve got to do a better job of demonstrating to them that they are a critical element in the investigation.  To do this we have to present the evidence of the  ‘problem’ in a form that grabs their intellectual attention. That means for each personality type (emotion, sensory, logic and ego dominant) we have a different ‘problem presentation.’ We present the problem one small piece at a time slowly demonstrating the emotion dominant’s connection to the case while for the sensory type we’re going to have to work in a more tangible form by pointing out specific victim or witness statements and similar snippets of evidence.  For the logic dominant we’re going to have to present the threads of argument that demonstrate ‘why’ the subject is linked to the problem while the ego dominant will respond when they are made to believe that everyone needs to made to understand his or her brilliance and mental prowess.

 

Our task at attempting to stimulate our subject to talk is not yet quite complete.  We’ve got to further agitate our subject into a taking a personal interest in their position as being a directly involved party in a problem that requires their attention.  Obviously the emotion dominant subject is going to respond to emotion- based ‘color commentary.’  The sensory dominant is further pulled into the conversation when we make them realize that the evidence they are involved cannot be denied and we’re going to keep reminding them of that.  The logic dominant will be unable to resist the weight of the proof that they are linked to the case – the logical argument is just too strong and won’t be ignored.  The ego dominant is significantly motivated to talk when they feel that they have been betrayed or used by the ungrateful and unworthy people who they believe have benefited from his efforts or are trying to destroy him because their jealous of his success.

 

Next time your subject seems not to want to talk, think about more than just impressing with your title or what their punishment could be for their actions.  You are more likely to get some form of response from you subject when you frame the problem in their intellectual format and agitate them to action by personalizing this issue on their level.