Changing Predictable Behavior

By Paul Francois & Enrique Garcia

For anyone who’s taken our three day Interview and Interrogation class, you know our opening spiel. As investigators, we get lied to on a daily basis. It’s our norm. When people lie to us, we typically don’t like it. We resent it, in fact. It insults our intelligence. If we show this resentment/disgust/frustration, the most likely result is that we still won’t get truthful information.

So let’s review what we can predict:

· We can predict that people will lie to us

· We can predict that our fundamental human response is that we will not like it

· We can predict that showing our disdain will not get the result we want – the truth

If we can predict all of these things, then eliciting truthful information from people means that we must make a conscious decision to take a different approach. We must choose to do something other than what comes naturally to us in order to earn people’s trust and cooperation. We can motivate a subject to change their behavior by exhibiting confidence, professionalism, fairness and flexibility.

Choosing a different approach from the one that comes naturally to us begins with acquiring the knowledge of what is more likely to work. People lie for a variety of reasons, but regardless of which reason it is, we should expect it and not be offended by it. It’s certainly not a personal attack against us. Remember that during the Interview Phase, a subject can lie all they want and we should not call him on it. During the Interrogation Phase, we do call the subject on his lie. However, we never call him, “a liar!” Instead, we minimizing our language and say something like, “Tom, we know you haven’t been completely honest with us.”

We must exercise the patience to listen and observe throughout the Interview Phase as this is how we learn the things we need to know in order to succeed later in the Interrogation Phase. Paying attention to the cues offered to us by the subject, we will learn what he values, his personal beliefs, and his alibi – all of which will assist us greatly later in the process.

What we do next is the subject of our training program. But what is important to understand today is that we are not entitled to the truth simply by virtue of our profession – we must earn the subject’s trust by building rapport. Once we earn the subject’s trust, our chances of obtaining the truth greatly increase if we have the desire, the drive, and the perseverance to endure.