Our Mindset: “Us Against The System”

by Enrique Garcia & Paul Francois

One little trick we can use to increase our success with obtaining truthful information from people is to change our mindset. Frequently (and unintentionally) our mindset is "us against them" (the bad guys). Our mindset, while interviewing suspects, reluctant witnesses and/or victims, should be that it is "us (the interviewer(s) and the subject), against the system (the DA, Judge, Jury, or Criminal Justice process).

When interviewing subjects, we should strive to create an environment that fosters exceptional rapport building. Why? Because rapport leads to trust. When subjects trust us and they believe the evidence is overwhelming, they are more comfortable telling us the "truth." When we obtain the truth - we achieve our goal.

As interviewers, we need to be mindful of how we are communicating verbally and with our body language. Let's face it, subjects are sizing us up, and if our verbal and non-verbal communication are not in sync, then we won't be believed or trusted. You may want to consider using language that makes the subject believe you are his team. For example, consider saying things like, "How are we going to resolve this issue?" In other words, let's agree on a story that makes sense and more importantly, is the truth.

Also, instead of saying the following with a negative attitude: "Hey Mike, your story doesn't make sense!" Consider saying something like, "Hey Mike, if that is what you want to say, then we will write it down. However, help us understand how we are going to explain to the (DA, Judge, Jury) that (a neighbor saw you going inside the house, your fingerprints were found inside the car)" etc. The latter lets the subject know that he is not alone and is part of a team that is willing to resolve the issue (the "issue" is whatever the subject is being accused of). The subject believes you are trying to be fair, objective and reasonable, instead of having already made up your mind that he is guilty.

We increase our chances of success if we practice using language that motivates subjects to tell us the truth rather than becoming adversarial.

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