The Goal is Truth

by Paul Francois & Enrique Garcia

When testifying in court as to the manner in which we conducted an interview, defense counsel will often ask us whether we just wanted his client to "confess." We answer that we do not seek confessions  but rather truth. After all, no good cop is interested in false information, only truthful information. That is why our motto at Third Degree Communications is "Nothing but the Truth."

One little tidbit we impart on our students to help convey this concept is by reminding them that if obtaining the truth is their ultimate goal, then they should be doing nothing that might prevent them from obtaining the truth. For example, getting angry with a subject who is lying would most likely sever rapport and interfere with accomplishing the goal of obtaining the truth. Raising my voice, insulting him, or speaking to him in a condescending manner are all most likely going to be rapport killers that will stymie my ability to get to a successful and truthful outcome with the subject. If we want to get people to provide us with truthful information, we should avoid doing anything that will interfere with accomplishing this goal.

This actually applies to many areas of our lives if we think about it. Let's say I've made a new year's resolution to avoid gossiping about other people. There are several steps I can and should consider that will help me accomplish this goal, including but not limited to:

·         Avoiding certain people who I know thrive on gossip

·         Not asking certain questions that are more likely to lead to gossip, such as "Who did that?" "What are you guys talking about?" "What happened next?"

·         Excusing myself from conversations that turn in the direction of gossip

In the same manner, if my goal is to obtain truthful information, I must only engage in behavior that's more likely to help me accomplish this goal and to avoid behavior that will interfere:

·         Treating people with dignity and respect

·         Manipulating my tone of voice to maximize my effectiveness

·         Establishing rapport

·         Being a compassionate, empathetic listener

·         Projecting an image of being non-judgmental and accepting

Getting people to tell the truth means creating an environment that is conducive to helping them cooperate. Obtaining our goal means everything that I say and do is oriented toward achieving that goal. It's a remarkably simple concept, but a critical one to remember throughout the interview.