How do I get that written statement?
When it comes to obtaining an accurate written statement, there’s an important item to consider to maintain the value of that written document.
First and foremost, ensure that you aren’t telling your subject what to write. You cannot dictate what can or should be contained within the written statement; it must be a voluntary statement provided by your subject.
Because you can’t dictate, when you get a question like “Where do I start?” you can simply respond “What would be easier for you?” Say something like “We talked about a lot of things here today. Would it be easier to start from the very beginning, or maybe from a more recent time?” We can guide the subject through the conversation and help coach them on how to write by asking questions, such as “What was it that felt easiest to talk about? What did you tell me about that time?”
Have them write down what they recall and recap the conversation. Don’t be harsh or judgemental and say “You should know exactly what to write since we just discussed it.” From the beginning to the end of the interview, it’s important to remember that you need to be establish and maintain rapport throughout the conversation. Just because you’ve reached step 18 and you’re now working on the written statement, it’s not time to cut that rapport short.
Continue to build that relationship and remember, the final statement is about the subject and it’s their opportunity to share their point of view on everything that was just discussed.
by Chris Norris, CFI