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INTERVIEWS

The importance of word selection during an investigative interview

Effective communication often relies on the importance of word selection, and this would be true during an investigative interview as well.  As an interviewer, you may focus attention on your non-verbal behaviour and communication, but there is substantial influence that could be made with the type of words spoken.

Any words that are associated with harsh consequences or punishment should be avoided.  This will often increase the level of fear that the subject brings to the conversation.  If the interviewer uses words such as “police”, “prosecute”, or “terminate”, it may cause an unwarranted fear in the subject’s mind and therefore increase their resistance.  You should also avoid any derivative of the word “lie”.  Think about it, nobody likes being labelled; particularly if they don’t agree with that label.

Another simple word that may derail an interview is an improper use of the word “you”.  If the interviewer personalises the conversation too early, by using the word “you”, it may cause the subject to become defensive and agitated.  It’s important that the interviewer narrate stories in the third person and minimises the use of harsh words in an effort to allow the subject to come to a rational decision without tipping the scales negatively.

 

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