Rationalising is not minimising
Often you may talk to a subject who has something that they’re resistant to share. One of the primary reasons they may be hesitant to open up is this revelation might cause further embarrassment. There are even times that telling the truth could increase other additional fears that subject has as well. Understanding this, one important aspect you must recognise is the need to allow a subject to save face to encourage telling the truth.
Think of it like this – imagine your New Year’s resolution is to eat better. Suddenly, you eat a piece of cake. You know that you had that piece of cake because you’re just not that committed to your diet. But when asked, “Why did you have that cake?” you can tell yourself, “it was only one time this week” or “I’ve already lost three pounds, so I should reward myself” or, “Everyone else was having cake; I didn’t want to be rude.” What you’re really doing is rationalising your actions, which allows you to save face and avoid feeling worse than you already did.
An important principle of rationalising during an interview is that rationalisation does not remove moral responsibility or suggest any signs of leniency towards your subject. Using words like “accident” or “mistake” allows them to call their behaviour a mistake. This thereby removes intent and removes consequences. It’s important that while you want your subject to save face, that you don’t cross the line into showing any signs of leniency, making any promises, or eliminating any consequences that still may come.
by Chris Norris, CFI