Listen! Problem with modern life but KEY to effective interviews.

One of the ironies of communication is that we all want to be listened to, but we do not want to listen. Maybe on some level we WANT to listen but we simply don't do it well, mostly because we are thinking of what we want to say our partner can listen to US.

In my work and training with law enforcement and private sector investigators I have found this to be true as well. Investigators may plan and prepare thoroughly for an interview or interrogation, which is crucial to an effective outcome, but they become so focused on what they are going to say, the questions they want to ask and the answers they need that they fail to listen effectively. This can derail an interview or interrogation and make all your planning pointless.

Failing to listen to the person we are talking with sends the message that what they have to say is not important. If the person perceives from your behavior, demeanor or questioning process that you are not really listening to them, they will not want to spend the time with you and likely will not provide a full account of what they know. Secondly, by failing to listen we miss the information they are telling us; not only the main message or the intent of their message, but the subtle messages that lay hidden within their narrative. The subtle messages may be saying "I am leaving something out but I don't want you to know about it" but all the investigator hears is "and after that I went home and went to bed. That's about it." 

We have to make the effort to really listen to the people we talk with throughout our investigations, whether they are the complainant, victim, witness, informant or suspect. Certainly make sure that you take the time to plan and prepare for the interview or interrogation, but during the interview also make sure you really listen to what the person is saying, how they are saying it and what they may be saying it at this point. There is much more to this by understanding Investigative Statement Analysis, but they key point here is to really hone your listening skills and you will be more effective within you interviews and interrogations. Below is an interesting TED Talk on how and why we are losing our ability to listen and 5 things we can do to improve our listening ability by Julian Treasure.



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