Interviewing: Achieving Rapport

Part One


By identifying a subject's dominant mode of expression “ visual, auditory, or sensation (and when he or she deviates from it) you can mirror the subject and begin to achieve rapport. 

Sam, a suspect in a fraud examination, sits in the interview room with his arms crossed and a frown on his face.

I don't see why I'm here, Sam says. It seems to me that you ought to be out there looking for the guy who did it. I tried to show you what happened, but you just don't want to see it. You had better focus your investigation somewhere else because if you are looking at me then you are looking at the wrong man.

Brian, the fraud examiner, is exasperated. Listen here, he says. “I'm going to tell you why you are here. I have already heard your side of the story, but I'm telling you right now that you can just tune that noise out. If you think I'm going to listen to that song, you're barking up the wrong tree. Now pay attention to what I am going to say.

How much valuable information will Brian extract from his interview with Sam? Very little but it's not just because of Brian's bad attitude. Brian needs to move Sam from the “unwilling chair” to the “willing chair” by developing a rapport with him through some tested investigatory methods.

In the willing chair, the subject is ready to tell you whatever you need to know: what he did, saw, or heard, and what happened to him. Consequently, all that's required is the appropriate questioning technique to recover the information.

However, the subject seated in the unwilling chair  whether suspect, victim, or witness has good reasons to withhold the truth: fear of prosecution, embarrassment of being bilked, reluctance to get involved. Your job is to conduct musical chairs and change the subject's mind.

You can do that by developing rapport through words, expressions, and postures. We can define rapport as “relation, connection, especially harmonious or sympathetic relation. From the Latin apportare meaning to carry.1 That definition is particularly appropriate because rapport can be the vehicle to carry the fraud examiner into the subject's world, through the development of a positive, productive relationship, to change the subject's behavior.

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