man holding phone

“Cell phones, mobile e-mail, and all the other cool and slick gadgets can cause massive losses in our creative output and overall productivity.”

–Robin S. Sharma
“Men have become the tools of their tools.”

— Henry David Thoreau

Is interviewing part of your job or of those you supervise?  Have you seen a breakdown in communication and getting to the meat of why your evidence doesn’t line up with interviewee’s statements?  Is this trend getting worse?  Is good communication a thing of the past?

Have you recently been in a restaurant and watched a whole family, each on their personal electronic device and no communication between them?  (If it was you doing this just ignore the question.)

I address this subject frequently in my training because of the increased focus on technology related interviewing and investigation and the resulting minimization of emphasis on human factors/relationship interviewing.  This reality has many causes and explanations.  Technology continues to advance at an increasing rate and there are many who excitingly follow that metamorphosis.

This has occurred in the arena of investigations and audits with computer technologies, programs and applications that have advanced much of what has been done historically.  But despite the plethora of advances, nothing can, or will, replace the need for dialogue through interviewing to establish a person’s position, explanation, justification, or reason for what they have done.  This is accomplished through interviewing, and likely always will be.  We must understand the mindset for their actions.

Despite this there are many that have put all their eggs in the technology basket and this is short sighted.  This occurrence reminds me of decisions made in our country’s history to focus all resources on technology in the intelligence community.  Human sources were considered troublesome and a “dirty” business, so emphasis increased in the technology arena and decreased in the human intelligence area.  This proved devastating to intelligence gathering and over time a balance was reached.  We need live assets.  But here we are apparently repeating bad history.

The availability of technology is one reason for this but another even more perplexing reason is the complete absorption of the younger generation with electronic devices be they computers, I Phones, I Pads, I Pods, or I Don’t Want To Communicates.  This is not just relegated to the young, but its popularization with this generation is overtaking how we interact.

From years of training experience, we observed this effect manifesting itself in the interview room repeatedly.  Its frequency caused extensive discussion about implementing communication courses in training academies even before interview training was rolled out.  The observed results in the interviewing room were individuals that could not comfortably sit across from another and develop a rapport, deploy a strategized questioning technique or employ adequate persuasion to elicit truthful and complete interviewing results. The first step then, is to aid in communication training to create an environment where normal dialogue could be established.

I have witnessed many examples where individuals armed with extensive and decisive evidence are thwarted in the interview environment because of a few half-hearted denials.  When questioned about this the interviewer states, “well, they said they didn’t do it, so I didn’t have anything else to say.”  Regardless of being an auditor, investigator, inspector, or human resources professional, this answer is insufficient and unacceptable.  We must have the skills to pursue this dichotomy to its logical conclusion.

If you are guilty of this or you see it happening with your staff, there are many training solutions designed to address these communication issues and allow us to be focused on completely eliciting the greatest quantity and quality of information possible.

Anderson Investigative Associates is positioned to custom tailor training to your specific needs.  If you have any questions, or would like to discuss the above or any training need, please reach out to me.  Additional issues pertaining to interviewing and investigations can be found in other blogs that I have written and are contained in most blocks of instruction that our company presents.

If you have additional questions or comments, give me a shout:

Mark A. Anderson

Director of Training and Development

Anderson Investigative Associates, llc

128 Oarsman Xing

St. Marys, GA 31558