Interview and Interrogation Training: Rationalizing in the Third Person

This International Association of Interviewers interview and interrogation training tip provided by Wicklander-Zulawski, has Dave Thompson, CFI discussing the importance of rationalizing in the third person.

The term “third person” really means the avoidance of the word “you” and instead using words like “he,” “she,” “they,” or “that.” When we rationalize with the subject, what we’re doing is we’re allowing them to save face while we’re showing understanding.

But if we use the word “you” too early, it sounds like, “Hey, we think you did this because your friends talked you into it,” or, “You may have done this because of some financial pressures in your life.” When we say the word “you,” it personalizes the rationalization, sounds like an accusation, and might cause the subject to become defensive.

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By using words like “he,” “she,” “they,” or “that,” and talking about somebody in the third person allows the subject to internalize the rationalization without having a need to defend themselves.

Every loss prevention investigator should continuously strive to enhance their investigative interviewing skills as part of an ongoing commitment to best-in-class interviewing performance. This includes holding ourselves to an elite standard of interview and interrogation training that is ethical, moral and legal while demanding excellence in the pursuit of the truth. The International Association of Interviewers (IAI) and Wicklander-Zulawski (WZ) provide interview and interrogation training programs and additional guidance to investigators when dealing with dishonest employees, employee theft, sexual harassment, policy violations, building rapport, pre-employment interviewing, lying, denials and obtaining a statement.

By focusing on the latest information and research from experts in the field as well as academia, legal and psychological resources, these video tips provide interview and interrogation training techniques that can enhance the skill sets of professionals with backgrounds in law enforcement, loss prevention, security, asset protection, human resources, auditors or anyone looking to obtain the truth.

To learn more about interview and interrogation training and how you can further develop your professional skill sets, please visit or for additional information.

This article was first published in 2017 and updated in September of 2020.

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