Sit Up, Stand Up and Engage in Whole Body Empathy
When an interviewer’s physicality becomes in tune with those they are interviewing an honest, authentic dialogue ensues. The Empathic Investigation utilizes both verbal and non-verbal communication skills to effectively create a connection between an investigator, accusers and those accused. This is what we call whole body empathy.
The traditional concept of empathy has a number of cliche meanings. The one that stands out is when another individual is telling us about how they experienced something sad or tragic.
We are able to put ourselves in their shoes and feel their pain for ourselves. We imagine in our minds the mental anguish they are going through. The words they use to describe the actions that took place play out like a movie as our imagination recreates the circumstances that caused them to be so hurt.
If we were to look at ourselves during that encounter, we would see our mouths curl down on the sides. Our breathing would appear more shallow as we listen to their story about how they were harmed, wronged or abused. At a certain point their emotional energy may thoroughly transfer into us. We feel physically wounded as well. We cry along with them.
That cliche rings true because we have all experienced empathy in that way. When an empathic connection occurs with a loved one, a family member or a close friend the sensations we feel are twice as intense. We care so much more because we love them.
When we feel empathy for a person we do not know the cliche is no longer accurate. We can not summon the same emotional connection. Obviously, the feelings of shared hurt are not acute like they are when a child or spouse express a tragic event. How could they be, right?
The Empathic Investigation applies an approach that results in an interviewer being able to engage those same authentic feelings of empathy.
Ah, so you trick yourself into it somehow? Is that it?
The pessimist would think that, and likely stop here. The traditional investigator would resist the notion that they “need to feel similar” to the accused in order to conduct an effective investigation. They would be wrong.
A whole body empathic technique is a powerful means to interpret the physical language of the accused. The words being used by the accused in relating events are colored by their desire to effect a specific outcome. This bias is expected. But very few people, perhaps the sociopathic personality, are able to disguise their physical responses to a situation in a way that would deny the Empathic Investigator the ability to gain insights from the manifestation of a physically empathic connection. The bottom line is that it is hard to lie with our entire body.
Yes, there are specific actions an interviewer can practice that will assist in this approach. If that is considered a trick, then turns out we are guilty as charged. But would it be considered a trick to smile when we introduce ourselves to someone? Or is that just kindness. Is it a trick to nod along when we want to express to someone that we understand what they are saying? Or is that just non-verbal communication.
The Empathic Investigation teaches us how to use our own body to activate empathy. The use of storytelling is how we communicate with words that we understand the feelings of the the accuser and the accused. Our bodies and physical actions express the next level of empathy.
How we position ourselves, our expressions and our movements convey significant messages. At the same time we try to read meaning into the physical activities of those we are interviewing, so our own bodies are sending messages back.
Learning to engage in empathy using the whole body improves workplace investigations. The accuser, the accused and the investigator will all feel the process was authentic, accurate and even appreciated.