Lesson Three: Communication Skills

Communication skills are an essential part of an investigator’s job. In order to be successful, the investigator must possess and be thoroughly skilled in both oral and written communication.

Note: Communications and interviewing techniques will be covered in much greater detail later in this course. This portion of the lesson should merely scratch the surface of the investigator’s responsibilities in the area of communications

1. Oral Communication

These skills must be practiced on a routine and consistent basis. Communication is a major portion of what an investigator does everyday. Whether it is talking to a client, or interviewing a witness, the investigator must be able to communicate in a clear and concise manner. The investigator’s verbal communications skills can often mean the difference between obtaining all of the information from a witness, or obtaining a confession. Many people pride themselves in their ability to engage in “verbal gymnastics” and will often consider themselves mentally superior to the investigator. The investigator must be careful not to fall victim to a similar shortcoming by speaking in manner that could be perceived as superior to the client and/or witness. Engaging in this type of activity is not acceptable and can severely inhibit the exchange of information.

2. Written Communication

A good investigator must also be able to communicate effectively through the use of his/her writing abilities. This form of communication is needed for note taking and report writing (case documentation). An investigator can never have too many notes, and note taking must be become a constant part of the investigator’s daily activities. Documentation starts with the notebook in the investigator’s pocket. From the time that the investigator arrives on the scene, throughout every aspect of the investigation, notes are a crucial part of his/her job. In order to properly document and later provide information related to the investigation, the investigator must rely heavily on his/her case notes. This may be become painfully obvious when the investigator is required to provide detailed case information months or years following the initial investigation. As time passes, the investigator is naturally prone to forget facts or get confused without the help of meaningful case notes to refresh his/her memory.

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