Using Language Patterns In The Interrogation
by John Bowden
In my research for my book I looked into many fields of study to put together
the techniques we use to obtain the confession.  One of the fields that is
similar to interrogations is the field of sales.  A salesman is trying to sell you a
product, the investigator is selling the subject on the idea of telling their
story.  In my research I discovered what I will call the pied piper of sales and
communications, Kevin Hogan.  He has written numerous books on
communication techniques that are applicable to our goal of obtaining
information and the confession.  You can obtain more information on Kevin
Hogan, his books and his programs at  I heartily
recommend them.

A language pattern is a word or a phrase designed to stop the mental
resistance of a person and encourage them to act in a certain manner. The
language pattern will not make a person act in a manner they are not
predisposed to do.  You cannot make a person drink a coke if they are not
thirsty or eat food if they are not hungry.  It places the decision to act in the
person’s hands. In sales it is to convince them to buy the product; in
interrogations it is to get the person to confide in you what happened, their
side of the story.   In the interrogation you are in an adversarial position.  You
are trying to get information from the person and they are defensive, not
trusting you or your motives.  Generally, the interrogator is telling the person
to talk, confess, give in, or otherwise capitulate to the interrogator.  The
person’s mind is on guard, not wanting to cooperate.  We find that people do
want to tell their story; we are trying to convince them that we are the person
they should confide in.
Language patterns prime the person to respond in a manner that you have suggested.  The pattern offers a
suggestion for the response you are looking for.  It brings the person out and stimulates their thought,
incorporating your suggestion.  Instead of telling them to confess, we put the decision to talk in their hands with the
suggestion of what we want them to do.  The language pattern must be used in a logical format, make sense to the
idea you are discussing.

In his research of 300 language patterns, Hogan found that there are 24 language patterns that are effective.  This
article discusses 6 of those language patterns.

1.  Tell the person, “I wouldn’t want to tell you…

    …to go to the store
    …to go to college
    …to talk to me

The thing you state you would not tell them to do, is the thing you want them to actually do.

The phrase stops the resistance of the person.  It by-passes the critical factor by putting the power of making the
decision at the person’s control.  The phrase primes the person with the idea you want them to do.

I wouldn’t want you to talk to me if you do not want to.  It is entirely up to you.  However, I would really like to hear
your side of the story if you want to tell me.

The person now has mentally focused on the fact that they are in charge to make the decision while at the same
time they have the idea in their head of what you want them to do.  The idea is formed by the suggestion you have
given them, priming them to act in that manner; talking to you about the case.

2.        You might want to_(key word or phrase)_________ now.

Insert what you want them to do in the blank. Then support the idea.

You might want to get your side of the story out now.  A lot of people wait too long and  wind up being ignored.

You might want to share your side of the story with someone like me that understands what you are going through.

When you say you might want to you are not telling them what to do or act in a certain manner.  You are merely
priming the person to the idea of following your suggestion.

3.        What is it that helps you know whether you should    x   or    y   .

You are giving the person 2 options.  It wakes the person up and makes them think.  It gets their attention.  It puts
the person in control and makes them think about the decision they are going to make. People sometimes are in
mental state of pause, not thinking or deciding.  Your statement wakes them up to listen, think and decide.  In this
process you are not pushing your agenda, just putting the thought out there for them to use.

What is it that helps you know whether you should share your side of the story with me or wait until the prosecutor
is asking you questions.  The prosecutor has their own agenda; I just want to hear your side of the story.

Once the person starts to think about the options, point out the good and bad merits of each side of the question.  
In this way you are working with the subject, not against them.

4.        You don’t have to_______now.

         Talk to me

People like this phrase because it puts them in control.  It tells them they do not have to do anything.  You have
taken the thought of action out of their mind and put it on the table for them to think about.  By stating what you
want them to do as a choice to not do it, primes their behavior to actually do the behavior.

You don’t have to talk to me now.  

This phrase relieves the resistance and makes them think about talking to you.  You should support this phrase
with follow-up.  

It is entirely up to you.  However, I would really like to hear your side of what happened, if that is what you want to

5.        Why is it that some people see it and most people don’t.  

This puts the person above others; it builds them up.  It has the person distinguish between the more intelligent
person that has insight or perception to understand an issue as opposed to the person that does not perceive the
issues.  They are above the person that just reacts to a situation as opposed to the person that is thoughtful and
sees things as they are.

Why is it that some people see the advantage of getting their story out first and other people do not?  

Why is it that some people tell their side of the story first and others resist telling their story and wind up at a


Some people don’t see the advantage of being first and merely react to what happens, getting left out in the cold.  
Are you a person that sees things or do you just react.  I know you are the first, a person that sees the advantage.

6.        I don’t know if __________now is a good idea.

         This is the best thing for sure.

Again, this gives the person the control to decide.  The included phrase primes the person to decide in your favor.  
It tells the person that it is up to them to make the decision.  It wakes them up, gets them thinking and allows them
to make a decision.  

I don’t know if you should share your story now.  You will have to make that decision.  I would like to hear it, but it is
still up to you.

I don’t know if you confiding in me is what you want.  You will have to make that decision.  I would like to hear your
side if that is what you want to do.

The “prime” phrase is what they will usually decide.  It has been placed forefront in their mind for them to think
about.  Additionally you have not told them to do anything, leaving the decision to them.

My book “Interview to Confession, The Art of the Gentle Interrogation” has more techniques and information on
how to elicit cooperative confessions.