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Rules for Respondents


Techniques Interrogation > Rules for Respondents

Minimize harm | Minimum information | Conceal | Distract | Delay | Erect barrier | Negotiate | See also


Here are some basic rules for people being interrogated. Of course any professional interrogator will know and counteract these. For others questioners, this lists tactics that interviewees may take, so do watch for them. If you are on the receiving end, then this page may give you some useful ideas.

Minimize harm

The basic rule for respondents in interrogations is to reduce the amount of harm that you are likely to experience, particularly in the longer term. Always keep in mind what you really want.

Minimum information

Do not volunteer information without purpose. Decide on your talk strategy and stick to it. This can be to speak as little as possible or to give as much information as possible (except in those areas where you want to stay private, of course).


Know those things that you do not want to be discovered and work hard to ensure they are buried deep. Make no hints or admissions that may lead the questioner in that direction.

If the discussions do become perilously close to the areas under concealment, hold your nerve and keep it hidden. Be careful about attempted distractions that actually give away what you are trying to hide. If you push in one direction, the interrogator may take this as a sign and go the opposite way.


Play games with them to distract them and keep them interested in safe areas. There are birds and other animals which, when predators approach their nest, will feign injury and hop slyly away from the nest.

If you can capture their attention, you can lead them down false trails and away from the areas you want to conceal.

A classic distraction is to pretend that you are collaborating, answering their questions, but in doing so causing delays and other distractions.


Find ways to slow down the proceedings, especially if you can benefit from such tactics.

Play ill. Be sick or otherwise unable to collaborate. Get mentally ill. Go all twitchy. Scream and shout.

Ask for time to think. Show that you are on the edge and just need a bit of time.

Give them information that takes a while to check out. Promise to take them to a particular location - then make it far away.

Erect barrier

Erect a psychological barrier between you and them. The simplest barrier is silence. Imagine an invisible sound-proof wall between you. Other barriers that are used include distrust and hatred.


When you have to give out information, distort it, leaving out key items or adding in distractions and other modifications. Change names, places, times, and so on. Exaggerate some areas and play down others.

Some people are so good at distortion that they even convince themselves. Work on making what you say so credible you have difficulty yourself in separating reality from fantasy.


When at last you have to give true information, negotiate with the interrogator. Get promises that you can be sure will be fulfilled. It is easy for interrogators to make empty promises in order to get information from you.

Give only that which you are prepared to give. Test their integrity with small exchanges before giving away anything big.

They may well test anything you give them, so be careful. You can give them things that are hard to verify or things that seem useful but are not.

See also

Rules of interrogation, Four rules for interrogators

Resisting persuasion

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