Author Archives: Barb Carr

Chris Watts Interview: DeCoding his Nonverbal Behavior

Posted: August 17th, 2018 in Current Events, evidence collection, Investigations

During an investigative interview, an interviewee’s nonverbal behavior will give clues as to whether or not he or she is confident in what he or she is saying. We can’t determine whether someone is lying by his/her body language, but lack of confidence may indicate that the interviewee:

  1. doesn’t remember.
  2. is not sure of what he/she remembers.
  3. is hiding the true story.

These are moments where we, as investigators, want to question and probe further for answers.

The recent news about Shannan Watts and her children is tragic and incomprehensible. After watching the Chris Watts interview (which occurred shortly after his wife and daughters went missing but before their bodies were recovered), I noted these red flags.

  1. Just 34 seconds into the interview his mouth becomes very dry. We know this because he licks his lips. This occurs again at 1:22. There are some things we can control about body language; other things, like things we do when dry mouth occurs when we are extremely nervous, are controlled by the oldest human brain system, the reptilian brain. We can’t cover it up. Investigators, when you notice someone licking his/her lips or swallowing hard during an interview, the question should be, “What could the interviewee be nervous about?” It’s not necessarily an indication of lying (you can’t prove a lie with body language); however, it is a flag that the interviewee is unusually nervous. This is early in the interview – note whether he becomes more uncomfortable or more comfortable. Typically, in an investigative interview, an interviewee will show some cues of discomfort in the beginning, and then show more relaxed, less guarded nonverbal cues as the interview progresses.
  2. At around 1:26 minutes, as he spells the names of his daughter Celeste, he closes his eyes. This is a blocking behavior. It may indicate, “I can’t look at this.” It may be a response that comes from him truly knowing what happened to his daughter and not wanting to “see” it. After spelling her name, he swallows hard. Investigators: when an interviewee closes his/her eyes, note the words he/she is saying. Ask, “What does this person not want to see?” We commonly see this behavior when an employee witnesses a traumatic event, such as a serious injury or death on the job, and is retelling it. Also, note when nonverbal communication signals are thrown off in rapid succession. That is a reliable sign that you need to do follow-up questions on that part of the interview.
  3. After he says “Bella is four, Celeste is three,” we see that he compresses his lips. (He draws them inward and they seem to disappear.) This is sometimes a sign that an interviewee is holding something back. Investigators, when you note this behavior, gently probe for more information. The interviewee may be keeping information he/she is unsure about providing. Assure the interviewee that no detail is too small to report.
  4. At 1:52 minutes he touches the side (the bulb) of his nose. Touching or covering the nose is sometimes a body language sign that the interviewee is not certain of what he is saying and is nervous about how it will be received. There are many nerve endings in the nose, so the nose tingles under stress. We may touch it without thinking about what we are doing or why we are doing it. Investigators – this may occur because the interviewee doesn’t remember, is not sure about what he/she remembers, or he/she does remember and is attempting to cover something up. Always note when an interviewee brings his/her hands to his/her face, listening carefully to the words that are being spoken at that moment. Gently probe for more information.
  5. At around 2:20 minutes, when he is telling the interviewer he hopes his wife is somewhere safe, it is interesting to note his facial expression doesn’t match what he is saying. If your loved one is missing and you are hoping he/she is safe, would you have a pleasant, almost smiling, expression? Investigators – when evaluating an interviewee’s statement, does his/her facial expression match what his/her words are saying? If it doesn’t match, what is the interviewee trying to hide by masking his/her expression? He goes on to talk about how he misses his children, with the same pleasant expression, and when he says, “it was tearing me apart” he closes his eyes again, displaying blocking behavior.
  6. 3:53 Again, licking his lips due to dry mouth at, “I just want everybody to come home” after talking about missing his wife and children.
  7. 3:55 – 4:03 Extended lip compression at “Whereever they are at, come home. That’s what I want.”
  8. The camera pans off of him for a few seconds, and when it returns we see he is crossing his arms. The way he is crossing his arms makes me feel he is not defending himself, but comforting himself. He looks like he is cradling himself. Occasionally he will move his left arm, but immediately returns it to cradling. Investigators – self-comforting is a non-verbal behavior to note. Why does the interviewee need to self-comfort?
  9. 5:00 He states, “I just want them back” and laughs. Again, laughter is not an emotion you would expect from a worried husband and father. Investigators – note when an interviewee’s laughter or facial expression doesn’t match his/her words.
  10. At around six minutes, when the interviewer asks about what the police are saying, he licks his lips again and swallows hard, indicating continued discomfort.
  11. At 6:48 there is extended lip compression, and he licks his lips again as he describes how police looked for surveillance cameras in the neighborhood but find nothing. This may indicate that he is concerned about the police looking for evidence.
  12. At around seven minutes when the interviewer asks him what he would say to his wife if he could, he closes his eyes after he says his wife’s name (blocking behavior). He is also shaking his head “no” even though the words he is saying would align with a “yes” nod. This may indicate that he knows they are not coming back. Investigators – note when an interviewee shakes his/her head “yes” or “no.” Do the words match “yes” or “no”? These clues appear in rapid succession and should be analyzed.

After watching this short interview once, I identified these nonverbal behaviors that made me question the validity of his story.  Never rely solely on the words an interviewee says. Evaluate whether his/her mood matches the words, and carefully note each body language signal that indicates what he/she just stated may need to be probed further.

If you investigate accidents and incidents, and would like to learn more about interviewing techniques to solve problems at your facility, contact us at We offer onsite and public courses.

Weekly Wisdom

Posted: August 13th, 2018 in Career Development, Wisdom Quote


TapRooT® Around the World: Brazil

Posted: July 31st, 2018 in Courses, TapRooT, TapRooT® Instructor

Many thanks to TapRooT® Instructor, Marcelo Marquez, for sending in these great course photos!

TapRooT® Around the World: Brazil

Posted: July 24th, 2018 in Courses, Pictures, TapRooT® Instructor, Training

Marcelo Marquez and Boris Risnic sent this class photo in from Arlanxeo in Triunfo, Brazil. Looks like an excellent class. Thanks for the great photo!


Register for a TapRooT® course in Latin America – Click here for upcoming course list.

Intelex and TapRooT® Partner to Offer In-Depth Root Cause Analysis Tool

Posted: July 24th, 2018 in Media Room, Press Releases

Toronto, June 15 2018 – Intelex Technologies, a leading global provider of cloud-based Environmental, Health, Safety and Quality (EHSQ) management software, announced today a partnership with TapRooT® to build on their current suite of product offerings. TapRooT® is a systematic process and software tool that enables customers to conduct detailed root cause analyses of injuries and other incidents.

“This partnership provides customers with an industry leading, integrated solution for taking their injury and root cause analysis data to the next level. By leveraging Intelex and TapRooT® customers can drive impactful proactive safety decisions.” said Kristen Duda, Vice President, Strategic Alliances and Partnerships at Intelex. (Click here to continue reading release.)

Welcome Marcus Miller!

Posted: July 13th, 2018 in Media Room, Medical/Healthcare, Meet Our Staff, Performance Improvement, Press Releases, Root Cause Analysis Tips, TapRooT® Instructor, TapRooT® Instructor Profiles

TapRooT® is growing! We are pleased to welcome Marcus Miller, Vice President of Business Development.

Marcus has hit the ground running, and you may have already read some of his informative healthcare-focused posts on the Root Cause Analysis Blog:

  • Using TapRooT® to Prevent Medicare Payment Reduction (Read post.)
  • QAPI and TapRooT®: The Bridge to Operational Excellence and Quality Care in our Nursing Homes (Read post.)
  • Joint Commission Focuses Surveys to Assess Safety Culture (Read post.)
  • Winners and Losers in Healthcare’s Shift to Value-Based Payments (Read post.)
  • Bias and Blame in Healthcare’s Culture has to Change (Read post.)

We hope you will join us in welcoming him to the TapRooT® team. To learn more about Marcus, click here.





Investigative Interviewing Series, (Part 3 of 3): Extension Techniques

Posted: June 28th, 2018 in Investigations, Root Cause Analysis Tips

Ever wondered how to get more than one word or one sentence answers from the witnesses you interview? Here’s your answer!

What are extension techniques and why are they so important from TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis on Vimeo.

Investigative Interviewing Series, (Part 2 of 3): Effective Listening

Posted: June 21st, 2018 in Career Development, evidence collection, Investigations, Root Cause Analysis Tips

Last week, we started our 3-part investigative interviewing series. In the first installment, I discussed a powerful but underutilized technique: building rapport. This week’s tip presents another powerful interviewing technique: effective listening.

Most interviewers approach interviews with the idea that they need to know the right questions to ask. We challenge you to examine how you can possibly know the right questions to ask going into the interview when you haven’t even heard what the interviewee saw or knows.

Only through effective listening will you be able to know the “right” questions to ask. The first question is the only one you need to know going in: “Tell me, from start to finish, what you observed the day of the incident.”

Then, sit back, listen and identify which follow-up questions need to be asked.

How are your effective listening skills? No one is born with them, but you can develop them with practice. Take our listening inventory quiz below and become a better investigative interviewer.

Watch here via video.

So, how do you encourage interviewees to keep talking and give you the whole story? Join us next Wednesday as we discuss extension techniques.

TapRooT® wins Technology Partner of the Year

Posted: June 7th, 2018 in Current Events, Media Room, Software

TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Software is used by leading companies around the world.

Ken Reed and Dan Verlinde are attending 2018 SPF EMEA 2018 in Paris, France this week where TapRooT® was recognized as Technology Partner of the Year. TapRooT® Software is developed to manage, measure and report TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis investigations.  We’re very proud to be part of an exceptional team of people who are committed to excellence in everything they do.

Learn more about the award here.

Learn about why TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Software is the best choice here.

Evidence Collection: Top 3 Tips for Improving your Investigative Interviewing Skills Series

Posted: June 7th, 2018 in Career Development, Career Development Tips, evidence collection

“Ideas, more than money, are the real currency for success.” – Eli Broad

I’m back in the office after a great week in San Antonio at Safety 2018 where I had the opportunity to share, “Top 3 Tips for Improving your Investigative Interviewing Skills.”

After presenting my Flash Session, an attendee stopped by the TapRooT® booth and told me, “If I would have known those simple tips at the beginning of my career, it would have completely revolutionized the way I did investigative interviewing.”

The tips I presented were, indeed, simple to incorporate. However, the quality and quantity of information an investigator can gather by incorporating these tips into his or her interviewing process are significant.  If you are familiar with the TapRooT® 12-Step Interviewing Process, you’ll find that these three tips are built into the process but you may never have considered how or why they have such an impact.

Next Thursday, I will be starting a three-week series examining each tip. Don’t miss the first column, “The Power of Rapport,” and learn about this important interviewing skill. Work smarter, not harder. Take your investigative interviewing skills to an entirely new level and join me for the series.

Career Development Tip: 3 Ways Your Mobile Phone Can Make You a Better Speaker

Posted: May 30th, 2018 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

Vincent Phipps is a dynamic public speaker, and many of our TapRooT® friends will remember his powerful presentations about communication at the 2018 Global TapRooT® Summit. We’re pleased to share his most recent short (less than four minutes!) tip. This tip will change the way you do presentations for the better!

Decisions that get people killed

Posted: May 30th, 2018 in Investigations, Summit

When you read “decisions that get people killed” do you think about decisions that workers make? These are not the decisions we are referring to!

What are we referring to? Come and learn at the 2019 Global TapRooT® Summit. We are pleased to announce our first confirmed keynote speaker, Mark Paradies, President of System Improvements, Inc.

He will be discussing decisions that set up major accidents. These types of decisions are usually made by senior management, and they can have very serious consequences. Management needs to know about them, and what they need to do to prevent major accidents.


Mark your calendar to join us for the 2019 Global TapRooT® Summit, March 11 – 15, 2019 at La Toretta Lake Resort & Spa, Montgomery, Texas.

Root Cause Tip: Repeat-Back Strengthens Positive Communication

Posted: May 17th, 2018 in Investigations, Root Cause Analysis Tips

Misunderstood verbal communication can lead to a serious incident.

Risk Engineer and HSE expert, Jim Whiting, shared this report with us recently highlighting four incidents where breakdowns in positive communications were factors. In each circumstance, an operator proceeded into shared areas without making positive communication with another operator.

Read: Positive communication failures result in collisions.

Repeat-back (sometimes referred to as 3-way communication) can reinforce positive communication. This technique may be required by policy or procedure and reinforced during training on a task for better compliance.

Repeat-back is used to ensure the information shared during a work process is clear and complete. In the repeat back process, the sender initiates the communication using the receiver’s name, the receiver repeats the information back, and the sender acknowledges the accuracy of the repeat back or repeats the communication if it is not accurate.

There are many reasons why communications are misunderstood. Workers make assumptions about an unclear message based on their experiences or expectations. A sender may choose poor words for communication or deliver messages that are too long to remember. The message may not be delivered by the sender in the receiver’s primary language. A message delivered in the same language but by a worker from a different geographical region may be confusing because the words do not sound the same across regions.

Can you think of other reasons a repeat-back technique can be helpful? Please comment below.

TapRooT® Around the World: Houston

Posted: May 11th, 2018 in Courses, Pictures

Last day of our 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training in Houston, Texas. Heidi Reed and I are looking forward to seeing our course attendees’ final presentations. It’s been an awesome week! Click here and get in the picture.


A tip for ensuring accuracy of your investigation findings

Posted: May 4th, 2018 in Root Cause Analysis Tips

Gary Gardner shares an idea at the 2018 Global TapRooT Summit.


How to Keep Your Investigators Proficient

Posted: April 26th, 2018 in Root Cause Analysis Tips, Video

Why work harder when you can work smarter? Ken and Benna discuss great ideas about keeping your investigation team sharp. It’s easier than you think with a few simple guidelines.

Press Release: TapRooT®’s New Software Update Enhances Tools for Root Cause Analysis Used by Incident Investigators

Posted: April 17th, 2018 in Media Room, Press Releases, Software Updates


Incident investigators around the world use TapRooT® software as a central repository for their root cause analysis investigations.

View Press Release.

Evidence Collection: Two things every investigator should know about scene management

Posted: April 17th, 2018 in Accidents, Investigations, Root Cause Analysis Tips

You may not be part of scene management when an incident occurs at your facility but there are two things every investigator should know:

  1. Hazards that are present in the work area and how to handle them. It’s impossible to anticipate every accident that could happen but we can evaluate hazards that are present at our facilities that could affect employees and the community at large to structure a scene management plan.
  2. Priorities for evidence collection. The opportunity to collect evidence decreases over time. Here are a few things to keep in mind during, and immediately following, scene management.
    • Fragile evidence goes away.
    • Witnesses forget what they saw.
    • Environmental conditions change making it hard to understand why an incident occurred.
    • Clean-up and restart begins; thus, changing the scene from its original state.

Learn more by holding our 1-Day Effective Interviewing & Evidence Collection Training at your facility. It is a standalone course but also fits well with our 2-Day TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Training. Contact me for details:


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