“What is the most critical investigative skill for an Investigator?” Skills commonly mentioned were: communications, social skills, analytical ability, but observation quickly rose to the top of the list. So what is observation and how can a PI improve this skill?
ob·ser·va·tion [ob-zur-vey-shuhn] noun
1. an act or instance of noticing or perceiving
2. an act or instance of regarding attentively or watching.
3. the faculty or habit of observing or noticing.
4. notice: to escape a person's observation.
5. an act or instance of viewing or noting a fact or occurrence for some scientific or other special purpose
So how do you improve your powers observation?
Whenever you are engaged in an investigation make a conscious effort to be observant. Sounds simple but how?
1. Clear your mind of any pre-conceived ideas of thoughts about what you observing. A colleague said that whenever he interviewed a suspect he always approached and observed the individual as if they were innocent. By doing this he was more open to catching statements, or facts that did not quite add up if the person was truly innocent.
2. Avoid developing tunnel-vision by making an effort to take a wide, panoramic view of anything you are observing. View the area immediately around the focus of your investigation. Be observant not only to body language when talking to someone, but observe how they are dressed, listen to how they frame their sentences.
Ever had one of those clients that you are not able to satisfy? If you've been in the business for very long, bet you've had one or two. Client's may be disgruntled over costs, the direction that the investigation is going, or they are not getting the results they expected.
So, what are your options when you have a client that will never be satisfied?
1. Reevaluate your investigation - The first step is look at your effort. Determine if there is a legitimate reason they are dissatisfied. If so, accept it, make corrections and let them know you are working for them. Make sure your investigation is responding to those needs. Sometimes it is easy to fall into a routine when completing investigations. A routine that your client may not be interested in. If costs are of concern, identify alternatives clearly stating the limitations it will create for the investigation (see #2).
2. Renegotiate - At the first sign of trouble, consider meeting with your client and reviewing the scope of your investigation. Don't hesitate as it will only get harder the further you go into the investigation. Establish timetables, identify the lengths you will go and of course, the limits you will have on the investigation. Put it in writing - whether an amendment to your contract, or a follow-up email that clearly details the results of your meeting.
As a last resort:
3. Call it Quits! - No one likes to give up. Or maybe they are asking you to take unethical steps. These situations may require you to tally up just your expenses and end your relationship with your client. Depending on how far along in the investigation you are, you may consider writing it off entirely. When ending the investigation, consider giving them a report of what has been completed. This will assist you in payment disputes that may develop later on.
No matter the differences, it is important to practice good customer service throughout. Be willing to accept that not all clients are a good fit for your operations.
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