Chapter 13: Investigator Etiquette
It should go without saying but there are certain things that must be stressed, especially if you have any plans of developing a good reputation. You would be surprised at how many investigators fail to follow these simple, common sense items. First of all, act professionally on an investigation. That does not mean that you should be stuffy or arrogant, just act respectfully. My style has always been simple: I take my work seriously but I do not take myself seriously. There is nothing wrong with humor on an investigation; if anything it helps. However, humor does not mean acting like the class clown.
Show respect to the client. If it is a non-smoking household and you smoke, you should go outside. I hate that one myself but it is necessary. Never use foul language in someone else’s home. Do not put your feet up on their furniture. Also, do not make a lot of noise. This is especially important when there are children in the house. Never, never diagnose the problem until you are as sure as you can possibly be. On some investigations, I have been asked about other hauntings. When that happens, I try to get away with telling them about humorous cases. I am only going to hurt my own cause if I tell them something really frightening. Besides, you can teach people how to be haunted if you are not careful.
Some cases produce frightening phenomena. When that happens, you are likely to be scared. Natural fear is fine; you really cannot hide that. However, never tell someone that you will never go down their basement again or that you will never go into a certain room. In the first place, if you feel that way, you should look for another endeavor. The other thing is that the victims look up to you as an expert and if the expert is too frightened to go into a room, how are they supposed to live there! Try not to get too excited when something happens. It is important that the client believes that you are a trained professional. Jumping with joy when you see a light shoot across the room makes you look like an amateur.
Believe it or not, many investigators have difficulty with something as simple as this. Those ones hurt all of us. It must always be remembered that the client is likely to believe everything you say so you have to make sure that you do not give them the wrong idea about what is happening. I like to keep the family informed every step of the way. Whispered conversations between investigators looks bad. If you need to discuss something away from the client, excuse yourself and talk among yourselves. Just do not make them feel that you are leaving them out. They are frightened and a little paranoid anyway so do not do anything that will add to that. Always be respectful.