Tips from a Private Investigator V
Improvisation and Private Investigation
Working as a private investigator in Indonesia requires many skills – patience, tenacity and great observation to name but a few.
Not many people would realise that good acting skills are also a great asset. One particular aspect of acting is improvising in a difficult and unpredicted situation.
A private investigator just never knows what will happen next. You could be on a stakeout, sitting in a car, and nothing happens for a few hours. All of a sudden a security man is tapping hard on your window and your heart skips a beat.
At a moment’s notice you have to wind down the window and often (although you are prepared as much as possible) have to improvise.
Two of my colleagues came back from a case just last week. They (a man and a woman) had followed someone into a hotel. The target was making his way to a room down a small corridor when suddenly he turned around and headed straight towards them. What did they do? Their response was not prepared and they acted spontaneously and improvised – they held each other like lovers.
Last month I was on a case in Western Sumatera. Our target was a senior CEO and often had with him a driver and a small group of people who seemed to be some kind of minders.
We had had a succesful ten days of surveillance and then one day it seemed we were “burnt” (this is private investigator language for when the target suspects being followed).
We were out in the street and the target had entered an office complex leaving his driver outside.
I noticed the driver looking at us. Perhaps over the ten days he had noticed us before, after all it was a very small town and we were not from there.
About 15 minutes later we saw four men and the driver coming towards us. My partner told me to stay calm and relax.
Two men stood behind us and three were in front asking questions about why we were in the town and what we were doing. They seemed initially quite aggressive.
As a private investigator we always prepare cover stories for a range of scenarios for every case. But it is impossible to prepare for every situation that may happen or for every question that might be fired at you.
The key is to be prepared as much as possible but also to stay very calm and relaxed.
Even with preparation, improviation, to some degree, is needed. From my experience as a private investigator here are some tips on improvisation:
You don’t want to seem shy and unconfident. You must display confidence. When you’re confident, anything can be done. When you’re not confident, you feel limited.
You must try and be full of energy. This will make you feel relaxed and anyone speaking to you will think you have nothing to hide.
It is important not to lose concentration on the conversation. Equally important you should focus on the scene around you, and be aware for any possible dangers.
4. Listen and watch.
You need to listen very carefully to what is being asked.That way you can react correctly to what they are saying. You must try and “be” the character you’re improvising. You must also watch for any non-verbal signals. This will help you pick up on anger, disbelief, sympathy etc. Then you can react accordingly.
5. Stick to your story.
If you establish one line of story, stay with it. Never change or you will almost certainly be caught out.
6. Eye contact.
Without eye contact people will soon pick up that there is something wrong with any story your are telling.
No, never become aggressive or over-assertive unless you absolutely need to or you are cornered and threatened.