Although there can be a lot of behind the back scoffing and disbelief of the paranormal field, the fact remains that many people are dealing with paranormal phenomena that they do not know how to deal with. Unexplained events can leave a person or a family shaken, scared, unsure of their own sanity, in awe as well as many other emotional responses. Being a paranormal investigator has more to do with human interaction than many outside of the field tend to realize. Sure, we deal with and try to talk with ghosts, but as is often the case, the human element is the reason we go to many haunted locations in the first place. Knowing how to talk with and react to what a client is telling you can often times be more important than actually getting into a location to investigate. In this article I will share with you some examples of scenarios that some friends and I have dealt with along with some thing that I feel should be kept in mind when talking with clients.
Some of the basic things to keep in mind would be:
1. First impressions count. If you do not come off as being knowledgeable in your field then why would someone continue to contact you for help? Read, read, read and talk with others in the paranormal field before you even attempt a one on one conversation with someone who is looking for help. If you go in blind you can end up doing much more harm than good.
2. Listen. I cannot stress this point enough. I’d say approximately 98% of those who contact me simply want someone who will listen to them and not tell them they are crazy or not really experiencing what they know they are. The person knows what they have experienced and has probably handled it in one of several ways. The three ways that others and I in this field often encounter are stated below, obviously, for the purposes of this article the three ways are being summed up to sound much more simplistic and general than they actually are. The three main ones would be:
· They have kept experiences to themselves until so much has happened that the person feels they need an outlet so they contact someone in the paranormal field; often anonymously.
· If family members all have had experiences it is more than likely that they have not shared everything they have experienced with one another though everyone knows something is going on. Families can often stick together and have either a silent or stated vow of silence on letting anyone else know. Generally only after something happens that cannot be easily fluffed off are paranormal investigators contacted in situations like these.
· The person knows weird things are happening and they try to share them with others. Occasionally a friend will try and help but more often than not their friends will tell them they are either crazy or try and find a logical explanation for everything that has happened, thereby leaving the person with a lot of self-doubt.
3. Nobody likes a know-it-all. An informed attitude tends to go over much better than a know-it-all one. You do not want to make the person feel stupid so keep in mind that though you understand the concepts that you are explaining, the person on the other end probably does not.
4. Don’t make on-the-fly judgments. Some “experiences” could very well have a non-paranormal reason but from my experience, when a potential client first
contacts you they are often times close to feelings of desperation in needing some answers. Because of this you may want to hold off on discounting everything out of hand until you get to know a bit more about the situation.
5. Remember that claims can be exaggerated. Depending on the person some situations that may not be so scary to you or I could be terrifying to them. Because of this the claims of experiences could be blown out of proportion. Then again, some things that may sound blown up could be what really happened. This goes back to number 4.
6. One last thing to keep in mind is that when talking to a new person about possible paranormal happenings you need to try and be prepared for anything. Trust me that this sounds much easier than it is. A perfectly “classic” sounding haunting can go astray quickly and wander off into the land of “what the heck is this person talking about”. As you are in the position of “Help Desk” your job is to remain calm and try to follow the conversation.
Now I will share with you some real life experiences that have happened either to others or myself in this field. I will be keeping them fairly brief but I will be sure to let you in on enough to understand some of the situations paranormal investigators find themselves in from time to time and how they were handled. I will leave it to you, the reader, to decide if the situation was handled in the best and most professional way.
– A woman started talking to me at work. She had heard rumors that I was “into the whole ghost thing” and thought that maybe I could help her. Her and her two children (both half grown) had been living in the same house for about five years. Ever since they moved in just a few odd things would happen. The most notable of which was that her then 17-year-old daughter swore up and down that she had seen a teenage girl looking at her from the top of the stairs and when she saw her she turned and ran (disappeared as well). After that the family closed ranks and kept what was happening to them a secret, as they didn’t want others to “think they were crazy”. While the mother and daughter thought it was slightly neat, if a bit scary, the son absolutely did not want to hear anything about it as it scared him. When I asked why he was scared the client stopped talking. She looked a bit nervous and apologized for bothering me. I tried to assure her that she wasn’t bothering me in the least and that I was indeed quite interested but she refused to say anything more. Yet another reminder to newbie’s, if the person will not talk there is only so much you can do. I slipped a book about understanding hauntings under her door later that week and I got a thank you card in the mail from her assuring me that I had “helped more than I knew”.
– A husband and wife contacted a group in the south. It seemed that they had all of the “classic” signs of a residual spirit in their home. As the investigator was talking them through some things that could help them the husband spoke up that he would also like to have his ears checked by the investigator. This obviously threw the investigator for a loop but she calmly asked why his ears needed checking. It was then explained to her, by both the husband and the wife that the husband had what they called “ghost bees” living in his ears. He would hear them buzzing around in his head and it was frankly driving him a bit crazy (the investigator refrained from commenting on this). The couple could not understand why a ghost would do such a thing to him. When asked if the husband had had his ears checked out by a physician he said no and that he didn’t see a need if it was paranormal related. The investigator suggested that he make an appointment with a physician before they go any further “just to be sure”. It turns out that he had quite a bit going on with his ears that was completely non-paranormal. The investigation team still ended up doing a few investigations on the residual haunting, but the husband’s ears were left to the doctors.
– A woman who stated up front that her husband was not happy that she was contacting a paranormal group, but she contacted a group anyway because of something she thought was odd. The problem was that everyday she came home from work (at the same time) she would smell what smelled to her like roses. She said that the smell lingered a bit and eventually faded and that it was strongest in her bedroom. When asked if her husband smelled it she stated that he denied smelling anything and often told his wife that she was crazy. This triggered a few alarms in the investigators mind and a few days later the husband contacted the investigator. He stated very bluntly that he was having an affair and that nothing paranormal was going on in the least. The investigator, not wanting to get into the middle of that mess, suggested that the man talk with his wife. The man agreed and said that he would work on that end if the investigator would back out of talking with her anymore. The investigator said that he could not do that but that he would agree to fade back a little a hold off on replying to phone and email messages. The woman stopped contacting him the following week.
– A security guard contacted a group via email. He signed the email simply, “Night Guard, 10PM-6AM shift”. He was a guard at a prison that was slowly being closed down and inmates where being sent elsewhere. Because of the impending closing a lot of the cells where empty and two complete blocks that he had watch over where also empty. The prisoners had started being shipped out to other facilities approximately a month before the guard contacted this group. Ever since then all of the night shift and some of the day shift had been writing down odd experiences in the logs. Things such as seeing prisoners in cells that were supposed to be empty and when investigated further nobody was inside, noises such as humming, whistling, occasional singing, yelling, their names being called down empty corridors, slamming cell doors, etc. had all been reported from the empty blocks. The guard sounded quite upset and scared. He even made a point to write down, “I know this sounds crazy, but I swear to you that it IS happening and the guys and I aren’t sure what to do about it. We have started making rounds in pairs to the empty locations so that we have witnesses to the weird stuff (*the word stuff has been substituted here).” Email after email went back and forth between the guard and the investigator. Experiences where shared in great detail and after about a week the investigator started receiving emails from other guards at the prison. After close to a month of anonymous communication (none of the emails were signed) the first night guard wrote back that the prison will be completely closed in another month and that the head honcho would like the investigation group to come in before he hands over control back to the state. He thanked the investigator profusely for helping them all through what had been a “crazy ride” as well as helping them all to have an outlet for what was going on. None of the guards shared their experiences with anyone but each other. This email was signed by all of the guards.
As you can see, there are quite a few ways and reasons why paranormal investigators are contacted. Not all are paranormal and not all are investigated, but all of them do deserve someone to try and help them without making the person who contacted you more scared or left with a situation that should be handled by someone else. Being a paranormal investigator is more than just looking for ghosts. The human aspect can often be more disturbing than any of the ghosts we come in contact with and I have heard more than one investigator say, “Give me a ghost over a human any day.” Be that as it may, the human element can be dealt with professionally and with ease if the investigator knows some tips on how to talk to clients. The feeling you are left with after successfully dealing with a client and helping them to feel better is one that is hard to explain and at the same time very rewarding.