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Interacting with Emotional Clients: The Importance of Empathy in Private Investigation

Sometimes, the cases you take on as a private investigator are emotionally intense for those involved. It is likely that private investigators will often interact with distraught clients. While it is not one of the most glamorous parts of the job, how you interact with these distressed clients is an important part of your role as a private investigator. Below are a couple of reasons why treating your emotional clients with empathy is important and some tips to help you maintain compassion as you interact with your clients.

Why it’s Important

The dictionary definition of empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” While you may not have experienced what your client is going through, taking the time to understand their perspective is not only respectful as a human being but also an important part of running your business effectively. Clients are more likely to return in the future when they feel the investigator handled their case with the utmost care and integrity. They are also more likely to divulge sensitive information that helps the case if they feel you are trustworthy. Handling cases with empathy can also be good for you, as an investigator. You will be more driven and passionate in pursuing a case if you genuinely care about the people involved.

Empathy in Private investigation

Helpful Tips

Here are some helpful things to keep in mind when interacting with an emotional client:


Potential clients may call you with long-winded explanations about their troubles and they may get emotional when telling you about it. While it may seem like a waste of time, sometimes all they need is someone to hear them and acknowledge their hurt. Advise the client to share facts that will help you with your case to hopefully narrow down the conversation. Even if you cannot help, listening to what they have to say may be all they need.

Do not Minimize their Experience

During your time in the industry, you may have experienced more dramatic cases with bigger stakes, but that does not mean that a client’s reaction to their own situation is unjustified. Never belittle a client or tell them they are overreacting. Even if you disagree with them, listen and try to understand their perspective. Also, do not assume that the person understands how the private investigation industry works. If they make an unreasonable request or have expectations you cannot meet, gently inform them of such without patronizing them.

Be Honest

It may seem counterintuitive but you should not dance around hard truths even if your client is emotional. You can give them hope but also be realistic. If you make promises at all, assure them that you will do everything in your power and that you are on their side. However, avoid promising that you will solve their case or other promises that you cannot keep.

Be There

One of the best ways to make a client feel cared for is consistent communication. Give them a reliable way to reach you and make yourself available. Even if the updates are small and seem insignificant to you, do not hesitate to share them with the client.

Care for Yourself

Before you can care for others, you have to make sure you are cared for. Private investigation is often a hard, emotionally draining job so make sure you are getting the support you need, whether that is seeing a therapist or surrounding yourself with people you can lean on. Do not be afraid to talk about your stresses when you need to.

An important part of this is also knowing your limits and not overexerting yourself. Do not take on so many cases that you cannot focus your care and attention on each one. Also, if a case hits too close to home in that it reminds you of past trauma, it may be kinder to both yourself and the client to turn it down. Be honest with yourself and only take cases if you can give them your all.

Join the Discussion

Do you have experience interacting with emotional clients? Share your story by joining our groups on LinkedIn and Facebook or contact us.

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