So you’ve taken your interest in the paranormal to the next level and decided to join a group: you’ve checked out a few local teams in your area, gone through the process of submitting an application and sat uncomfortably through an interview, and perhaps gone to a couple of meetings and met the people you intend to spend long, boring nights with in the dark while rummaging around old creaky homes or abandoned locations. Perhaps even invested some cash in a few nifty gadgets that you have seen or read about, and are now an official member of a paranormal team…
This all stemmed from a conversation about what made a good investigator and what made a good team member. There are a couple of ways to go about giving an opinion, so I am thinking along the lines of what I would tell someone joining a group for the first time, and also what I would expect from anyone in any group. It really seems quite simple…
I think it is important for any member of a team to realize that nobody is expecting them to instantly have the whole thing down pat. Knowing that someone is willing to learn a few basic techniques and follow a group’s protocols for starters can go a long way in determining whether or not someone is or will be a good fit in a group (or if the group is a good fit for them). Asking questions when they present themselves and listening to explanations offered is the first step in becoming an integral part of a paranormal team. Answers usually derive from experience.
The next step is learning as much as reasonably possible, in a reasonable amount of time. If the need to read and learn everything under the sun is a goal of any particular member – more power to them! There will always be something new to learn, whether it is about proper use of equipment, theory and ideas related to paranormal phenomena, or learning about methods to consider when analyzing documentation. But pace yourself! Setting a comfortable pace will keep you from attempting to absorb too much information too quickly, which has a tendency to burn people out and cause them to lose interest – or confuse the information altogether. Recognize what your limits are whenever you study, browse the internet, read books, or whatever your choice of information gathering is. There will always be more to learn, regardless of how much you think you have already learned!
One of the most critical steps is having – and showing – a certain amount of initiative and motivation. It is absolutely vital to being an integral and appreciated member of a team, but that initiative and motivation must go way beyond simply clearing a schedule when it is investigation time. The investigation is the EASY part; what follows is what determines whether or not someone is a good team member or simply a burden on the team. Everyone MUST be willing to do their share in the analysis of everything that was collected, i.e. watching hours of video, listening to cut after cut of audio, analyzing documentation, etc. Otherwise, those who end up doing the majority of the work are going to become resentful and WILL eventually quit or demand that the person not holding up to the workload be kicked out. Either way – it promises to cause drama that nobody needs or wants.
Showing initiative is more than just being there for investigations and going over documentation, though – it also comes in the form of searching for the next opportunity to visit a location or offering to help other team members who may be overburdened. It can be as simple as remaining active on websites and forums, or taking the time and making the effort to organize team events. It is also NOT waiting to be told or reminded that something needs to be done, but stepping up and getting it done – the bottom line is that the key to a well-rounded, efficient and motivated team relies upon everybody pulling their own weight, completing tasks in a reasonable amount of time and showing that they are actually part of the team.
Another step to being a good member of a team would have to be communication, and I’d have to say this is the easiest step of all – there’s really not much to learn (if you know how to use email and register on a forum, place a phone call or text, congratulations – you can communicate!). Nothing says more about a “team” member who can’t take the time to respond to messages or reply with a quick email. It takes all of a few minutes in most cases, and if someone can’t (or won’t) take that amount of time out of their day to take care of team business… it tells the other team members that they are unreliable. Remember – you joined a team to be a part of something, so the least you can do is act like you’re a part of something and communicate on a regular basis!
Finally – have fun! If it isn’t fun, what’s the point? I have talked with many paranormal investigators who seem to leave little or no room for this simple line of thought; everything is dead-on serious and must be taken that way, from start to finish. If that is the way someone wants to go about it, I have no problem with that – but it isn’t for me. It is possible to take pride in what you do and be able to enjoy it at the same time. After all, there is no set “right way” or “wrong way” to go about researching or investigating paranormal claims, regardless of what anyone tells you. I would agree that trying to be part of a paranormal team will not be for everybody, and that’s perfectly fine… but it should never be decided that is the case due to the lack of enjoyment.
So while these few steps are nowhere near everything that makes up a good team member, I do believe that they are all integral and imperative steps that every team member has to keep in mind as a starting point. Because no matter which team they are on or what their role in their respective team is, without taking time to learn what they can, taking the initiative to be an active member, being able to effectively communicate and most importantly being able to have fun, I believe that it will only lead to an exhausting, miserable experience for everyone. And nobody wants that. .