Anonymous Threats: Assembling a Team
by Peter Hyatt
|Little by little...|
|Concentration is hard work.|
Anonymous Threatening Letters is the most challenging work an analyst can face.
Few may be willing to "sign their names" to the work done for obvious reason. The risk of being wrong, based upon odds, alone, is severe.
Others will work, but tread lightly towards identifying specifics. This is not always done for fear of being wrong, but due to limitation in the quantity of words.
All wish to not wrongfully accuse anyone.
You can well imagine just how far a wrong conclusion can set back an analyst's credibility.
The anonymous letter could be anyone in our 300 million plus nation, and even more so, internationally.
Yet, in Statement Analysis, the words we choose to use reveal us all. In fact, the words we choose reveal 4 specific things:
1. Our Background including age, intelligence, education
2. Our Life's Experiences
3. Our Priorities in Life, including Motives
4. Our Personality
To learn Anonymous Threatening Letter work, one must:
A. First learn the principles of Statement Analysis
B. Practice Statement Analysis incessantly, consistently, and for many hours.
C. Once many hours have been practiced, and the analyst is comfortable with others reviewing his or her work, the analyst must then begin to learn Profiling in Statement Analysis.
This is the very opposite of what they first learned, and takes new principles to learn and apply, and now: Lots of practice.
This is something that crack Human Resource Professionals (and many small business owners) do naturally. They "get a read" on someone's personality through interviewing and if accurate, over time, hire the right people for the right positions and experience success.
D. Once Profiling is learned and then practiced over many hours *(think of the research that suggests 10,000 hours to become professional), the analyst will begin work on Anonymous Threatening Letters.
The recipient is counting on law enforcement to learn the identity of the threat, which speaks to the intensity of the threat and the best defensive strategy in countering the threat. (Arrest and imprisonment is the best countering of risk).
We must learn:
Is this threat real?
Who wrote it?
The identity of the writer will tell us about the nature of the threat, itself.
Is it from a single individual? Or, does the author represent a multitude of criminals who will follow through with serious consequences?
Is the author a mentally ill or impaired person?
What resources must be used in protecting the recipient?
What is the consequence of identifying the author?
It is something that people want to know by virtue of curiosity, since it is that the "unknown" can be the most fearful threat we all may ever face.
Stephen King said something along this line: That he could never write horror to match the imagination of parents worrying about their children.
Parents lose sleep dreaming up ways in which their children might be harmed.
The "unknown" is the scariest monster.
If I had received what the recent family from Lindenhurst received, I would be acutely frightened for my family's safety and take immediate steps to protect them, including demanding police thoroughly investigate the letter to determine its veracity and its author.
Statement Analysis teaches that we all reveal ourselves in our writing.
We reveal our:
Background, Experiences, Priorities and our Personalities.
The best way to determine who is the author of an Anonymous Threatening Letter is in "Team Analysis", that is specifically designed to be as far reaching as the setting calls for.
In group analysis, I urge fellow analysts to organize the following as a "best practice" for analysis. It is specifically "racist" and "sexist", if, by these two words, is meant "specific decisions based upon..."
If it means "hatred", then it is not "racist" nor "sexist."
Group Analysis is needed, particularly in anonymous work.
Analysts are loathe to sign their names on anonymous work because the risks outweigh the rewards: it is too easy to be wrong. Therefore, I choose those who have strong emotional intelligence, that is, those who have strong self-awareness and good imaginations.
I specifically advise:
1. The Analysis Team must consist of those who are trained in Statement Analysis and have years of experience and success, and have been trained in Statement Analysis Profiling which also requires not only specific training, but lots of hours of practice on a variety of individuals and personality types.
The bulk of the team should be experienced analysts.
2. The Analysis Team must have both genders.
This is "sexist" in that it is a decision based upon gender. Men and women think differently, as evidenced in the difference of words chosen. Just as men and women are different, they are, in general terms, superior or inferior to one another, depending upon the element.
When Anonymous Threatening Letter (ATL) work is done, it is no time for "political correctness", in that:
Someone has been threatened, and may need protection and the recipient needs to know who wrote this. Was it a male or female? This is the first element of profiling in learning the identity of the author.
When one shows a sensitivity towards this, I must pass. For this person, their agenda is more important than the truth.
One that has an agenda must be excluded. Those with agenda destroy the "expected" which then does not allow us to confront "the unexpected." This includes those who are offended at statistics. They should not be in Statement Analysis.
If people with green hair are 70% more likely to author an anonymous letter, and I have green hair, I cannot deny the statistic based upon the color of my hair. This disqualifies me from the work. In the last few years, I have seen it too often. I can encourage those in authority to not employ those with agenda, but when they do, they find unintended consequence that could have, and should have, been avoided. It is something we train for in employment interviewing. When a police department pays out millions of dollars, for example, because of an aggressive and violent officer, not only are all officers unfairly tainted, and tax payer money wasted, the harm done to the victim was avoidable if the Analytical Interview was used in the hiring process.
We screen them out there, and we certainly do not want "agenda" in analysis.
3. The Analysis team have those of humility in character.
This is an indispensable in analysis but becomes the "fly in the ointment" of team analysis.
When we do group analysis of an ATL, at any given point, the analyst will be "wrong" in assertion, (often, too) and must be of the mind that this is not personally insulting, nor damaging to his or her self esteem. The analyst must care first and foremost about "getting it right" rather than "being" right. This means deliberately excluding those who, although they may wish to be part of the team, have personalities that show anger or embarrassment at being corrected.
We often note that good leaders were once good followers, who knew how to take orders, therefore, they know how to give them. This is critical in group analysis work: even one personality that becomes unsettled for being "wrong" can and will influence the analysis.
The self-effacing, especially seen in humor, may be someone who simply does not take himself or herself too seriously. Being "wrong" is part of being "right" and we do not want any avoidable element to hinder our work.
Although everyone might want to be part of a team, those who struggle with self esteem, from self-loathing to hyper-confident, will hinder the work.
4. The Analysis team should have an analyst from a diverse background. This means that an analyst, for example, who grew up in a black neighborhood, went to a black school, and works in a black neighborhood, may be limited in understanding race, just as an analyst who grew up and works in a white neighborhood might be limited.
For this reason, racial diversity is needed, whether in pigmentation or not, it must be in knowledge, as sometimes white people speak differently than black people. This is related to point 4:
5. The Analysis team should have cultural or geographical diversity.
This means that the analyst should have familiarity with how, for example, Southerners might speak differently than Northerners, and how city populations might speak differently than rural.
Thankfully, in both of these areas (3 and 4), the internet gives us plenty of ways in which to broaden ourselves. This diversity can be greatly assisted also by the internet. An analyst who is constantly surfing news sites for statements is absorbing statements from all types of people, broadening one's own understanding of how gender, race, and geography can impact language just as much as education and intelligence can.
The next suggestion is not always understood, but once implemented, makes sense to the attendees:
5. The Analysis team should have an inexperienced attendee, of higher than average intelligence. Perhaps even two in attendance, depending upon the total number, should be indicated.
This is often a difficult suggestion for analyst teams because they wish to analyze without having to stop and explain each principle. This makes sense.
Therefore, the inexperience attendee is instructed to not comment or question each element, instead focusing upon his or her own observations of the subject's words.
This non-trained attendee can be someone who is recently trained, therefore, inexperienced in time to practice the craft, but has either one of three backgrounds:
a. An investigator with good instincts. This means specifically avoiding anyone who shows signs of being 'jaded', as this one will fail since he or she will believe "everyone is lying" and will steer the group in the wrong direction. We want the same above-average intelligence, and the same strong emotional intelligence (self-awareness) that we seek in investigators, but we want a distinctly "outside" opinion, to butt heads, and 'push' us, even to the point of putting us on the defensive.
Besides one who has little or no training, but is experienced in interviewing or investigating, I strongly urge teams to have:
b. A business person, male or female, who is also not cynical, but comes with a mind for facts, and a taste for "bottom line" type of thinking. This is one who has had success, therefore, has been able to "choose the right person for the right job" instinctively. This business person could be a Human Resources professional, an upper management employee, or an owner: he or she must be in authority, and must have a record of success in discerning people. This leads me to my last inclusion, which may come as a surprise to some:
c. Someone with social services or psychological backgrounds who regularly "diagnoses" others, without a formal "diagnosis."
What does this mean?
This could be a therapist, psychologist, social worker, etc, who specifically has experience in "on the fly diagnosing."
This sounds strange at first and it warrants explanation.
There are those who deal with people all day long; from the morning until the evening. While dealing with them, they do so in the capacity of "helping" them (social services) and must be very sharp at recognizing personality traits quickly, and then tailoring this opinion into language that specifically assists the flow of information.
It is not a formal diagnosis.
In fact, in my own experiences in interviewing people, I have found some in social services to be better at diagnosing than those who are paid to diagnose. This is because they 'live or die' on their instincts: they have success after success because they recognize the patterns within speech of certain personality types.
This is the professional who says to herself,
"Oh, I must speak very concretely to her. She's borderline type..." and is successful because she literally tailored her speech to what she perceived as a very difficult client or patient. Child Protective investigators are often very sharp in this.
The professional who says to herself, "this person was probably sexually abused in childhood, let me sit a bit further back from her to make her comfortable" shows a powerful intuitive insight into not only the language, but the personality type the language revealed and how best to adjust oneself to increase the flow of information.
They are sometimes unrecognized for this marvelous talent, but they are efficient once trained in analysis.
What size should the team be?
This depends upon:
The nature of the threat;
The length of the letter;
The context surrounding the letter
The time constraint placed upon the team;
If a team is too large, the movement will be too ponderous and a consensus may be difficult in developing. The majority of the team should be experienced analysts, with, hopefully, specific experience in profiling. (ATL experience can be hard to find)
Profiling is the next step of learning, to advance to Anonymous work.
Profiling is not the "middle aged white male living in his aunt's basement" that I often reference. It is to do something that is opposite to what the Statement Analyst has been trained to do:
Bring the dead subject to life.
Because of the potential to discredit the science of Statement Analysis in the risky profiling and subsequent anonymous work, the analyst should not only have the experience and success of Statement Analysis, but should understand the principles of Statement Analysis so well that they can explain them to a 12 year old.
That is to say, they can tell a 12 year old why "coffee" in a statement indicates this, or why "brushing my teeth" may suggest that, or why the deceptive person increases the number of words he uses prior to the deceptive point, and so on and so forth.
The analyst must know it so well that the explanation itself is not trying.