Peter Falk played a raincoat wearing US detective called Columbo. He was usually disarmingly scruffy and had curious eyes. He will always be remembered for the moments in his popular tv series when he appeared to have finished his questions and turned back to his suspect and said words to the effect of, “Just one more thing…..”.
A lot of investigators and for that matter, sales people recognise this moment and can use it in a skillful and effective way.
The person you are speaking to will have, “Relaxed”, somewhat after your preamble and pointed questions and will think that you have finished with them.
An example might be when a sales person opens their briefcase and shows off their wares. The consumer isn’t buying today….there is no sale…..The sales person, “Ceremonially”, close their case and walks away to the exit. As they are about to exit they turn to the customer and say, “Could I ask what the main reason is for not wanting: x, y, or z. The, by now, relaxed and off guard customer might say, “The price” or something similar. The skilled sales person can, now, reopen the case and bring a deal to the attention of the customer offering a price reduction.
The “Columbo Moment”, is adaptable to every and any situation in which you need to find a new or alternative strategy when conducting your investigations.
When interacting with a third party who is giving you conflicting information about the whereabouts of a missing person, go through the usual questioning routine and accept their information. Start to say you goodbyes and then drop a “Columbo moment”, with an incisive question!