fbpx

Two Views Of How To Get Effective Communication To Work For You

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

How to approach each call as an improv skit and how to talk persuasively to hostile people were two topics related to effective police communication featured recently at the 2016 WINx training event in suburban Chicago.

The one-day program, presented annually by its founders, Force Science Analysts Brian Willis, president of Winning Mind Training, and Roy Bethge, co-founder of the Virtus Group training organization, showcased nine speakers, ranging from a transit officer wounded in the Boston Marathon massacre to a behavioral scientist who specializes in wellness and maximal performance.

Following the format established by the popular TEDx talks for civilians, WINx presenters had 18 minutes apiece to deliver memorable messages for law enforcement.

Chelley Seibert, a retired academy instructor for the Dayton (OH) PD, and Scott Erickson, an active, 19-year patrol officer with San Jose (CA) PD, zeroed in on tactics they favor for “winning friends and influencing people” on the beat in these contentious times.

Here are excerpts from their WINx remarks and from conversations afterward with Force Science News:

How a cast of characters can help you control the theater of the street

Chelley Seibert, a former Officer of the Year and the first female recruit to win a “Top Gun” award from her department for shooting skills, notes that “over 95 per cent of police work is showing up and talking to people.

“The citizens can say whatever they want and use whatever verbiage they choose in these interactions.” But because “the officer is being paid to have these conversations,” he or she is held to a higher standard. “When you are paid to perform an action or service, you are considered a ‘professional,’ and as a professional you are expected to perform ‘professionally.’ ”

When unprofessional exchanges or behavior erupt, sometimes escalating to physical violence, it’s often because an officer’s ego is challenged and, especially with younger, less experienced officers, “they don’t know how to protect it,” Seibert believes.

IMPROV INSPIRATION

An effective strategy evolved for her out of improvisational acting exercises she experienced as part of a public speaking class. “I came to realize that a police call for service is usually like an improv skit, with the same series of steps”:

  1. You enter the scene and assess the situation (Is it safe? Layout? Number of people?)
  2. You uncover the story line (what’s the complaint, crime, circumstances?)
  3. You determine the roles already present (Who is the victim, witness, suspect?)
  4. You pick a ‘character’ with which to respond (What role is needed?)
  5. You bring the scene to a successful conclusion (Take a report, arrest suspect, etc.)
  6. You exit, “take off” your character, and go on to the next call, where this process is repeated.

A key benefit of this framing is that it creates a “psychic disconnection,” Seibert explains. “You don’t put your ego on the public stage. You maintain a difference between who you are as a person—your authentic self—and the roles you’re called to play during any given tour of duty.

“When you distance yourself from who you really are by consciously playing a character, it’s easier to feel that insults and protests don’t apply to you personally, just to the role you’re playing at the moment for your job.”

BASIC PERSONAS

Seibert recommends “three main characters officers need to have in their back pockets.” The body language, facial expressions, words, and tone of voice for each need to be practiced so they can be assumed and smoothly transitioned among as circumstances merit.

The Compassionate Consoler

The Compassionate Consoler appears “when we need to show caring empathy,” Seibert says. “On a death notification, for example, or when trying to calm a lost child or dealing with a confused Alzheimer’s patient or trying to interview a timid person or keep an injured party from going into shock.

“Here, you do anything you can to appear smaller and not intimidating. Your voice should be low, slow, reassuring. Keep your eyes large. Ever notice Disney characters? If they want you to like the character in the story, the animators make the eyes larger. Villains’ eyes are often smaller, sometimes only slits.”

The Enforcer

“We’ve seen cops get hurt or even killed because they were ‘too nice’ and couldn’t make a transition into an authoritative role when needed. First, make yourself seem as large as possible—wide stance, elbows away from your body, shoulders back, head up, lips thin. Commands sound different when spoken with thin lips, teeth visible. Speak in short sound bites—commands, not questions.”

Although many departments discourage profanity these days, Seibert argues that a sparing but emphatic use of “the F-Bomb” can underscore your commitment to controlling a resistant suspect and convey that you are really serious about the orders you’re issuing.

The Composed Stabilizer

The Composed Stabilizer is the character you want “when you have to display calm and confidence even in the most gruesome or frightening scenarios,” Seibert says. “Imagine a horrific homicide scene with a partial body on the living room floor, the severed head on display as a lamp shade, random body parts nail-gunned to the wall—and a grief-stricken, hysterical family member who’s just discovered it, now looking at you to make sense of it all.”

Your demeanor needs to convey “been there, done that,” Seibert advises. “ ‘Okay, here’s what we need to do…’ Again, you want a larger body to convey control, being in charge. Your voice is slow, calm, almost conversational, not rushed or animated. Your face should be calm—think ‘bored’—so as not to show any adverse reaction to an already difficult scene.”

You may develop other characters to develop particular circumstances—a seemingly harmless, gullible Barney Fife is often helpful in getting suspects to lower their guard on drug interdiction stops or rape interrogations, for example. The critical point, Seibert says, is not to approach every call with only one persona in your repertoire and risk being stuck with a character that doesn’t work because you don’t know any other.

“You need to be the director of the skit. Like a good coach, you read the people and circumstances you’re confronting and send in the best character for the job, keeping officer safety always as your foremost consideration.

“Successful veteran officers often realize they’ve been doing something similar to this for many years. They just haven’t named it or given it much thought, but they make up stories to better relate to a victim or suspect or suddenly develop an accent or use slang phrases to better establish rapport.”

ACADEMY NEED?

Seibert, who holds a master’s degree in education, strongly believes “we should be teaching this improv ‘theater sport’ at the academy level, just as we do other physical skills, and not depend on officers developing it through years of trial and error. Some officers are naturally compassionate but need to develop their Enforcer side. Some are strong Enforcers but don’t have a compassionate bone in their bodies. We have to be good at all the roles because we can’t pick and choose the calls we go on.

“We wouldn’t put officers on the street without a vest. So why are we sending them out without the tools to keep their ego in check and protect their authentic selves and then wonder why our divorce rates, alcoholism, and suicide numbers are so unacceptably high?

“By applying a protective coating of characters, we can prevent officers from succumbing to job burnout, cynicism, and frustration.”

Chelley Seibert can be reached at: drumgrrrrl@yahoo.com

Tips for overcoming hostility with the pro-police message

Scott Erickson seems to revel in facing the challenges of persuasive communication.

He’s a rising star in Republican politics in a deep-blue state; as an avocation, he writes policy papers on controversial topics like Benghazi for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative DC think tank; he addresses audiences of college students who question police control tactics; he has founded an nonprofit called Americans in Support of Law Enforcement to educate civilians on the police perspective; and, of course, as a second-generation cop who holds a master’s degree in criminal justice, he patrols the streets of a liberal city in tumultuous times.

Appropriate, then, that as the final speaker on the WINx roster he should offer pointers on how to communicate with “people who are hostile to us.”

Erickson concedes that “you can’t always reach everyone. There are activists who don’t care to have a genuine conversation. They just want to yell at you.” But, he insists, “more people than we often realize are looking for answers and can be swayed,” even if they are vocally critical of police.

For maximizing your chances of connecting with them, whether in groups or one-on-one, he offers three bullet points:

DON’T VILIFY

“It’s easy to dismiss our critics and try to delegitimize their opinions” with name-calling and other abusive, disparaging actions: “ ‘I’m right, you’re wrong, and you’re an idiot.’ Easy, but also very destructive and dangerous,” Erickson says.

“It’s not just about the other side understanding us. We need to understand their concerns and why those concerns feel legitimate to them, even if you know they are objectively false. That may take some introspection on our part.

“When you’re trying to engage someone, it’s important not to issue blanket condemnations of them and their concerns. Once you delegitimize people’s opinions and feelings, you delegitimize them as human beings. And once you do that, how do you expect them to consider your point of view?”

VALUE LISTENING

“There’s value for us from genuinely listening to other people,” Erickson says. “Soliciting their opinion and giving them a sense of being on equal footing in the conversation helps to disarm them.

“No matter who we’re talking to, we can learn something from everyone we encounter. Even with career criminals, there’s probably something in their experiences that you can take away that will be useful to you.

“The same with our critics. How can we improve if we don’t listen to find out what they object to about us? We don’t have to compromise our principles or always agree, but we do need to actively listen, encourage them to share their point of view, and try to put ourselves in their shoes. If we’re disingenuous, people recognize it, and they’ll dismiss what we want them to understand about the problems of policing in America.”

USE ANECDOTES

“We tend to rely far too much on statistics and hard data” when we’re trying to sell our point of view, Erickson believes. “How can you reach someone who’s highly emotional about controversial issues with data? You can’t.

“We have to communicate our perspective in a way that appeals to their emotions, not just their sense of reason.”

He recalls a college crowd he spoke to that was upset about the “militarization” of police, focusing particularly on the acquisition of large armored vehicles “like an occupying army.”

In response, Erickson related a real-world anecdote about a barricaded, armed subject scene he was involved in where SWAT operators used an armored truck to evacuate civilians from a building under siege and carry them to safety.

“I was able to explain that those citizens were damn glad we had an armored vehicle and agreed that tools shouldn’t be taken away because you never know when they may be needed.

“Real-world stories many times can help frame our perspective and make a connection better than anything else,” Erickson says. “If you’ve been a cop for more than a week, you have plenty of real-world anecdotes to draw on.”

GDPR

  • Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

Effective date: January 06, 2019

Force Science Institute, Ltd. (“us”, “we”, or “our”) operates the https://www.forcescience.org/ website (hereinafter referred to as the “Service”).

This page informs you of our policies regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data when you use our Service and the choices you have associated with that data. Our Privacy Policy for Force Science Institute, Ltd. is based on the Privacy Policy Template from Privacy Policies.

We use your data to provide and improve the Service. By using the Service, you agree to the collection and use of information in accordance with this policy. Unless otherwise defined in this Privacy Policy, the terms used in this Privacy Policy have the same meanings as in our Terms and Conditions, accessible from https://www.forcescience.org/

Information Collection And Use

We collect several different types of information for various purposes to provide and improve our Service to you.

Types of Data Collected

Personal Data

While using our Service, we may ask you to provide us with certain personally identifiable information that can be used to contact or identify you (“Personal Data”). Personally identifiable information may include, but is not limited to:

  • Email address
  • First name and last name
  • Phone number
  • Address, State, Province, ZIP/Postal code, City
  • Cookies and Usage Data

Usage Data

We may also collect information on how the Service is accessed and used (“Usage Data”). This Usage Data may include information such as your computer’s Internet Protocol address (e.g. IP address), browser type, browser version, the pages of our Service that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages, unique device identifiers and other diagnostic data.

Tracking & Cookies Data

We use cookies and similar tracking technologies to track the activity on our Service and hold certain information.

Cookies are files with small amount of data which may include an anonymous unique identifier. Cookies are sent to your browser from a website and stored on your device. Tracking technologies also used are beacons, tags, and scripts to collect and track information and to improve and analyze our Service.

You can instruct your browser to refuse all cookies or to indicate when a cookie is being sent. However, if you do not accept cookies, you may not be able to use some portions of our Service. You can learn more how to manage cookies in the Browser Cookies Guide.

Examples of Cookies we use:

  • Session Cookies. We use Session Cookies to operate our Service.
  • Preference Cookies. We use Preference Cookies to remember your preferences and various settings.
  • Security Cookies. We use Security Cookies for security purposes.

Use of Data

Force Science Institute, Ltd. uses the collected data for various purposes:

  • To provide and maintain the Service
  • To notify you about changes to our Service
  • To allow you to participate in interactive features of our Service when you choose to do so
  • To provide customer care and support
  • To provide analysis or valuable information so that we can improve the Service
  • To monitor the usage of the Service
  • To detect, prevent and address technical issues

Transfer Of Data

Your information, including Personal Data, may be transferred to — and maintained on — computers located outside of your state, province, country or other governmental jurisdiction where the data protection laws may differ than those from your jurisdiction.

If you are located outside United States and choose to provide information to us, please note that we transfer the data, including Personal Data, to United States and process it there.

Your consent to this Privacy Policy followed by your submission of such information represents your agreement to that transfer.

Force Science Institute, Ltd. will take all steps reasonably necessary to ensure that your data is treated securely and in accordance with this Privacy Policy and no transfer of your Personal Data will take place to an organization or a country unless there are adequate controls in place including the security of your data and other personal information.

Disclosure Of Data

Legal Requirements

Force Science Institute, Ltd. may disclose your Personal Data in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to:

  • To comply with a legal obligation
  • To protect and defend the rights or property of Force Science Institute, Ltd.
  • To prevent or investigate possible wrongdoing in connection with the Service
  • To protect the personal safety of users of the Service or the public
  • To protect against legal liability

Security Of Data

The security of your data is important to us, but remember that no method of transmission over the Internet, or method of electronic storage is 100% secure. While we strive to use commercially acceptable means to protect your Personal Data, we cannot guarantee its absolute security.

Service Providers

We may employ third party companies and individuals to facilitate our Service (“Service Providers”), to provide the Service on our behalf, to perform Service-related services or to assist us in analyzing how our Service is used.

These third parties have access to your Personal Data only to perform these tasks on our behalf and are obligated not to disclose or use it for any other purpose.

Analytics

We may use third-party Service Providers to monitor and analyze the use of our Service.

  • Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Google uses the data collected to track and monitor the use of our Service. This data is shared with other Google services. Google may use the collected data to contextualize and personalize the ads of its own advertising network.You can opt-out of having made your activity on the Service available to Google Analytics by installing the Google Analytics opt-out browser add-on. The add-on prevents the Google Analytics JavaScript (ga.js, analytics.js, and dc.js) from sharing information with Google Analytics about visits activity.For more information on the privacy practices of Google, please visit the Google Privacy & Terms web page: https://policies.google.com/privacy?hl=en

Links To Other Sites

Our Service may contain links to other sites that are not operated by us. If you click on a third party link, you will be directed to that third party’s site. We strongly advise you to review the Privacy Policy of every site you visit.

We have no control over and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third party sites or services.

Children’s Privacy

Our Service does not address anyone under the age of 18 (“Children”).

We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from anyone under the age of 18. If you are a parent or guardian and you are aware that your Children has provided us with Personal Data, please contact us. If we become aware that we have collected Personal Data from children without verification of parental consent, we take steps to remove that information from our servers.

Changes To This Privacy Policy

We may update our Privacy Policy from time to time. We will notify you of any changes by posting the new Privacy Policy on this page.

We will let you know via email and/or a prominent notice on our Service, prior to the change becoming effective and update the “effective date” at the top of this Privacy Policy.

You are advised to review this Privacy Policy periodically for any changes. Changes to this Privacy Policy are effective when they are posted on this page.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, please contact us:

  • By email: support@forcescience.org
  • By visiting this page on our website: https://www.forcescience.org/contact
  • By phone number: 866-683-1944
  • By mail: Force Science Institute, Ltd.