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Mastering communication in public safety

In this tip, risk management expert Gordon Graham highlights the essential component needed for effective communication

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Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for everybody in public safety. And guess what? It has to do with an essential factor in mastering communication.

You don’t have to look very hard to see that communication is one of the most important things you do every day. It’s nearly impossible to be around someone else without communicating with them in some way. Through words, behaviors, and body language, we are always expressing something about ourselves to those around us. And the difference between good and bad communication often boils down to one thing. Attitude.

Mastering our attitude is one of the most important steps in mastering communication. Think about some of the interactions you’ve had with people. What made some interactions positive and others negative? Both types likely had similarities. Eye contact was good. Voice volume and inflection were good. Everyone used suitable language with no one deploying any unnecessary expletives. Even though both interactions involved sound communication components, attitude likely made the difference between a good and bad interaction. If you have the wrong attitude while interacting with someone, it will definitely show.

And none of us are above having the wrong attitude during communication. There have been many, many, many times when I interacted with people while I had the wrong attitude. Sometimes I was distracted, sometimes I was tired, sometimes I was getting worked up about the last event I was involved in, sometimes I wasn’t paying attention. Other times I was in a hurry and tried to rush, “I gotta get this done now!”.

So, how do we have the proper attitude for effective communication? Start by having empathy, put yourself in their shoes, for the person you are interacting with. Next, remember your professional objective. What are you hoping to accomplish through the interaction? Finally, continuously monitor your attitude during interactions.

Remember, you always have the power to choose your attitude. And if you can master your attitude, you’ve taken care of one of the most critical steps to mastering communication.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.

Gordon Graham has been actively involved in law enforcement since 1973. He spent nearly 10 years as a very active motorcycle officer while also attending Cal State Long Beach to achieve his teaching credential, USC to do his graduate work in Safety and Systems Management with an emphasis on Risk Management, and Western State University to obtain his law degree. In 1982 he was promoted to sergeant and also admitted to the California State Bar and immediately opened his law offices in Los Angeles.