Police Interview Newsletter - Emotional Intelligence

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Volume 1, Issue 10
October, 2002


In the Healthwise column of Police Magazine, March 2002, Kay Scott writes:

"Mention the idea of emotional intelligence in police officers to some people and the general reaction may be: they do not have any. From a distance, officers can be seen as monolithic units whose only goal is control and regulation. Understanding emotions-either their own or others-does not come into it.

The perception is an unjust and naïve one. Emotional Intelligence is multifaceted and is very much related to people skills-something that is at the very core of policing. It means being able to identify and take into account the emotions of others. If these are not finely honed then officers cannot do the best possible job. They cannot deal effectively with victims, criminals or members of the public going about their lawful business. It also means being able to read your own emotions in a way that helps you understand your reactions to stressful events-and to find ways of dealing with stress. Effective stress management is vital. Its link with long-term physical and psychological well-being is well established" (p.1).

Go to http://www.polfed.org/magazine/03_2002/ 03_2002_healthwise.htm to read Kay Scott's article about how Middlesex University researchers discovered greater job satisfaction and psychological well being among London police officers who scored high on a test of emotional intelligence.

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UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Recent books and magazine articles have described the concept and components of emotional intelligence. But, what is it and why is it so critically important to one's professional success?

Daniel Goleman popularized the concept in his best-selling book Emotional Intelligence (1995, Bantam Books). He and his colleagues states that "emotional intelligence is observed when a person demonstrates the competencies that constitute self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skills at appropriate times and ways in sufficient frequency to be effective in the situation" (Auerbach, Personal and Executive Coaching, p.194).

Psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey define emotional intelligence as "the ability to monitor one's own and other's feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one's thinking and action" (see http://abcnews.go.com/sections /business/CornerOffice/ie).

The "EQ At Work" web site does an excellent job of describing why we need emotional intelligence and the importance of self awareness in acquiring it. The following three paragraphs are quoted directly from http://www.eqatwork.com/whats_eq.htm:

Why do we need it? In the past decade or so, scientists have learned enough about the brain to make judgments about where emotion comes from and why we need it. Primitive emotional responses held the keys to survival. These emotional reflexes, rarely conscious but powerful, motivate our choices. When triggered we react to people and situations in a limited and often ineffective way instead of responding with awareness, sensitivity, and unlimited options.

Awareness = Effectiveness The cornerstone to emotional intelligence on which most other emotional skills depend is self awareness-what we are not aware of controls us. Through self-awareness we can exercise self-control and make better choices. When we are more self-aware we can be more empathetic and sensitive to the needs of others. With empathy and self-management we can positively influence others.

EQ can be raised. Unlike IQ which is fixed for life EQ can be continually developed to enable people to increase awareness of self and others, develop self-management strategies, and connect with others to create collaboration and harmony (p.1-2).

So, how can I increase my level of emotional intelligence? Many psychologists and business leaders believe that a one-on-one coaching relationship is the most effective way of enhancing emotional intelligence. "The best learning programs to enhance emotional intelligence are individualized programs conducted over time with a coach who has graduate training in psychology and who has undergone specific training in coaching skills"

(p. 196, Jeff Auerbach, Personal and Executive Coaching, Executive College Press).

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EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: KEY AREAS FOR POLICE OFFICER COACHING & PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

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"For Your Improvement" (Lombardo and Eichinger, 1996, Lominger Limited, Inc.) is an excellently written and highly practical guide featuring developmental tips for motivated individuals struggling with work and/or relationship problems.

Sixty-seven competencies (skill areas) are described and explored in the FYI Book. Of these, the following 16 areas are (in my opinion) highly relevant to law enforcement officers, supervisors, and police administrators. I refer you to the text where Lombardo and Eichinger offer descriptions of "skilled" , "unskilled", and "overused skill" behaviors.

Competency Areas for Police Consideration:

1. Dealing with Ambiguity
2. Approachability
3. Caring About Direct Reports
4. Command Skills
5. Compassion
6. Conflict Management
7. Timely Decision Making
8. Managing Diversity
9. Fairness to Direct Reports
10. Humor
11. Interpersonal Savvy
12. Managerial Courage
13. Patience
14. Self Knowledge
15. Sizing Up People
16. Work/Life Balance

Personal coaching can increase your skill level and success in any of these competency areas. Please contact me at MacHart@PoliceInterview.com to discuss your interest in a coaching relationship.

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EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IN ACTION: "I'M SORRY, BUT I HAVE TO ISSUE YOU THIS TICKET."

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Dr. Angela V. Woodhull, author of Police Communication in Traffic Stops, suggests that officers who use the simple phrase "I'm sorry" when issuing tickets to traffic violators can soften the blow of being stopped and charged with an offense (Law and Order, Vol.50, No.9, September 2002, p.165).

Some suggest that apologizing, in any form, makes the arresting officer appear to be weak and in the wrong. Lt. Steven Sell (Wisconsin State Patrol) disagrees, and has found that saying "I'm sorry" tends to calm the motorist and to take the sting out of receiving the traffic ticket:

"I've used the phrase 'I'm sorry,....' a number of times. I've also said, 'I'm afraid but I'm going to have to take enforcement action with you.' No one ever asked, 'Well, why are you afraid?' In other words it's just an idiom," said Lt. Steven Sell (Wisconsin State Patrol). "In other words, there is a big difference between "I'm sorry" meaning "I'm wrong," and "I'm sorry" meaning "I empathize with you." (p. 165)

What a simple and marvelous way to effectively defuse and skillfully manage this potentially stressful interaction between police officer and motorist!

Improving one's emotional intelligence can make a huge difference in how effectively law enforcement officers function on the street. Police Officers who display self-awareness, self control, social awareness, and social skills are clearly more prepared "to serve and protect."

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LAW ENFORCEMENT COACHING
Phone: 804-353-6700
Fax: 804-358-7867
Email: MacHart@PoliceInterview.com

Malcolm M. Hart, Ph.D.
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Richmond, VA. 23230

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