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In this episode we talk about Triggers, which are any stimuli that impact our behavior. Following Marshall Goldsmith’s description of Triggers, we discuss some of the potentially most harmful triggers; those that are unexpected and counterproductive. We explore the different ways people are triggered, especially in police-citizen interactions. We provide some solutions one can do to manage negative reactions to triggers, including communication, pausing before responding, and setting boundaries for employees within organizations.
For more information about Triggers, please see the following:
Transcript of Episode
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:00:00] Hello, everyone, welcome to another episode of Inclusion Junkie, I am one of your hosts, Dr. Natalie Parks, and I am here with my two colleagues, Paul Peoples and Mason Washington.
Paul Peebles: [00:00:11] What’s going on, everybody?
Mason Washington: [00:00:13] What’s happening, everybody, I’m glad to be here.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:00:18] Today, we are going to jump off with a discussion about triggers and hopefully determining kind of what a trigger is and even more specifically, what an emotional trigger is. And we’re going to hopefully talk about some examples of that and have a good discussion.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:00:40] So starting off in terms of what a trigger is, you know, this is a word that I think is thrown around a lot. Now, you see it sometimes in presentations, people will give like a trigger alert when they’re talking about subject matters that are likely to have maybe some strong views or opinions or feelings tied to it. But I think for me, even getting back to kind of the definition of what a trigger is, you know, we see this word thrown around so much, but I don’t often see people really spending time to say what exactly is a trigger. And of course, you all know I have a behavior definition waiting. But before we jump in with that, Mason and Paul, what are your thoughts about a trigger? What what comes to mind?
Paul Peebles: [00:01:34] I mean, think about something that’s going to save me from zero to 100. That’s going to maybe bring out an emotional fury. Know it’s going to make me upset. So when I think about triggers, it’s always something that’s going to get me to a certain level. My adrenaline is going to rush. I’m going to be preparing for an immediate response.
Mason Washington: [00:01:58] Yeah, I think I would definitely agree with that. And I think also, though, that there are times when I think that I am trigger by certain things and it doesn’t necessarily elicit a response where I’m going from zero to one hundred. But it does kind of heightened my awareness of what’s being talked about or what’s being said. And my emotions are definitely heightened as to how I feel not only about, you know, what’s being said, but in many cases about the person that sane or the the audience that’s that’s witnessing, you know, kind of what’s happening. I tend to to think about think about it a lot when I’m in a group setting, you know, and something is said in the group setting that definitely, you know, heightens it heightens my awareness and puts me on alert as to what I need to be really. On cue and listening more intently as to what else is being said behind the trigger, and then I’m also incredibly aware of how I want to respond based on what was kind of said.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:03:17] I love it. Uh. You know, I think what both of you said is what we’re right now kind of in mainstream people are thinking about is is very much in line with it’s something that sets an emotional kind of response or something. And emotionally in me responds, you know, I hear something or see something. And whether it’s zero to one hundred, whether it’s heightening my awareness, I want to pay a little more attention, feel figure out what’s going on, how I’m going to respond to all of those things. You know, there’s one of my favorite books. I’m going to give a shout out to Marshall Goldsmith, who wrote the book Triggers. He actually defines triggers in a slightly different way. And the book talks all about triggers, not necessarily just the emotional triggers, but he defines trigger as or behavioral trigger as any stimulus that impacts our behavior, which is really a lot more broad than than what we just talked about. And I think what we tend to think about or hear about when you’re hearing trigger alerts or things like that, what do you guys think? Just kind of responding to that definition right there. Do you guys agree with that or do you think maybe not so much?
Mason Washington: [00:04:47] No. I mean, I think I definitely do agree with it, like, there’s so many things that that affect our behavior, right, and as we know, you know, working with the behavioral analysts, we’re always talking about really what behavior is. And it’s, you know, largely all the things that we do say, think and feel. And so there’s a multitude of things that probably are happening on a regular basis that that trigger how we’re going to respond or how we’re going to behave, how we’re going to see how we’re going to feel about them. And so taking it back, I think, you know, from a space of talking about inclusion and diversity and things of that nature, you know, as an African-American male, I can definitely say that, you know, so many did when they know I was I was sitting in a restaurant the other day and I overheard, you know, a person next to me in the restaurant, you know, having some opinions about the Black Lives Matter movement. And I was immediately trigger and nothing I didn’t know that person. I didn’t necessarily say anything. I didn’t necessarily do anything differently. But I definitely had a bunch of thoughts. Right. And I definitely had a bunch of feelings about a lot of this stuff that this particular individual was saying. Yet it wasn’t directed at me. It wouldn’t have been appropriate for me to respond or really say anything at the time. Right where we’re both in this restaurant, you know, having meals. But I can definitely say that my behavior changes. I immediately begin to feel a certain way. I of turn around and look like I’m interested to hear a little bit more like who are you talking to, who? You know. So there’s a there was a bunch of different things that happened as a result of that. But yet, you know, no response from me, obviously.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:06:43] You know, I think in Goldsmith’s kind of frames, he talks about like six different things that we should think about when we’re thinking about triggers. But the big ones that I think are maybe applicable are the the conscious versus unconscious and anticipated versus unexpected as well as productive versus counterproductive. And so I think in an example that you gave, you know, that’s kind of a conscious trigger, right? You’re like, what did what did I just hear? Let me listen. And you kind of make a mental note, like, you know, why you’re you’re being triggered or, you know you know that that is something that is heightening your awareness or you’re listening. You know, I think honestly, just just thinking about a lot of the work that we do in the spaces that we work in. To me, it’s thinking about those unconscious, unexpected.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:07:49] And counterproductive triggers that that are most problems where you’re kind of in this moment and, you know, maybe you weren’t super conscious of how that was making you feel in the moment or the thoughts that you had and you weren’t you definitely weren’t expecting it. Right. You’re out to lunch and all of a sudden is talking about Black Lives Matter. And, you know, that could have gone south very quickly.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:08:17] Right? You could have maybe said something or done something that was counterproductive. And so. You know, I don’t know, I like that the framework that he puts around it, and I think it gives us a way to maybe think about and talk about those things in terms of what are all of those things that are happening in the environment that we’re reacting to that that are causing us to behave in a certain way? And what are the things that we’re least aware of and and not expecting? And what does that do for us?
Paul Peebles: [00:08:52] You know, I’d like to think like we talk about culture, context, your environmental settings, how they do have an effect on you. And in today’s climate, I think on a subconscious level, we’re all at this heightened awareness state where we hear terms and we may be a little bit more sensitive when we hear those terms, especially depending on the environment and who’s around. And, you know, and it does you know, typically I can be focused on everything that my wife is saying to me, but we’ve been out multiple times and you hear conversations and, you know, there is a trigger. And, you know, I’ll stop in the middle of the sentence. And my wife is like, OK, what’s going on? But I think subconsciously in today’s environment that we’re sitting there with everything going on around us, we actually are at a heightened awareness of terms of definitions, things that people are saying in. And it’s just important to understand that. You know, there’s a time to respond and there’s a time out to respond, but it does it just makes you more sensitive, more aware of the things that people are saying around you.
Mason Washington: [00:10:04] Yeah, I agree. I think, you know, one of the things that I think about I remember I remember as a child and as a as a teen and growing up and raised by a single mother, I remember my mom telling me off, Mason never make decisions out of emotion. And she would also tell me that there’s always a way to handle the situation and to not and to try very hard to not be reactionary.
Mason Washington: [00:10:33] And I think that for me, when we start having a real conversation about, you know, triggers and I think your point is well taken, that as it relates to, you know, those unconscious ones. Right, those unconscious things that trigger you, what I begin to think about very honestly is I hate it when I’m triggered by something and then I react in a way that is, you know, maybe in some capacity, you know, out of character for myself or in a way that I wish I wouldn’t have reacted before and that I didn’t give myself enough time to ingest. Listen, realize that, oh, I have been triggered. And because I have been triggered now, I need to maybe make some decisions differently about how I’m supposed to respond or if I’m supposed to respond at all. And so for me, I really start to think about because I can’t stand it when I have to go back and second guess my own behavior because I allowed something or someone else to trigger a response in me that maybe wasn’t what I normally would have done in that situation. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s kind of how I feel about it.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:11:56] Yeah, I think so. And, you know, I think I think it even also goes back to this this premise that we as humans like to think that we have so much control over our behavior. And maybe it’s these times where these triggers come about and we respond in such a way that we can look back on it and be like, and maybe that wasn’t the best decision, or I wish I would have done things differently. But I think it’s also one of those of it happens to every single one of us, right. Where it’s almost like we’re walking along, minding our business.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:12:33] And all of a sudden there’s this bump in the sidewalk that trips us up and we fall down. But, you know, how do we know when the bump was there, how we’ve been paying a little bit different attention or something like that? Maybe we wouldn’t have fallen. But I think it’s also a realization that you can’t really walk through life being prepared for every trigger that might come about. You come your way like there’s so much that’s happening. You know, even right now, we’re all sitting where we’re focused on one another or in quiet environments. But at any given moment, especially you two, you guys are both at work at the station, somebody could come in and say something. Someone could the alarm could go off. And those are all triggers, you know, in the way that it’s going to it’s going to cause the behavior to happen. But I think to what Paul was saying, I’m kind of all over the place. But what Paul was saying, we’re in this kind of heightened awareness and heightened emotion and heightened polarization world. And I wonder if we’re all a little bit more likely to be triggered in that emotional way, Mason, that you’re talking about. That kind of yeah, we’re not as conscious about it, but because we are consciously aware of. These polarizing issues that we might all be a little bit more sensitive and more likely to respond negatively.
Mason Washington: [00:14:17] Oh, for sure. For sure. And I think and I don’t know I don’t know for everyone else. But like for me, what I would say is that I think that’s definitely the case, depending on the environment that I meet or the environment that I’m going to write. Like if I’m going to work at the fire department, I’m already kind of preparing myself in some capacity to potentially be triggered by some things. And I’m saying specifically with the different types of people that I work with and the conversations that we have, that the amount of time that we spend with one another, you know, things are things are going to come up, conversations is going to happen. Life happens while we’re working. Right. And so, you know, you begin to prepare yourself, you know, based on the environment that you’re going into, you know, to kind of go, OK, well, know what what potential things, you know, might trigger me today. You know what I’m saying? And I don’t know about Paul. You know, he could probably speak to this as well. But we talk a lot about trying to really make sure, especially as leaders, you know, in the workplace like and I got to really be careful about how I respond to certain things and what’s going to, you know, trigger.
Paul Peebles: [00:15:40] It yeah, I agree 100 percent. I do believe, like when you’re in a leadership role, you do have to watch your response to triggers. We all have triggers. But in the environment, the culture, the context of the setting, that heightened awareness, you know, you have to be aware of your own emotions. You have to be real with yourself and say, hey, I know the things that trigger me, but I need to make sure I respond in the appropriate fashion. I know many times when I’m out and if I hear something that, you know, on the radio or if I’m looking at TV, I try to limit the amount of exposure to those items because, you know, how many times have somebody been driving down the street and you see them yelling in their car, yelling at the radio trigger just that fast with an emotional response by something that a narrator or someone said in an editorial? So I think once you can identify what triggers you, once you know what triggers you. It depends upon the context, the setting, the environment, how you’re going to respond, because let’s just be realistic. Sometimes you’re going to be on the defense. You know, going back to that analogy that you use at the restaurant and you heard Black Lives Matter. Well, you know, you hear the context of it. And when I hear someone refer to it as, you know, a militant hate group, that really bothers me. So we his sights, this emotional response to be on the defense already. So we just have to be aware of the things that trigger us and understand we are human. My father always told me, he said he said, son, never be beat, just be better. And I’ve always tried to live by it. And, you know, sometimes if I have an inappropriate response, I like to come back and make it better, but. We have to understand that today’s environment that we’re in, it’s a very difficult environment in the surroundings, sometimes it’s just not very inclusive. So my response, I always like to try and be about inclusion of all members. So I think just being aware of my own triggers helps me deal with things that.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:17:57] I think I definitely think being aware of of your own triggers and taking the time to identify, you know, whether that’s looking back and saying, OK, in this situation, here’s what happened and here’s kind of the emotional response that that I felt or that I had.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:18:17] But we no matter how kind of introspective or insightful we are, there are always going to be things that we’re not prepared for, that we’re not conscious of, that somebody says something and we didn’t foresee that being a problem. But here we are. And I wonder if we should focus more on what those moments feel like so we can identify them when we’re in them. And then how do we respond as a result? And just as an example, I mean, we’re going to take kind of some of the work that we’re doing that we’re focused on with our de-escalation techniques and working with please.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:18:59] You know, I’m I’m I’m a police officer. I’m gonna call you. I think it’s going to be pretty easy. Maybe I turn pulled somebody over for speeding or something like that. And I’m I’m going up to the window and something happens and I’m triggered. And and I think we see that we see that in these these videos that have been posted that are showing what happens when people are triggered, both the officers and at times other people, and and how badly things can go. But but I think it’s a matter in that moment, like, how do I identify I’m just I was just triggered. But I still need I still have a job to do. I still have to do something.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:19:47] Or conversely, I just triggered you, but I’m the person in the position of power, whether that’s leadership officer or whoever, and it’s my responsibility to de-escalate this, even though you are probably about to do something to trigger me back.
Mason Washington: [00:20:04] Yeah, yeah. Like, man, you said a lot. Like much I respond to. Right. Right. OK, so so first. I think that definitely needs to be a conversation and in that example, in regards to. Sometimes the first step, in my opinion, is just recognizing that people are trying to trigger you, right? Like like for me that makes a difference, right. So if I can recognize in a situation like, oh, you’re actually trying to do certain things specifically to trigger me and get me to react in a certain way, that’s unbecoming of what I would normally do, our unprofessional or whatever the case may be, depending on my role in the situation. But if I’m if I’m able to just even recognize that, OK, you’re trying to trigger me, right. So let me take a step back, kind of recognize it and then respond appropriately based on knowing the fact that people are trying to antagonize you or get you to respond in a certain way. And so I think that matters a lot, especially in the police force and in the things that happen and the things that they deal with on a regular basis. But I also think that you say something else that’s incredibly interesting that I really want to touch on is when you recognize or when you’ve triggered someone else.
Mason Washington: [00:21:31] Right. Like you’re in the conversation, you’re doing your job or whatever the case may be, whether it be your work, whether it be your home or business partner or whatever it is. And you realize, oh, oh, I triggered you. Like now what is the most appropriate response? Like, do you call it out and you say, hey, listen, you know, I realize that I may have said something or done something that made you feel a certain kind of way. And, you know, that wasn’t necessarily my intention. Like, what is my role at that point now that I recognize that I triggered someone else?
Paul Peebles: [00:22:13] Well, I think it’s important to recognize that, you know. Everyone has a different opinion about things. Everyone has a different viewpoint of things. So if I feel like I’ve triggered someone, you know, I guess, you know, what was it what I said about what I said that that bothered me.
Paul Peebles: [00:22:33] And I think we have to start learning how to have difficult conversations. We talk about communication so much and DNI communication is the key. You know, just because you and I may not see eye to eye does not mean I’m against you. Just means that we have a difference in opinion. We have a different viewpoint. I think it’s important if if you know that you’ve triggered someone or if someone has triggered you, especially someone, that you have a close relationship with a co-worker, you know, someone in your family. I think you have to talk about, you know what? Why do you feel that way? Let me tell you why I feel the way I feel. This is my viewpoint of it. So from my vantage point, I see X, Y, Z in this fashion, you know, all too often will just dismiss the conversation out of anger. And we get nowhere and we continue to have those triggers. Whereas if you can just get to understand. All right, that’s your viewpoint. I’m not against you. I just see it differently. So communication is going to be key, especially with triggers. And, you know, you can’t tiptoe around it. You know, sometimes you just got to have that difficult conversation. Might not be comfortable for you, might not be comfortable for me. But the real realization is, is if we don’t have it, we’re going to continue to trigger each other. So once I know how a person is, once I see you, once I know you, once I know where you’re coming from. I’m cool. I’m not I’m not against you. I know where you’re coming from in saying with me, they’ll know where I’m coming.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:24:13] Which I I completely agree with that I want to push back a little bit, though, because I think our most detrimental moments are when we don’t have the capacity to have those conversations. Right. So in those interactions and I’m I’m just going to take it back subleasing probably because I was working on the training that we’re about to do on triggers and de escalation right before this call. But I’m I’m thinking about this time that my significant other and I, we were pulled over and there were two police officers that came, one on each side. So there was a male officer that came to his side and a woman officer who came to my side. And as they approached, I don’t necessarily know how the male approached, but the woman approached with her hand on her gun. And that was immediately triggering for me because I was like, what? Like, what have you done? I think he got pulled over for not signaling as he changed lanes. So we clearly haven’t done anything super wrong. And there’s no we’ve given you no indication, like we pulled over immediately as the lights came on. There’s no indication that you should have to walk up that way.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:25:30] But I am immediately triggered. And the only reason that my behavior was regulated in that moment is, one, because I’m aware of of that being a trigger for me. But to I have to take a pause and realize who I was with and what kind of situation that I was in and that me responding kind of more emotionally might have escalated the situation. But let’s just say that I did. Let’s just say that I did respond and I triggered that officer right back with the officer isn’t really in a capacity where she can say, like, hey, Natalie, why? What did I do to trigger you? And let’s have a conversation about that and let’s talk about why I walked up to your window with my hand on my gun and all of those types of things. So in that situation where you can’t have a conversation, what do you to think, you know, should be done? Maybe both from like me as the passenger’s perspective, but also from the officer’s perspective.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:26:36] If you now have somebody that you’re interacting with who is triggered and, you know, escalating emotionally, that’s a that’s an excellent question that I have been in a situation I’ve been pulled over and people that know me, they’ll be like, there’s no way you can pulled over. Well, yes, I have. Right. And I’ve had and I have had the same thing going on, a trigger or handle the trigger of my wife and I.
Paul Peebles: [00:27:06] We were coming back from a trip up and Troy got pulled over. I had my daughter in the car and he did he had his hand on his gun ready to pull it out. And I took my hand off the steering wheel, raised him up immediately. I was on a stick shift at the time. So when you take your foot off the clutch, the car lunges. At this point, his gun comes out of the holster. All right. Remember, I have a child in the back seat. I asked in a very calm, sir, what did I do wrong? And I was I was speeding. I was going over the speed limit and I did. I said, I apologize, officer, my mistake. And I told my sister to you, please allow me to time to turn off my car.
Paul Peebles: [00:27:52] I kept one hand up and I turn off the car. He asked me to get out the car and I said, I will put both hands. I just explained to him every step I was doing because first off, my wife was already that was a trigger for you. I’m like, babe, relax, because we already know what’s going to happen if I if I trigger the officer. It could be bad for both of us. So you have to understand. It’s a very difficult job where they have to make decisions in split seconds, so me being an African-American, I know if I’m driving a car, if I’m getting pulled over by police, first and foremost, I need to I need to make sure I got my hands up. Not in a defensive mode where I’m trying to do something, because there’s going to be a reaction to that, and if I’m with somebody, I have to ask them, please calm down, because really lives do depend on it. If you’re not calm, right. So you do you have to you have to understand the context, the environment, your surroundings in that situation. I’m going to ask very sir, what did I do wrong? And I’m going to explain every single move I make. Because if if not, somebody could get hurt and I don’t want to see that happen.
Mason Washington: [00:29:16] Yeah, I mean, I agree, you know, I just I’m listening to both of you tell these stories and talk about how, you know, some of the best, you know, skills are things that you can utilize to to mitigate these situations, and although many of them make sense, you know, it’s still just a very difficult thing, right? Because, yeah, I was speeding, OK, you pull me over because I was speeding, but now I got to remain calm, which I do. Think back to your original question, Natalie. I think the first thing we did was you have to remain calm. And I know that that’s one of the hardest things to do when you’re hiding and people are telling you to tell the person have not come on now. And so and so I do think part of it is, you know. Being able to to calm yourself in some capacity and to think through the situation, I think also right. I think safety has to be the thought process really in any situation. Right. Like take the police out of it. You know, whatever is going to safely, you know, disengage the situation or de-escalate this situation is probably going to be the best thing. Right. And as I’m thinking about this even more, and it doesn’t exactly apply, but I think it does make sense.
Mason Washington: [00:30:49] In our line of work, Paul, what we’re dealing with situations where the situation is very escalated and for those of our listeners who don’t know, Paul and I are both firefighters. And, you know, we deal with a lot of very high emotion type situations attached. And we’re also EMS providers and paramedics. And so we run on a lot of different calls when we come to a situation where there is really high and something needs to be done to de-escalate it. One of the things that I’m thinking about as a leader is, is that how can I get a Kleagle? And what I mean by that is very simply put, what can I do easily that will allow this person to get something that they need to get in order for me to be able to have more control over the situation and calm the situation down. For example, really quick, if I’m on a call for a patient who’s, you know, that’s an exciting log on and they’re very upset about something. Just recently I was on the call and this situation was going on and the patient was really, for whatever reason, concerned about some other person who they thought was hurt in the bathroom or they were in the bathroom.
Mason Washington: [00:32:10] Well, I already know that there’s no one else in the bathroom, right. Because we’ve checked that situation out. We’ve already cleared the scene. But I was trying to get there quickly. So my thought process was, OK, sir, I’m going to send this person there right now to go check that. Even though I know the bathroom was fine, my thought process was let me get a quick wait. Let me get an opportunity to gain some trust. Right. So that you recognize as a person who is triggered in some capacity that I hear you right. That I’m validating what you’re saying and that I understand that something is bothering you. You’re trying to communicate it to me. And more than anything else, you need to know that I hear and that I understand what they’re saying. And I’m going to try to do something to mitigate that issue. That, to me is a quick way. And it gives it gives me an opportunity to gain a step right to now where we’re having a relationship. I know you guys want to jump in there. So I’m just saying, like, those types of things happen all the time, but sorry, we’re getting triggered with the call.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:33:23] Well, while you guys are getting triggered with a call, one thing that Mason just said right there, I think there two things. I think, one, the whole thought about validation and people needing that validation. So one of the best ways to de-escalate things, oh, you know, when somebody is heightened, when when emotions are kind of running high is to validate. Right. Like you’re having this emotion. And that’s a valid emotion. And I hear you and understand that is one of the best ways to kind of take a little bit of the. I don’t know if he’s out of the physical for lack of a better saying, I I also know from from your perspective, Mason, you’re talking about it kind of as the professional who arrives, who arrives on scene. Right. And you arrive to citizens, individuals who are heightened. There’s an emergency of some sort going on.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:34:26] And I think it’s also to point out not not to pick on police officers, because I have seen some who have done an excellent job of deescalating situations and ensuring that things are not triggered. But in those situations, we often talk a lot about what we as citizens can do. And sometimes the narratives that you hear are, you know, well, the citizen shouldn’t have been triggered or they shouldn’t have gotten upset or they shouldn’t have done this. They shouldn’t have done that.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:34:56] And we could argue those things all day, but I think in any given situation when it comes to kind of organizational things, you have the leader or the person who’s supposed to be in charge. And so I think we can all agree that at least to some extent, police officers are the people who at least see themselves as the ones who should be in charge. You know, if we’re calling nine one one, we want them to take charge of the situation so we can then turn around and say that the citizens need to figure out how to de-escalate the officers and escalate themselves. We have to also put some onus on the person who’s supposed to be in charge of the situation and say, you know, it’s an interesting kind of dynamic just in listening to you talk, because you were like, OK, I’m I’m the first responder on scene. But I would say all first responders on scene should really be focused on how can I ask the people who are involved and given as it’s a very different set of responsibilities that you have as firefighters than police officers do.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:36:12] But I think we could take the parallel and and say, you know, even in Paul’s example, I’m walking up on a car. I just pulled him over for speeding the car jerks, jerking is definitely a trigger. Maybe Paul’s thinking about taking off. Maybe Paul’s thinking about trying to run into the police officer. You know, there could be a whole lot of different things, but jerky movements and cars that have just been pulled over can definitely be a trigger. But then Paul talks about how he escalated the situation. But on the flip side, what are some strategies? And I’m really trying to kind of be helpful, hopefully, to maybe somebody who is an officer who might be listening, like what are some strategies that the officers can do in that moment to say, whoa, that was triggering what do I do next? So I’m not going and going on people who don’t deserve that.
Mason Washington: [00:37:12] I know for sure. Like, I think so. Just very quickly and very honestly, I think one of the things that officer can do that they don’t do enough is simply explaining what it is they’re doing and why they’re doing. In many cases, I think people don’t understand the rationale behind why police officers are doing the things that they do. You know what I mean? And. Also, quite honestly, I think part of the problem is, is that many officers at times feel as if they don’t have to explain why they’re doing the things that they’re doing. And what we’ve learned, and I’m sure Paul can speak to this as well, but by simply taking the time to explain to people why we’re behaving the way we are, why we’re taking the precautions that we’re taking while we’re taking the steps and the methods that we’re using, it makes a difference because then people can at least understand what’s going on. And so what I’ve done in many cases, and I’m not a police officer, but as a first responder, when I’ve taken the time to explain why I’m doing what I’m doing, in many cases, it allows for that quickly. It allows for that situation to be deescalated and for individuals to feel just slightly more comfortable and slightly more at ease because they feel like at least once again, I’m listening to the right and I care about what they’re saying and how they feel back to that validation.
Paul Peebles: [00:38:58] Quite often I’ve seen officers be very successful when they show empathy and when they do ask questions, you know, sometimes people speak and that’s breaking the law. But, you know, I’ve heard officers actually say, you know, were you going this fast? If you have to be speeding and they listen to the person. And even as the person is getting worked up and the officer says, well, you know, there’s a case where she was rushing, trying to get a doctor’s note to go to work. And the officer was asked. And as she was getting a little. Irritated, he says, well, I can understand that, you know, if you have to have a doctor’s note to work, I get I can I can understand that. And I think the point where he, you know, empathize with her and understood her rationale, you know, he was able to forego giving her a ticket. So I think being empathetic and I do I believe in, you know, always explain any procedure that I’m going to do with the patient. I believe in her privacy. I like to make sure people have their dignity. And the most successful officers I’ve seen, they do that. Now, once again, their duties and responsibilities are 100 times different than mine. So I quite often I’ll ask other officers, you know, why does why do you do that this way? You know, and they’re trained to be on the lookout for, you know, reactions and certain actions of individuals. And, you know, once I’ve understood that certain things make more sense to me when I think if you can communicate that, OK, this is why we’re placing you in this position, we have to make sure you’re secure, make sure the car secure things of that nature.
Paul Peebles: [00:40:50] I think it would it would help de-escalate a situation that could otherwise get out of hand. But it’s a very difficult situation. You know, I know my son, he shares with me some of his situations and it’s hard. And, you know, I couldn’t imagine. Being an officer and, you know, Buddy shares with me how he’s had to learn how to ask questions, you know, and how to be a little bit more, you know, understanding. This is a very difficult world, we live in times of fast people, you know, single parents, you know, they got multiple jobs. They have kids to feed. People rush in and you don’t know the intent of everyone. You really don’t. I mean, even if you’re sitting down and somebody is just driving down the street, when you see you know, you see body cam footage of, you know, an officer being shot at is incredible. I don’t know, like these split seconds and how they do count, you know. Their job is yours truly, truly dynamic, and I applaud. There are some good ones out there. I applaud these guys. I just I know for me, I could not see myself. I don’t I don’t know how to do it. I really don’t. But I think if I think being empathetic, I think communicating. This is why we’re placing you in handcuffs for now, OK? You do you just have to communicate what you’re doing? I think that would probably alleviate some of the escalation in the situation.
Mason Washington: [00:42:38] I just want to add real quick, and I just feel like it’s very important to say, especially to those of our listeners, that, you know, maybe police officers or have, you know, significant others or friends or family members that are police officers. Make no mistake about it, we are a group of individuals that really understand and appreciate the police. Right. And the jobs that they do. And I think Paul said it incredibly well. We know how difficult or at least we can empathize in some capacity with how difficult their jobs are. And by no means are we saying in any capacity that we know what we know what police officers have to deal with on a regular basis, because quite honestly, we don’t right now, we have a little bit of experience because we’ve gotten to do some ride along. As you know, this is our field of study. But I think it’s it’s important to say, well, once and for all that we really do respect and believe in the work that they do and that our police officers don’t do and behave in negative ways. With that being said, I would also just like to point out and once again, I just want to reiterate, communication is got to be the key. We have to use inclusive terms. And I know that that, you know, sounds real easy for those of us who work in diversity and inclusion, but we realize how polarizing small comments to to some people are very big to others. And we just have to because even even in your example, you said, you know, well, one man or what, where are you going that fast? That statement in and of itself can be polarizing. Right. I’ve had some of my white friends tell me if a police officer asked me why I was driving so fast or where I’m going to pass, I’d be like, look, either you’re going to give me a ticket or you don’t got to know where I’m going.
Mason Washington: [00:44:38] And I don’t need a lecture. Right. Well, as an African-American male, I would never respond to a police officer like that. Right? But some people would, you know, regardless of culture or ethnicity, that that process is is a why do you got to know where I’m going? You know what I mean? Well, maybe if that’s explained. Hey, listen, that was just kind of curious about where you might be going to have it so fast. You know, if I kind of understood what the situation was and what kind of help me determine on how we need to handle the situation. Now, again, is that too much for a police officer to do? I don’t know. You know, but I know that if it was explained to me in that way, right, that I would be much more likely to disclose, you know, certain levels of information because I realized why you’re going down this line of questioning. I’m saying the way you’re asking it before may be very intrusive to me and make it a felony and make me feel this way. Now, once again, arbitrary. Right. And so, you know, it kind of becomes this vicious cycle. So I think how we talk about things, the way we form our words, our body language, communication, being inclusive of what we’re doing, all of that is really going to matter. De-escalation, what?
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:45:58] I think, you know, both you and Paul have brought up the communication part of it and how important it is that we communicate, whether it’s communicate to try and understand, have conversations about, you know, that that triggered me. Why where is that coming from?
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:46:15] How could I have done it differently to get a different outcome? But also, you know, also the communication of, as you said, those questions that happen. Right. It’s funny because. Moving even outside of police officers, but I have some friends that communicate very, very differently than I do, and it comes forth especially when we are first meeting somebody and getting to know them. And I have one friend that we used to talk about it all the time because she is a person of a lot of questions. And so she will meet someone, and it’s like the game of 50 questions, which for me, I don’t want people asking me so many questions. And don’t ask my friends that I’m introducing you to all these questions like why are you doing that?
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:47:07] But I also know about me, if I ask you two or three questions and I’m getting these like quick one word answers or two word answers, then the conversation’s over. Like, I’m I’m done talking because I’m not a person of questions where she might actually get to know people better because she persists with those questions. And some people respond to questions. Right. Like some people respond to her inquiries. Really, really well, they don’t respond like I do with like, why are you asking me so many questions about my personal life? I don’t know you and I’m not going to tell you these things, you know, and so I like that you kind of brought up that like inclusive language and figuring out, you know, how do we just as individuals kind of mediate our own behavior and always kind of be on the lookout.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:48:02] And I think that’s one of the things one of the reasons that a lot of people shy away from inclusion, like true inclusion, is because you do have to kind of be on radar all the time. Or as Paul talks about even being on duty, like you’re always on Brint, you don’t really have time to relax or let your guard down, because even while you’re sleeping, akoko come in bright. And so you’re always kind of on guard. And I think sometimes inclusion can feel that way, too, right?
Mason Washington: [00:48:38] No, for sure. I definitely think so, right, because you have to be so intentional about everything that you’re doing right. And so it feels weird, you know, in some capacity to kind of always feel like you have to be super conscious of everything that you’re saying and everything that you’re doing. And you want everybody to be included. I mean, I think we had this conversation a little bit the other day. We were doing the training and one of the participants in the training was like, why are we back to this whole concept of everybody gets a trophy just because you participating in this, that and the other? And it becomes a little bit of an off-putting conversation. Right. Like but but the truth of the matter is, is that I think yeah. Like we do have to be conscious of what we say. We do have to be intentional about how we communicate, you know, especially when we’re encountering people in certain spaces right. In the workplace, new people meeting, new people being in a new environment. If you’re unsure about how people really feel about certain things. I think it’s incumbent upon you in some capacity to be respectful. You know, I’m saying. And to be a.. Be intentional about how you’re going to behave.
Mason Washington: [00:49:59] And so for me, it’s just something that I really feel strongly about very. Lastly, I know you guys want to jump in, but I want to throw this out there while I’m thinking about it. Right. I heard a guy say we were having a conversation and I thought it was just very interesting that he brought this point up. He essentially was saying that he met somebody like I was a police chief. And the police chief said that one of the things that he felt strongly about is that his officers should never use foul language and that that language was very unprofessional. And it’s also exclusive, right, in some capacity. And so his thought process was, is that you never need to use foul language and that is an unprofessional way of communicating. And so I’ve been kind of thinking about that since I heard that statement. And I’m just curious, you know, as far as we can kind of wrap our conversation up about triggers and inclusion in those things, what you guys thoughts about as it relates to using that kind of language, you know, especially, you know, as a first responder, there are really in the workplace at all. You know, what are your thoughts on?
Paul Peebles: [00:51:16] That’s interesting question. Years ago at my previous career, I had an older guy tell me. That when you curse. He felt like it displayed limited vocabulary.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:51:34] I’ve heard that, too.
Paul Peebles: [00:51:35] He said that. Curse words. It’s actually diminishes the actual content of what you’re trying to say to some. He said, But if you put everything into words, there’s more feeling there for the person that you’re talking to will get more understanding.
Paul Peebles: [00:51:57] I remember he said that to me and I’m going back to 96, 97. And for a long time, you know, I always tried to refrain from using curse words, but, you know, unfortunately sometimes they would come out. But I think back to that guy. And he did he said, you know, it just. It just shows a limited vocabulary. Does it have application in the field? You know, let’s just be real about it. I mean, you know, we hear language in the public safety all the time. I mean, you know, you go to a sporting event, you hear these type the foul language, and you believe when you’re you’re dealing with your stakeholders, the people that you serve, protect, represent, I think there should be a high level of professionalism. I think you should communicate with your stakeholders in the appropriate fashion by using four senses and talk to them in a respectful manner. So on that on that level, I can I can understand what he was saying. I think it is appropriate to talk to people that you served with dignity, respect. You know, this is your community. You are part of the community. You represent the community and therefore treat your community the way you want to be treated. And, you know, you can have a conversation with someone without using curse words. That’s just my opinion.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:53:30] Yeah, I think I agree with that. I think you definitely can have conversations without cursing. I mean, I would even argue that most of us did it for at least the first several years of our lives. We have many, many conversations without words.
Mason Washington: [00:53:46] Right, exactly. So, you know, it can definitely be done.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:53:52] But I’m also thinking about just just even in thinking in general about using inclusive language and why why people when we start talking about inclusion and understanding that people have different perspectives and you might say something that hurts their feelings or that excludes them and why that’s not a good thing and why we get all of this kind of pushback sometimes.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:54:16] To me, as I’m listening to you talking, as I’m thinking, it almost, I think comes from the selfish place. Right. And maybe in American culture, where we’re taught to be a little bit selfish, it’s always about me, me, me. How much money can I make for my family? What kind of good job can I get? How do I get, you know, blah, blah, blah?
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:54:41] And so I think a lot of times we come to the table with this premise of like, well, if I didn’t mean it, then you shouldn’t be sensitive to it or I should be able to be whoever I want to be. And it’s this very kind of individualistic, almost selfish way of looking at things. And I don’t think it’s anybody’s fault. That’s kind of the society that we live in right now. But to me, inclusion is really all about looking at other people and saying, I want you to feel valued. I want to be a person. Maybe that’s still a little selfish because it’s still about me, but I at least don’t want to be so selfish that it’s only my feelings that are taken into account. Right. I want people to leave after interacting with me for the better, you know, and maybe sometimes neutral, maybe I don’t always have a super positive impact, but I most certainly don’t want people to have a negative result of interacting with me. And if that means that I have to be thoughtful or mindful of the things that I’m saying and doing, then then so be it. But I’m doing that because I want.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [00:56:02] People to have positive impacts, right? Because I want people to move through life feeling better as a result of interacting with me as opposed to now, I’ve just made your day worse. And I think that’s kind of maybe the the lens of the focus shift of like, well, why can’t it just be all about me or what I want to do? Like if I want to curse that, I’m going to curse if I want to, you know, do this or do that. If you’re trigger, that’s your problem. Without fully taking responsibility or, you know, may maybe, I don’t know, I hate to say it’s because people don’t care about one another, but maybe there’s it’s a focus shift.
Mason Washington: [00:56:49] No, I would agree. I think I think it is. I think that that phrase is a very good one. Changing your focus in some capacity, because I think at times it can be argued that we are too focused just on ourselves and how we feel and think about certain things and not necessarily conscious enough about how our behavior really does affect others. And so I guess the take home point for me is, is that we just really need to realize that we need to realize that and really in many of our relationships that, you know, our behavior affects other people and that we trigger it. And we need to be aware of that. And we need to try to make sure that in some capacity, the majority, you know, none of us are perfect. But the majority of our interactions, as you stated, that are positive and that we lead people, you know, in a better state in some capacity than you found them. And that’s not always easy. And I’m not saying that we live in this kombai world, but I do think, you know, in some capacity you can kind of focus on those things. And it does. I think it helps you in the long run. It definitely helps those that you come in contact with in the long run. No, it’s.
Paul Peebles: [00:58:24] Absolutely, absolutely. I like to see in closing, you know, we talk about inclusive language, and even in some of our trainings we were doing, we would say, OK, guys, let’s get started. And quite often there would be, you know, females in the group. And we were talking about we should be using terms like, all right, everyone are. All right, guys and gals, let’s get started. And I know something like that might sound very trivial, but I had a young EMT instructor asked me a couple of questions about how. To reach. His students. He said he’ll call them and he’ll tell them what they need to do, and this is what’s going to happen if you don’t get this done, you’re not going to pass. I want to help you. And I asked him, I said. Well, first off, they have to think that you are part of them. And so when you talk to the individual, you should say something along the lines like we’re going to make it through this together, we’re going to accomplish just passing grade together. What can we do to make sure that you’re successful? And he thought about it, he said he’s never use terms like that with with his class. And I think it is important that when we’re talking about inclusive language, things that trigger us. When you have somebody in that case that’s just talking to you, giving you the details, all right, this is the cause. This is the effect. But the students in that case, they weren’t buying into it because they didn’t feel like they matter and it could be a trigger for them. So I think thinking about language, how we say things, all of these items can be a trigger for people. I think, guys, you know, this is a way of life for us. In diversity and inclusion, it really means something. It matters. Everyone has had. And when people feel valued, they feel part of the collective. That’s what inclusion is. So. In closing, I would just say just be cognizant of what you say, how you say body language.
Paul Peebles: [01:00:47] It matters.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [01:00:51] Well, Paul, I think we will go ahead and close it out on that note, I know last time I said something really cool as a summary to make and comment and Paul, I don’t remember what it was. So for lack of a better words, I will just say until next time, be inclusive, recognize your own triggers, identify when you trigger others and try to de-escalate and lead with love and acceptance and belonging. With that, we are inclusion junkie and we will talk to you all next time.
Dr. Natalie Parks: [01:01:33] Thanks, everyone!
Mason Washington: [01:01:35] Bye.