This is Gary Klugiewicz.

I saw this electronic post a couple weeks ago and I have been thinking about it regularly.  I wanted to respond to it but didn’t know exactly how to do so.   The comment made by the chief in the original article linked below was that the comments were rude, not racist.   While he got the types of comments right being “rude” and “racist”, the “not” was not exactly right.


In our Verbal Defense & Influence training, we focus attention on the importance of the term “empathy” and our attempt to look at a situation through the other person’s eyes.  We refer to this as “Active Intelligence Gathering” and explain that, if you don’t know where the person is coming from  i.e., their perceptions, how can you know how to get them to assist you in taking them where you want them to go.

The trouble with being rude is that it is by itself unprofessional and counterproductive.   When your unprofessional behavior is viewed by someone who already believes that you may be a racist. then your rude behavior rapidly becomes what can be perceived as racist.  We spend a great deal of time in our training practicing the Universal Greeting, a professional introduction of “non-escalation” so we never start the slippery slide downhill from rudeness toward what can be perceived as racist behavior.   While we can’t change someone’s preconceived notions of us, we can do a lot to not escalate the negative atmosphere that often exists in a conflict situation.  Keeping the conversation professionally polite even when faced with an angry person will allow you to use “Active Intelligence Gathering” to find out what is causing the conflict. This will allow you the best chance of generating voluntary compliance, lead to cooperation, and even end up in collaboration.

Remember that you are not responsible for the bad decisions made by the person that you are interacting may make but you are responsible for the process.   You want to look good on camera, i.e. professional, where ever the situations ends up.

I look forward to your comments.  Please post them below.