Why Moroto Talks

Why Moroto Talks

I thought I would take a few moments to introduce myself so you can know a little bit more about me, and why I may be a worthwhile person to hear from.

Over twenty years ago I started this journey when I enrolled into a conflict resolution (mediation) program while completing an undergrad degree in criminology, with a focus on law enforcement. My purpose had been to become a law enforcement officer, and I was a Customs Officer for several years in Calgary. I learned the value of the spoken word as the most effective tool in law enforcement as I spoke to hundreds of people a day, and through the stories they spoke (verbal messaging) and the messages they would give through nonverbal communication, I learned about the value of congruence in messages. I also realized it was my responsibility as the skilled communicator to ensure the client was given the best possible environment by me to be able to communicate.

Dealing with law enforcement on most days is a nerve racking experience, now take a moment to consider that you are hungry, tired, stressed, in unfamiliar surroundings, uncomfortable, perhaps speaking a different language, with laws and entrance requirements you are unfamiliar with, with a history of corrupt law enforcement, and the thing you travelled all that way to do, see, or be with is on the other side of the customs hall full of uniformed officers from many different agencies. Not exactly the backdrop for an easy conversation.

I fast realized a few things, a few simple effective communication skills made for easier dialogue, improve the trust and fostered respect. Powerful results for creating a good impression of Canadian law enforcement, and promoted truthful encounters when they did not feel like they were being questioned in a manner that made them feel like they were presumed guilty.

I would watch other officers approaches, and could easily see how the officers the clients had dealt with influenced the remaining interactions they had with other customs officers. Sure enough, time and time again, those that either escalated, were non-compliant, or belligerent, had often been exposed to a harder more adversarial type of interaction before. Those that had felt they were questioned in an open manner and understood what was going on and what they needed to do, consistently lead to easier, more effective and efficient interactions through each interaction they had.

This meant couple of really important things, regardless of agency, company, brand, relationship, or duration of contact the client had - firstly the encounters that went smoothly, left better impressions on the client, which means future interactions will be more effective. This can lead directly to the increased veracity of reporting, when they understand the reasons behind the actions, this leads to more efficient operations and decreased processing times for each client (more people through, using less resources).

Second, the officers had better interactions with the clients, and had a less stressful shift (this can help reduce burnout and fatigue at the end of a shift, and contribute to a better overall quality of employment for the officers).

Third, in terms of institutional trust, these positive encounters can lead to overall better impressions of the institutions that a uniformed presence can mean - such as increased trust and respect for the agency, for uniforms in general, and for the government that they by extension represent. This increased trust can mean more meaningful and effective interactions with any uniformed presence that individual has every, simply be ensuring their encounter with law enforcement was respectful, worked towards building understanding, communicating expectations, and acknowledging what the person had to say. All of which could happen in a shift where the primary officer responsibly for that initial contact for hundreds of people a day, thousands a week, used effective communication skills like active listening, opened questions, paraphrasing and summarization, in a minute and a half to three minute interview process.

Not only that, but the increased retention of information by the officers and ability to recall important details in the cases of action taken increased and improved their overall reputation, and credibility as an officer. A win/win situation.

These same observations and skills I learned and applied as a customs officer, I brought to training and programs for not for profits, working with high school students and at risk youth, i used in teaching martial arts, I applied when doing uniformed private security and then corporate security, and security consulting for global security contractors, and saw the value of when interning at a UN agency in a country rife with government corruption and unparalleled criminal gang activity and abject poverty.

These are the same principles that directed my masters studies in Human Security and Peacebuilding. That seeking first to understand the situation, the players and their interconnectedness through positive encounters then to create a collaborative action plan, creates more lasting solutions with more engaged and appropriate stakeholders.

These are the same principles I have shared with hundreds of future law enforcement officers as I taught them interpersonal communications as a part of their professional development at post secondary institutions. These are the same skills I still actively work at everyday, to have effective and meaningful conversations with my community, my colleagues and my family.

These are the same skills I want to frame and share with you so you can work on using good communication to have successful and meaningful conversations with your coworkers, community, your friends and your family.

And now after all my kids are finally in school, I finally have the time to share with you through Moroto Talks. I will be offering more sessions, coaching opportunities, custom training programs, and insights, check my web page and social media updates regularly

Trish Moroto