Webinar Notes: Developing Communication and Emotional Intelligence Skills

Developing Communication and Emotional Intelligence Skills in Law Enforcement Officers


The Adaptive FTO (0:08)

  • Designed to enhance current Field Training Officer (FTO)
  • Focuses on skills trainees will use everyday

    • Emotional Intelligence
    • Decision Making
    • Critical Thinking
  • Teaches awareness of trigger points that lead to overreaction
  • Techniques to be used for the probationary police officers

Old School

New School

Time based

Outcome based

Policy driven

Research driven

Passive learning

Active learning

FTO centered

PPO centered

Linear curriculum

Nonlinear curriculum

Printed assessments

Multiple assessments

Isolated training

Adaptive training

Facts and memorization

Critical thinking


IQ vs. EQ (02:18)

  • IQ Tests

    • Brain strength
    • Math logic
    • Verbal skills
    • Heavy mental lifting
    • Takes effort to increase
    • Not the best way to determine success
  • EQ

    • How you relate and interact with others
    • Less affected by stress
    • Adaptability to cope with stress
    • Come up with decisions under time press


Intro to Emotional Intelligence (04:07)

  • Components

    • Self-awareness

      • Own feelings
      • Assessment of what you’re capable of
      • When you need help
      • Emotional triggers
    • Self-regulation

      • Keeps emotion in check
      • Control outburst, disagreements
      • Avoiding self-pity, panic, etc.
    • Motivation

      • Personal joy
      • Curiosity
      • Satisfaction
      • Productivity
    • Empathy

      • Reading emotions of others
    • Social skills

      • Application of empathy
      • Negotiating others’ needs with our own
  • Gender differences

    • Women and men are wired differently, not better or worse, just different

      • Male

        • Quick decisions
        • Not introspective about emotions
      • Female

        • Empathetic
        • Reflective
        • Looks at the future impact of decisions
        • Experience working with female officers

          • Let them decide what to do
          • Provides them confidence in their decision-making
          • Empathetic and respectful


Let trainees practice decision making and critical thinking (08:33)

  • Get required practice to solve complex problems
  • What’s planned is not always the outcome
  • Must be resilient and keep focus when exposed to stress
  • Key to good decision-making and critical thinking
  • Caveman vs. Professor
  • Your Toolbox

    • Special tools – one problem one solution
    • Adjustable tool – flexible, adaptable to the problems
  • EQ is the cornerstone for respect of the police

    • In the law enforcement, profit is public trust
    • Any public contact is opportunity to gain public trust
  • Emotions are contagious

    • Personal can impact professional and vice versa
    • Others can feel incongruence with your subconscious emotions and conscious demeanor
  • Awareness

    • Accurate assessment of what you're capable of, when you need help,  and your emotional triggers
    • What do you feel when frustrated or angry?
    • Know what pushes your buttons
    • Minimizes the impact emotions have on your decision making


EQ Core Competencies for Police Officers (16:32)

  • Effective confrontation
  • Emotional self-control
  • Impulse control
  • Interpersonally skillful
  • Listening generously
  • Reading non-verbal behavior
  • Accurate self-assessment
  • Situational awareness
  • Stress hardy
  • Understanding others


Self-Awareness (18:25)

  • Core competencies:

    • Accurate self-assessment
    • Situational awareness
  • Identifying the cause of physiological responses to stress

    • Amygdala (18:23)

      • Controls fight or flight
      • Concerned with survival
      • But cannot discern the emotions
      • When hijacked, you become irrational
      • 2 Systems our brains use in decision making

        • System 1 / The caveman

          • The automatic response system
          • Fast
          • Doesn’t always make the right decisions
          • Acting on a threat before they recognized it
        • System 2 / The professor

          • Deliberate thinking system
          • Good decisions
          • Slower than the caveman
          • Allows to think and plan
        • Stress = Demands > Capabilities

          • Stress happens when demands exceed capabilities


Self-regulation (20:53)

  • Core competencies:

    • Emotional Self Control
    • Impulse Control
    • Reading non-verbal behavior
    • Situational awareness
  • Identifying your trigger point

    • Important part of any de-escalation strategy
    • Event is blamed for the reaction
    • Your emotions and what influences it play a larger role in your behavior/reaction
  • Perception drives our response

    • Biases act as shortcuts to come up with a decision.
  • Personal pause button

    • When emotions to bubble up, hit that button
    • Take a break and reflect
    • Think about what you’re gonna say


Empathy (25:14)

  • Core competencies:

    • Effective confrontation
    • Listening generously
    • Reading non-verbal behavior
    • Accurate self-assessment
    • Situational awareness
    • Understanding others
  • Empathy helps us evolve
  • Putting ourselves in another’s shoes.
  • Vulnerability is a way to be open to others that make you a better person
  • If we worry just about the facts, we become emotionally detached
  • Benefits of empathy

    • Understands needs of others
    • Understand the perception you create through actions
    • Understand unspoken/non-verbal communication
    • Better dealing with interpersonal conflicts
    • Accurately predict actions and reactions of others
    • Easier to deal with others’ negativity
    • Better understand motivation and fears
    • Better leader, follower, and friend
  • Empathy is free

    • Active listening skills
    • Pay attention and react
    • Provide feedback


Motivation (29:29)

  • Core competencies:

    • Impulse control
    • Accurate self-assessment
    • Situational awareness
    • Stress hardy
  • External motivators has little influence

    • Better job
    • Promotion
    • Higher pay
  • Internal motivators are more powerful

    • Increased job satisfaction
    • Self-esteem
    • Quality of life
    • Dependent on our core values
  • How to understand your motivation?

    • Reflect on what is your career absolute high-point
    • Ask yourself: is an arrest merely a statistic or making a difference to someone else’s life?
    • Remember: Errors and mistakes are not failure, but opportunities for growth and new learning.
  • Fear makes us defensive in a fixed mindset but makes us adaptive in a growth mindset.


Social Skills (33:32)

  • Core competencies:

    • Effective confrontation
    • Interpersonally skillful
    • Listening generously
    • Reading non-verbal behavior
    • Accurate self-assessment
    • Situational awareness
    • Understanding others
  • Active Listening

    • Listening to respond vs. Listening to understand
  • Positive Communication

    • Effective feedback system
  • Positive Body Language

    • Inappropriate body language/habits
    • Nervous ticks (smiling at the wrong time)
  • OODA Loop

    • Observe

      • Lets you use all your senses
      • Scanning environment to gather information
      • Know the information to monitor, and which ones to filter
    • Orient

      • Turns information into knowledge
      • Personal biases
      • Subject Behavior

        • Good
        • Bad
      • Officer Behavior

        • Dominant
        • Submissive
        • Comfortable
        • Uncomfortable
      • Proxemics
      • Iconography
      • Facial Expression
      • Body Language / Non-verbal communication
      • Profiling
    • Decide
    • Act


Emotional Intelligence  (45:59)

  • Requires small investment that reaps large benefits
  • Benefits

    • Resilience
    • Better decision-making
    • Critical thinking
    • Not stagnant
    • Growth
    • Goes hand in hand with the criminal justice system
    • Cornerstone of respectful law enforcement


Resources mentioned:


For questions and clarifications, contact:


Instructor/Content Developer

The Virtus Group





In complex situations, what are the most common mistakes officers make that can be avoided by applying the principles you’ve discussed? (45:46)

Authority is being challenged, we get upset and try to establish dominance, pushing a confrontation. Instead choose a submissive, probing role.


What skills do these “younger new recruits” seem to lack today? Or is it really a generational difference in terms of how recruits interact with the public? (47:04)

A generalization, it doesn’t apply to everyone: communication skills are lacking. Each generation brought its good things and  bad things in the workplace. They’re different but we can manage to address and adapt to each other. They need feedback often and they need it a lot.


Do you have any tips or advice for questions to ask during the interview to get an idea of a new officer's EQ level? (50:34)

Lay out a scenario to see what type of life experience they had. If they experienced loss, how they felt about loss, how they feel about acceptance of others and ideas different than their own. Their views on social norms, just to see how they would react. What frustrates them, what ticks them off? Are they aware of their emotional capabilities? Break down their motivations, how do they want to help?


How do you keep FTOs motivated and focused on the mission of the department? (52:48)

Appreciate and support the efforts they’re putting out.

Respect the FTO’s feedback and decision whether someone is ready to proceed with the program. It’s gonna result in trust issues, and it’s gonna be more work for everyone else, knowing that a person is not qualified. 

Make them a part of the hiring process so they can see ahead of time the candidates, and have a say in that process.

Give them the why, the bigger picture.

Allow them to be channels for change and innovation


Is there one book that you recommend people read to get a feel for this material? (56:14)

Left of Bang by Patrick Van Horne

Start with Why by Simon Sinek



“An adjustable wrench happens to be my favorite tool, it is adaptable, adjustable, quick, and works most of the time. I like using it because I’m not that good picking out the right size to fit the nuts, and let’s be honest, it’s just easier. It’s just good enough and whether it’s solving problems or responding to others, being adaptive is important. Having attuned emotional intelligence abilities metaphorically is like this wrench.”


"While IQ is used to hire, EQ has been shown to be the best predictor of success. School systems are integrating EQ into their curriculum to develop better socially-adjusted youth. They're finding that they're more respectful, better at decision-making skills, and in impulse control. In the business world, EQ training is showing a high return on investment. Well-adjusted employees are motivated to work, they treat customers with respect, and they develop appropriate problem solving and communication skills."


“A lot of times our perceptions guides and drives our response, and we’re also influenced by our biases – our experience, our background, our training, where we live. Biases aren’t a bad thing, we actually need them, because they help us to make decisions. Our brains really use them as shortcuts.”


“How are we handling errors and mistakes? Do we treat them as the worst thing in the world? Or do we adapt an attitude from the standpoint that failure develops learning? That we’re not dwelling on the failure, it’s moving them forward in that process.”


“Different people require different levels of details to perceive an event. And often, we imply that the reason people can’t make good decisions is that they’re bad decision makers. It’s sorta like saying that some people can’t drive because they’re bad drivers. However, the real reason most people make bad decisions is they often fail to place the information that they have into its proper context.”



Additional Resources
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