The Wellesley Police Department recently completed a full day course entitled “First Impressions Training” taught by Katen Consulting. All members of the department participated in the training, including administrative personnel, police officers, and civilian dispatchers.
The class was taught by Lauren Katen and her team. Ms. Katen is a Keynote speaker on the topics of First Impressions and Perceptions, Executive Presence, as well as Business School Etiquette. She has written a book on the topic, titled The Communication Habit: Strategies That Set You Apart and Leave a Lasting Impression. Ms. Katen normally holds classes for well-known companies throughout the United States.
The First Impressions class focused on teaching our staff on how to be more successful with everyone we come in contact with during our daily-and nightly-interactions. Officers learned that it takes as little as 7 seconds for a citizen to make an impression about an officer or dispatcher. Additionally, we learned that most people will decide within the first two minutes whether they want to listen to a message. With this in mind, officers learned what words to avoid, why to avoid them, and how to turn common phrases into more diplomatic alternatives in order to diffuse and de-escalate a situation.
Officers found it to be a type of advanced de-escalation training, using proper etiquette, as well as polite, respectful communication. Clearly these are critical skills for successful outcomes.
Ms. Katen showed research that demonstrated building trust comes from understanding different types of communication styles. Having the ability to understand and speak someone else’s communication style can drastically increase our ability to effectively communicate and interact every day, at all levels within the Wellesley Police Department. This includes, and ranges from dispatchers de-escalating a 9-1-1 call, to officers keeping a potential tense encounter calm, before it escalates to another level.
While many experienced officers and dispatchers have learned some of these techniques through years of experience working with people, many have never received ‘formal’ training on the subject, or the science behind it.
Ms. Katen also covered other areas, including how to successfully appear on, communicate in, and appear positively on virtual zoom type meetings. Officers learned that even small subtle changes on computer camera angles can help foster a positive perception on zoom, clearly an important skill in a COVID world.
Much like Empathy training which the department completed last year, First Impressions Training is non-traditional police training that the department has utilized and embraced. The Wellesley Police Department will continue to employ all avenues open to us, both traditional and non-traditional, to improve our ability to serve the public the community.