Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon? (filthy rich accent) If you know me, you’ll quickly realize that statement is not at all fitting to my character. Have I ever used Grey Poupon? Sure I have, but it’s not my first choice. (try our cpi training online or our crisis intervention certificate) Why don’t I prefer Grey Poupon? Could it be that I’m not from England, and don’t prefer tea and crumpets? Probably. Saying I actually preferred it would be me trying to be someone I’m not.

When you are dealing with someone in crisis, don’t try to be something or someone you’re not. I’ve worked with many other law enforcement officers over the years, and some of them become Johnny bad-to-the bone the day they are hired. They get that badge on their chest, and all of a sudden they have super-powers of all-knowing-ness. All of a sudden they become the larger-than-life, do what I say, or else type of people. They are convinced that the simple piece of metal on their chest now allows them, or forces them to be something, or someone they are not. It’s tough to see.

I believe we run into problems when we try to be somebody we’re not. My old supervisor in the hospital used to tell me, “Brendan, you’re here to be friendly, but you’re not their friend.” I didn’t understand it. Well, I didn’t understand for the first number of years I was working. I was like, “How are we not supposed to be their friend? This is what these people need at this time of their life.” It wasn’t until eight or nine years later I finally realized what it really meant. I was there to be professional and friendly, but I wasn’t there to be their friend. I wasn’t their jailor, their mother, father, sister, brother, etc. I was there to guide them on their journey to get better, plain and simple. Trying to be too much of a friend, or a strict disciplinarian, or anything other than who I was, would get me into trouble in the long run.

My background, my skills, and my experience has come from years of being on the front lines, and having to perform de-escalation time after time, in a multitude of workplace environments. Mental health, military, law enforcement–that’s my background. That’s my area of expertise. I don’t have the educational background that a lot of the people I train often have.

Quite honestly, I don’t usually come anywhere close to having the level of educational experience they have. Yet the reality is, the minute I try to pretend I do, or I try to pretend I’m more experienced in a certain area then I really am, not only can people see right through it, but I quickly end up in a position where I’m in trouble.

If I apply that to a situation with crisis intervention, and I try to come off like, “Oh, yeah, I get where they’re coming from,” or, “Oh yeah. I know what that’s like, I’ve been there.” Immediately that person will respond with, “What are you talking about man? You don’t know where I’m from. You don’t know anything about me, man. You didn’t grow up like I grew up! Man, shut your mouth!”

Now we have a divide between us. Trust and respect is gone, because I was trying to be something that I wasn’t. I may have had the best of intentions, but that lack of honesty is easily discovered. It would be better to simply say “Man, I don’t know what you have been through, but I can imagine how difficult it is” or something similar, vs trying to lie, or create some false experience to build rapport. I encourage you to take pride in who you are, what experiences you can bring to the situation, your background, and your credibility. Don’t try to be something you’re not.

Let’s face it, Grey Poupon isn’t for everybody.