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Let Probaility, Not Assumptions, Be Your Guide

In any encounter or situation of negotiation, assumptions play a vital role.
To control a situation, an officer must know his own underlying assumptions and anticipate the assumptions of the other.
He must be "open" and flexible in point of view, ready to reappraise a situation from moment to moment.
From my own experience, I have defined nine underlying assumptions that can be potentially dangerous to the officer who holds them as "self-evident.
" There are, doubtless, countless more, but these nine will illustrate how the gut-level bias can interfere with effective communication.
Physical power is an officer's best weapon 2.
Citizens expect officers to use power tactics 3.
Citizens do not like or trust police officers 4.
Fear works more effectively than kindness 5.
Citizens will always resist an officer in some manner 6.
A citizen's attitude or character is expressed by how he dresses and looks 7.
People are basically corrupt 8.
Street people are not open to verbal persuasion; and 9.
Officers distrust words as an effective power tactic No one officer will hold all of these nine biases, nor will he necessarily completely believe in one or more of them.
But all officers are affected to some degree, by these or related beliefs.
Moreover, in any given situation, any one or more of these assumptions may be true.
But none of them is always true, and the danger of such views is that these possibilities are treated as probabilities, and our actions are governed by this perspective.
It is understandable that officers would be susceptible to Assumption 1 that physical power is the most useful kind of power.
Our entire culture is saturated with the worship of the physical.
Our historical roots - the Revolution and the wild west - have made manhood and violence almost Siamese twins.
Our books, movies, and televisions likewise stress the image of the tough officer, handy with fists, stick, or gun.
But the new officer learns quickly that real police work is not a mirror reflection of the television screen; most of an officer's duties are non-violent, involving him in public relations and innumerable communication situations that cannot be solved by weapons and physical response.
Admittedly, weapons training and self-defense are necessary, for when officers need these skills, they need them quickly if they are to survive.
But officers who walk the streets ill-equipped with another skill - the strategic use of words - face an equally severe survival problem.

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