Magazine article American Jails

Your Command Presence

Magazine article American Jails

Your Command Presence

Article excerpt

After working in the law enforcement community for more than 26 years, I have learned (sometimes through trial and error) that three basic components can help create a successful command presence. If staff integrate these elements into their professional lives, they can develop a command presence as well.

How To Look

Arguably the most important aspect of a command presence is personal appearance. Our appearance is the first thing people notice, and it reveals a lot about us as individuals. When meeting someone for the first time, more often than not, people draw conclusions from your appearance. Staff can control three aspects of their appearance that can influence the opinions of those they meet:

* Clothing-Uniforms or other attire must always be clean, neat, and appropriate to your specific profession. When others see that you care about your clothes, they will recognize that you pay attention to other details as well. There is no place, in any profession, for clothing that gives others the impression that you are lazy or incompetent. If your business or profession has a dress code, pay attention to the details and follow them.

* Grooming-Personal hygiene must be maintained. Bathe regularly, brush your teeth, trim your fingernails, and comb or brush your hair. Remember that others are watching you, especially if you are in a position of authority. As stated earlier, follow the specific dress code requirements of your facility.

* Body Language-Your body posture and how you greet others is extremely important. Remember to stand straight with your shoulders slightly back. Do not look down when walking; look straight ahead and keep your focus. When interacting with others, always maintain eye contact with them.

How To Speak

Your verbal interactions with others are extremely important, especially when an interaction becomes confrontational or emotional. The challenge in these situations is to maintain your composure and not allow emotions to control the conversation. However, the ability to maintain a professional level of conversation in casual settings is just as important. Remember that other people are watching and sometimes judging your behavior. Here are a few items to monitor when communicating with others:

* Tone-Vocal tone should be even, but varied. This creates a calming effect on most people. In high-stress situations, a person's voice often becomes high-pitched, which can be difficult to understand. In turn, this condition may lead others to believe that you are not in control of the situation or-worse-panicking. If you are unable to maintain a level tone, stop and take a breath. Slow and even breaths will help you remain calm.

* Vocabulary-Know your audience. Do not try to impress others with an extensive vocabulary, but use your knowledge of the audience to balance the conversation and make everyone feel comfortable and engaged. …

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