As technology advances and society moves forward, the number of platforms you can utilize to spread your message also increases. The question boils down to how much visibility you can create and how effectively can you use your platform. The Founder of Your Purpose Driven Practice, Rebecca Hall Gruyter, joins this episode to talk about the best practices on how to get your voice to stand out among all the noise. Learn the mindset and preparation you need to go through in order to distinguish yourself and your message. She also shares some tips and strategies on how to make full and effective use of your platform and how her team can help you even more.
The chaos and unrest in the environment can affect people in more ways than one. With signs of an increase in rates of depression and suicide attempts during this pandemic, Dr. Andy Young explains what he sees during crisis negotiations. He goes into some detail of his experiences in dealing with both the law enforcement and civilian groups’ issues as a councilor. He gives a reminder that anyone can be scared and there are multiple grounds to consider when one’s mental health is in question. Dr. Young also emphasizes the importance of listening as the first step of a negotiation and how empathy can go a long way in saving a life.
I’m glad you joined us because we have Rebecca Hall Gruyter and Andy Young here. Rebecca is a global influencer and number one international bestselling author. Andy Young is the author of Fight or Flight: Negotiating Crisis on The Frontline. We’re going to talk about global influence and frontline crisis prevention and handling all negotiating. It’s going to be fascinating. I hope you stay tuned.
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Platform Visibility: Getting Your Message Across Effectively with Rebecca Hall Gruyter
I am here with Rebecca Hall Gruyter, who is a global influencer, number one international bestselling and award-winning author and compiler, and in-demand publisher and empowering radio show host, where she reaches over one million listeners on eight networks. She’s an empowerment leader. She’s done a lot of different things. It sounds like somebody I know and that sounds like we’ll have a lot in common. It’s nice to have you on the show, Rebecca.
Thank you. I’m thrilled to be here. I’m looking forward to the conversation. Thank you for having me.
You’re welcome. I know we’ve been talking back and forth about being on each other’s shows. We both do similar things in some respects and the fact that we have shows but you deal with helping highlight experts, influencers, messengers, and so on. I want to get a little background on how you even got interested in that. Can you give me your backstory a little bit?
Why I believe visibility is important and why we align with experts and influencers and help them reach more people has to do with some of my journeys. If we go back in time, I grew up in an unsafe, dysfunctional type of environment and the people who should have cared for me didn’t. In that environment, when I cried out for help, it wasn’t believed and it became more severe. I took on certain beliefs. I believed I didn’t matter that I’m not okay that there’s something wrong with me that’s causing this, that I’m unlovable and it was not safe to be seen or heard.
I learned to act like everything was okay, smile big but I was a little girl that never wanted to go home and had sad eyes. I internalize those beliefs. Eventually, I was rescued, for which I’m grateful for them. I got to go on a healing journey and discovered that those beliefs were not true, that I was lovable, and that I had value. I mattered that it was safe to be seen and heard. That was the hardest part of the journey for me to take it from knowledge because we know a lot of things to embody, believing, owning it, and truly stepping forward to be seen and heard.
If we fast forward to stepping into this space, the empowerment and the transformational space, it was still something I was struggling with. I was good at putting up a good friend. I learned how to hide in the public eye. You can do that too, all of that. I discovered that if I wanted to make the difference that was on my heart to make, I had to be willing to be vulnerable. I had to take that shield down. It wasn’t protecting me. It was keeping people from me. I wasn’t able to touch their hearts or connect on that level because I wasn’t willing to open my heart up and be willing to lead that connection.
As I discovered how to do that, I learned something else about visibility. I had a huge heart. I want to make a positive difference for my passing there. I want to leave the world better than I found it for the sphere of influence, whatever size it is that I’m given, I want to have a positive impact. I discovered nobody knows if you don’t tell them if they can’t see you, if they can’t hear you, it’s not by osmosis. Somehow, they know that they matter. Somehow, they know what you do and how you can help them. What I discovered visibility is about it’s being easy to find by the people who need you most.
When you say that I’m looking at some of the pictures on your website, I see that there are a lot of women in this one, a couple of pictures that you have at the top of your site. Do you deal mostly with women or is it a combination of people?
It’s a combination. As I get bigger, I tend to be an influencer in the women’s empowerment space. If people are looking to have me speak, share, or serve that’s where I’m called as an individual. As an organization, we support both men and women to show up powerfully, be easy to find and different types of media from radio to TV, to podcasts, to books a whole range of things and support both men and women in doing that.
You do a lot of similar things in the fact that you have a radio show and you’re an author and all the things. A lot of people are trying to get noticed. They write a book because everybody’s got books, you have a book. That’s a new business card. They want to have a podcast because that’s another way to get a platform. Everybody wants a platform to get noticed anybody who’s ever tried to get a publisher. That’s a word you’re going to hear soon. That’s your platform. How many people follow you? How are they following you? What do you think is the most important platform? Is it social media? Is it a book? Is it a radio show or is it you have to have all of the above? What do you tell people?
The more platforms you have that you are using effectively the better. I don’t believe it’s checking things off the list and let’s be. You can have a million platforms, but if you’re not using them effectively for your goals, it’s not going to help you. If you’re going to do a podcast, wonderful, that’s a great way to reach people, but have a strategy around it and a purpose. Know who your people are that you’re trying to reach. Are they people that listen or watch podcasts? You want to go back to who the people are that you’re trying to reach. Is that platform an effective way to do that first? How are you using the platform? Are you looking to grow your list?
Are you looking to monetize things? Are you looking to expand how you’re positioned and seen in the world? Do you want to bring great information, provide services? What are your goals around that? The same thing with books and as a speaker. What is that next step? Do you have a next step that you’re sharing with people, making it easy for them to know, to take that step, or do they have to guess and figure out what that next step? It could be hiring you as a speaker, a coach, or a consultant. What are those pieces that you are bringing forward and is that platform you’re choosing an effective way to connect, be positioned, and take those next steps?
You bring up an important point because there’s a lot of social media places to be seen and maybe TikTok’s not the best place, or it won’t be when this publishes because they’re getting rid of it. For me, my people, my base would be more on LinkedIn and to spend a lot of time on Instagram might not do as much for me as being on LinkedIn. There’s a sense for me when I go get out there that there are all these people doing the same things. There’s content. They, “Give people some free stuff and they’ll want to come back to your site. Don’t ask them for anything, give.” It seems like there are a lot of sellers without a lot of buyers in this market. Everybody is selling to each other. It’s almost like if you join any local networking events where you get together and you realize that you’re all real estate agents and nobody’s buying houses or whatever it is. Is it like that a lot in social media?
It can be. There are a lot of summits that can be structured like that. A lot of programs that are being opened up like that, but part of how I believe you stand out is being clear on who your people are and clear on what your bringing to them that is unique and different for their particular needs. That’s important. You do want to have a presence on social media. Choosing the media or social media that are going to connect you with the people you’re trying to reach is important. It’s checking the box and all of them. In social media, here’s an important thought for people, often we do output only. We’re treating it as a place to post and share. It’s like you’re saying, we are sending information now, we’re not watching, monitoring, and responding. That’s a platform where you can create engagement and build rapport and relationships. It’s not output only. You want to make sure you’re building that rapport and building those relationships.
When I started this show, it was for me, interesting to learn from people, that was it. A lot of people have an ulterior motive when they do things. This is, “I’m going to get CEOs on and I can get business or I could speak from who I talked to on the show.” If you’re doing it for that reason, it’s going to come across that you’ve got an ulterior motive. There’s this two-way communication that sometimes I see gets faked. Some people are liking everything or tagging you in everything because they think that you’re an influencer. If you’re a global influencer, you must get tagged a lot because they go, “Everybody’s following Rebecca. I want people to see my message.” How do we get people to not think like that?
Some of that comes from a scarcity place or a place of, “I’m not enough.” There are other ways that you can engage in a conversation with people and share out. People do tag people will do that and it’s okay. You can monitor the tags, untag, take your name off, and do those things.
It’s nice to be tagged on somethings, but some people do it too much.
Yes and watching that. You want to watch what’s happening in social media, not schedule it and forget it. Sometimes that can happen in an ongoing relationship and ongoing conversation and monitoring that, paying attention to that. If somebody is abusing it, you can send them a message and ask them not to, if you have that relationship or can you tag me on these things or here is the direction on that or give them a little guidance or you can untag, monitor, and block if it gets to that level. I find people generally aren’t abusing that. It’s rare where I find that happens. I feel more are coming from a place or trying to reach their people and get the word out. I’m fine with supporting that, but it may or may not reshare those out because it depends on the relationship that I have with those people.
I know you develop a lot of relationships because you do in-demand publishing. You do all these different things. A lot of people want to have a book and it’s good to have a book if you show you have expertise in a certain area. You say not to publish your book. You have to launch it. What do you mean by that?
I’ll give a little example of what that means. When I first entered the industry as a speaker, I had an opportunity to be part of a couple of book projects and they were anthologies, which are a book compilation with multiple authors, each contributed in section. That felt much less intimidating to me than writing a whole book. I decided to do that and I was aligned with other authors, experts and I felt I could learn a little bit about this whole publishing thing. What does it mean? How does it work? That’s the step I took and I participated in two different anthologies that ended up coming out almost at the same time. I don’t know if I would recommend that, but that’s what I did, both quality publishers, great authors that I got to be with, and positioned with great communities. All of that was good. One of the books released and that’s typically what happens in the publishing world. That means it is now available for purchase. It doesn’t mean there’s any promotion around it that falls on the author. With this particular book, I was new in the industry. I didn’t quite know what to do with it.
I was a little bit shy being a published author and not quite sure what to do with it in the industry. I still have those books on my shelf in the garage and they’re great books, but not serving by living in the garage. The other book was launched. A similar type of content, great people in that, but they made it a big deal. They had a whole launching campaign, all this visibility, there’s an opportunity to be at a conference and sign books. It became a number one international bestseller in multiple categories and countries. What it did for me is it created an opportunity to expand from a local, regional, visibility to an international quickly. I caught the eyes and showed up on the radar of VoiceAmerica on the radio side, which is a global network that has live broadcasting shows.
They recognized that I had a platform. I was still figuring that out myself. I have something that I stood for and it was around women’s empowerment. They wanted my voice and my message on their networks. That opened it up an opportunity in radio, which led to television, to having my television show, then channel then network. I got to be the network director for a while and a women’s channel TV radio ended up having my network and led to a lot of other opportunities in the speaking world. The second book that had the visibility component, where they launched the book, changed the course of my career in life. It made a huge impact. Those books are out there serving people in their hands and hearts and continue to open up doors.Visibility is all about being easy to find by the people who need you most. Click To Tweet
Tell me what if somebody is reading and they think, “I want to launch my book.” What do you mean by launch exactly other than book signings and the things that they might be thinking of initially?
It’s important when you are either self-publishing or working with a publisher. Have a conversation about what happens once the book’s released. What is their plan to get the message out there? How will people know about how amazing this book is? How do I get it in front of people? That’s important.
Can you give us examples?
For us, when we do a launch, we use a multimedia approach. There are radio interviews, there are podcasts interviews, magazine write-ups, and we’re trying to position the author as the spokesperson of their message that they’re increasing their visibility while they’re bringing their book forward and making it a bestseller. We give them a lot of visibility in social media on those different media platforms so they can be seen and heard as the expert they are, which leads to a lot of doors opening up. On top of that, it creates enough momentum that we’re able to get their book as rated as a best seller or above on Amazon. That’s the platform that we use. That gives them great positioning so that every print book will have that ribbon on it. They have instant positioning, every person who looks at their book going forward, plus they got all this great visibility when their book was released and look.
You mentioned getting on television shows and I’ve been on other shows and done certain things. I’ve never had my television show other than the YouTube things that people have. Tell me a little bit about your television show and what that did for you?
It is on more of an internet-based network. It’s not all the other types of platforms, but it created a lot of visibility. When people can see you have an additional connection on top of hearing from you, being on those types of platforms when it’s on a network and YouTube is fabulous. I love you YouTube but you can have squirrel videos on YouTube. It’s a great place to be, but you don’t always have a lot of control over the type of other content that can be around you and how that’s positioned. When you’re on the network, they don’t take everybody. There’s a little bit more control out of what is positioned around you, which also helps position you. There’s a level that you need to be seen and heard at to be able to have an opportunity on that network. It’s good positioning for you.
It is an interesting thing because I’ve been with some of the Jeff Hayzlett stuff, he’s got C-Suite TV in different aspects and I did my book trailer with his C-Suite, a book launching group. It is interesting to see the power behind different platforms and what they can offer. I know I’ve talked to VoiceAmerica and I’ve been on a lot of VoiceAmerica shows and yours is one that I’m going to be on and different things like that. There are many ways that we can get out there and get known but a lot of it is what you’re saying, when you’re out there and people are interviewing you and it’s important, anybody here who is thinking of launching their book.
I’m working with Dr. Gilda, who used to be on Sally Jessy Raphael. She’s a well-known personality in the field of human relationships. We were working on a media program together about helping people know how to get their message resonating on television and podcasts. What advice would you give to people who are launching their book or whatever their product is that they’re trying to get known for the things that they should be saying on the air? Sometimes you’ve got like, “I know why you go on a local television show here.” Four minutes is a huge amount of time. You might get three. What advice do you say for those people?
A few things I would say. One, be part of sharing the message out. Let people know that you’re going to be on the show. Build that excitement and that buzz. Share the replay out. Be visible tag the players that are part of it. They are going to watch and notice that and they pay attention to people that are participating in helping get the word out. You want to have some things prepared in bullet point format, less is more. For example, I could say, “Life is not a solo journey.” This means it’s a myth. Sometimes people think you have to do everything on your own. It’s not true.
We can let people in and we can go further when we do because life is not a solo journey. I said it twice. I expanded on it and it was short as a core message that I could bring forward. You want to have things that are short, that are in alignment with the messages you’re wanting to bring forward, great to tie it into what your book is about or whatever you’re bringing forward. You want it in short bullet points that are repeatable, tweetable and people will hear and start to associate with you to leverage those platforms.
It’s challenging. It’s fun being on some of the local television shows because you never know what they’re going to ask you and I prefer that. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like it when I know what they’re going to ask me because you start getting this memorized what you want to say. I prefer to think on my feet, but other people maybe don’t. What do you tell people to help them be prepared?
You want to be prepared to go any direction and know that you’re an expert in what you do. You don’t have to answer every question that is asked.
You can say, “That’s a good point but look over here.”
You can say, “I don’t share that and I’ve done that.” They’ll say, “Why don’t you?” I can tell them why and then go into what we do share and want to bring forward. Know where your boundaries are. Just because someone asks doesn’t mean you have to answer it that way and you can do the shiny object, “Great question,” with the conversation. Sometimes people as guests try to control the conversation because they have an agenda of where they’re trying to go or they’re nervous and that comes across and it doesn’t let the host showcase you as strongly or help you shine. If you’re trying to predict where things are going or have it go a certain direction, trust the platform you’re on, but do your research. Not every show perhaps is the right show for you. Remember, you are in control of your message and what you’re bringing forward. You’re the spokesperson for what you stand for and what you’re bringing forward.
You bring up a great point about if you’re going to pitch your idea to shows. I’ve gone to different programs where they try to tell you the types of things to pitch. I like to learn from everybody. When I was new at all that I listened to some of these people and they’d say, “Have this one sheet that says this and says that.” As I’ve interviewed more than 1,000 people on my show, I look at what they were teaching and I was like, “No, that’s not at all what I want to see.” It’s interesting to know how to pitch yourself and where to look. For me, it’s important that somebody gives me a good bio.
I love it when they provide questions because I don’t necessarily read those questions on the show, but it tells me what they have in mind. What do they like to talk about? What are they good at? It also helps to have clips of things that you’ve done or videos so people could watch. I have people send me their CV or resume. I’m like, “No. I’m glad you did that, but it doesn’t help for the show host.” When you’re pitching yourself as you said, you want to make sure you’re a good fit for the show, do you think that people spam all the top names they hear and don’t even look at their shows? How much research should they do?
Frequently that’s the case, or they have their people doing that.
It seems more a lot of their people.
It’s almost like they’re cold calling shows and they haven’t researched the show. They haven’t even followed that person. It ends sometimes they’re not giving a lot of lead time for when they’re wanting to be on a show. If it’s a popular show, you need to plan out 2 to 3 months sometimes to get in the cycle there if you have things that are time-sensitive, that you’re wanting to launch and share and follow whatever process you’re given. If you’re asking to be on their show and their platform, that’s an honor, a privilege, and an opportunity for you to be lifted up.
Follow whatever process you are given to get your information. If you have to fill out this form and then you have to send that in, do that. That’s part of the process and it helps the host and whatever platform they’re on, helps you shine, be seen and heard, and how things are structured there. Be willing to do what they need you to do so they can build the show effectively with the lead times needed, with the types of materials they ask for. A onetime speaker sheet or speaker reel is not enough for what they need to determine if it’s a good fit and then the pieces they need to build the show out.
I know we touched on the fact that you do this publishing and all of the in-demand publishing. I want to know a little bit about what you’d want people to know about what you can help them do to release their books in the world and how they could reach you?
We specialize in helping experts and influencers that want to launch their books and not just release the book. Have a full-scale campaign built around them so they can be positioned as an expert while they’re bringing their book forward and achieve that bestselling status. That’s what we specialize in, and it can be combined with our publishing services, or it can be a standalone that perhaps they have the publishing taken care of, but they want that campaign piece. We’re able to build that around and help get them to that place quickly. We love helping people do that. We want to help you reach all the people that need your message and position you at the same time. That’s what we do in the publishing space. For those of you who want to connect in, we love that. Our website is YourPurposeDrivenPractice.com that holds everything. There’s a button you can click to learn more as well as reach out and have a conversation.The more platforms you have that you're using effectively, the better. Click To Tweet
This has been great, Rebecca. I knew we’d have a lot to talk about because this is all fascinating to me. I love this whole field, and I appreciate you sharing your successes and how other people couldn’t do something similar. I appreciate it.
It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
The Vantage Point of Crisis Negotiation with Andy Young
I am here with Dr. Andy Young, who’s been a professor of Psychology and Counseling at Lubbock Christian University since 1996 and a negotiator and psychological consultant with the Lubbock Police Department SWAT team since 2000. He is also the author of different books. The one that we’re going to talk about and I’m excited about is a Fight or Flight: Negotiating Crisis on The Frontline. Andy, it’s nice of you to join me on the show.
It’s a pleasure being here. Thank you very much.
You’re welcome. I know you also wrote When Every Word Counts: An Insider’s View of Crisis Negotiations, you’ve published us all research. You’ve got your degree in Psychology. I have mine in Business. You’re heavier your education degree. We’re talking about psychology-based things, which is fascinating because it’s all overlap. I want to get a background on you to see what got you interested in psychology and negotiation and all that aspect if you started out in education?
What got me interested was early on, people naturally seemed to talk to me about their problems. When I went to college, I was like, “I probably need to be better equipped to respond to people.” I got an undergraduate degree in Ministry with a minor in Psychology and eventually got a Master’s in Counseling and got my teaching job here at the university. The university said, “If you want to keep your teaching job, you need to get a doctorate.” I got a Doctorate in Counselor Education, which is teaching people how to counsel while I was working on my Master’s, the chief of police secretary came to me and said, “Would you like to become part of the Patrol Division of the Police Department? The chief is sick of sending his officers to the same domestic dispute over and over again. There’s no arrestable offense there. The chief wants to get you psychology types out here on the street in these houses so his officers can go catch bad guys, and you can help these people so they don’t keep calling 911.” My interest in this, it came and found me and I ended up learning on the fly because though a background in counseling and psychology was helpful, a little more was needed once it got out on the street.
Real-world experience is a little bit different than the textbooks we have in school. It’s a fascinating thing because a lot of people think I have a degree in Psychology, but mine is in Business. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on emotional intelligence and its impact on performance. That’s the same basic dissertation, you could write for a Psychology degree as well. It’s funny to see how these things overlap. A lot of it is the real-world experience that you get from what you’ve researched. I’ve done a lot of peer-reviewed scholarly research as you have. It’s a fascinating look at how we learn things but you’re talking about some of the things that you only find out in the field. You can read about domestic disputes, but until you’re dead in the middle of them, it’s not the same. Aren’t they supposed to be the most dangerous for police officers? Do you get right in the middle of these times where they’re at the tough times? When are you involved?
With the patrol response, an officer will show up and get the scene calm down to some level. If that officer believes somebody with a psychology or counseling background might be helpful, then they’ll call us in. Usually, the scenes are safe. When it comes to the negotiating thing, it’s a little more sporty. I’m glad I got some training and experience before diving into that stuff.
What exactly, when you talk about negotiations, are we talking hostage negotiations? What negotiations are you talking about?
Our negotiating team responds to a variety of calls. It could be somebody wanting to commit suicide. They might be barricaded in the house by themselves, or they might be on an overpass wanting to jump. We do have those hostage situations, which are extremely dangerous and unpredictable. It covers the gamut. It could be a kidnapping though I’ve never worked a kidnapping. Any situation where we might be able to resolve this without force, be it an officer who’s trained in how to talk or mental health professional assisting with the situation.
As you’re talking about that, I was thinking when we talk about people who say they want to commit suicide or if they’re telling you that they want to do it. Do they usually want to do it? Is it to cry for help?
Everything seems to fall on a continuum in my line of work. I’ve seen people who were quite quiet and not saying anything who ended up hurting themselves and then people who were boisterous. Sometimes they cry for help and a couple of situations, not the norm, it was in some ways a manipulation. There are different motivations. It’s hard to get up to speed when you’re walking up to some stranger on an overpass.
Has anybody on the overpass ever jumped? Have you had losses with all those?
My first one, the gentleman seemed to be not toying with it, but considering it in such a way that he started to lean backward and I was looking at him and he was looking at me as he leaned backward. As he lost his balance, he tried to grab on to the railing and missed. He didn’t die. He fell about 25 feet and fell right next to the ambulance. We had parked underneath the overpass right on the pavement. He broke his hip. For that to be my first experience with that thing, it was a little jarring.
You went back for more.
That speaks to my level of sanity.
It’s an interesting calling to want to do this thing. You have to be a calm person. You have to not lose your cool. What do you tell people? What is it that you’re helping people learn from this book that you’ve learned that you’ve told people in the field? Who is this book for and what is the main message?
For me, I’m an educator at heart. I would like people to understand a little better, something that is not ordinary or common. A lot of people will see police activity, yellow tape and all that, but they’re left to make assumptions about what’s going on down the street. My hope was to tell these stories in such a way that it was not only educational but interesting. Hopefully, a byproduct being for people who wanted to get into this field, that they would get a little more training and experience by reading a book before they had to dive in. I remember what it was like to dive in.
It does help to get anecdotal advice and experience. I’m curious, you said stories. Is there a story that you like to share that is something that would pique people’s interest?
We were talking about the first calls, and at least for me were awkward. My first negotiation was with a subject to. He barricaded himself in a house and was making lots of threats and it seemed after the fact to manipulate the people around him. He seemed quite angry and I got a call at home in the middle of the night from an officer and he said, “The chief of the patrol would like you to call inside and keep this guy busy while SWAT gets set up. Would you mind calling inside?” I’m like, “What in the world? How did I get into this?”Create a lot of visibility. When people can see you, you have an additional connection on top of being heard. Click To Tweet
I didn’t have any negotiator training. I simply had my counseling background at that point. I made the phone call and the gentleman was quite angry and right off the bat, he hit me with a question that I did not expect. He yelled at me and wanted to know where I got my counseling license. I was like, “What in the world?” I gave him a quick answer and I was like, “Is there anything you want to talk about? What’s going on?” He wasn’t satisfied with my answer and he kept F-bombing me and yelling at me and eventually hung up on me. It didn’t feel quite successful.
Did you ask him about what would have been a better answer to that?
I never got a chance to, because at that time the mentality was a little more tactical. Once the SWAT team got set up and it didn’t seem that this man was interested in being reasoned with, they broke out the window. They took him into custody and that was that. No one talked to the man after the fact. He was drunk and belligerent and all the rest of it.
Probably he didn’t remember even.
No. It seemed like it was about power, control, and exercising his will and trying to push somebody else around. The officers at the scene, I imagine were not interested in asking him, “How could we have helped you better?” He wasn’t interested in it.
Do they make you wear a bulletproof vest or anything? Are you getting close enough that you have to worry about that?
I do have a bulletproof vest and a helmet mostly because it makes me feel cool. I’d rather be safe than sorry because there have been a few times where I’ve been close to where possibly shots could be fired and make it to where we are. In this society, you never know which way the bullets are going to come from.
It’s such a crazy time. We’ve got these race riots and COVID crisis. What are the people coming to you to help with? Is it COVID? Is it race riots or is it something else?
The race riots, they have affected the morale of some of the police officers. Most of the people would come to me for straight counseling are in law enforcement and then I got a lot of friends in law enforcement too. It’s a lot of moral support, “We’re starting to feel like everybody hates us and wants us dead. Help me sort through that.” A lot of people don’t connect that a police officer could be afraid.
They must be.
I saw an officer in his riot gear and he had a little patch on his vest, “Stop screaming at me. I’m scared too.”
People only see from their vantage point. If you’re the bad guy, the cops are bad guys. If you’re in need of help, they’re the good guy. That’s a challenging thing. There are police officers that do bad things but that doesn’t mean everybody’s doing that. Is there education that you’re dealing with the public with understanding what the police are going through? I’m curious if you’re involved in any of that.
That was part of the reason for writing these stories down and writing these books. I often get to go out and speak various places. I’ve spoken at the hospital, community events, and things like that. I usually get those initial questions, “I’m afraid. Help me understand why I shouldn’t be afraid of the cops.” The anecdotal stories about, “This happened and here’s how I perceived it. Do you have anything to add to that?” Usually, there’s an educational component, “The officer did it this way because this is how they’re trained and officer safety dictates that they need to do this and this.” When you explain that to somebody, they’re like, “That makes more sense. Okay, I feel better.”
It’s interesting you bring that up because you and I are both white. I’ve had Vernice Armour on my show, who worked as a police officer. She’s black. She said when she trained as a police officer, they taught them to do that. Knock them out, maneuver where it could potentially kill somebody, but they don’t want you to, but you don’t know. Do we need to rethink how we’re training?
I’m going to punt and say the training that officers are focusing on may need adjustment, but they still need to have the skills necessary to save their life and the life of an innocent third-party. There are those instances where a seemingly disturbing level of force would be necessary. The hard part and the debate is about when and how that individual officer’s decision making.
When I talked to her, it didn’t sound like they saw it as something that could lead to death. They’re thinking it’s subduing or whatever. I don’t know if there’s the training level involved that maybe needs to be involved in how to subdue somebody, but it’s such a horrible time in our world because of our perceptions of who the good guys and bad guys are different based on our vantage point. That was interesting to me because I’m writing about perception. If you’re white, your perception might be different than if you’re black and how you’ve lived your life. Do you think this is all shedding a light that needed to be shined on a situation? I’m curious in your perspective of that.
Yes. I’m a fan of education, dialogue, and illumination. Let’s all get on the same page about how we want to do this. It’s ugly when you have one person who is making bad decisions and another person has to respond to it. Society, I can see why they react like, “That’s ugly. I don’t like it.” At the same time, when you understand all the factors involved, sometimes there’s not another good option. War and combat are ugly. When you see that on a civil level, it’s hard to digest or even comprehend. “Why would that be necessary?”
It is a challenging situation. What you’re talking about is what probably comes up in a lot of court cases. Do you do any court cases where you have to testify at all?
No, knock on wood. If I get called to testify because of this conversation, I’m going to have to come back and yell at you.
Hopefully, you won’t have that happen. I don’t want you yelling at me. I’ve had a few experts though that do a lot of this court testifying. It is interesting to hear what it is. People are experts but it’s from their own vantage point and their perception. There’s no good answer in some of these tough situations where everybody’s going to feel like they’ve lost something in negotiation. How do you get them past that sense that they’ve lost something?
In particular, what do you mean by they lose something?
If in negotiation I have to give up this for you to get that. You’re all losing a little bit, it never feels like a total win-win.It’s better to be safe than sorry. In today's society, you never know which way the bullet’s going to come from. Click To Tweet
To have that longer-term goal or that broader perspective, though, it feels like I’m losing at this point in the long-term. This is the best thing. We see it in parenting all the time. I know you don’t want to go to bed, but if you get some sleep, you’ll feel like a normal person in the morning. My two-year-old is not going to understand that at all.
The stories that you tell in your book are what interests me because you’ve had perpetrators, victims, law enforcement, and families and all, you must see it from everybody’s perspective.
That’s right. That’s the weird position I have on the team. I ended up being the guy who is stepping back from the situation and trying to look at all the angles, all the perspectives, everybody’s point of view, to try and find some safe synthesis that gets us all to a good place.
How do you determine that common ground if it’s different? How do you open their eyes to that?
Sometimes police officers can get entrenched and black and white in their thinking. To try and speak their language and find something that’s important to them, you could have some commander who’s never been to a SWAT call-out in ten years. He shows up, he’s hard and fast and let’s kick doors and to speak his language like, “I don’t think we’ve done that in ten years and here’s why. Here’s the liability associated with that.” With our guy on the inside, “We don’t want to have to wreck your house just because you’re drunk and firing off rounds into your ceiling. I know you’re upset, but can we look beyond your emotion at this moment and think about how not to wreck your house?”
Is it all men or do you deal with a lot of women too?
The incidents with women are in my anecdotal view, slowly on the rise.
What kind of things?
The last person that I talked to who wanted to jump off a bridge was female.
What’s usually the reason? Is there not one common reason?
There’s not one common reason. Sometimes people have psychiatric conditions. Sometimes it’s life stressors, high on meth and they’re not thinking straight. It can be all over the place. I like problem-solving and to show up on an overpass and not have any idea about a person and try and get from there to some peaceful resolution is quite a puzzle to figure out.
How do you start? Do you try to be their friend? What’s the beginning of that?
Listening is the beginning and trying to illustrate the model shows that I’m truly interested in your perspective and what’s going on with you if you’d be willing to talk to me. My hope is that through that we might be able to find some option or some help that you hadn’t thought of because of your emotional state and your desperation.
You wrote the book When Every Word Counts. What words count the most?
Right at the beginning, that first impression when somebody is in deep crisis, we had anger, depression, or whatever that first impression, your tone, your use of language. I mentioned the phrase, “Would you be willing to talk to me?” That is not a phrase that naturally comes out of the mouth of a police officer. Usually, they phrase it something like, “I need you to talk to me.” That’s a different approach than, “Would you be willing?”
What if they say no? What do you do?
I have to be patient.
Do they say no?
You have to keep asking that throughout in different ways after you let them down. What other things do you ask them?
I’m thinking in particular, we had a seven-hour call out with a gentleman. It was midnight. It was twenty degrees. He was naked on an overpass. He was high on meth with a history of schizophrenia and a personality disorder. That conversation was incredibly slow and required seven hours’ worth of patience on our part.Listening is the beginning of a negotiation. Click To Tweet
Did it end well?
It did end well. In my view, we were able to set things up to where he saw that it was in his best interest to go to the ambulance, we had parked nearby but that took a lot of patience and pauses. There were fifteen minutes where we stood there and he stared at us but in that fifteen minutes of quiet, he started to learn something about us that seemed to help us later.
When he learned to trust you, is that what you mean?
Yes, when I say, “I’m not going to come to grab you.” He curses at me and says, “Don’t talk to me.” I stand there. I don’t leave. I don’t rush them and I don’t talk to them. He starts to learn something about me.
Who talks next, you or did he?
It was us. We don’t typically negotiate alone. There were six of us up there in a group. Eventually, we talk again put out there, like in this case, “I can see that your feet are black from frostbite and I’m worried about you losing your feet. Can we go to the hospital?” Inserting something that might be outside of his frame of reference.
Is it part you’re also waiting out the drugs come out of your system after seven hours? Does he calm down because of that to some extent?
I would say in regular cases, yes, but in this case, when the drugs went away, then his schizophrenia was more present.
You’re dealing with multiple people throughout the time you’re talking to this one person?
Exactly. We went from meth-induced psychosis to schizophrenia and do psychosis.
Does that scare you to know that they know who you are?
I’m not a big fan of being afraid. He doesn’t know my name. If I ran into him in the parking lot, he might recognize me. There isn’t a reason to be afraid of people in those situations after they resolve. I haven’t had that yet, but I can use my imagination.
In other situations, we have COVID situation, are you dealing with any of the crisis or dealing with people having difficulty dealing with that or is that outside your purview?
It is a factor that leads people to things like depression and suicidal thoughts. I would say I deal with it once it gets to that point.
You’re seeing more of that. Are people losing it more because of this?
Yes. We’re seeing an uptick in rates of depression and suicide attempts for sure.
This is the craziest year ever and I can’t even imagine. It’s great that there are people like you who help people when they get to their wit’s end because you’d need the reasoning at that point. It’s good to hear that they’re calling in people to do that. A lot of people will be interested in your Fight or Flight or even When Every Word Counts you’ve written if they want to know how to follow you and learn more. Is there a site, a social media, or something you’d like to share?
I have a website with the books on it and a little background about me DrAndyYoung.com. That’s the best way to get connected.
I hope everybody takes some time to check out your work and your books. Thank you for sharing. This is fascinating, Andy. I enjoyed our conversation.
I did too. Thank you for this.
You’re welcome. It was fun.
I’d like to thank Rebecca and Andy for being my guests. We get many great guests on this show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamilton.com. We’re also on iTunes and iHeart. I hope you check it out and I hope you join us for the next episode.
- Rebecca Hall Gruyter
- Fight or Flight: Negotiating Crisis on The Front Line
- When Every Word Counts: An Insider’s View of Crisis Negotiations
- iTunes – Take The Lead
- iHeart – Take The Lead
About Rebecca Hall Gruyter
Rebecca Hall Gruyter is a Global Influencer, #1 International Best-Selling and Award-Winning Author and Compiler, in-demand Publisher, Empowering Radio Show Host (reaching over 1 million listeners on 8 networks), and an Empowerment leader who wants to help you reach more people. She has built multiple platforms to help experts reach more people. These platforms include: Radio, TV, books, magazines, the Speaker Talent Search, and Live Events …Creating a powerful promotional reach of over 10 million!
About Andy Young
Dr. Andy Young has been a Professor of Psychology and Counseling at Lubbock Christian University since 1996 and a negotiator and psychological consultant with the Lubbock Police Department’s SWAT team since 2000. He also heads LPD’s Victim Services Unit and is the director of the department’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team. He has been on the negotiating team at the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office since 2008, is on the team at the Texas Department of Public Safety (Texas Rangers, region 5), and has recently been asked to serve as the psychological consultant on the Amarillo Police Department’s negotiating team. He has written books, mostly stories about his work as a crisis counselor and hostage negotiator at LPD called “Fight or Flight: Negotiating Crisis on the Frontline” and “When Every Word Counts: An Insider’s View of Crisis Negotiations” (see www.DrAndyYoung.com). He has also published research on the callout experience, personality and decision-making styles of negotiators and SWAT operators. He is the new, third author for the sixth edition of “Managing Critical Incidents and Hostage Situations in Law Enforcement and Corrections.” Since 2014 he has spoken internationally at numerous hostage negotiator conferences, as well as other professional and academic conferences on crisis intervention and hostage negotiating.
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