The Reverberation Principle

I was asked once again to write a 400 word article for Star News. A monthly publication for Law Enforcement personnel. Here it is.

Easily stated, “You get what you give.” No one knows this as well as you. As a leader, you give respect, and it returns. That’s the way we are built. Innately we understand this simple but profound truth yet we frequently fail to employ the knowledge as a method of containing the situation. Whether it be at home, at the office, or in the streets, it is sometimes easier to rely on a little “command presence” to get the job done. Don’t misunderstand. Command presence is sometimes the answer, however, it is not always the answer. Many a situation can be diffused by that calm, authoritative, yet respectful voice. Even the ancients understood this to be true.

Proverb 15:1-2 A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness.

We get into trouble when our mouth belches out foolishness.

We need to exercise wisdom in the use of every one of our tools, whether it is pepper spray, the black-and-white, our sidearm, and yes, even our voice. Think of it from the other perspective. How many people have rode the plastic because they simply could not control their mouths? It is no less crucial for us to understand that simple reality. Our voice, properly used can save our life. Used improperly it can get us killed.

Think about all the times in your life when your words got you into trouble. In fact, I would bet that your words have come back to haunt you far more than any other action in your life. Put that in the forefront of your thinking. Professionalism begins with self-control and respect returns like an echo.

“The story is told of a young boy who lived with his grandfather high in the Swiss Alps. Often, just to hear the echo of his voice, the boy would go outside, cup his hands around his mouth, and shout, “HELLO!” Up from the canyons the reply reverberated, “HELLO…HELLO…hello…hello…” Then he would call out, “I LOVE YOU…I LOVE YOU…I love you…I love you…”

One day the boy seriously misbehaved and his grandfather disciplined him severely. Reacting violently, the child shook his fist and screamed. “I HATE YOU!” To his surprise, and shocked at the sound of his own voice, the rocks and boulders across the mountainside responded “I HATE YOU… I HATE YOU…I hate you…I hate you…”

Now for the realist. You’re on the street, you’ve given your respect. Does it always come back? Of course not. But once in a while, especially when you least expect it, it will, and it will feel great.