Dignity & Respect

by Paul Francois & Enrique Garcia

One of the teaching blocks of our three day interview & interrogation class is a component covering gender and cultural differences. How do we deal with interviews involving subjects of the opposite sex or from a different culture? How can we brush up on these differences so as to avoid making a faux pas that has disastrous consequences? The long answer involves a lot of outside reading, study, and practice. The short answer is much simpler - treat people with dignity and respect.

While it would be ideal to arm ourselves with as much information as possible about gender and cultural differences, it's not always practical. The one thing that is universally understood is treating someone with dignity and respect. This means using a tone of voice and demeanor that reflects an abundant awareness that you are dealing with another human being. Remembering to smile, using a polite tone of voice, and extending common courtesies are all part of bridging gaps between gender and culture. And doing so also helps compensate for any failures on our part to inadvertently recognize these differences.

For example, let's say I arrive at the home of a family whose culture requires that I remove my shoes before entering the household. When I approach the front door and see a porch full of shoes, that should be my first clue as to how things roll in this house. If I'm a patrol officer, I'm certainly not going to be able to remove my duty boots before entering the house, but I can exhibit a modicum of respect by talking to the home owner about this. I could explain, from the porch, that I'm not able to remove my boots and do not want to disrespect the practice in her home. I can ask the home owner if she would prefer to speak to me outside or whether it's ok to enter with my shoes on? By simply asking the question, I'm showing my awareness and treating the home owner with the dignity and respect her customs deserve.

The different types of these situations we can find ourselves in are countless. Just remember to stop, consider your response, and to use a tone and demeanor that indicates you wish to be respectful. Most people will make great allowances if they sense we are genuine, sincere, and respectful.