We seek to discern, as early as possible, within the language, the potential for violence in our work on Employment Analysis.
We have specific indicators and direct questions and exercises to weed out those who pose a risk of violence when they apply for law enforcement, as one inappropriate officer tarnishes the reputation of the whole.
Trends and Culture
A 10 year old boy punched a 70 year old woman in the jaw, so hard, that she went unconscious as she hit the sidewalk. When questioned why he did this, he told police it was a new "game" he and his friends play and "lots of kids do it."
The game? "Polar Bear Knock Out" where black youths deliberately target elderly white victims. The "polar bear" refers to the gray hair of the victim, interestingly enough, as ancient Scripture calls for specific honor given to those of advanced age.
The desensitization of such youths came from somewhere.
Where do youths sometimes get the notion of humiliating others?
In sports, "unsportsmanlike conduct" was specifically conduct meant to humiliate a defeated foe. Celebration is normal, expected, and a release of tension (hormonal increase) from competition, yet, by refusing to allow taunting the defeated, sports used to teach self control.
Which athlete is more likely to assault his wife or girlfriend?
Athletes are competitive, and competition, itself, is not only good, but necessary for society and confidence building. Due to high levels of competition, domestic violence among professional athletes is at a much higher rate than other professions.
Which athlete would you consider more likely to restrain his own temper and avoid using violence as an outlet to release pressure, athlete A or athlete B?
Athlete A scores a touch down, turns to the one of whom he just broke a tackle, and begins to "trash talk", grab his own crotch, and dance above the fallen foe.
Athlete B scores a touch down and jumps into the arms of his fellow teammate, but upon seeing the possibly injured foe, leans over to offer a hand in getting up.
Both athletes poured tremendous effort into overcoming the tremendous and violent effort of the defensive player who sought, by all means, to stop him.
Both athletes had the same hormonal rush of adrenaline and testosterone.
Now take Athlete A and Athlete B and put them both, separately, in high speed chases where a dangerous suspect is now putting Officer A and Officer B's lives at risk.
Driving at incredible speeds, both are on high alert.
Both are using their training skills to maintain control over their vehicles.
Both have tremendous rushes of hormones, including 'fight or flight' and are engaging in a 'fight' for their own lives and the lives of innocent citizens.
Both are doing the jobs they accepted upon employment.
When each gets out of their car, they now will handcuff the submissive perpetrator.
Which officer, A or B is more likely to expend the tremendous tension via unwarranted violence?
Which officer will be able to control himself, the one who learned early in life that no matter how much exuberance he felt, he had to show respect to the defeated foe, or the other?
Things such as "self control", "reliability", "humility" and "personal responsibility" are dismissed by some as "old school", while for others, it is distinctly dismissed as "racist"; particularly those who call this "restorative justice"; that is, somehow, the victim deserved the assault, and this "balances the scales of justice" for wrongs perceived, including those of hundreds of years ago.
When the violence is committed, media may seek to hide its elements, as we saw in the recent flash mob attack outside Temple University. Elsewhere, violence is blamed on police. Deception obfuscates truth.
That we have become a violent nation, or a violent world, isn't in debate. How we got there is not debated often enough, while "what can we do to fix it?" is.
But we live in the here and now, and for the Human Resources professional, who has clients or customers or patients at risk, screening out potentially violent employees is the present concern.
Yet, it is the culture of violence that should be explored in the interview process in order to learn if a potential hire poses a risk to others.
I instituted Analytical Interviewing at a company that had experienced severe violence, where one victim, unable to speak, was left for dead, and police had already forwarded a report to the coroner's office. The victim, however, survived. I was asked, "Can you help?"
Analytical Interviewing is interviewing from Statement Analysis. You must learn Statement Analysis first, and then practice, hands on, in the legally sound, non-coercion manner of Analytical Interviewing.
Another expression that has a wide gulf is, "I'm going to kill you" in speech.
"Let me borrow your shoes or I am going to kill you" versus the threat found within domestically violent situations.
Research and my own experiences in D/V show that the best predictor of D/V is not just history (often quoted, and, via data, wisely so) but also language.
Note that threats of violence should always be taken seriously, and must come within the realm of:
Decoding one's personal, internal, subjective dictionary:
Especially by not only those in charge of hiring, but of therapists, counselors, social workers and medical professionals.
Does the subject use phrases connected to violence?
In particular, does the subject use words connected to violence when he speaks of non-violent scenarios or situations?
Does he "knock out" or "slaughter" his friends in video games? (substitute "knock out" for any of a hundred expressions). This takes careful listening, just as "terrified" and "kill you" can be dismissed as hyperbole. You must seek out a pattern of similes, for example, and what the subject reaches to, in his vocabulary, to ascertain risk.
Does he listen to, or quote, musical lyrics in which women are degraded, objectified, or even referenced with violent lyrics?
Ask questions about his friends, specifically targeting areas in which you learn about how his friends treat their wives and girlfriends.
Who does he admire?
Why does he admire so and so?
Heroes may not be, today, what you and I think they were, yesteryear.
Seek out areas in which the subject has been in some form of competition. Now, focus in on what his reaction to victory was.
Did he gloat?
Did he boast?
Did he show any empathy towards the loser?
Athletes are highly competitive and you must learn what their reaction is towards the loser. This is critical. ESPN has glorified violence and unsportsmanlike behavior, which means that agents will encourage athletes to "stop the camera's movement" and have it focus in on the player, specifically, while he taunts his opponent. That ESPN highlight clip may translate to money for the agent and the player, even while it teaches unsportsmanlike conduct to the children watching.
We use sports scenarios in interviewing to discern between normal, competitive language and those who actually enjoy violence.
Those who are sexually aroused by violence pose the highest threat.
Your job as an interviewer is to de-code the internal, subjective and very personal dictionary of the subject. This includes gender, race, culture, education, age, and so on, as factors into his language. At this point, you are just listening and asking him to clarify, and define. Do not assume to know even slang. Ask the subject about the word, and allow him to explain.
Does the subject actually feel (expressed in empathetic language) what the consequence of violence upon another is like?
You are an observer and not seeking, at this point, to enter into his language.
You are just listening.
Question: Who should screen for violence?
Answer: Who shouldn't?
The question is so sensitive that it requires a rhetorical question to explore if there is anyone that should not be on alert for violence.
Parents, teachers, professionals of all sort, and anyone who cares to protect others, particularly those incapable of protecting themselves.
Training is necessary.
Training is necessary.