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Some Coaching Points For “Esteemed Leader”

May 08

G’day all!! I know this introduction will make me sound like a complete “mush-head” but I worry about the guy!! The “esteemed leader” is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and I’m concerned about his legacy after he goes “walk about, down under”. I think we could all agree that he hasn’t exactly exceeded his potential. Did you catch Global’s Parliamentary Correspondent, Vassy Kapelos, “rip him a new one” as he stumbled out of a committee meeting where former Solicitor General Wayne Easter had grilled him on his knowledge of Global’s “16×9” piece? He remained pretty much on mark and showed promise of continuing to underwhelm us prior to his departure. Please don’t hold this against me, but the following little piece is designed to assist him in raising his stock in the eyes of the membership, and possibly even the Canadian public before he bids us “ta-ra”.

So, where to begin? Perhaps I could introduce what I am about to write by saying that I used to teach this type of material to the “recruiters of human sources” at the Canadian Police College. A source recruiter (or “agent of influence”) has a tough job. His/her message to a potential source will be under constant scrutiny and analysis by the “target” to assess its’ potential for self interest and bias. This kind of skepticism serves a target well, in that if the agent’s message is found to be biased, the former can prepare to defend and/or scrutinize further. You can get a sense of what “esteemed leader” is up against with the membership and the general public. Most importantly he does not want to appear untruthful.

I would like to offer a couple of strategies that are often taught to “agents of influence” and used to assist in transforming the unbelievable, the untrustworthy, and the disliked into something resembling their opposites. Do you recall the story of the Chinese Emperor who wanted to invade the neighbouring kingdom? He enlisted his most trusted advisor to deliver a passionate speech in the town square suggesting that the Emperor should attack his neighbour. The Emperor immediately had his advisor put to death; impressing upon the neighbouring kingdom that he had no intention of attacking; which caused the neighbouring kingdom to disarm. Our hero then immediately carried out a surprise attack and captured the neighbouring kingdom.

The teaching point here is that untrustworthy types (“esteemed leader”?) can make themselves seem trustworthy by behaving in a way that seems to be against their own self-interest. If “esteemed leader” could convince his audience that he has nothing to gain (maybe even something to lose) by convincing us of his sincerity, theoretically we could come to trust him more and he could become more effective. In the above told story of the Emperor, when he killed his trusted advisor he appeared to be acting against his own self-interest. The problem for his target audience was that what he did was an illusion. He had choreographed the whole thing so it would appear that he was acting in opposition to his own needs. Are you following, “esteemed leader”, as we are about to introduce the second point in the story; that is when it comes to influencing others “what they see ain’t always what they get”.

It’s not really necessary to put a trusted advisor to death to increase the perception of your trustworthiness. (Did I just hear the rest of the Senior Executives at NHQ breathe a sigh of relief?). Allow me “esteemed leader” to paint a picture; let’s imagine that a recently captured and convicted member of ISIS was ranting to the media about the legitimacy of his cause, the unfairness of the Canadian Judicial System, and the bias of the judge who sentenced him to “life without parole”. Do you think you would be persuaded? Most people would expect him to take such a position and view him as a biased and untrustworthy zealot. On the other hand, imagine if he was ranting about the illegitimacy of his cause, how lenient the justice system was, and how all you needed was money to buy a good defense. Would you listen now? Do you think you might be more easily influenced?

There’s a body of research that suggests there is a very good chance that the second approach will have more influence over us. Why? In the case of RCMP members and the general public, they could conclude that “esteemed leader” has undergone a transformational experience and reformed his insensitive and errant ways (or maybe he was under some pressure to reform). In the absence of any evidence to support the foregoing, it’s more likely we had found him to be so compelling, even though in opposition to the position he had previously occupied, that we come to believe he has changed. I know it sounds crazy but there is a tonne of research to support what I’m telling you!

Remember the Chinese philosopher Mencius (it’s OK “esteemed leader”, just follow along)? He outlined another potent technique for increasing our trustworthiness in the eyes of others. The story is told that on one occasion the King summoned Mencius to attend the Royal Chambers and advise the Monarch on a very puzzling issue. Rather than attending immediately, Mencius played “hard to get” for several days. The King in his anger finally reached his boiling point and accused Mencius of being disrespectful. Mencius responded by saying that he was far from being disrespectful. He explained that he could only be of use to the King if the latter trusted fully his integrity and independence of mind. Even if there was the smallest chance that the King thought Mencius consulted with him only to curry favour, or provide answers merely to please, his valuable advice would not be heeded.

The teaching point here, “esteemed leader” is that your trustworthiness can be increased and the bias of your message decreased if your target is genuinely convinced that you are not attempting to engage in a “snow job”. An example: let’s say I called you and apologized for all the “ribbing” I have been giving you, and ended by telling you I actually had great respect for you. Would you buy it? On the flipside, let’s say you were on “the hill” and you overheard a group of respected journalists talking about how they were all surprised to discover during independent interviews that Mike Webster actually had great respect for Bob Paulson! Would you be more likely to want to listen to more? Would you be more likely to change your opinion of me? Remember, there is a plethora (it means a lot) of research that suggests you would, as I wasn’t attempting to influence you directly; you would be more persuaded of my genuineness.

So there it is. And by sharing these techniques of social influence with you I’m suggesting there is still time to salvage your legacy to the “outfit”. In the form of a summary I’ll offer you a couple of examples. Maybe in what appears to be “acting against your own self-interest” (remember the killing of the trusted advisor?) you could “can” one of your senior execs (who of course you have set up a la Mencius) for speaking against unionizing the RCMP. Or you could present a cogent (it means well thought out) argument in favour of MPPAC and ensuring the rights of RCMP members. Finally, you might orchestrate one of those “media gaffs” you have become so famous for and have the cameras catch you touting the advantages of downsizing and unionizing to some of your Senior Executive over coffee at Starbucks (that you, in a rare move, paid for).

There it is, I hope you take it in the right spirit and are able to put it to use. Or am I just using my own stuff on ya’?

Dr. Mike Webster
Reg’d Psychologist

  1. Until the courts stop slapping police officers on the hand for lying/purgury there will be no justice.

    In Toronto there has been 5 cases in a month that has hit the justice system and it’s getting a habit more than a rule of law.

    My case which is political is founded on a lie to cover up an assassination attempt to get me out of the way.

    Crown wants 3-year sentence for B.C. Mountie guilty of lying about Robert Dziekanski’s death

    The man died after RCMP officers jolted him with a Taser at Vancouver’s airport in October 2007

    MAY 7, 2015

  2. EFAMIA permalink

    Former Shediac Cop your wrong in the case of Dziekanski. Read this for a more informed opinion.

    Crime & Punishment

    Crime and justice comment and analysis

    Convictions of police in YVR case a charade

    Last week, RCMP Cst. Gerry Rundel was acquitted in BC Supreme Court on charges of perjury resulting from his role in the 2007 death of Robert Dziekanski at YVR. Tomorrow, Cst. Kwesi Millington will be in the same court for sentencing after being convicted a little over a month ago on the same charge based on the same fact pattern.

    How is this possible you may ask.

    Well it happened twice. Last summer Cst. Bill Bentley was also acquitted of perjury arising from the same fact pattern and last month Cpl. Monty Robinson was convicted.

    As an aside, and I am not suggesting anything untoward, merely making an observation, but how is it that the two non-white officers are convicted but the two white officers were acquitted? (Millington is black and Robinson is native while both Bentley and Rundel are white.) Just asking.

    But in some ways this is fitting considering what a dog’s breakfast this has been from the beginning. It started when RCMP spokesman Pierre Lemaitre held a morning press conference and gave fuzzy details about what happened to the media and later seemed factually inaccurate after the public surfacing of the “Pritchard’ video, a cellphone video perspective of the events of that night. And I might add, a video that was seized by Cst. Rundel in the aftermath of the incident. So, the officers knew when they gave their statements that video of the event existed. Think about that.

    The RCMP, as an entity, failed utterly in Media Relations 101 out of the gate and further perpetrated that failure every step of the way. It continues today with their lack of comment on the convictions and acquittals of the members involved.

    In truth, the four RCMP members attended the disturbance call to YVR International Arrivals in response to Polish traveller Dziekanski acting erratically and violently, throwing things around including a desk.

    Those actions were also recorded by the tourist traveller Pritchard.

    The members responded according to their training. They tried to engage verbally, which didn’t have any effect obviously because Dziekanski couldn’t speak English. We can debate until the cows come home about what happened after that and the reality is that the officers responded according to their training and the situation escalated rapidly to the point where Dziekanski grabbed a metal stapler, held it in a threatening manner and advanced toward one of the members. Cpl. Robinson gave the order to deploy a Taser (CEW) which was in the control of Cst. Millington.

    Millington had only been trained on the use of a CEW for about three months. This was the first time he’d had occasion to use the non-lethal weapon.

    Ironically, when he testified before the Braidwood Inquiry, for which he was ultimately charged and convicted of perjury, was the first time this young constable had ever testified before any body.

    Was he confused in front of the bright lights and high-priced lawyers with an agenda? Probably, but he did his best. But perjury? It was nothing of the sort. Yet, he was still convicted in what can only be described as a bizarre decision by Mr. Justice William Ehrcke in late February.

    Here’s the decision:

    You tell me if you can make any sense of this yet, this is why Millington is being sentenced tomorrow.

    The reality is this decision will be appealed. Sources close to the matter tell me that appeal documents will be filed this week. Given the Rundel acquittal and the trial judge’s reference to the two conviction decisions in her summation it is highly likely that an appeal will be allowed meaning that tomorrow’s process will be little more than a charade. Which frankly, is an apt description of the Crown’s attempt to get some scalps for the whole Dziekanski mess.

    Those officers did their job according to the training they had. Period. That Dziekanski died as a result is tragic. But nothing in any of this is criminal on behalf the RCMP members involved.


    Leo Knight


    Written by Leo Knight
    May 7, 2015 at 3:56 am


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