After the Webinar: EQ for Dispatchers. Q&A with Thom Dworak

Webinar presenter Thom Dwoark answered a number of your questions after his presentation, EQ for Dispatchers.  Here are just a few of his responses.


Audience Question: How much does addiction wreck emotional intelligence and what is the value of that someone in recovery might be able to bring to the table with it? 

Thom Dworak: Addictions has many different types of form. In an addiction standpoint, and I’m not a psychologist, I’m a practitioner, but what I do know about addiction a lot of it has to do with the addict itself. Wanting to control everything and that the addicted person is the most important person. Simplifying a little bit, if that addiction has driven inward and the only thing I’m worried about is myself and feeding that addiction. I can’t attend to any of the other issues in terms of self-regulation and self-awareness. I don’t have a whole lot of effort for anybody because the only person I’m worried about is myself and feeding that addiction so it really can. It can eat away at the emotional intelligence characteristics and things that we need.



Audience Question: Can you talk more about your statement that the more you make yourself vulnerable the stronger than you are? It seems to be fairly counterintuitive. 

Thom Dworak: It is. The breakthrough moment for this was I was working with The British Group. The core group of us, we do presentations when we’re together. We have feedback sessions and they can be brutal. But at one point one of my co-workers looks at me and she says, you know, she says she said, ” I really like your presentation, in the presentation that you took off your mask. You let people see who you were. You are coming close to what your authentic self was.” Really a lot of times for us, especially in criminal justice, we want to protect ourselves from letting people see who you really are. It starts to develop a robotic response from us and doing that whole, “Just giving you the facts, ma’am.” If we can be more open. We’re not going to take the mask off, we’re just going to wear a smaller one, but we need to be more open and more authentic. Not just from a work standpoint, from a personal standpoint, that how often do you take the mask off of when you’re at home? How do we treat our loved ones, our partners? Do we keep that mask off and we start emotional distancing? We want to protect our families and stuff from what we’re going through with what we experience at work. But cutting them off hurts them as much as it hurts us. Being more in-tune with those emotions, being able to deal to effectively deal with them, destress appropriately. It allows us to be more human.



Audience Question: What is the right amount of anger? Given that a person’s perception of something does vary. 

Thom Dworak: It does, it does. I used to work for a boss who the slightest misstep, mistake, the guy would fly off the handle and start yelling. Like this is no big deal, we made a mistake, we’re human kind of thing. But that’s his response to everything. Everything is either really good or really bad. There is no in-between. From a perspective facing side. If I try to drop into this perspective of it and look at it. It’s hard to take that perspective of it’s either everything’s good or everything’s bad. You don’t work that way. And I get it there are some people who are like that. It may help me understand a little bit better and I didn’t appreciate being yelled at all the time. The way I fixed it, was probably not the best way to do it, but I came over to them and tell them to stop yelling at me. I know I made a mistake, and if they did that in, they yelled at me. It’s trying to have the perspective of others. But it’s being able to look at it from the standpoint of, “Do I really need to start yelling and screaming here?” And that’s where we get into this react versus respond. And if I can slow down, look at it intelligently, figure out what it is. Do I really need to get upset about this? The mistake, it wasn’t intentional, they made an error. How does it need to be addressed? Does it need to be addressed right now because it was you critical? If not, it can wait. I always look at it from the standpoint that if I really was angry about it, it really made me mad, I wouldn’t do anything about it for four hours, which would let me come back, calm down, evaluate what it is and you’ll be able to go in and have a different perspective on it. The thing that I would do is get at the standpoint of getting their perspective, what was going on when it happened. Let them have their say in terms of what was going on first. Lets me get a little bit different perspective on it. I can’t control what other people’s perspectives are I can try to look into it. I can try to get a better understanding of it, but I still can’t control what it is. But one thing I know that I can control is me. And the better I work at my emotional intelligence, the better I’m at it and controlling my responses to things.



Audience Question: Who’s the author of the article in the traumatic stress Journal. Can you provide a little bit more detail about that if you can recall? 

Thom Dworak: I don’t have it. But I know it was from September 3rd, 2015 article that was there. I can email it to you so we can get it to everybody.



Audience Question: Shouldn’t we aim at having an institutionally mindful strategy? And if so, what would this look like? 

Thom Dworak: Yes we should. And for that tune in to the webinar in September.

Aaron: It’s September 1st, Emphasizing EQ in Your Organizational Culture.

Thom Dworak: You can’t get buy-in from everybody, it’s one of those things where you just try to get their toes in the water so I can move them closer to where I want them to be. We’ve talked about this a lot in our in-personal classes. Sometimes of conversations might be difficult depending on who’s in the room. If it’s just communicators, it’s a more open conversation. The more we practice this, the more it permeates throughout the organization and it starts to become the culture within the organization. This became a big deal in my former organization, especially later in my career. My last chief was a big believer in emotional intelligence and he’s a master at it. It changed our entire hiring practices, our promotion practice. And to really to start to hire people who are high in IQ, trying to promote people who are high in EQ. It developed into what the organizational culture. he’s left a couple of years ago but that culture is still there because the people who were brought up in it are still in those command positions. We did promote a chief from within and he’s kept them in that culture. The things I’ve seen happen with the organization now, they’re very conscious-oriented. They’re big into the Special Olympics, they’re cause-driven. Very outward going in terms of caring for others not only internally but also externally.



Audience Question: Doesn’t the self-control piece increase internalized emotions that can, in turn, create passive-aggressive traits?

Thom Dworak: It can be used for bad as well as it could be used for good. It’s more so of being able to identify and recognize that those emotions are and then be able to channel them correctly so we avoid that passive-aggressive side. There are times when we drop in the passive-aggressive when we intentionally don’t need to do so. I know some people and when I catch them doing it, I call them on it. It’s one of those things that we tend to what it is that we’re doing. As much as it is looking inward, we’re also looking outward from a standpoint of how is this response going to affect what I say to somebody else. So it a two-fold purpose.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of EQ for Dispatchers.  



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