After the Webinar: The Human in Humanity. Q&A with Shaun Ward

Webinar presenter Dr. Shaun Ward answered a number of your questions after his presentation, The Human in Humanity.  Here are just a few of his responses.


Audience Question: How can I apply well-being during my short breaks working as a dispatcher? She added some clarification that she’s in her final year of university while also working and is just looking for ways to introduce wellness into their day-to-day routine because she finds she struggles to find time for herself. What are your thoughts? 

Shaun Ward: Yes, first and foremost, congrats with university. You’re almost there; keep going. But certainly, during the breaks, I will say to start practicing some form of mindfulness. Being able just to reset, some apps are out there that you can even just for 5 or 10 minutes, find a quiet space, sometimes, you know, it’s a bathroom, right? Or sometimes you can step to your car in the parking lot, not too far away, and just practice mindfulness, some meditation to allow you to decompress to center yourself a little bit more, and then you’re prepared. You have the extra steam of energy.


Audience Question: A lot of people feel like they’re pushing against a tidal wave or trying to put their fingers in the dike in order to serve their community and never feel like it’s ever enough, or that it’s not appreciated. How would you advise us? What’s the first step towards not feeling that way, or possibly finding a new or different way to find meaning and value in work? 

Shaun Ward: So, first and foremost, you find meaning and value in yourself in the work, right? Understand that you’re only able to do so much. If you can walk away feeling that I gave everything and did all the due diligence I possibly could, then you must be OK with that. Because, if not, we tend to take what we are interacting with us. And that’s so unfair because it’s that understanding that when we show up for that call for service or that interaction, we also have to be mindful that that issue did not just happen when we showed up or right before. We’re talking history in history. It took a long time to get where they are today, and know that the issues that they have, oftentimes projected, but we just realized we did the best that we can do; we conducted our due diligence, and we were fair, then, we can walk away feeling okay.


Audience Question: Shaun, as you kind of implied during the ending part of your presentation here, wellness and self-care isn’t a new topic. Why is this still such a hard thing for everybody in uniform to embrace and embrace fully? It seems like we’re still trying to get to the solution here. Why is it so difficult? 

Shaun Ward: Right, because there’s a power dynamic in wearing that uniform, right? We’ve been trained and taught that, you know, we can take on everything and we are the heroes. We’re the ones who show up and get the job done. But oftentimes, we forget that while we’re doing that, how much of that goes into that, right? How much of that is taken away from us because we have to have this type of armor? Whether that’s the armor to be protected or the armor to be able to serve, right? We have to have that type of stigma because guess what’s been taught to us year after year. And even at the start of training, you know, it’s all about the technical and technical aspect, not so much the as the soft skills. So, as you see today, many leaders across the country are really embracing this wellness. Officer wellness, employee wellness. —– accept it. Accept it and be a champion for it because we can only change that tide and allow this to become a part of the profession today by becoming advocates. And we have to tell people about it. But let’s also remember that the agency resources towards this should only supplement what we already do towards our wellness.


Audience Question: What are ways that we, as leaders, can model for our teams? That it’s not just okay, but it’s important to find ways to top off all of our emotional gas tank to use your analogy there, and to care for ourselves and our emotional, mental health, and well-being. 

Shaun Ward: I will say, as leaders, we’re always in front of a crowd, right? We’re making decisions; we’re always speaking or writing e-mails to send to the larger organization. In those conversations and e-mails, we should be able to share just that. You should be able to say, “Hey, make certain you’re taking care of yourself this way. These are some of the things that I did. I will recommend these things because I have a friend who did it, and I find value in it.” You have to be a champion for yourself and continue to have that dialog with your staff and employees.

Have that in your messaging; allow that to be a part of your narrative.


Audience Question: Shaun, you talked about connecting with other professionals on LinkedIn. But for so many people in criminal justice, that can be a pretty scary proposition with the state of social media these days. Do you have any advice or strategies on how those of us in criminal justice can be present on social media without becoming blasted by the social media trolls? 

Shaun Ward: Right, and I say LinkedIn for me, that’s the only social media platform that I use. When I’m trying to build these very, you know, substantial relationships, or even trying to learn because it still has that business-like environment, you could begin with talking about something someone posted. Become interested in what they’re interested in and allow that to be the driver for consideration. Should I continue this relationship? Or should I say, “Hey, how about we can do a virtual meeting? Right? Talking about this topic.” So, I would think that would be the best course of action. Don’t even mention law enforcement; that’s just something you do. But allow them to be the ones that you are interested in and then from there, allow that to direct your path.


Audience Question: Andy wanted to know, do you have any tips or advice on how to start conversations with managers about our own well-being? 

Shaun Ward: I will say, and as you’re reading that question in, thinking about myself, and how I might do this. I’ll ask them, what do they do? When it comes to well-being, allow yourself to be vulnerable a little bit, because it can also allow them to be vulnerable, right? Say, “Hey, I’m looking for ways to improve my well-being socially and emotionally,” or, in general, “What are some that you do?” Have them explain it; sometimes they may be guarded, but if they give you a response, accept it, wait for a while, and then go back to it. Go to another person, and this person may give you more. But that’s how I generally start a conversation when you’re talking about wellness and well-being, because it is personal in nature, right? But ask them what they do, and if they don’t do anything, ask them, “Have you considered this? I’ve been looking into this. Have you considered that?” And just as you are trying to get information, you can also give it.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of The Human in Humanity

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