Traffic Cop Wanted

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to direct traffic while serving as a military policeman for a large public event at the Selfridge Air Force Base Air Show parking lot. I had no experience in it. I wore a red warning safety vest over my uniform and given a whistle.  I worked with a  more experienced sergeant who gave us inexperienced soldiers a piece of advice I will never forget. It was, “never make it personal!” Drivers were not always perfect and a few vehicle drivers will get confused with our instructions. The sergeant instructed us to avoid calling the driver a dummy or knucklehead for failing to follow instructions.  Instead, we were to simply and politely smile and redirect or correct.  It worked and many drivers would realize on their own they made a mistake and give you that look of embarrassment when they realized they made an “Oops.”

As a teacher I used the same advice when a student misbehaved. I focused on the negative behavior or incorrect action rather than the individual person with respect and patience. It works! Try not to judge the whole person when one mistake (or several) were made. Rather, correct the behavior or miss-understanding with patience and respect.

On the floor of Congress personal attacks are forbidden when giving a speech and decorum is strictly maintained by the Parliamentary staff. They will turn your microphone off, warn you, and make the correction, then allow you to proceed.  You can say “{the present administration is…) but not (President Obama is…)   I often joked when serving as a Congressman for Michigan’s 11th District that what society needed was a good quality Parliamentarian staff, or perhaps a good teacher, or an experienced traffic cop to bring some “decorum” to the main stream and social media, to help make things “civil” again.