The Chaplain's Notebook


Author and activist Bryant H. McGill is quoted as saying, “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” You are all well-versed in listening on the job, and you even have the ability to listen to things that are not said in interviews, investigations, etc. However, how often does that translate to relationships that are outside of your job?

Because of your job demands as a peace officer, it is easy to get complacent in nurturing your relationships at home, whether it is with a significant other, your children or friends in your social circle. However, being complacent over time may be damaging to you and your support.

When we do not use our listening skills with our loved ones, we can hurt their feelings and make them feel unimportant. My question to you is: Are you taking the time out of your busy schedule to check in with your loved ones and to listen and respond to their needs? By not considering and listening to their concerns, we cannot show them the utmost respect McGill talks about in the quote above. When we close the channels of communication, we may unintentionally make our loved ones feel this way, which can push them further away.

When we close the channel of communication, we cause damage to ourselves as well. When we are not using our listening skills, we close ourselves off from those we love, those we need after a hard shift or tough month. By not listening, we make ourselves unapproachable and sometimes a little intimidating. Naturally, we do not want them to picture us this way.

To change this picture, you should fall back on what you know when it comes to communicating and listening. When a family member or friend is talking, take the time to give them all your attention. Turn off the TV, put your phone down and focus on the conversation. Let them know you care by taking the first step to give them your full attention.

Showing sensitivity and empathy to their needs is also a way to show you are listening. Helping your loved one find a solution or figuring out how you can meet their needs will go a long way in building a strong bridge of communication.

Having this strong bridge of communication has a positive effect on how they will respond and listen to you when it comes time for you to discuss your day or voice your needs. Because you showed respect and sensitivity, those listening to you will be receptive and willing to extend that same respect to you.
Remember, having established a good line of communication and listening will help to nurture those relationships around you.

How can I contact a chaplain? Chaplains are available at their units of assignment or by calling the Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) at
(213) 738-3500.