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Tactical civility: Nice guys finish first

Dr. George Thompson of the Verbal Judo Institute has trained thousands of correctional personnel over the years and is featured on

He reminds correctional personnel of the need to practice Tactical Civility while working inside the walls. Use civility as a tactic for maintaining safety and control. This concept was best exemplified in the movie “Road House” starring Patrick Swayze who, as the Cooler in the rough and tumble road house, said, “You need to be nice until its time not to be nice” … to which we add then you need to be nice again.

Being “nice” to inmates doesn’t mean that we coddle them. It means that by treating them with dignity and respect we show them professional Re-spect that translates into fewer problems in our facilities. In our experience, real or perceived disrespect has been the source of many assaults on staff members. When it’s time “not to be nice,” that doesn’t meant that we talk down to them or treat them badly — it means that at some point their behavior may require physical intervention. But once the situation is stabilized and the inmate in back in control, it is time to be nice again.

Remember the Greed Principle: If someone has something to gain or lose, than you have something to use. Professional RE-spect is one of tools that you can use to generate voluntary compliance. Use it wisely.

Dr. George J. Thompson is the President and Founder of the Verbal Judo Institute, a tactical training and management firm based in Auburn, NY. He has trained more than 500,000 police officers and his Verbal Judo course is required in numerous states. The course has been tailored for Corrections, and all kinds of businesses and other organizations.