One of the reasons I decided to accept the offer to become the FBI spokesperson in Northern California is because I would be in a leadership position and able to cultivate trust with the public by sharing information about the great investigations being conducted by our agents.
The public needs to understand how law enforcement agencies like the FBI work. I was not afraid to be transparent about all aspects of our work because I truly believe the FBI is the world’s foremost investigative agency.
I quickly found out that many of my fellow agents did not feel the same way about developing trust with the public. They wanted to keep investigations and their work shrouded in secrecy. What they could never understand is that when things are kept in the dark, they take on a life of their own and that is never good for an organization like the FBI that depends upon the public’s support and assistance to solve most of their cases.
One of my former colleagues called for an internal investigation after the publication of my first book, “Secrets Of A Strong Mind.” A fellow counterintelligence agent, she accused me of handing over too much information to the “other side.” Never mind that it was 1) unclassified, 2) written about hundreds of times before, and 3) common sense!
She is, of course, extremely paranoid and might have made a better CIA or KGB officer than FBI agent. FBI Headquarters sided with me because they know that if I err, it is on the side of portraying the FBI in too positive of a light! The FBI is not a perfect organization but one that I was very proud to represent for 24 years.
Recently, my good friend James Wedick put me in touch with the SyFy channel. They were creating a backstory trailer about undercover work to promote a new TV series called Hunters. They interviewed me, another former FBI agent, and a retired CIA officer.
Here are four things I kept in mind about developing trust when preparing for the SyFy channel’s video:
1. IT’S NOT WHAT YOU DO, IT’S HOW YOU LOOK DOING IT
I was concerned at first because my first reaction to the SyFy channel’s request was—how will this make the FBI look? Hunters is about alien terrorists, after all!
But the more I talked to the producer of the backstory trailer, the more convinced I was that they had two priorities: 1) producing an interesting series, and 2) leveraging as much reality as possible into a storyline created by the same folks who gave us The Walking Dead (one of my absolute favorite TV shows!)
ACTION POINT: Whether it’s a backstory for a show about alien terrorists, or making a presentation in front of your colleagues, approach each and every project with the same amount of integrity because you never know who is watching or listening.
2. TRUST REQUIRES HONESTY
Unfortunately, I worked with a lot of agents who believed that the best way to get the job done was to act tough, and it’s true that is all some criminals understand. But being a tough guy can only get you so far—as many of those same colleagues can attest after experiencing failed relationships, broken families, and endless child support payments.
ACTION POINT: When you are afraid to be honest with yourself, and others, your ability to create trust is extremely limited. People may be too polite to call you a phoney to your face but your credibility diminishes a little each time you open your disingenuous little mouth.
3. EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE IS THE REAL DIRTY LITTLE SECRET
Believe me, you will never hear touchy-feely words thrown about in the halls of any FBI office. There are still a fair number of agents who believe that brute strength and ignorance will take them wherever they need to go.
The truly successful agents, however, know that developing trust requires emotional competence. This includes:
- Self-awareness—so they can predict how they will react when confronted with the unknown.
- Empathy—they are able to relate to others in an honest way.
- Managing their emotions—if they cannot regulate their response to a variety of situations, they automatically lose the upper hand.
ACTION POINT: If you want to be mentally tough, you must be able to control your emotions, and the only way to do that is to become emotionally aware.
4. WORK WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT; NOT WHAT YOU WISH YOU HAD
When talking to people, it’s important to be able to admit mistakes and to be smart enough to learn from your failures. No one wants to listen to a smug prig.
It requires mental toughness to take a long, hard look at yourself so you can identify your weaknesses right as well as your strengths. Then, forget about trying to change those weaknesses; instead, learn to manage them. Don’t ignore them, but understand how to mitigate the way they limit your progress.
Spend the rest of your time developing your strengths. Not only will you be happier, you will be more successful.
ACTION POINT: Forget about romanticized versions of who you wish you were—see yourself for who you truly are, and then make that person as fiercely awesome as possible!
Play the trailer below. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did making it!
presented by the SyFy channel
© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.
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