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4.2 Confrontation – positive and negative variants

You have learned that being sensitive to interactions shown on the adaptive and maladaptive wheels is a useful skill. If you are able to plot (i.e. diagnose correctly) your conversational partner’s position on the wheels, you are more likely to be able to enact a response which is sensitive to where they are, which helps to build rapport and develop conversation.

One particularly important aspect of communication to get right is handling confrontation adaptively. In policing, especially, you will often need to respond to someone who is being hostile – for example, in the challenge phase of a police interview, when managing a team member who is being problematic at work, or when handling interactions on the street in your local community.

Activity 7 Mr Simpson

Timing: Allow approximately 20 minutes

In Video 8 you will see police suspect Robert Simpson being interviewed about the death of his father, Ralph. Robert alerted police when he was unable to access his father’s house the week before the interview took place. The police broke the door down and found Ralph dead. However, Robert’s behaviour at the time was found to be a little unusual, and some of the information he provided in his initial witness account of the incident has been subsequently found not to match up with other evidence and witness statements. As a result, Robert is now being interviewed as a suspect to the crime, and in the video the police are at a stage in the interview where they are presenting some of the evidential challenges to Robert.

You already know that we are dealing with confrontation (i.e. hostility) here so you know the behaviours will be on the left side of the wheel. Your task is to identify which of the two videos below is adaptive and which is maladaptive, and to think about what examples you might pick out that illustrate the adaptive or maladaptive responses.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 8
Skip transcript: Video 8 Police suspect interview I

Transcript: Video 8 Police suspect interview I

INTERVIEWER:
So Rob, we've been talking for some time now, and there are just a couple of issues I'd like to clear up and clarify. So to summarise, you've explained to us that you didn't want to trouble your dad's neighbour, Claire, even though she was happy to allow you to access her property so that you could go and see the garden, is that correct?
ROB:
Yeah, yeah.
INTERVIEWER:
Fine. The only concern that I have here is that you mentioned previously that you were worried about your dad, that he was in this house all alone, and my thought is, if I was so concerned and worried about my dad, the last thing I would do is just then turn away and go home without exploring that further.
ROB:
Yeah, I mean, as I said, I didn't want to kind of bother her and her family. They were having a meal. I didn't want to kind of disrupt that. So I kind of-
INTERVIEWER:
Right, they were having a meal, and you didn't want to disrupt that. So what were your thoughts in regards to your dad at that point?
ROB:
Obviously I was still worried about him.
INTERVIEWER:
So worried that you prioritised his neighbour's family meal over his well-being. I just-
ROB:
So sorry, are you trying to imply that I in some way don't care about my father because I'm polite to my neighbours? Is that what you're saying?
INTERVIEWER:
Those are your words, not mine. I'm just trying to get to the bottom of what's happened. And from where I am looking at everything, you were given an opportunity to access her property so that you could explore things further and just double check that your dad was OK, yet you didn't take up that opportunity. You decided to go home.
ROB:
Right.
INTERVIEWER:
OK. Is that all you have to say about it?
ROB:
Well, now, I don't quite understand what you're saying about it. What are you trying to say?
INTERVIEWER:
I'm not trying to say anything. You're telling me that you were worried, you're concerned, and I just want to see what that looked like. OK, we'll just move on.
Another point that I have here is that you mentioned trying the French doors, which were located by the side of the lounge, is that correct?
ROB:
Yeah.
INTERVIEWER:
OK. Yet according to our scenes of crimes officers, they were found to be open. How do you explain that?
ROB:
I'm- I mean, I was pretty kind of flustered at the time. I thought I did try them. But maybe I just kind of assumed that they were still locked from the day before. I don't know.
INTERVIEWER:
OK, thought you tried them- so did you or did you not try them?
ROB:
Well, I don't know. I can't remember. I-
INTERVIEWER:
Can't remember, OK.
End transcript: Video 8 Police suspect interview I
Video 8 Police suspect interview I
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Download this video clip.Video player: Video 9
Skip transcript: Video 9 Police suspect interview II

Transcript: Video 9 Police suspect interview II

INTERVIEWER:
Rob, we've been talking for some time now, and there are just a few issues that I'd like to clear up, because I'm a tad bit confused. So you mentioned previously- you explained to us that you didn't want to trouble your dad's neighbour, Claire.
ROB:
Yeah.
INTERVIEWER:
Right. However, we've spoken to Claire, and we've taken a statement from her. And she has said to us that she explained to you that she was happy for you to access her property so that you could check around the back and see if your dad was OK.
ROB:
Yeah.
INTERVIEWER:
Does that sound right? OK. Now, you mentioned previously that you were concerned about your dad, that he was in the house alone, potentially in trouble.
ROB:
Yeah.
INTERVIEWER:
Right? So can you see why I'm curious as to why you were reluctant to take up Claire's offer when you were so concerned about your father's well-being?
ROB:
If I'm honest, I'm- I suppose I didn't want to see what was in there.
INTERVIEWER:
What was in there?
ROB:
Yeah. I just didn't want to go in.
INTERVIEWER:
You didn't want to go in. OK. I'm just going to move forward from that, and we'll revisit that in a moment. Because another thing that was brought to my attention was that you mentioned that you tried some French doors, and they were locked.
ROB:
Yeah, yeah.
INTERVIEWER:
Yet according to our scenes of crimes officers, they were found to be open. So how do you- how do you explain the discrepancy between the two accounts?
ROB:
I mean, I must- I must have made a mistake. I mean, I know that they were open the day before, so maybe I just assumed they were still locked.
INTERVIEWER:
OK. They were open the day before. OK. So talk me through what you actually did, just in regards to the French doors.
ROB:
I'm sorry. I can't- I can't quite remember, exactly. I mean, I was pretty flustered. I didn't want to go in there. I didn't want to see what was in there.
INTERVIEWER:
You didn't want to see what was in there. So are you telling me that you tried the French doors, or you didn't?
ROB:
I don't know. I can't remember. I- I don't know what to say.
INTERVIEWER:
OK. It's OK if you can't remember. I don't want to put words in your mouth. I want this to come from you. There's just a grey area here, and we need to really clarify what's been going on, because we're concerned about what happened to your dad too.
ROB:
If I do know something about what might have happened to him, I don't know how I can tell you.
INTERVIEWER:
I see you're getting upset.
End transcript: Video 9 Police suspect interview II
Video 9 Police suspect interview II
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It’s important to remember that adaptive challenge is a useful tool that can be used in a way that is positive and constructive, as you have seen in the videos in Activity 7. However, you should remember that no type of behaviour on the adaptive wheel is ‘better’ than any other; the most important thing is to avoid maladaptive responses.

PWC_2

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