Listening is not always easy

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04 October 2010

Austria recently hosted the third module of the 2010 TOPSPOC VIII; the first two were hosted by France and Estonia. Twenty-five participants from 20 Member States, Iceland, Norway, Europol and Interpol came together in order to continue their work under the main topic “Future of policing in Europe, an area of freedom, security and justice serving the citizen”. The module took place from 20 - 24 September 2010 in the Police Training Centre, Vienna, Austria.

After a welcome address from a representative from organising institute “Sicherheitsakademie (.SIAK)” and a warm-up exercise performed by the appointed coaches: Piet De Brouwer (Belgium), Guy Vinet (France) and Marek Link (Estonia), the majority of the time was dedicated to group work on the four assignments already given during the first module.

For an additional exercise to highlight how to listen properly, participants were divided into groups and asked to reconstruct the picture attached composed of different figures based on the information they received. Getting the framework and structuring the information meant that the participants not only had to listen to each other, but also understand what others were actually saying. The exercise was frustrating at times for the participants. The colleagues discussed the interaction between the groups, the withdrawal of some participants, the different communication and leadership styles and find out that a “stupid” exercise can be an eye opener for everyday planning situations.

“In this exercise I’ve learned that I speak too much, but at the wrong moments”, “We don’t plan, we’re trained, conditioned to give immediate answers to last minute questions; we’ve to change this”, “Listen to the others, really listen, sometimes we only hear”, “For sure, we’ll remember this exercise for a long time”, were some of the statements during the debriefing.

On the last day an excursion to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) was organised, where the participants had the possibility to reflect and discuss with representatives from the FRA inter alia on a report about a European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS).

The fourth and final module will be hosted by the `Instituto Superior de Polícia Judiciáre e Ciéncias Criminais` in Loures, Portugal on 22 -26 November 2010 where the participants have to introduce and present the outcomes of their work on the assignments.

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