Compassionate Consequences

One of the things that appears to be slipping from the fire service today (and society in general) is the recognition that all of our actions, on and off the job have consequences.

Good things that we do have good consequences (most of the tome!) and bad things can have bad consequences.

This week and beyond, please take just a moment, a few seconds even to think about what your very next action may bring. An insubordinate off hand comment to a higher ranking officer could ruin your reputation. That is not how it os supposed to work but in many departments that is in fact how it does work.

Our job as officers and mentors is a complicated one. We always want to give someone a break and therefore eliminate all consequences because ” they are a good firefighter”, they are trying hard”, “they have a lot of ambition”, and so forth. If people behave in a manner that requires some consequence than they should understand what can happen.

I am not suggesting discipline in this instance (although there are times when that is appropriate in some case), but what I am suggesting is something I call “compassionate consequences”.

Before you have a conversation or a counseling session with another firefighter remember the Golden Rule; Treat the person how you would like to be treated in a similar circumstance.

This is complicated for new officers as it is uncomfortable to have difficult conversations. We want to eliminate any consequence. The fact is that will never help the firefighter involved. They are human too, and they can realize they have escaped all consequences and they can believe the dodged a bullet. In some cases they will be grateful, in others they will be come emboldened.

If they action is a positive one we all want to be the one to praise and acknowledge them. As officers we need to understand we have a duty to the organization and the rank we serve to steer the members and the organization in the right direction.

When counseling another member, please remember the term “compassionate consequence” and have the difficult conversation good or bad.

If you sweep too much stuff under the rug, it makes a bump, and I assure you, you will trip later on in your travels within the department and organization.

Treat others with compassion. Its a pretty good idea in the fire service for the members, the people we serve, and in our own lives in many ways.