World traveler, intrepid trainer, perceptive blogger, and 14-year veteran CPI Global Professional Instructor, Dan Lonigro began his training career with a B.A. in Communications from Southern Illinois University. After teaching English as a second language in Asia, Dan experienced what he calls a positively “perfect storm” back in 2000 when a CPI job listing seeking Professional Instructors allowed him to combine his love of travel and training into a career vocation. He facilitates both public and on-site Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training programs in human service environments, including corrections, security, law enforcement, education, health, and mental health.
A Note From Your Host
Dan Lonigro has the keen ability to take CPI’s behavioral models and explain them with a practical clarity that makes them memorable and powerful. Maybe it’s no stretch to think that a trainer with 14 years of experience has mastered his material, but this guy has a gift! Throughout the interview, Dan provides valuable takeaways about understanding and managing challenging behavior with plain-spoken, practical examples that listeners can instantly relate to and learn from. Do you know why crisis behavior is needy behavior? You will after listening to Dan’s incisive interview.
Here are just a few of the highlights from my conversation with Dan.
On how he developed his love of travel (1:52):
“My friends and I, we used to have a game where we would go and ride our bikes as far as we could until we got lost. And the fun part was ‘Okay, now try to find your way back home.’ . . . I always like looking beyond the horizon.”
“I’ve always said, and I say to my groups every week, that crisis intervention doesn’t have to be complex. I think a lot of people have the idea that maybe because of some of the wording and terminology that you have to have a master’s degree in psychology and that’s just not the case at all. It’s just some basic golden rule, treat-others-as-you-want-to-be-treated kind of stuff.
So I took it from the perspective of ‘What calms me down?’ What do people do on the phone or in a retail store when I’m upset—what do they do that helps me chill out? And I thought, well, there’s certain things, like, ‘I want to be heard. Don’t give me a scripted response.’ I can’t stand when they do that on the phone. Just talk to me like I’m a real person. Listen to what I’m saying! Think about your response, that’s all, and don’t be a robot. Don’t give me the corporate line because that’s going to make me more upset.”
On how crisis behavior is needy behavior (18:40):
“As a trainer, I’ve taken the perspective that crisis behavior is needy behavior, and I’ve told hundreds of people that, hundreds of groups. Crisis behavior is needy behavior and if you want to de-escalate the person, meet the need. And behavior is communication! So if we take those two thoughts, then when people behave in crisis mode, they are communicating a need that they have.”
On the importance of sticking with the program (Nonviolent Crisis Intervention®) (19:48):
“It’s really just a matter of using the program, and I’ve told groups this before: don’t reinvent the wheel. Don’t leave here and then go back to the same-old-same-old, or leave what you’ve learned here in the hotel. Go back and use the program. We’ve now given you this wonderful product. You’ve earned it through all this hard work, so why would you not use it? It’s not complex; you’ve got the skills.”
On the universality of Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training (21:40):
“Wow, Nonviolent Crisis Intervention®, where ya been all my life? (laughter) You know, boy, I wish I knew this 15, 20 years ago! And I find that people have this epiphany as well, and they’ll say ‘Wow, I can use this anywhere!’ and I’ll say ‘Yeah, you can! You can use it at the dentist’s office; you can use it here at the hotel.’ Yes it’s designed for people in human service, but it’s not something that you only use when you’re at your job 9–5. You should be using it all the time; it’s highly effective. I think that’s the biggest takeaway, the biggest thing that surprised me, is that it’s not just a job, it’s a way of life, literally!”
On the Integrated Experience (22:46):
“The Integrated Experience that you have with somebody who does calm down as a result of you using the program, you know, now you’ve just got a convert! Because they’ve realized that you are empathic, that you do care about them, that you do want to meet their needs. It’s like a domino effect: it’s going to affect them, which is going to affect everybody else they touch. And I think that’s the greatest prize. (An empathic approach) just reverberates out there, like a pebble in a pond. I know that’s an old cliché, but it’s true, and that ripple effect goes on and on and on and on; who knows how far down the line it could go? To somebody’s children, and that is really, that’s just such a neat feeling.”