Colleagues, these are answers to real questions asked by magistrates who aim to guide us to discover our personal answers to difficult questions through the prism of the Code of Ethics and the peculiarities of the psyche. Please find your way to your truth. And do not take answers as etiquette and verdict, but as a possible point of view.
Magistrates have a proper attitude towards all those working in the judiciary, the citizens, the institutions, but also in their relations with each other: politeness, tolerance, decency… If we look at this issue from above, in the whole picture of collegial relations, it can paraphrase this way: how can I keep a good tone when my colleague allows himself to break it? What is the balance between my personal limits of tolerance for people who violate my good tone and my professional limits of tolerance to create tensions in collegial relationships? And if someone violates a good tone, should I keep it in my response to such behavior? Is it in the good tone to name what I perceive and set a limit on it? Is it in a good tone to welcome every attack with a smile and a lack of reaction?
The answers can not be unambiguous and without nuances. Let’s think together: and what does a good tone require when someone behaves unethical? What does a good tone require when someone tries to provoke a colleague who has received a distinction in order to reduce the value of his success? Devaluing foreign success is a common behavior in any hierarchical structure.
From a behavioral point of view, provocation aims to create a conflict, and the best answer for it is completely ignoring it. Please note: ignoring the provocation behavior, not the provocateur.
From the point of view of collegial relations, it is important for the provocateur colleague to put a healthy line to know that this type of behavior will not be allowed. Healthy behavior is not rude! Healthy behavior does not point a finger, does not give grades, does not attack and does not criticise “for sports”, it simply gives accurate information about what we have experienced, what act on the other side the experience is provoked and what we need.
From the point of view of ethical rules and norms, any infringement should be counterproductive and, at best, there should be no ground on which to germinate.
From the point of view of the storm of emotions that provocation awakens in us before expressing our emotions, it is good to feel, understand and hear their message. Let’s take a short break in communication and train in such situations to have a quick internal dialogue: “What’s going on inside me? Am I angry, am I offended, am I scared, am I happy, am I curious, am I disgusted? What do I need at this moment in order to regain my peace of mind? Can the man on the other side give it to me? And if you can‘t (for example, if I need recognition, and I’m meeting envy), does it make sense to look for him in communicating with that person? What would my reaction be adequate to the situation and stop this person from provoking in the particular situation and in general?’
And what is your way of dealing with provocateurs?
The work of the magistrate has more limitations in terms of its specificity and the role of the magistrate. As a citizen, every magistrate has the freedom under the law of any conduct. But in his professional capacity, he should consider where and what information he gives, on what occasion, how this may affect the interests of the parties in the process and the performance of his professional duties. Magistrates do not have the freedom as magistrates to communicate freely with the media, neither before nor after court hearings. There is already a public relations specialist for every judicial body. Any contact with the media should be well thought out and agreed with the relevant specialist, if at all necessary.
In a case of any interest, particularly professional conduct is permissible: oriented towards the performance of professional duties. What would be more important in the public interest? Perhaps an important and painful issue for the public, which must be resolved from the position of the legal authority of the magistrates.
In order to be able to answer this question, every magistrate must be able to put himself in the place of the parties to the dispute, journalists, the public, the institutions, and be aware of what can cause his behavior in the person across the street. High public interest implies serious tensions, a painful topic, broken trust, high expectations of justice, transparency, impeccable behavior, more affected people.
So imagine for a moment that you are watching the process from the side. What would a magistrate look like a rock star? What will a magistrate who behaves like an executioner, a tax collector, the Sun King, a victim crushed by suffering, benevolent to all the good-hearted, a smiling helpless child and other inappropriate roles that the spotlight can provoke?
Now let’s think about it: what behavior gives rise to trust? What does the person who evoke trust looks like, how he speaks, how he moves, is it permissible for his clothes to be more noticeable than words and actions? Is he acting like a child or an adult? How do we know he’s in control of the situation, not her? How do we know he’s impartial?
The public interest always implies challenges with the media and the parties who decide to use it to skip the rules of conduct and procedural actions. Let’s think about it: how should the magistrate behave in such a way that, in addition to trust, the steadfastness of maintaining the limits of due conduct for himself is for the parties and for the other parties involved in the process?
Transparency, order, trust, safety…
Add to what else needs to be ensured by the permissible conduct of the magistrate in an enhanced public interest.
As for the withdrawals: the parties can request anything from the court. And the court can respond to requests according to the law. Unfounded requests with an element of provocation aim to break the order for consideration of the case and the soul peace of the participants in the process: the magistrate should specifically train his emotions so as not to allow his/her balanced behavior to be disturbed by any provocation in the hall.
The only relationships that can be maintained in this case are professional relationships. A “good” relationship is a relative concept. Good for whom and for what?
The use of the hierarchical order in the system for personal purposes generally violates ethical rules and norms. If we are talking about simple teasers and hints, without threats and gross attacks, the reaction is a matter of setting personal boundaries, high self-esteem and self-confidence. There is a way without being insulted and humiliated the person across the street, to stop him with simple and direct messages that such an interest is undesirable. And this is not a matter that depends on the hierarchical order of the system. If we have difficulty resisting superiors, authority, people we experience as such with more power and power than we are, then we must ask ourselves the question: who and when have abused their influence and power over us? What’s different today? And if we don’t do it on our own, get professional help.
In case of more serious attacks on personal freedom, it would be a good idea to share the problem with a colleague, to seek help from a trusted colleague or administrative manager without any involvement with the other colleague.
In this case, we do not have a “good” relationship to be maintained. We have an unacceptable relationship that needs to change.
The assessment of personal distance with each of your colleagues depends on how much you have built trust relationships with each other. Do you trust your colleague several times and do he have unethical reasons to shorten the distance with you? I believe that the correct answer will appear as giving the greatest peace and space for trouble-free professional relationships.
Sometimes the work of the magistrate makes his behavior and judgments rigid (hard and difficult to change). In these cases, soft behavior will help, in which we assume that there are more than one correct answer, but we are adamant in our choice of position. A lot helps expressions such as: I understand your point of view, but there is another opinion in theory, practice, among colleagues…” “I respect your opinion, but I remain on my own.” I think, I feel, I understand this question differently…
It is important to remember that the priority in our work is truth and law, not convenience. Often, the relationship of “comfortable” colleagues with superiors is fraught with neglect and disrespect, while colleagues with their own opinion enjoy more trust, even after the temporary discomfort of differences in pronunciation.
The perpetual opportunist will be “rewarded” with isolation.
It is important to find the balance and, above all, to serve the truth — to check ourselves and the other before we stand firmly behind any position. The more often we manage to hold our opinion, the easier we gain the respect and trust of the members of the staff who have more experience and higher rank.
Reasonable doubt is a sufficient reason to maintain a healthy distance in relations with such a colleague, to check each of his opinions in a panel with particular care, to defend one’s own opinion, even if it is isolated to give the truth a chance. The best solution is to give no chance to attempts at influence, however innocent they may be. A good reality check, with all the senses, with more than one point of view on the subject, is most helpful.
Another question is if doubt is verifiable. There should be a way to set a legal limit on such behaviour, taking into account all the obstacles that the colleague with impaired integrity may create for this.
If we meet in some case similar to our personal problems, that’s one side of the question. It is important to distinguish ourselves from the other and to be able to stay equally distant from the parties, to understand each particular case, and not to act as a “team fan” of certain social roles or behaviors. There are magistrates with open bias towards mothers, fathers, victims or accused of domestic violence, the elderly, the sick, victims of accidents, drivers who have consumed alcohol, etc. One of the important skills in the work of the magistrate is to be able to work on any case with curiosity and without prejudice and bias, without allowing his own emotions to influence his judgment of facts.
If we have allowed a mixing of personal and business relationships, that’s the other side of the matter. It is important to protect our personal lives from the influence of the service and vice versa. If we have failed, in each particular case the solution will be different, but there is always a way to a human and truthful solution to contradictions.
If the issue concerns a threat to personal life problems, if in the professional you do not do something “right”… Look for a trusted ally in this case. And remember the lessons of the kidnapping action: blackmailers don’t negotiate, or everyone loses.
Restrictions arising from specific relations in small settlements, in areas where political and power dependencies are not overcome in relations are a difficult topic. A young or inexperienced colleague can pay a high price if he works in such a place.
Of course, the easy answer is: the law is above all the personal and local peculiarities of colleagues, practice and the region. Yet life is the highest value. And health. The judgment of our own forces to resist pressure of any kind is our first step.
The difficult questions are: how long and how long will I make a breakthrough and pressure on my personal and professional beliefs? This is a question with an individual answer for each colleague. If the pressure is excessive and the peculiarities of the area require dependent behavior on the magistrate, he may seek a way to be relocated, seek help against corrupt practices, work according to his knowledge and conviction, until he changes the practice.
If cases are lighter, the law has given the opportunity to express a dissenting opinion. In contradictory jurisprudence, it is a good tool serving to unify practice and seek truth.
If we talk about feelings, these are subjective experiences, and their most important function is to give us information about what we really need in our relationships with colleagues. If our presence, role, work, opinion is not sufficiently appreciated or so it seems to us, there may be several reasons for this.
First of all, we can check: do they see us, do they hear us, do our colleagues, employees, countries understand us? If we are closed, we strive to be invisible and our voice is not heard, this is a reason for reflection and serious work with the skills of expression.
If the problem is in the arrogant attitude of colleagues and employees who have more experience and experience in the specific locality, body, level, then we can find the courage in ourselves to continue to stand in our place in the system and to carry out those duties that the Law has assigned us. Over time, it will also be the feeling that we are appreciated.
If the question concerns those intricate, intrigues and competitive games that happen wherever more people work, you will need special skills for teamwork, conflict management, self-esteem, self-confidence and self-reliance.
But the most important thing is to remember that in our relations with colleagues, no one owes us anything if we need a high appreciation for our work. Those who have such a need must take steps to achieve their goal. Confidently, openly and standing behind.