How to Non-escalate your next Loss Protection Customer Contact


This is Gary Klugiewicz.

Check out the post that we found on the wall at a Roundy’s Supermarkets Loss Protection Workshop that Vistelar conducted last week in Madison, WI.  The poster says it all in terms of retail store customer services – especially when the contact deals with possible shoplifting incidents where conflict can become intense.

“Are you ready for your next customer?”

Vistelar is working with Roundy’s Supermarkets to develop a loss protection conflict management program that addresses the entire spectrum of human conflict.   The focus of this training program is to train loss protection staff in ways to non-escalate potential conflicts, de-escalate conflict situations, manage persons in crisis, and training staff in how to manage distance, positioning, and hand placement to keep everyone safe.

This program is being create in conjunction with Tony Sherman and Pablo Velasquez from the Genesis Group who have decades of loss protection expertise.  Vistelar is working with Roundy’s Supermarkets will develop a loss protection workshop that will be easily translated to all types retail stores.  Emphasis will be focused on threat assessment, how to make initial contacts, in store escorts, conflict management strategies while waiting for law enforcement to arrive, and turnover procedures.  Watch for future postings as this program is developed.

Saying or doing the unexpected to catch a person “off guard” during verbal conflict

This is Gary Klugiewicz.
Jeff Mehring, a conflict management consultant and trainer, has shared a number of his concepts with us in our Vistelar posting in the past.  This time he focused on how to put the brakes on an escalating verbal conflict situation by interrupting the person’s thought processes with unexpected verbalization and body language.  Check it out.   I think you will find it very interesting.  We have already incorporated it into our distraction redirection training.
Could you read his post, try it in your work environment, and get back to us with your feedback in our comment section?
We would love to hear from you.

The Power of “Huh” and “Hmm”


Often, in a conflict management situation, particularly when someone is attempting to redirect or persuade another through verbalization, words don’t easily come to mind.  There is a lot to take in while trying to formulate just the right thing to say, so the verbal redirection or persuasive argument has its desired effect.  It’s at times such as this that saying and doing the unexpected, thus catching the other person off-guard, can be very helpful.

Saying and doing the unexpected has several advantages.  First, it causes the other person to pause and make sure that what was heard is accurate.  The pause, even if for a second, breaks tension and causes an individual to reconsider what is taking place.  Second, saying or doing the unexpected creates doubt in the mind of another concerning what is normal, in essence instantly establishing a new norm which causes hesitation and the need to reorient, which allows you to stay one step ahead and establish a position of advantage or control.  Third, when the pause or hesitation takes place, it provides you with an assessment opportunity to determine if the other person is reasonable or not.  Remember, you cannot reason individuals out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.  If the other person doesn’t respond in a reasonably predictable fashion, pausing or hesitating, you will need to switch gears and move to another tactic.

All this being said, what are some unexpected things we can say or do?  One is understanding the power in two small and seldom used words in the beginning stages of a conflict.  Those words are “huh” and “hmm”.  When coupled with a quizzical tone of voice and a facial expression, which in and of itself conveys interest, there is great potential to catch the other person off-guard and move the confrontation in a positive direction.  Saying “huh” or “hmm” in a confrontation is unexpected, and since words and actions must match, a quizzical facial expression should be employed and will be equally unexpected.  When individuals become aggressive, they expect an equal or greater response or reaction; the unexpected is a preplanned and practiced response instead of a “tit for tat” reaction.  In addition to the “huh” or “hmm”, use follow-up words which match what you are trying to convey.  For example, “Huh, that’s interesting, tell me more” or “Hmm, I didn’t know that, let me see how I can help”.  “Huh” and “hmm” should be seen as a means of opening gateways to further communication.

Unfortunately, all too often our verbalizations close doors, for instance statements such as, “I understand”, when the other person is convinced you don’t understand, or “You must feel frustrated”, which is the same as saying “I understand”, since you have assumed how the other person feels instead of asking “Are you feeling frustrated?”  There are also common phrases such as “calm down” or “settle down” which close us off from others, but are used on a regular basis.  All of these verbalizations are expected by others, learn to say or do the unexpected.  Start with a quizzical “huh” and “hmm” and watch the doors of opportunity to resolve a situation through redirection and persuasion fly open.  There is power in those words.


Rockville Centre, NY PD 2016 VDI Instructor Class introduces new VDI Material

Hello there.

Gary Klugiewicz here.

Vistelar introduced a number of significant changes to our courseware at the recent Beyond Conflict Conference held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  At last week’s Rockville Centre, NY Police Department Verbal Defense & Influence Instructor Class, Dave Young and I first presented this material.  We introduced the new manuals, workbooks, and PowerPoints.   The material was very well received.

Watch the video below that explains how we now review incidents using the Point-of-Impact 6 C’s of Conflict Management.  This new incident review concept included Context, Contact, Conflict, Crisis, Combat, and Closure to describe how conflict can be prevented and/or managed.  This video also describes how the revised Communication under Pressure Card helps contact professional to manage these conflicts.   Please comment below on your thoughts on my explanation of these changes.

Let’s keep everyone safe.

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Exit Language: Making an unobtrusive exit from a conflict situation


This is Gary Klugiewicz.

Vistelar has introduced the 6 C’s of Conflict Management that examines how conflict develops and what we can do to recognize it, prevent it, manage it, and resolve it.

The 6 C’s in include Context, Contact, Conflict, Crisis, Combat, and Closure.

Dave Young and I have been focusing on the Closure Component of the 6 C’s of Conflict Management in order to minimize the changes of conflict escalating to crisis and combat due to the need to physically control an out of control person or prevent a physical assault.   We have discussed exit strategies in the past, i.e. how to verbally or physically exit a situation where “communication is breaking down and personal safety might be compromised.”  Jeff Mehring, a security consultant and Vistelar advisor, expands on this concept and takes it to another level.   I think you will enjoy his article posted below.   Everyone needs to spend some time developing their EXIT LANGUAGE so they safety disengage before verbal conflict escalates to a crisis or combat situation.

Please post you comments below.




Jeff Mehring

Security Consultant and Analyst

Security Assessments and Analytics LLC

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


All of us at one time or another have been involved in conflict management situations in which words alone fail, creating the need for us to leave the situation.  The difficulty at the point the decision is made to leave, is how to accomplish the exit?

It is great to be able to tell someone, “just leave”, but how one goes about doing this can escalate a situation, or it may set up the next person, who needs to assume the interaction, to fail before he/she even arrives on the scene. Some examples:

  • If you leave an interaction with someone without an explanation as to why you are leaving, or providing some kind of next step information, the person you are interacting with will become more agitated, because you have just given the impression you are “blowing them off.” Then again, if your explanation sounds something like this, “You are rude and I don’t need to put up with this kind of behavior!” and then you leave, you may have just pushed the individual off an emotional cliff, with escalated behavior to follow.
  • There is also the exit language which sets up the next person to fail. That sounds like this, “I’m calling security.”  Now think for a moment, when someone from the general public is informed security is on the way, what is the expectation of what is about to happen?  Most individuals equipped with the knowledge that security is coming prepare themselves for World War III, after all most individuals assume security comes to either kick someone out or hold them for the police, thus setting the stage for aggression before the fact.

Exit language needs to be tailored to the situation one is trying to leave.  It must convey to the other individual that you have listened to what is being said, it must acknowledge that you need assistance in some form or another to help the individual with the concerns that have been voiced, and it must be open ended enough so as to not limit your response options, or set the next person up to fail before he/she even has a chance to say a word.  The language should advise the individual that you are going to continue to work to address the concerns which have been voiced, but at the same time inform the individual that, for whatever reason, you aren’t the person who can resolve the issue(s).  Some examples of “exit language”:

  • I don’t seem to be able to help you with your concerns, but I will contact someone who can and get right back with you.
  • You have concerns I don’t seem to be able to help you with, but I think I know someone who can help. I’m going to step out and make a call and get back with you.
  • Your concerns deserve greater attention than I can give them, but I think I know who to call to help you.
  • Your concerns are important to me, as a next step let me talk to my supervisor to see what can be done.

It is important not to identify who you will be calling, as some contact options represent a step of escalation, or are even seen as a threat.  Once you have made your exit, contact the person or people best suited to advance the conflict management process to a peaceful resolution.  Who you contact can vary greatly depending upon the concerns and needs.

It is equally important that you don’t set up the individual you are dealing with to “lose face” or suffer embarrassment through the response option you select.  For instance, if you need to involve security, be prepared to explain to the individual why security is the most appropriate party to address the concern(s), or at the very least prepare security to provide that explanation if reentering the scene is not safe or prudent for you.

Additionally, stay away from words such as “problem” or “issue” in your exit language, i.e. “I can tell you have problems.” Or “You have lots of issues.”  These are trigger words. You might just as well tell the individual “You are the problem” or “You are the issue.”  The word “concern” works very nicely in these situations as it conveys that you have picked up on the person’s distress and want to help elevate the causes.

There is a second set of exit language which also must be considered.  This is language that is used by someone else to extricate us from a confrontational situation, or in a situation where it is immediately realized that the potential for harm is more than you can handle and you need to “get out” gracefully and warn others in the area.

In the former, I recommend language which would appear to be common in the workplace, but is actually “code language” for leave the situation.  For instance, in a hospital setting the code may be “MRI 99” and could be employed by saying, “The doctor needs to see you in MRI 99, let me see if I can help this person.”  Then transition and leave the situation.

In the latter, one may have a situation in an office setting where a customer comes through the door angry and intimidating and approaches a receptionist and states in a demanding voice, “I want to see someone right now about this letter I received!”  The receptionist responds, “I have to step down the hall to get that person’s attention.  I also have a printer alert which I just received, so as I go down the hall I need to let the office staff know about the alert, which takes me in the same direction.  I’ll be right back.”  Then leave the desk and start letting individuals know there is a “printer alert” which is the code language to begin a preplanned practiced response in such situations.

Whether you are the person responding to try and resolve the conflict, or the conflict comes to you, you need to take time to think about the exit language that will best suit you and your workplace.  Usually two or three practiced statements will allow you to exit safely, maintain the emotional safety of the person you are interacting with, and keep everyone physically safe.


You never know who you are talking to so you should always try to make a good first impression


This is Gary Klugiewicz from Vistelar.

I would like to share an e-mail that Charles Bell sent to us. Charles is a private security contact professional who attended one of our recent VDI Instructor Classes. He wanted to share one of his positive real life experiences with us. See the e-mail that he sent me posted below. What is interesting about his experience is not so much that he made a good impression on someone he didn’t know was an important person but that he reminded that person of an important lesson. This lesson was that no matter who you are that the Universal Greeting with 1. an appropriate greeting, 2. a professional introduction including your name and affiliation, 3. an explanation of why you are there, and 4. an appropriate question that opens the door to a pleasant, professional, meaningful contact.

Thank you Charles for sharing this important lesson with us.

Good afternoon Gary,

This is Charles from the Shelby County class. Just wanted to pass along an experience I had at work earlier today. I was assisting customers and people parking in a busy part of the building and outside in the parking area. One gentleman parked, exited his car, and walked towards me. I immediately went into the Universal Greeting, using the Five Maxims (Four Appeals). He then informed me he was the property manager in charge of this particular site and gave me his business card. He seemed impressed with how I treated him, even though I had no idea who he was at the time. He even mumbled “I should’ve told you ‘who’ I was”, as we were walking, talking, and he was passing on valuable information about the site.

He was a very nice gentleman and I’m thinking it left a good image for my company, as he noticed my command presence and professionalism. And, as a major decision maker and influencer in our company’s relationship, he was assured that this is how I was treating everyone. (dignity and respect), just as I had been doing all week. I have been using these tactics in some form or another since the early 90’s in law enforcement, but this class really helped me solidify the techniques by reinforcing the concepts through practicing, and having that powerful pre-planned response.

Thanks sir for all you do!


Please consider sharing your written, audio, and video stores along with your photos with us at our blog

Just follow this link to with a password of “vistelar” and submit your material.

Please add an e-mail or phone number so that I can contact you with any questions.

Learn how to Hardwire Happiness

Hi There,

Gary Klugiewicz here with another Radio Health Journal audiotape that provides great suggestions for staying positive in what is oftentimes a very negative focused world.

This message shows us how to overcome our focus on negative events by learning how to hardwire happiness.

16-22 Segment 2: Hardwiring Happiness

In Verbal Defense & Influence we spend a great deal of time in our peace stories that stress positive outcomes.

We need to learn how to take the positive events in our life and focus on them.

Please let us know what you think about his lesson in the comment section below.


Quotes 9: Words of Coach Bob Lindsey

Good morning.

This is Gary Klugiewicz.

This week Coach Lindsey’s quote discussed the difference between looking and seeing.


What is the difference between taking a quick photo of the person and situation versus taking a video of the person and situation. The long term “seeing” of the person and situation allow you to examine the person’s words, tone, and other non-verbals, as well as, the context of situation in greater detail allowing you to “see” more fully what is actually going on. Merely taking a quick photo of the person and situation doesn’t allow you to do accomplish this level of understanding. As we like to say, proper response begins with remaining alert and to remain alert, you need to “pay attention.”

Watch Coach Lindsey’s video on this topic and comment below.

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Keeping each other safe: If not you, who?

Hello there.

Gary Klugiewicz here.

In Verbal Defense & Influence training, we talk a great deal about the need to develop the concept of Bystander Mobilization.  This concept explains that every person has a moral duty to keep other people safe by intervening when someone is in danger.   You don’t have to put your life in jeopardy but you need to do something.   Take a look at this article.  These three woman decided to do something to protect another woman they didn’t even know.

The Vistelar staff would like to congratulate these woman on a job well done.  The exemplify the Platinum Rule of treating people like you would like to be treated under identical circumstances.  Jack Hoban from Resolution Group International tells the story about the bully on the playground.   The kid who tells the teacher that someone on the playground is in danger is an “ethical protector.”  Let’s work on keeping everyone safe.

Lesson from the movie, “Roadhouse”

Greetings from Gary Klugiewicz.

One of the greatest messages that I share with the people that I train all around the county is adapted from the movie, “Roadhouse.”   Patrick Swayze, the head bouncer is a rough & tumble county road house explains how to handle their “40 year old adolescents, felons, power drinkers, and trustees of modern chemistry.”   He makes the point that you have to be nice until its time to not be nice …  to his quote we have added … then you need to be nice again.

The infographic the accompanies this post make the graphic point that their is a time not to be nice.  This may include a police officer be required to use physical force to subdue a resisting or assault subject.  But this goes much further than this limited application of the concept.   Every time that persuasion fails you are required to take appropriate action.  Depending on your situation, this could include sanctioning the person in some way whether is a refusal service, disciplinary action, a school detention, or getting grounded, sanction may accompany poor behavior or decisions.   This is what we refer to as ‘the time not to be nice – exemplified by the fist.

The most important part of the quote is the first part – “You have to be nice”, followed by the last part of the quote -“and then you have to be nice again.”    Although the middle part of the quote – “until its time not to be nice” is going to happen, we need to focus on how the incident began and how it ended – the “nice” parts of any conflict situation.  The way these three parts of an incident are remembered are sometimes referred to an the Law of Primacy, the Muddled Middle, and the Law of Recency.   The beginning and end of any incident will be best remembered.  This is why in our training, we focus on beginning whenever possible with a Universal Greeting that sets up the best chance of non-escalation in the encounter and conclude with an Appropriate Close that will bring closure to the incident that hopefully provides resolution to the conflict and sets up a better atmosphere for future contact.

” Remember that you need to be nice until its time not to be nice and then you need to be nice again.”

How do you define a person’s trustworthiness

Hello there,

This is Gary Klugiewicz.

In this day and age, the question “Who can you trust?” has taken on new importance and meaning.   Jeff Mehring, a nationally known security consultant informs us that when we ask who can you trust?, you are asking the wrong question.   The right question should really be What is their level of trustworthiness?  As you will see, given the three parts of “trustworthiness”, you can score really high in some areas and not do so well in others.  Jeff is a life-long friend and professional colleague that scores high in my estimation in all three categories.

Read the article, think about it, and evaluate yourself.

How did you do?

Comment below on what you think about the trustworthiness evaluation process.

“Trustworthiness “

By Jeff Mehring

If increasing trust within your workplace is one of your aims, may I humbly suggest that you are aiming at the wrong target. Trust is not the issue.

For years I have listened to individuals request that others “trust” them. There is an appropriate response to this request and it isn’t, “Why?” although that is the response most often given. The best reply to a request for trust, or the statement “trust me” is, “To do what?” This redirects our aim from one of trust to a goal of “Trustworthiness.”
It does us no good at all to seek to increase trust in individuals or entities that are not trustworthy. What we really want to do is increase or improve upon trustworthiness.

Trustworthiness can be broken down into three parts:

1. Reliability
2. Competency
3. Honesty

I know many individuals, who are reliable to show up to work on time, but I wouldn’t trust them to baby sit an infant; they just aren’t competent in this area. Likewise, I know workers who arrive on time to do their work and are competent at performing that work, but I am not about to leave my credits and cash lying out in plain sight of these workers and unattended. The issue is trustworthiness.

When broken down into these three considerations you will find it much easier to identify areas for improvement, since we can now speak in terms of improving reliability, competency and honesty compared to the vague “improve trust in the workplace.” The next time the issue of trust comes up, think in terms of “to do what” instead of “why.” Think in terms of trustworthiness.