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One Voice: Managing the Chaos at the Point-of-Impact

Years ago, I provided my initial training at the Milwaukee County Behavior Health Division. There I met Delores Linear-Wilson, a registered nurse, who shared a concept that called “One Voice” that I have shared ever since.  See the infographic posted above.

I have taken this mental health concept and shared it with 100’s of trainers over the years sharing it with police, corrections, military, and security trainers.  Gerard O’Dea, our Verbal Defense & Influence representative in Great Britain, shares it with his teachers and social services professionals for use in the classroom.  See the video posted below.   Let us know what you think of this tactic or have used it in the past in the comments section.

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Arma Training Edged Weapons Agency Wide Instructor Program

Dave Young here.

Inmates are the masters at developing and using improvised weapons. Every year corrections officers seize hundreds of improvised weapons confiscated inside their facilities. Everything from a file down comb to sharpen toothbrush to melted down plastic ware.  There is no limit is their imagination.

Your safety depends on your understanding what to look for; how do identifying threat indicators during contact; managing distance to control position; knowing what your escape routes are; and understanding when it is time to disengage.

The class then provided realistic “hands on” and “weapons on” responses to an edged weapon assaults.

In addition, on the front-end, the class covered how to de-escalate the situation and the back-end how to follow through after the incident to keep everyone safe both physically and legally.

Watch the video link below to see the class in action.

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I want to thank all the trainers in the state of West Virginia to include the West Virginia regional jails instructors on a great job, energy and effort this week!  See everybody again soon!


Correctional Contact Professionals: Proper Response Requires …

Gary Klugiewicz and I will be training with the Alaska Department of Corrections all week.   We will be teaching our Verbal Defense & Influence Instructor Class in Palmer, Alaska.   This training will be emphasizing the first half of Vistelar’s training curriculum that trains correctional contact professional i non-escalation and de-escalation tactics for minimizing the need to utilize physical force to overcome resistance.   The second half of our training consist of those “Physical Alternatives” that are necessary when Words Alone Fail.   But no matter whether verbal or physical force is needed to manage the situation, proper response in required.

For a contact professional working within a correctional facility, proper response requires that you remain alert, be decisive, and have a preplanned practiced response in mind.

Be Alert:

Start with the acceptance that safety begins with remaining ALERT to your surroundings. Being aware of your surrounds is especially important with you are experience direct inmate contact.  Watching the interactions between inmates and other staff.  Learning the non-verbal cues and signals that inmates exhibit.  Observe the distance and positioning between these you, inmates, and other staff members.

Be Decisive:

Being Decisive begins in managing your state of readiness.  Using your eyes, ears and nose.  Practicing your skills to increase your level of performance to be ready to take action when needed.  Trust you gut feelings – they seldom lie.  Know what you can and can’t do – physically and legally.

Have a Preplanned Practiced Response:

Have a preplanned and practiced response means you are practicing the skills you have learned in training.  You are developing your own ability to execute when your life depends on your performance and minimizing mistakes that can literally cost you your life.

“Being ready to take action is more than being hopeful.”  It depends on your alertness, your decisiveness, and your preparation and practice of your verbal and physical skills.

We look forward to our week with the Alaska DOC.

Watch for additional Facebook Posts updating you on our training.

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.


Non/De-Escalation Training: A Gap in Training in your Organization?

Non/De-Escalation Training:  A Gap in Training in your Organization?

Hi Everyone.  Robert Whiteside here.

Please see this (link below) recent article in the Washington Post.  It speaks to the value of de-escalation training, the need for it to become a more standard part of training for all Public Safety and Law Enforcement agencies, and the resistance toward it from some.

Considering the points of this article, I share that it’s an interesting experience working, first, in law enforcement, and now overseeing a force of healthcare Security Officers and healthcare-specific Law Enforcement Officers.  All of our non-sworn Security staff do not carry firearms (though they are trained to carry other intervention tools).  And these non-sworn Security Officers constitute the bulk of our force.

As these non-sworn personnel lack a firearm (though they possess other less-than-lethal tools), their Verbal Defense & Influence (VDI) training which they all receive prepares them to handle most any event without any physical use of force whatsoever.  They handle extremely volatile situations daily such as the management of very violent psychiatric patients.  Without these trained and practiced verbal communication and conflict management skills, we would very likely have many more physical hands-on use of force events than we do.

Public Safety and Law Enforcement Officers routinely tell us that they (the Public Safety & Law Enforcement staff) either would not or cannot deal as expertly with the things our personnel deal with daily, that is, with “just” the skillful use of communication.  Plainly put, after working in this field for many years, it’s obvious that our non-sworn healthcare security staff have much more professionally developed non/de-escalation skills than the average Public Safety and Law Enforcement Officer.

Let’s come back to the article above.  What is the deficit or push back within the ranks of Public Safety and Law Enforcement in America in reference to embracing, in a greater or new way, professional verbal non/de-escalation skills?  Is it a belief that using verbal non/de-escalation skills compromise Officer Safety?  If it is, I would argue that this just means the verbal non/de-escalation training, and how it’s embedded and trained in the overall use of force policy/training of an agency, is simply not sophisticated enough.

Or is the push back due perhaps to some collective ego of Public Safety and Law Enforcement, wherein there is the perceived need to maintain power, along with a deeply held and unhelpful sense of us versus them.  I think there is something to these points, and hence the need to hire high-quality Public Safety and Law Enforcement candidates so that Public Safety and Law Enforcement culture in the United States can evolve in a positive direction.

One can measurably track the benefits of training staff (any field) in high-quality non/de-escalation training such as the Verbal Defense & Influence (VDI) program.  These benefits include: increased personal safety, decreased use of force incidents, decreased injury rates, decreased workman’s comp claims, enhanced professionalism, decreased complaints, decreased vicarious liability, less stress, court power and articulation, and increased staff morale.  These benefits cannot be ignored.

I’d love to hear back from others on how they are ushering into their organizations and agencies high quality verbal communication and conflict management training.

Across the board, we must improve.



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.


4 things that will increase your optimism and improve your quality of life

Hi All!

Robert Whiteside here.

Let’s talk psychological wellness for a moment. For those of us who work in certain fields including, but not necessarily limited to, Law Enforcement, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security, work can be very hard. Dealing day after day with challenging individuals can take a toll.

Taking care of ourselves, proactively, and not simply when something breaks, is really vital. How do you care for yourself?

In some circles, some people (particularly men) might not resonate with the term “self-care.” We know, deep down, though, that we had better be caring for ourselves. If we don’t care for ourselves – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and otherwise – we cannot adequately care for others. When we don’t care for ourselves, bad things happen.

I recently read this article (link is below) about 4 things that will increase your optimism. It brings up good points, all of which (if actually acted upon) can help us stay more optimistic. The degree to which we remain more optimistic will spill over positively into everything we do in life, including sustaining a balanced sense of self-care.

A lot of what is in this article ties directly in with the most current research in Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Simply put, we need to take charge of our internal state. Doing this, especially in the aforementioned occupations, helps us to avoid hyper-vigilance, that deadly emotional state so often connected with divorce, addictions, excessive use of force, and other difficult times.

Here is the link to the article, with the 4 points, and some additional comments.

The 4 things are:

1. Acknowledge that you are the architect of your perceptions: The Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, speaks strongly about this, saying, in multiple ways, that opinion is everything. How we mentally frame things is so very important to how we see things. Anais Nin famously said: “We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” Same truth wrapped in different words.

2. Be aware of your explanatory style: This ties directly in with #1. We determine, by being more optimistic or pessimistic, how we effectively, or not, solve problems, achieve goals, stay positive, etc.

3. Disconnect happiness from achievement: Mentioned here is the “Destination Disease,” the belief that happiness is contingent on certain things being present. The DD is the mindset of: “If this and that occur, then I’ll be happy. If they don’t, I won’t.” The DD is a very direct path to chronic unhappiness, as it relies solely on certain things happening in life in order for one to be happy. Far more effective it is to view happiness as a synthetic experience. We must create it internally, and not simply hope for so-called happy events to occur to us. Life is simply built that way.

4. Develop the habit of self-affirmation: Self-talk is powerful! We use it as an integral part of our Showtime tactic in the Verbal Defense & Influence (VDI) program. Marcus Aurelius (a perennial source of wisdom) teaches on this point frequently, highlighting, over and over, that we literally become what we think about most frequently.

Please read the article over at the Lead Change Group. Put its points into action, and be a more effective, and happier, Ethical Protector.


Quote 9: Words of Coach Bob Lindsey

Hi there.

Gary Klugiewicz here.

I have known Coach Bob Lindsey for more than 30 years. He is a life-long friend and mentor. Like many people, Coach has severely impacted my life. As a mentor, I hear his words in my head, when I need his counsel most. Coach has always been there for me. One of the first quotes that he every shared with me was this one: “Don’t become a part of the craziness.” His counsel that I have often forgotten initially but luckily remembered before it got too late was to refuse to be part of the insanity of the moment, conduct a reality check, and start moving back to the real world.

Watch the video the video of Coach Lindsey explaining this critical life lesson.

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Coach would ask me: What are you willing to do when the craziness starts happening all around you? He would explain that your preplanned and practiced response should be the one that keeps you out of harm’s way and ensures that you remain safe – and sane. Coach, thank you for these words that have keep me and, I am sure, others safe.

Please comment below.

Coach Lindsey can be contacted at

Vistelar provides Casino Arizona verbalization skills combined with physical alternatives training.


This is Dave Young , the Arma director of training for Vistelar.

This week security officers staff and supervisors at Talking Stick Resort located in Scottsdale, Arizona attended a week-long instructor training program designed to teach them a system of verbalization skills coupled with physical alternatives.    This training program for the first time allows casino employees with one source for addressing the entire spectrum of human conflict.
This training is based on the 6C’s of Conflict Management that moves from Context through Contact, Conflict, Crisis, and Combat to Closure.
This program addressed understanding how to conduct risk and threat assessments of the immediate area, how to improve the ability to make tactical decisions under extreme stress, and how to best utilize verbal and physical control tactics while managing both the staff member’s  safety and the safety of others.
Every student was tasked with developing a lesson plan, conducting their own research, preparing high-level simulations, learning how to conduct testing evaluations on students, and how to properly evaluate each students performance.
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Casino Arizona has developed a comprehensive method of instruction that provides instructors for every level of response because they train instructors who represent the line staff, supervisors, security, and the law enforcement agencies that respond to casino events.  This comprehensive training allow for unified and coordinated response for all persons who respond to emergency situations.   These contact professionals are all on the same sheet of music.
This is a casino wide program that will be presented to over 1000 employees.
Watch the I Video below that shows what was covered this week.