Customer Service

Phone Call Leads to National Partnership

An entry by Bill Singleton

In July 2016, I was four months into my “retirement” as a police officer of 19 years when we received a training inquiry.  I had seen hundreds of training inquiries during my 5 years with Vistelar, but this one was different.

It was the National Retail Federation.

They wanted us to conduct a de-escalation workshop at their annual NRF Protect conference (June 26-28, 2017 in Washington DC).  Vistelar has trained in almost every market and profession, but the scope of this was enormous.  I knew I had to call them immediately.

I dialed the phone and began speaking with the Vice President of Loss Prevention, Bob Moraca.  I instantly felt a connection with Bob and stopped thinking about this inquiry as a “task” or “job”, but more like a project that needed viable solutions.

The problem – aggression had increased in the retail industry and loss prevention was asking for conflict management training program to help intervene and prevent further discord.

Bob and I started talking regularly on the phone and quickly began to put a plan into action.  As our partnership grew, a friendship started to develop and soon we were putting the final touches on what will be a great 2017 NRF Protect Conference.

With the help of Bob, the NRF and his colleagues, Vistelar is unveiling a new manual, a live conflict management workshop for loss prevention, and a new two-hour loss prevention online course (complete with video scenarios all related to retail).

We’ve never had a partnership to this extent.  And I’ve never had a friendship like this before.  On June 26th, the world will be introduced to Vistelar’s training and I will finally get to meet my good friend, Bob.  We are truly grateful and we’re looking forward to it.  We will see you June 26-28th in Washington DC!

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.

Success story


This is Gary Klugiewicz with a great Peace Story video sent to us by Clifford Abel, a Verbal Defense & Influence Instructor who works in the security department of Broward College in Florida.  His story demonstrates the power of the Universal Greeting in initiating a positive contact that allows for the building of rapport that leads to the gathering of information that can prevent and/or reduce conflict.   Clifford approached a student involved in a verbal conflict with another student at the Broward College campus.  These contacts can either take place in a defensive or supportive atmosphere, i.e., the person being approached can either think about this approach as either being a positive or negative contact.  As is often is the case when a person in authority approaches a person unknown to them, the person reacts to the person in authority in a defense way and conflict can begin.   Clifford’s application of the Universal Greeting, Redirection,  Beyond Active Listening, and the Persuasion Tactics allowed for the change from a defensive atmosphere to a supportive one.  Watch the Video and see Clifford work his magic.

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Feel free to comment below.

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!


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Vistelar trains casino gaming professionals how to develop scripts for conflict situations

Hello,  Gary Klugiewicz here.

I just wanted to report on my presentation at the 18th Annual Upper Midwest Intelligence Gathering Conference.   This conference brings together casino gaming security professionals who share intelligence having to do with persons and technology that pose a threat to the casino industry.   Featured above is a photo of me and Brian Lehnhoff, the conference host who is the surveillance manager at Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel located in Morton, MN.

I presented a four (4) hour Verbal Defense & Influence presentation to their members.  While the workshop focused on how to apply VDI concepts and tactics to the casino gaming industry, it demonstrated and trained the participants in the importance of developing and practicing customer service conflict scripts for preventing, managing, and resolving conflict situations.
We provided an overview to our program that addresses the entire spectrum of human conflict.   We provided training in what we refer to as the 6C’s of Conflict Management:
  1. Context consists of all approach considerations, including your personal mindset, decision if you should be there, physical positioning and assessment of risk. Here the goal is effective preparation.
  2. Contact situations are when an initial interaction occurs. Here the goal is to prevent conflict and, if necessary, turn a defensive atmosphere into a supportive one.
  3. Conflict situations are when anger, verbal abuse or resistance enters into an interaction. Here the goal is de-escalation to prevent the conflict from progressing to emotional or physical violence.
  4. Crisis situations are when someone is showing irrational behavior or rage. Here the goal is recovery – to end the crisis – so normal communication tactics can be used.
  5. Combat situations are when resistance or aggression results in physical engagement initiated by either party. Here the goal is everyone’s physical safety.
  6. Closure consists of all follow-through considerations, including assessing everyone’s wellbeing, reviewing/reporting on the incident and establishing a strong foundation for the next interaction. Here the goal is to achieve the best possible outcome.

Since Vistelar believes in the importance of conducting Fire Drills – activities and not just Fire Talks – lectures,  we did a number of activities during this workshop.  This included the application of scripts to how to best make initial contact, manage verbal abuse, and persuade someone to do what you want them to do.  Pasted below in the script for deflecting and redirection of verbal abuse.

Remember that proper response requires that you remain alert, be decisive, and have a pre planned practice response in mind.    For best results, a conflict management tactic needs to be developed and practiced.   Do you have several verbal abuse scripts thought out, practiced, and ready for use?  If not, we have a YouTube Video ready to go viral.
I wish to thank all of the casino gaming surveillance professionals who attended my workshop for their attention and participation.
Best wishes.

US Army Corps of Engineers Park Rangers conduct agency wide non-escalation instructor training


This is Gary Klugiewicz.

Dave Young and I just completed a Verbal Defense & Influence Instructor Class for the Park Rangers from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).  These thirty-two (32) instructors came from throughout the United States and represented the decision to create an agency wide communication training program for their organization.   The USACE have been conducting conflict resolution training since 1998.   I have had the pleasure of previously training several of their instructors.   Bill Jackson,  supervisory ranger, was our host for the class held at the Ouachita Project Management Office located in Royal, Arkansas.

Watch the I Phone Video that Dave Young created the shows highlights from the class.

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We had a great time training these highly experienced contact professionals.    Their experience and previous training made this class both easy to teach and beneficial  for both them and us.   The instructors especially like the fact that we conducted fire drills instead of just doing fire talks – we created conflict prevention and management scripts that we practiced to improve skills.  The instructors also like the way that the class is now designed to be taught in its entirety or in modules depending on time available for training.

We also launched the our new Situations Training Drill Activities at this class that analyzed Real World Conflicts in order to answer the importance questions of What to Do?  In this activity, students review real incidents that could have gone better in order to “brainstorm” alternate and, hopefully, more positive outcomes.  While this activity can be performed breaking the class into pairs, it can also be done as a small group and/or full class event.   By analyzing real world events that happened to persons in the class,  the entire class is able to make the “translation” from general conflict situations to agency specific applications.  In debriefing the activity in this class, the instructors commented on the importance of this training in teaching their personnel how to review an incident in order to debrief it in order to improve future performance.  This shared review allowed for a “group think” that enable the entire class to focus on potential solutions.  This sharing allowed the entire class to add additional tools to their conflict prevention and management tool belts.   We use the analogy of adding additional arrows to your quiver.  Everyone felt that they left well armed.

We at Vistelar look forward to the enhancing our relationship with the USACE Park Rangers.    This partnership will be a collaborative effort with all parties involved benefiting from our continued relationship.  Dave and I would like to thank all the instructors who attended for their professionalism and contributions to the success of this class.


“It helps us have good customer relations with all our guests.”

Conrad Yrigolla, Scottsdale, AZ

Verbal Defense and Influence Instructor

Lead Beverage Supervisor

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I’m taking away the cup card from the class and applying it to everyday situations.