Health Care and Treatment

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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Healthcare Case Study: Treating People Right

Last week I spent 3 days at the Orthopedic Hospital of Wisconsin getting my left hip replacement replaced.  My hip had started squeaking a week prior to my operation.  Yes, squeaking that could be easily be heard by people near me.  The doctor told me that my hip was highly worn, had started squeaking, and needed to be replaced.  My hip that was first replaced 8 year ago had worn out.  I wonder how that happened.  Go tell.  I have to say that my operation was completely successful and my stay at the hospital was most enjoyable.  I would like to present a “shout out” the hospital’s staff for a job well done.   I loved the daily staff board pictured below that told you who would be your staff on this shift.  This helped the patient and staff to bond together by personalizing their contact.  Staff also introduced themselves from the doctors to the housekeeping staff.  This introduction answered several important questions for the patient that includes who are you, who do you represent, why are you here, and a relevant question.   This introduction help to set up pleasant and productive interactions.

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I would like to thank all of the hospital staff from the clerical staff that checked me in, to the doctors, nurses, and med techs who treated me, to the food service and housekeeping staff who took care of me.   I would like to present all of them a TREAT PEOPLE RIGHT Card that is pictured below.

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They certainly know how to treat their patients with dignity and show them respect utilizing the Five Maxims that are also posted below.

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One of the components of the Five Maxims that they performed best was the second component that states the you should explain why you are asking someone to do something.   Setting Context helps the person understand why they need to go with the program.  This was done verbally in their interactions with me and in signage like the sign posted below: QUIET PLEASE – Healing Zone.  Instead of tell the person to BE QUIET because I say so, the sign explains the reason why.  QUIET PLEASE – This is a healing zone where your loved ones and other people loved ones are healing and need quiet atmosphere to do so.  This sign gives a visual aid to keep the noise down that can be used to emphasize and explain why.  This is a powerful tool of explanation and persuasion.

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Again thanks to John, Jessica, Kamila, Susie, Chris, Katie, Betty, Jennifer, Beth, Dave, Glenda. Stephanie, Joan, Jamie, Caleb, and any other staff members that I have missed for making my stay so positive, supportive, and successful.

You truly know how to treat people right.


What Type of Instructor are You?


This is Gary Klugiewicz.

I am the director of training for Verbal Defense & Influence that I recently had an phone conversation with Doug Lynch, one of our Vistelar Trainers.  He asked an an important question about the difference types of instructors that I wanted to share with you.

His question to people who provide instruction to others was What type of Instructor are you?

I asked him to provide his thoughts on this question that I posted below:

When I first started as an instructor, I proudly called myself a trainer. I was in front of people and telling stories, showing PowerPoints, getting a few laughs and told to come back again. I thought I could train. But, my students were failing to do what I needed them to do once they left the class. Was it me? Was it them? Was it both? Thus, started my journey.

I sought out mentors and coaches and was lucky enough to meet and learn from some of the best in the business; Gary Klugiewicz, Bob Lindsey, Peter Jaskulski, Dave and Betsy Smith, Jack Hoban, and about a dozen more. I am thankful for their patience and transfer of knowledge. It became apparent I was a Presenter, not a trainer. There was much more that needed to be accomplished in a classroom than just getting people to agree with what I was instructing.

Below is a small bit of that information to help  instructors better understand what they are doing, what they are capable of and what they need to be able to perform to master a style/level. It helps us to explain to non-instructors what to look for and what to expect from different styles/levels. In most cases, these are levels, not styles. Instructors progress through them from 1 to 4 over a career/lifetime. But, there are always exceptions.

  1. Presenter / Presentation: Passive, lays out information for students. Minimal, if any, checks for understanding, learning and performance are done. To become a Presenter, one becomes proficient at public speaking and holding the audiences interest.
  2. Teacher / Teach: Passive, guides students through information, confirms cognitive knowledge.
  3. Trainer / Train: Active, students learn how to perform tasks, ability to perform under stress confirmed.
  4. Coach / Coaching: Efficient, mastery of the levels below them. Able to TRAIN people to be competent at any of the first three levels.

His categories illustrate an increase in both competency and effectiveness that I find thought-provoking.   Do we want our instruction to merely provide information or do we want it to provide skills and changes in long-term behavior?  As with most things, the answer depends on who you are instructing, your purpose, and the length of time you have to do it.

Please post your comments below.

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!


Crisis Intervention: The Power of the Initial Contact

Dave Young, Kati Tillema, and I just finished a great class at the Las Vegas Metro Police Department.   Vistelar has just updated it material with a major upgrade to it curriculum and courseware.  New manual, workbooks and PowerPoints were added. Check out the class photo.

Dave Young made several additional to the material with tactical nuggets that better explain what we do and how we do it.   One of these nuggets explained that the power of the Universal Greeting in that it establishes contact, builds rapport, and gathering information from people who are usually extremely difficult to find common ground.  People remember the beginning and end of conflict situations.  Use the Universal Greeting to make a positive, memorial initial contact.

Take a look at this video where Tom Wiehe from the University of Cincinnati Police Department empowers a person with significant mental health issues to control his her behavior at the point of impact.  Watch this video that emphasizes the importance of using EMPATHY as a tool of Active Intelligence Gathering to quickly get information necessary to keep everyone safe – now and later.  Tom’s thoughtful initial contact made the difference between a positive successful encounter and another viral video on YouTube showing another questionable interaction.

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Please post your comments below.


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.



How to distract a person in crisis

Learn how to redirect a person in crisis by establishing credibility through common experiences.

Dave Young and I have been traveling all over the country training contact professionals from a wide spectrum of disciplines from public safety to healthcare to educators.   Our attendees have shared a wide range of peace stories demonstrating the power of non-escalation and de-escalation with appropriate physical intervention tactics.   These peace stories are very powerful because like Chuck Remsberg, author of the internationally known Street Survival book series, likes to say “No one says it like the people.”   His comment refers to the fact that no story is better told than by the person experiencing the event.   A video recollection by the person experiencing the event is the most powerful retelling of the story because now the words are supported by the person’s own tone of voice and facial expressions.  This video recording of the story allow the viewer to experience the reliving of the event by the person telling the story.

The peace story video linked below is a case in point.   Keith Molinari, the director of public safety for Castleton University, recalls a response to a student experiencing a PTSD episode.   One of the responding security staff made an immediate connection with the veteran and was able to stabilize the situation by being able to redirect the student.   While we caution contact professionals not to say that they “understand” what the person is experiencing, if they have experienced what the person in crisis has experience, it can be a powerful tool establishing credibility and build an immediate relationship that can allow for a peaceful resolution to the incident.   Learn more by watching the video and make sure to comment below.

Dave and I would like to thank Keith for sharing this powerful peace story.

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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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