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!

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.