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The best tools you will have at your disposal are your mind and how you present yourself particularly under duress. Think about most positions of authority and training they complete to not only carry themselves a certain way, but also how and when they communicate. Police officers, Military drill instructors, effective managers… they all have a good understanding of how others respond psychologically to body language, tone of voice, eye contact and timing (phrasing).


These tools are available regardless of your accessible equipment and can provide an upper hand in most situations dealing with another person or a group of people. Most of our interactions with others will provide an opportunity to make a decision to stand up for yourself and your beliefs or divert from them based upon peer pressure. Take a moment to ask yourself if you want to be the type that bends to the will of others, or a person that would like to influence others with a strong character? The type of person who would rather, “live on your feet than die on your knees”. Sound extreme? Maybe, but we are not in the business of preparing for puppy dogs and sunshine for the rest of our days. We live in troubled times and regardless of where you stand on political views we can agree that we had best prepare for what is ahead.


Let’s talk about a few scenarios where a projection of confidence and character can have a positive impact on us and others. Although, these scenarios are not all encompassing, they will provide good examples that can be tailored to your personality traits and situation. I would not recommend to take my words as the end all be all for any situation. I would recommend you use them to open your mind to critical thinking for yourself and better yourself.


Below are some basic physical and mental traits we can practice while running through our scenarios.

Physical Traits


– Good Posture – Stand straight up, keep your shoulders level and you head back.

– Positive Eye Contact – Maintain eye contact with the person. This does not mean to stare at them.

– Purposeful Movements – Try not to fidget and look restless. If you do change positions do so because it is a conscious desire.

– Active Listening – Make sure you listen and hear what they are saying and in some cases what they mean to say without speaking the words.

– Clear Tone – Speak with clear pronunciation and tone, with confidence

– Avoid Filler – Umm, so and like are examples of these. If you need a moment to collect your thoughts, take a moment. Remaining silent for a short period of time is better than replacing the silence with filler.

– Pause – Pausing can be a good thing. It shows you are thinking on what you heard. Pausing can also be used to gain an advantage. If you’re not afraid of some “awkward silence” during a conversation, try it when you want the speaker to provide more information. Listen and when they stop talking, don’t say anything, but maintain appropriate eye contact.

– Verbal Diarrhea – We people get nervous or when they are lying they tend to speak more to compensate. It can be an obvious sign to someone who knows what to look for. Instead try using less, but more precise words to answer or address.

Mental Traits


– Concise – Think about what you are going to say before you say it. Use the best word choices

– Direct – Answer and ask direct questions, don’t beat around the bush

– End in Mind – Keep focused on your objective and the desired outcome.

– Know or Find Out – It’s OK and understandable not to have all the answers to all of life’s mysteries. When in doubt find out.

– Realize You Don’t Know it All – Lose your pride and try to stay flexible and adaptable during negotiations. It will not be uncommon to hear or sometimes even say something unexpected.


There are three scenarios below. Picture yourself in each setting and refer to the above list. Try to imagine running through with a focus on the items above. This is not a time trial. Instead concentrate on completeness. After some practice you should be able to avoid referencing the lists above while decreasing the amount of time needed to run through each situation.

Scenario 1 – At the Office


You are in the middle of your normal day. You like your job and what it provide for you and your family, but you don’t love it like some people. You work hard, get along with your coworker and supervisors. You try to find ways to improve your employment situation and you work hard. You’ve started to notice one of your supervisors taking liberties with company property, taking extra time off and generally slacking. This doesn’t impact you much so it’s not that big of a deal. One day you are in the middle of negotiating with a client and come to stopping point where things are not progressing. You ask for a moment to consult with your supervisor at which point he says something to the effect, “Just don’t let them leave”, Or, “Just don’t lose it”. After your brief conversation with him you go back to the client to complete your process. After business is concluded the supervisor asks you how it went. How do you approach your supervisor? How was the conversation with the client after checking in with him? How did you imagine it and how would you have changed it by applying the above steps?

Scenario 2 – In an Emergency


You are on your way to work in an average commute on the highway. You notice the person in front of you is on their cell phone, but there aren’t many people on the road this early in the morning. The driver ahead of you grows increasingly distracted and you give them more distance. When they stray onto the rumble strip it spooks them and the over correct on the steering wheel which puts them in a “death wobble”. Their sliding back and forth becomes more and more exaggerated until the point they get into the loose gravel and lose control entirely. The vehicle tumbles and rolls several times before coming to a stop on its roof. You pull off the roadway a safe distance and rush to the vehicle. There are four passengers, a family possibly with mom, dad and two young children in car seats. Mom and dad are both bleeding and seem to be unconscious. The two children, although shaken up and sure to have some injuries, are awake and crying uncontrollably. The onus is on you to make the 911 call. How do you imagine it going? How could it be improved knowing that lives possibly hang in the balance?

Scenario 3 – Life or Death Negotiation


The end of the world has come and gone. You and you small band are part of the small bits of humanity that survived. It’s been about three years since the conflicts have come to an end and the world became quite again. You have only recently begun venturing further from your compound on scouting trips to see what the world has become. Your previous trips have been little more than walks in forest. Not much to see, not much to hear. You manage to keep yourself focused by remembering what transformation you say take place in your city and what happened to your family and most of your friends and people you knew. You have grown used to being on edge and cautious. But, like most things in life, there have been other people honing their skills and you find yourself surrounded by a group of strangers. Weapons are drawn, but it seems like a mostly peaceful encounter. However peaceful it may seem you are drawn into a conversation about life and how it has changed. As the unwelcome conversation continues you notice the questions becoming more specific and purposeful. Direct questions about your living situation, how many are in your party and where you hold up are particularly concerning. What the conversation is like based on your gut reaction? Would you change anything based on the above list? Can you see yourself applying these principles regardless of the situation?


1 Comment

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