View Full Version : The Power Of Words

Darren Laur
August 26, 2002, 02:26 PM
An instructor once said (don't remember who, but very powerful statement); " If you can get them to talk, you can persuade them to walk". It has been my experience that if I can get a meaningful verbal interaction going between me and the threat, I will likely bring about a successful resolution to the situation. The "KEY" here is to get them to talk

It is my belief that the key skill in negotiation, during the pre-contact phase of a confrontation, is to dovetail outcomes. What do I mean by this ?, you need to fit the negotiation process together, so that everyone involved gets what they want. Obviously, the "presupposition" here is that the best way to achieve your outcome is to make sure that everyone involved achieves their's as well. In my opinion, if you can allow a person to "save face" it will allow for a win/win situation in the majority of cases.

Negotiation, however, is going to be different from person to person depending upon their specific "modality" of communication. If I'm attempting to de-escalate a situation verbally in the pre-contact phase, then I had better be communicating in a "modality" (language of the subconscious) that my threat(s) understand. Notice I said threat(s). In a multiple opponent situation, you may have to use a variety of modalities. I would, however, recommend that you target the language modality of the leader if possible, because he/she makes the call in a pack mentality. If you do not communicate in a modality understood by your threat, it will make the person technically "deaf" to your verbal attempts at de-escalation.

The Communication Language Of The Subconscious (modalities):

There are three primary communication modalities that we should be aware of; Visual, Auditory, kinesthetic (VAK):

1. Visuals:

Visuals understand what you say by what they see. Remember that these types of people turn words into pictures and images. Because of this fact, they understand communication best when it paints a picture for them. This type of communicator will say things like:

-"I wonder what you will look like once I'm through with you"
- "The look on your face shows me your scarred ****less"
- "When I'm done with you, you will look like ground beef"
- Usually have high pitched and/or strained tonality
- Will usually show quick bursts of words and generally have a fast tempo
- Predicates(words) for the visual include:

- Appear
- Disappear
- Foresee
- Imagine
- Overview
- Scope
- Vague
- Enlighten
- Wee
- Clear
- Show
- Watch
- Look

Phrases that visuals might use include:

- I see what you mean
- That's not clear to me
- Don't keep me in the dark
- Point out what you mean
- I am just seeing red
- Just give me the big picture
- Get a new perspective on this matter

These phrases could also be the template that you can work from when communicating with a Visual in the de-escalation stage.

2. Auditory

Auditories are sound based people. They get more information from how you say things than by what you show them. How you say what you say (paralinguistics) are more important than you content. Working like a tape recorder, Auditories play back recordings to get an idea of what you are saying.

- "I'm going to make you squeal like a stuck pig"¨
- " You cry and sound like a little baby"
- Will have clear resonant tonality
- Tempo will be even and rhythmic
- Predicates (words) used by the Auditory include:
- Whisper
- Babble
- Ringing
- Noisy
- Buzz
- Earshot
- Listen
- Sound
- Quiet

Auditory Phrases might include:

- I hear you loud and clear
- Don't give me any static on this
- It was music to my ears
- It was as clear as a bell
- It was all double talk
- Are we in tune with each other

Again, these phrases could be used as templates for you to use as well if dealing with an Auditory in the de-escalation phase

3. Kinesthetic

Kinesthetic make decisions by how they feel rather than by what they see or hear. Information comes predominately from touch, feeling, emotions, gut instincts more than from what you say. These types will get an instant feeling of like or dislike when around you. When they feel good about a situation, they will buy into it

- Kinesthetic talk about feelings in their communication. "I can't seen to handle this situation because it makes me feel so stressed" or " that person just rubs me the wrong way"

- this is going to make me feel so good¡¨
- Predicates (words) used include
- Feel
- Handle
- Firm
- Hard
- Soft
- Touch
- Catch poke
- Strike
- Hit
- Press
- Stumble through

- Kinesthetic phrases might include:
- I get the point
- I can't grasp it
- That strikes me right
- It hit me like a ton of bricks
- I need to back off
- He just rubs me the wrong way

Again, these phrases can be used as templates in the de-escalation phase

Once you understand communication modalities of the threat, now you can start modeling your communication style with their’s thus creating understanding and rapport. If someone is painting a picture using visual words, when speaking to that person, you should paint them a picture as well. If they are talking about how things sound or feel to them, speak in similar terms. Remember, if you treat a visual like a kinesthetic, the visual simply won’t respond. You have to be able to recognize this and shift into the modality that allows you to communicate more effectively. Once you have accomplished this, you can now begin to use specific communication techniques with appropriate modalities:

Some Communication Techniques I Use:

- Ask people to repeat what they said. " I'm sorry I didn't quite catch that, would you please repeat that again"¨ This allows one to think, formulate a plan and to clarify a problem
- Ask questions, who, what, where, when, how, and why. Again clarifies an issue and shows concern
- Interrupt by using their name if able. A person's first name is the most important name in the dictionary due to the fact that it allows you to personalize the contact
- Use "we" instead of "I", when using we it indicates that what you are saying is not an order. Instead of saying "I want you to go over there so that I can talk to you" maybe rephrase "why don't we go over here and discuss this"
- The use of a pattern Interruption technique. This can be very useful in derailing a person's thought process from something that was pissing them off. These happen all the time in our lives. In the middle of a conversation someone enters your officer and interrupts your thought process often causing amnesia. Not uncommon to hear a person say ¡§ now, where was I, I've lost my train of thought. Pattern interrupts are most effective if you use them just as the trouble or problem begins. At that point, a pattern interrupt can be used to stop the trouble before it starts. By breaking the flow in the behavior conversation, you may rescue it before it turns sour. A pattern interrupt could include, coughing, sneezing, dropping something, swatting a bug, exclaiming, loud noise ect.
- Matching predicates or Buzz words

One must remember that there is a time for talking and a time for fighting. If I'm fighting, I WILL not be talking. Wars have been started over words, and what was said by both sides. In the pre-contact phase, where communication is a valuable tool for de-escalation (where appropriate and reasonable to do so) , one needs to become just as skilled in art and science of communication, as they are their physical combatives.

Please realize I have only skimmed the surface on the science of NLP. I would encourage all who study combatives, to take a basic NLP course.

Strength and Honor

Darren Laur

August 26, 2002, 02:52 PM
Excellent, Darren! :D

Words are surprisingly effective, especially when combined with body language. Works on animals, so why not people? The soothing sound of a calm confident voice speaking friendly words is the most amazing to the speaker who's just about given up hope of defusing a situation.

Decades ago, I bought a book by Dr. Eric Berne titled Games People Play that taught some of these techniques. The inclusive "we" and helping them reason through a situation to a desired outcome is unbeatable if you can get them talking.

Darren Laur
August 26, 2002, 07:33 PM

Thank you, and I hope that we will meet one day.

Strength and Honor

Darren Laur
Integrated Street Combatives

August 26, 2002, 07:46 PM
I used similar tactics in a situation that could have turned badly. People underestimate what is sometimes refered to as "verbal combat".

Intellect should never be pushed aside in favor of naked violence. Very good article.

August 26, 2002, 09:11 PM
Mr. Laur,
Inquiring minds would like to know.
Would you mind putting down some of your personal experiences and background in education (in regards to the fields that you write quite interestingly about)?
Guys like me who have had some street exposure, but not necessarily the educational exposure would like this information so that it could only add more credence to what you are writing.

Thank you in advance...your articles show great thought.

Darren Laur
August 27, 2002, 12:04 AM
My background:

Sgt Victoria Police Department (15 yrs experience), up here in British Columbia Canada. Most of my service has been in street level enforcement.(Beat, Mountain Bikes, Street Crime Unit (drug enforcement) Presently NCO i/c Target Police Division.

I was our Department's Use Of Force/ Control Tactics Co-ordinator for about 10 years, and have taught across Canada and twice in the USA. (Have many instructor certifications from organizations such as; Modern Warrior, PPCT, ASP, and Taser International to name a few)

Been studying combatives for 14 years, and have been teaching combatives (Integrated Street Combatives) for just over ten years.

Associate Of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice

Certified Hypnptherapist and working towards my Masters in Neuro Linguistic Psychology

Recognized Sup. Court Expert in Police Use Of Force as well as Civilian Self Defence

Have written several self published books on combatives, and in 1999, had my first professionally published book "Total Awareness A Woman's Safety Book" hit the books stores internationally.

I'm not an academic, but when it comes to combatives my belief is, "Don't tell me something is going to work, Show me" The posts which I have written are not based on theory, but rather actual information that has been "acid tested" in the real world by myself and those I have taught. In my postings, I attempt to put these experiences into a format that everyone can read, understand, and enjoy.

I believe in the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Savagely Simple) and thus, I am constantly evolving what I do and teach in the area of combatives to meet this goal.

My postings are detailed and well researched due to the fact that I do not believe in "teasing" the reader in the hope of selling a book or video on the topic presented, like many others do. I believe that information to be useful must be shared in whole.

Knowledge and the understanding and application of that knowledge is power. This is what I attempt to share in my postings

I hope this helps

Strength and Honor

Sgt Darren Laur
Integrated Street Combatives

August 27, 2002, 08:39 AM
Insightful text, Darren!

In my experience though, verbal compliance never hurt even through the physical part of a situation. That of course no longer being the kind of communication that the negotiation part is, but rather a unidirectional part of my use of force... it has evidently helped me to de-escalate a situation in an earlier phase, when I have been able to get a physical compliance reaction out of the other party.

I as non-LEO Scandinavian am only speaking of situations not involving firearms. In Finland us private security people almost never carry any - which applies to our clientele even more. We have a society where our version of gun control works fine, folks. Too bad it's not possible for most readers of this forum.

August 28, 2002, 04:40 PM
by Beth and Darren Laur


Looks like a good book. Got good word-of-mouth on Amazon. But it seems to be out of print now.

- pdmoderator

Darren Laur
August 28, 2002, 11:47 PM
Yes, "Total Awareness A Woman's Safety Book" is ours. Unfortunately our publisher went under. Having said this, we were able to purchase the remaining 5000 books they had in stock. We now sell our book, which won a publishing award up here in Canada, for $7.00 Canadian/ $5.00 US plus shipping. A savings of $9.00 from the store purchase price. If anyone is interested in a copy, just send me an e-mail. For information on the content and reviews, just head over to the Amazon.com link above, and have a look.

[email protected]

Strength and Honor

Darren Laur

August 29, 2002, 01:35 AM
Another GREAT post Darren, thanks!

reminds me of an old quote by Count Adrien de Montluc
"The maiden who listens, like the town that negotiates, is halfway to surrend."

August 29, 2002, 08:07 AM
Excellent info!

Watch out, though, 'cause there's some people here who seem to take exception to the idea of non-violent (more specifically, non-gun) resolutions to a problem. Don't let them get to you...I don't.

Almost everyone looks for an "easy" out from conflict, even the guy pointing a gun at you. There's very few psychotics running around who actually enjoy violence nd murder. So, by interacting with the person, you can not only try to talk them "down", but also get a feel for their frame of mind.

If he's not talking, or even yelling at you, then you've got a serious problem at hand.

Some of the most brutal people I've known wouldn't say a word to a person they were intent on harming. They'd just walk up to them, calmly and with a smile on their face, then proceed to unleash a beating that'd leave the victim with a broken face and grevious bodily injury.

Talk, to these people, was just a means of sizing up a person, or distracting them from the danger standing in front of them.

Darren Laur
August 29, 2002, 10:54 AM
Thank you both, and I'm glad you enjoyed the posting

Strength and Honor

Darren Laur

August 30, 2002, 03:34 AM
The power of words...
Hmm, I can be very persuasive
For exampe:
1. Our high school principal come to our class because she wants to know why the the fire department is waiting down stairs. She she sees me & my Zippo, standing under springler. I told her "It was an accident".
2. 3 AM, at the parking lot of the local mall. Police patrol spots me, next to a car (which wasnt mine), picking the lock. I had a fláshlight and a slimjim. That was a tough one, but they didnt arrest me. (Nope, wasnt trying to steal the car. Its a long story)

Oleg Volk
August 30, 2002, 09:43 AM
The main problem with extended verbal engagements is that you have to be at conversational distance from the threat. Not much reaction time...

August 30, 2002, 10:35 AM

That's were public speaking experience without amplifierers or command experience helps. In order for somebody 7 yards away to hear and understand you, you have to project your voice beyond them, and that requires speaking slower, firmly, enunciating clearly, and with a deeper timbre. Most people never train their voice beyond speaking into a telephone. Consequently, they end up slurring their words in a run together monotone that's difficult for even slightly hearing impaired people to understand when they're only 3 feet away.

In line with your point, if the agressor cannot hear you clearly but he wants to and is amenable to talking, he's liable to naturally come closer JUST to hear you better, but you're liable to interpret that as an escalation of his agression.

IOW, I think everybody should also learn to use their voice conversationally from 10 yards away. No panic in it, no shrillness either, just calm, easy, clear words easily distinguished by a person with nominally normal hearing from that distance. Lower frequencies are more efficient because they carry better therefore don't require as much effort. They're also more authoritative.... :D