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Conflict Management in Close Protection

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You’ve won the contract. You have picked your team. You’ve arranged all the logistics, and the team has done an excellent advance. The client will be landing shortly… You’re ready. But while everything seems prepped and planned for, there is one critical aspect of great teamwork and customer service that people often overlook but must always address and monitor: conflict management skills.

We all know pretty well that within any team, the detail, and the surrounding primary and secondary customers, there is always some odd circumstance (or person) that seems to come out of the woodwork to make the dynamics of day-to-day operations a bit tedious and stressful on all involved.

How we handle these nuances can be the difference between a smooth and successful detail that leads to future employment or a nightmare that, no matter how short it is, seems never to end and will most likely not result in a return customer.

Let’s discuss the team first. I’m confident that there is no reason to go into an elaborate explanation as to why a group of alpha-type, intelligent, highly driven individuals might have a conflict with each other. Yeah, right.

We all have skills, training, and experience that easily qualifies us to be on the team. Still, each of us has a particular method by which we enact our skill sets, and these diverse methods may and usually do come into some conflict with each other. Now, we all want the same outcome:

  • A highly successful detail.
  • A smooth operation.
  • A satisfied client who will want us to return.

So, how do we accomplish this with the very least amount of inner team tension? We must always be cautious with our words and tone when we speak and our body language when we communicate.

The Main Traits of Proficient Communicators

It is all too easy to react with some military-type posture and feeling when somebody puts us on the spot. That is when we conjure up some version of our past selves from an earlier portion of our life.

Emotional control becomes a crucial and vital part of our demeanor. In fact, it will directly affect how we project what we are communicating. Hence, in turn, this relates to how those we communicate with perceive or understand us.

If your words are quiet, calm, and non-aggressive but your body language is tense and uptight, your listener will perceive the conflict, and it will cause issues.

Control of one’s mind, emotions, and body language are of the utmost importance in communicating proficiently. The entire team will always appreciate calm, steady communications. Actually, this translates to smooth operations amongst the members of the team and a job well done.

An interesting aspect of conflict management in close protection is the following. With diverse people and a varying array of cultures ― both within the team and with clients, staff contracted help, and secondary customers (vendors, business associates, etc.) ― what we say can be as crucial as how we say it.

What we might mention offhandedly in passing in the U.S., people elsewhere may very well understand as an insult.

Always be ready to politely explain what you meant and assure them that you didn’t intend any ill will. The last thing we want is others to see us as the insensitive team… Those Guys. Being actively conscious of our words about our location and the people surrounding us is vital to our success throughout the detail.

Miscommunication and Respect in Conflict Management

Concerning our clients, their close family, and personal staff, we must NEVER lose perspective. They are the client. We are the security. Keeping this firmly in our minds as we go about our daily operational duties is essential. It will assure us that we don’t cross any unnecessary lines.

However, if and when that occurs, conflict will often arise that is very difficult to decrease. That is, aside from removing the offending team member permanently from the detail. We’ve all seen this type of behavior and understand its implications well.

A professional, objective perspective will avoid any conflict in relationships and emotions that could arise.

conflict management

Suppose there is miscommunication or misunderstanding between team members and the client’s family or staff. Allowing the upset family member or staff member to express their feelings and opinions fully is a must.

Assume we quickly attempt to explain or justify our actions, words, or behaviors. In that case, people often view this as insubordination or disrespect. This occurs when emotions are high and will tip the scales against us.

Again, being in control of our minds, words, and body language will go an incredibly long way to:

  • Keeping the peace, and
  • Allowing life to proceed as smoothly as possible.

Maintaining a calm and steady disposition has a butterfly effect all around us throughout the day and the entire operation. Remember, emotions are highly transferable. When we give respect and attention to the true essence of communication, we will eliminate most misunderstandings or miscommunications.

All bets are off when it comes to smooth communication and understanding between team members and all the secondary customer lines we will deal with. Some of these individuals are pretty pleasant to work with, and others are nothing less than the bane of our very existence.

Working With the Principal’s Staff

Executive Assistants can be an invaluable asset to us in security if they cultivate the relationship adequately. They work closely with our clients. Thus, maintaining a smooth, calm, and cooperative mindset can make your and your team’s efforts on the client’s part quite constructive.

When communicating, keep in mind that they have a very tedious schedule and tasks they have to complete, just like we do. Being calm and respectful when we speak or act will always translate into greater cooperation and teamwork.

However, if this relationship constantly suffers from strain, you will never receive all the intel to potentially assist you. Furthermore, they will feel somewhat ostracized and react poorly to requests that you or the team might make.

We must always treat the house staff, vendors, and other personnel directly involved in the client’s lives with the utmost respect. When we communicate with them, we must remember that they have an enormous responsibility to the client. Of course, as we do.

In speaking with them courteously and calmly, we will promote a positive work environment for all involved. When tensions or conflicts arise, it is our responsibility to think outside the moment and see the circumstances for what they indeed are.

By doing so, we can ascertain how to deescalate the tension and return to a peaceful and productive working atmosphere. That is the essence of conflict management in close protection.

The Takeaways on Conflict Management in CP

I cannot reiterate enough that emotional management and control must be first and foremost in our minds. This is because every person and every aspect of the client’s life affects him or her. We have the duty and responsibility to ensure that we are always the steady, calm professional they can depend on for stability.

Correct, we can most certainly go much further in-depth with this subject of conflict management within the Close Protection arena. This should only begin to address the points that many of us deal with or have dealt with. We are the client’s best source of peaceful, steady security and leadership.

We must always ensure that we self-monitor. Not only for the client’s sake but for our own peace of mind, a profound sense of accomplishment, and a job well done. We must lead and be one step ahead so as to be the protectors and the keepers of those who need us most.

Chris Grow
Managing Partner at LeMareschal
FT Executive Protection Travel Team with Allied Universal Executive Protection & Intelligence

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