People skills and personal protection

While reviewing some files in my reading list, I came across this gem. It’s from an article called The best advice for today’s music industry was written 80 years ago

In his closing keynote presentation [at the DIY Musicians Conference] called “How to Make an Extra $100,000 from Your Music Next Year,” Martin [Atkins] ran down a long list of creative cost-saving and money-making suggestions, peppered with commandments like “Don’t be an asshole” and “Whatever the fuck it is, get the fuck over it.”

At the heart of Martin’s talk, though, was this quote:

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

Dale Carnegie wrote that in 1936, in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Martin’s first suggestion brought to mind a comment one of my first bosses in the real estate business made about one of the brokers in our office. “That guy needs to take a Dale Carnegie Course. Twice!”

Dale Carnegie Training has an excellent eBook abstract of Dale Carnegie’s writings available for download on its website. The eBook is called Dale Carnegie’s Secrets of Success. Here’s the link to it. I have two well-worn hard copies, from when it was called Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book, one of which I keep on my desk.


Secrets of Success is recommended reading for everyone, regardless of what you do or your personal philosophy. Those who are churned up about recent political events, on both ends of the spectrum, should take note especially.

What does Dale Carnegie have to do with personal protection? Let’s keep in mind that unlike natural disasters, personal protection against criminality involves a social transaction between two people. Those two people might be:

  • You and a Violent Criminal Actor
  • One of your loved ones and a Violent Criminal Actor
  • A trainer and you
  • You and someone you are trying to teach, either formally or informally
  • You and someone you are trying to influence to make decisions about personal protection

Since I am a trainer and educator, I’ll address the last two points first. Recently, a trainer and blogger posted a 4,128 word rant about numerous shortcomings an acquaintance of his had. The rant was very pompous and disdainful. Some of the shortcomings related to personal protection and some were general life ‘flaws.’ No doubt the trainer’s object was to give his readers some food for thought about how they might have shortcomings similar to the acquaintance’s. However, Atkins’ first comment, “Don’t be an asshole” immediately came to mind as I read it. The overall tone of the blogger’s post was “this guy’s an idiot and I’m sooooo much smarter and better than him.”

No one likes or is influenced by a pompous asshole. Unfortunately, I see a lot of pompous assholiness in the training community. I’m not immune to being that way, either.

The Be a Leader section of Secrets of Success makes several germane points.

  • Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
  • Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  • Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

Another aspect of the training community I often see is a lack of connection to the everyday lives that our students live. There are several worthwhile items from Secrets of Success in this regard.

Become a Friendlier Person

  • Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  • Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  • Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  • Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
  • Throw down a challenge.

So, I’m going to throw down a challenge to the training community.

Get a job; a real job where you have to fill out a W-4 when you get hired. Just like the jobs your students have.

Right now is a golden opportunity, no pun intended. The end of the year is a relatively slow time for training and there are numerous seasonal positions available in the retail sector. Target, WalMart, and Sears, among others, are all hiring for temporary positions through the end of the year. If you don’t like wearing a uniform, Macy’s and other high end retailers are hiring and will give you an even better environment to test your hypotheses. Get a temporary job in a retail store for a couple of months. Walk a mile in your students’ moccasins while carrying the heater and all the gear you tell them to EDC. See how it works out for you.

If you get fired (or arrested) for a weapons violation or you decide you can’t carry all that crap while working and interacting with people all day without getting made, you owe me a drink. If you work at least 30 hours a week for six weeks in the retail environment with your full EDC loadout, I’ll buy you dinner. Full time sworn LEOs, 16 hours a week will fulfill the challenge. Totally on the honor system; I’ll accept whatever outcome you tell me you had.

In our Violent Criminal Actors class last month, William Aprill talked about the difference between odds and stakes. The payout odds for my offer are about 5 to 1 in your favor. The stakes; well that’s a different story.

Next time, we’ll discuss the relevance of people skills to The Deadly Mix and Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted 2015. Until then:




7 responses

  1. I owe you a drink. They thought I already worked there — in Security.

  2. Robert Margulies

    Great article. I agree with the ‘Carnegie’ process. I am currently a Sworn Reserve Police Officer for Connell WA PD. I put in about a day a week. I am also an emergency physician with 47 plus years of Military and Civilian experience. On AD I was never without my AMC 380. Even in Vietnam, it was there with the rest of my stuff. Since retirement in 1989, I have worked in major ED’s, and a stint in Academia; and though currently ’semi-retired’ I still do about a day a week in clinic. Without exaggeration, for the past 27 plus years since Navy retirement, I have worked daily with 2 guns on me. My current PCW’s: 2 XDM 3.8 9mm’s, 2 mags, 2 knives, 2 flashlights and a full trauma kit. My duty firearm is the XDM 4.5 in 9mm, and one of my 3.8’s is approved and carried as my back up.

    I didn’t say it was easy, nor without some professional risk. I always considered my safety worth the risk.


    Robert Margulies, MD MPH FACPM FACEP FACFE Captain (MC) USN Retired

    If you stay fit, you do not have to get fit. If you stay trained, you do not have to get trained. If you stay prepared, you do not have to get prepared.


  3. Miss, Sgt.Esterhouse.

  4. […] how I wish more instructors would follow Claude Werner’s advice […]

  5. Nice article, as always. The end really hits home with me.
    Based on my job, I cannot carry my preferred load out most days of the week. I’d love to carry all the crap I carry on my days off at my day job, but its impossible with a tucked in button up shirt in dress pants. It took a while to figure out how to carry a M/P Shield on my person concealed and yet comfortable enough that I would actually put it on every morning. I am not going to win any speed draw competitions. I can still do it faster than a lot of people can draw from a traditional IWB holster, but it isn’t as smooth as a full sized pistol on the hip for me. However, the nature of my job does not put me in the high traffic space of our building. I am not spending a lot of time in the “transitional space” so to speak. Likely, if something is going to happen I will have a little distance and doors between me and whatever it is, and at least the pistol is on my person. I have found a way to jam a CAT tourniquet in my back pocket so it doesn’t stick out more than my wallet, but other than that, I’m carrying a different gun in a different method. It made me hit the range much more with the smaller pistol. It took some time to get proficient. In addition it made me spend a lot more time dry practicing my draw because getting the pistol into play on a standard shooting range would probably give a range officer a heart attack. The trigger guard is covered and the gun never flags my body, but I’m gonna have to flag someone off to my support side to get it out.
    I enjoy your articles because you talk about the stuff that really matters and is not sexy or easy to sell. I look forward to learning more about your decision method (hopefully the patent is coming along) that I heard you talk about on Ballistic Radio. Also, I like the card game you described on that show also. It is awesome and challenging and so worth doing.
    Gonna have to download an ebook this evening.
    Cheers and stay safe.

  6. I recently changed jobs and have to dress business casual rather than untucked shirt and jeans. Thank you. What I carry has drastically changed. I’m guessing you haven’t bought many dinners.

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