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April 16, 2015

Pharmacist calls customer a retard – Verbal Defense and Influence

For ‘Contact Professionals’, it is imperative that regardless of the circumstances, they maintain their professional face when they are operating in their professional capacity.  When a person lets slip their professional presentation to the world, the results can be career-limiting in the extreme.

This recent story is an unfortunate example of when this principle is forgotten:

Pharmacist calls customer ‘retard’ over cancer meds

An abusive pharmacist is under fire after he failed to provide painkilling medication for a cancer patient – before a furious tirade on his Facebook page branded the customer a “retard”

I remember Gary Klugiewicz from Verbal Defense and Influence once showing me a slogan, a mantra if you like, that a police service in the USA uses to help its officers realise this key concept of human communication:

“We treat people like ladies and gentlemen, not because they always are, but because we always are”

There are ten key concepts for effective communication in the midst of conflict that we use in Verbal Defense and Influence (link), all of which can be used to redirect, contain, defuse and enhance safety and reduce conflict during a high-stress encounter.

The entire methodology is designed to enable contact professionals, or indeed anyone, to treat the people they interact with in their lives with dignity by showing them respect.

The first, overriding principle which gives momentum to the effort is the Platinum Principle:

Always treat people the way you would like to be treated in identical circumstances.

Where we forget to engage our empathy, or in situations where our life circumstances, stress levels or inability to maintain our own calm and equilibrium are overridden by primal fight-mentality or the urge to demean or dominate those who we see as weaker than ourselves, then ‘natural language’ (as opposed to ‘professional language’) issues forth and the results are often professionally catastrophic.

One further lesson to learn here is that social media is a force both for building relationships, in bringing people together, but also for ruining relationships and destroying human contact.  The social distance offered by the internet can create a false sense that we don’t all occupy, essentially, the same space on this tiny blue dot, but indeed are all connected, professionally or personally.  These connections allow one interaction and a Facebook post to become a news-worthy item and a trending social media storm.

I’ll leave you with one last directive which I learned as a young sales-professional in Tokyo, Japan about building, not destroying, relationships.

Remember, everyone is somebody’s someone.



Coach Gerard O'Dea is a personal safety specialist trainer

Gerard O’Dea is a conflict management, personal safety and physical interventions training consultant.  He is the training director for Dynamis, a specialist provider of personal safety and violence management programmes and the European Adviser for ‘Verbal Defense and Influence’, a global programme which addresses the spectrum of human conflict.  www.dynamis.training


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Gerard O'Dea

Gerard O'Dea is the Director of Training for Dynamis. Training Advisor, Speaker, Author and Expert Witness on Personal Safety, Conflict Management and Physical Interventions, he is the European Advisor for Vistelar Conflict Management, a global programme focussing on the spectrum of human conflict.

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