Consequences – A Deeper Look

In a recent Tao of The Velvet Rope podcast, I discussed the potential consequences of action or inaction by you or your Security Staff. And in a recent blogpost, we saw the predictable outcome of bad action on the part of some Security Staffers.

It is human nature for individuals to react to the stimuli around them. In stressful, unexpected, or confusing situations we humans tend to have three basic responses: Fight, Flight, or Freeze. In order to streamline this discussion and perhaps add a touch of clarity, I would like to rename these responses Action, Escape, and Inaction. And while these new names are exact in their nomenclature, they’ll work for our purposes.

Think about the following Bar/Nightclub scenarios:

  1. You witness two Patrons yelling and shoving each other. Due to your distance from the two of them, it is hard to tell what initiated the physicality or how serious it is.
  2. A couple is standing across the room from you. The woman is petite and her boyfriend is a tall, well-built athletic type. They start to argue loudly, the woman poking her boyfriend in the chest.
  3. A young man and woman walk past you, towards the exit door. The woman is heavily intoxicated and the man is holding her up to keep her from falling over. You did not see them enter the bar together.

Each of these scenarios offers a myriad of potential responses. In Scenarios 1 and 2, you could call for back up and dive in fists swinging or brusquely ask what the problem is (Action), wait and see how things play out (Inaction), or you could leave the room and ignore the issue (Escape). In Scenario 3, you could step in to offer assistance (Action), stand and watch (Inaction), or turn a walk away (Escape).

What is important to understand about each of these situations and what makes the job of the Security Staffer so unpredictable and potentially dangerous is that if you don’t carefully consider the consequences of your Action, Inaction, or Escape, you can find yourself in deep, deep trouble. Very, very quickly.

Take Scenario 1, for example. Many bouncers would rush through the crowd in order to break up the fight and end up fighting or forcefully ejecting one of the Patrons involved. Let’s say that you do this and in the course of your Action, you punch the Patron. He falls down, cracks his head on the pavement, is knocked unconscious, and is taken away in an ambulance. What are the potential consequences?

1) Legal – You get sued by the Patron, the bar gets sued by the Patron, and the Patron presses criminal/civil charges against you.

Well, the bar has insurance to cover them. You don’t. Which means…

2) Financial – You need to cover the cost of your lawyer and potentially the cost of the Patron’s lawyer and doctor’s bills. You could also lose your job, have your wages garnished, or be unable to find further employment due to your new criminal record, which imposes a further financial burden on you.

3) Physical – What if you don’t win the fight? That means injury. And potentially serious injury at that. Maybe you lose the use of a hand or a leg or suffer from headaches due to a concussion. And let’s circle back to the doctor’s visits, doctor’s bills, loss of work, and again…loss of income.

4) Emotional toll – How about the stress of dealing with all of the above? And what if the Patron – or you – is permanently injured due to your actions or – heaven forbid – is killed. What is that weight going to be like to carry? And what about the toll all of this may take on your family or significant others? And that’s not to mention the possibility of you, your staff, and your establishment now carrying a negative reputation.

Inaction and Escape carry the same set of possible outcomes. If you ignore the issue or walk away and someone is hurt or killed, the list of potential negatives grows longer due to your negligent behavior. You were hired to keep people safe…and you failed to do that.

Scenarios 2 and 3 carry the potential for serious negatives. Full disclosure: Scenario 2 happened one night when I was working. The woman smashed a glass on her boyfriend’s head, nearly severed his carotid artery, and had to be hogtied and carried away by Law Enforcement. All this because everyone took the situation lightly and ignored it…until it was too late. Ignoring Scenario 3 might end up with a woman being sexually assaulted by an individual she doesn’t know or the woman driving away and crashing her vehicle.

“What the hell!? I’m screwed no matter what I do…or don’t do!” is the response I can already hear from some of you. No, no you are not. The key to avoiding negative consequences is simple:

THINK

Take a moment to survey the situation. Does something feel wrong and if it does, why? What is going on that is making your hackles rise? Or is it the case that upon a moment’s examination, you realize that the situation you are witnessing is not a serious as you considered. Say, for example, that the Patrons yelling and pushing each other are best friends just goofing around? Once you’ve surveyed the situation and made a decision, how is it that you should approach the situation at hand? Do you jump in? Do you yell? Are you humorous in your approach?

In the second and third Scenarios, taking a moment to assess the situation and ask if everything is ok takes just that…a moment. A moment that can keep things from escalating, can help to defuse tension or gain some reassurance that the couple heading out the door is actually together and fine.

I had mentioned in an earlier podcast that you should always ACT when you are uncertain of what do. And people tend to misinterpret that as jumping into the fray or immediately springing into “hero mode” No. Thinking is an action as wellTaking a moment to consider the possibilities is an action. Calling for backup is an action. Taking a deep breath and taking in your surroundings is an action.

Keep in mind that YOU are making the decisions. And YOU will have to deal with the consequences of YOUR actions. Impulsive behaviors in a high-stress, alcohol-soaked environment very rarely work out for the best. I would use the example of the last few blog post’s bouncers as a perfect example. Punching or beating up intoxicated individuals NEVER works in your favor, even if you are exonerated.

Always consider the consequences that may result from what you may or may not do in a given situation. The few moments you take to scan, assess, and strategize can make the difference between injury, financial ruin, and loss of reputation. Your action doesn’t need to be immediately physical but it should always be thoughtful. Need to figure out a way to get this point across to your Staff? Think about Scenario training and always debrief at the end of the night to go over any incidents or questions they may have.

Until next time…

Working during the Holidays

This is one of two annual End of Year posts before we head out on vacation. Enjoy

We find ourselves at the end of another year and with it the always stressful Holiday season. Shopping, cooking, relatives…and work. While much of the world gets to relax, many people – especially those in retail or the service industry – have to work. It is not fun, but as I explain in the post below, it is a fact of life. Is this a re-post? Yes. Why? Because every year someone – maybe even me – is going to complain about working.

So, here goes:

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with individuals of high integrity, strong work ethic, and exceptional character. I have also had the displeasure of working with slackers, layabouts, whiners, and the occasional ne’er do well. (I will now brush off my own shoulder for the use of such descriptive words…thank you.) When you work the field of security, there are many realities that you have to learn to face – or at least should – at an early stage of your career. The main one is this:

YOU MAY HAVE TO WORK WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO WORK!

As a matter of fact, you will probably have to work EXACTLY when you have something else to do! Security is a profession in which your skill set is in demand ALL THE TIME. When most people are doing something else, you are working. Period. This is especially true during the Holiday Season. During the month of December, there are parties, events, parties, and events…and did I mention parties? They will fall on every conceivable day of the week, but usually on weekends. And definitely on the days that you were expecting to do your Xmas shopping. Or that your grandmother is coming to visit. Or on your “day off”.

First, let me clarify that I am not complaining about working wherever, whenever. It’s my job, I do it. Period. Have I missed out on fun, celebrations, vacations, and holidays due to work? Yes. Will I complain? Possibly. Will I work again if asked? Yes.

EVERY. TIME.

Why?

BECAUSE IT IS MY JOB.

Whenever December rolls around, there WILL be events. And there is a good chance that Security will be needed to work them. Remember, people need to be safe 24/7/365. This is especially true during the Holiday Season when people are known to get a little “loose” at parties or stressed while shopping. And yet, as soon as Staffers start getting scheduled to work, the whining begins:

“Why do I have to work again this year?”

“Bob always gets New Year’s off!”

“But I have a work party to attend!”

Let me break it down for you a little:

Do you want a job or do you want convenience?

Sometimes your job makes your life inconvenient. You aren’t paid to set your own schedule, someone else pays you to work THEIR SCHEDULE. And there is no convenience during the Holiday Season, especially in the service industry. Don’t like things that way? Start your own business. Actually, don’t. Because when you work for yourself, you work ALL THE TIME…especially during the holidays.

If you want time off for the holidays, ask for it in advance.

Way in advance. Like a month in advance. And remind your manager every week until the time you get off. Why? It’s responsible, mature, and shows initiative. Remember, everyone will want the month of December off. Also, you should realize that there is a good chance that you will NOT get Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s off, even if you ask. If you’re lucky, you might get 1 out of the 3. And in reality, if you’re lucky you’ll be asked to work all three because your skill set is in demand.

Sometimes, in life, we have to do things we don’t want to do.

Sorry, that’s just the way it is. As the old saying goes, “Sometimes you eat the bear … and sometimes the bear eats you”. Sometimes you have to work on your birthday. Or your wife’s birthday. Or your boss’ birthday. Or on Xmas eve. Or New Year’s Eve AND New Year’s Day. If your free time is more important than your job, especially when your job entails random hours and unpredictable situations…you should find another job.

Take one for the team.

No one else can/will/wants to work? Maybe you should step up and show the boss that you are willing to do whatever it takes to be part of the team. I guarantee that if you volunteer to work over the Holiday Season you will get to witness your employer looking simultaneously confused, excited…and impressed.

On the flip side, you can’t act like a whiny baby if you get scheduled to work, you haven’t asked for the time off, and it’s your job to keep people safe. The only thing that acting like that will guarantee is someone else doing your job…once you are fired for not doing it yourself.

So prepare yourself for the Holiday Season. It will be hectic and it will be tiring. The hours will be long, the parties ridiculous, and the lines even worse. Smile, take deep breaths, and remain patient, even when you have to escort drunken Santa out of a bar full of people. But then again, if you didn’t like a challenge, you probably would have chosen another profession…right?