You paid thousands of dollars for training and thousands more on equipment, firearms and clothing. Add in the cost of travel, hotels, meals, time off of work and other expenses and you are finally qualified for work, according to you. But what does the Client value in a protector? It may be no surprise that interpersonal skills top the list. Good manners, eye contact, a firm handshake, a timely smile, and an expansive vocabulary are just the tip of the iceberg. Knowing how to negotiate, and more, knowing when to remain silent are also key to a Client choosing you over an ex-WPPS Private Military Contractor.
After decades in the protection industry, it is continually apparent that while “fieldcraft“ is absolutely valuable and indeed essential to a Client’s required prerequisites, it is the “intellectual” skillset with which the Client has the greatest exposure, (and hardest time finding).
Many laugh when first hearing about interpersonal skills in the personal protection industry. They believe that as long the client is safe, nothing else matters. We all know that we are getting paid for that 0,1% chance that may require us to respond to a threat and “save the client”, but the rest of our time will be spent interacting with the client, their family members, employees, domestic staff, and our own colleagues. And just as important are the paparazzi and the public, both of whom have cameras in hand. One wrong comment or gesture and the Client’s embarrassment results in your termination, and possibly a civil action.
Social interaction requires specific interpersonal skills. Your ability to react or reply appropriately is crucial. Using the wrong words with the wrong person and your years in the sand box or skill with firearms won’t save you. You will be fired within seconds. It happens every day and some of you won’t even know why.
Below we will try to give you some tips from ours as well as our colleagues experience and mistakes and even included some comments from past clients.
Your relationship with the client:
If you have any understanding of the industry at all, you know that you are with a client because someone within the client’s entourage has a fear that you have convinced them you can quash. In a combat zone, there is real fear of capture or death. In a large city in America, spy photos of the client out in public, drinking with friends, and in Mexico, Kidnapping. In many instances, you may be with the client 10 to 16 hours a day. So how do you spend that much time with them or their family, under that kind of stress without getting emotionally connected to them? Stick to the old adage: “Be seen and not heard”.
First of all keep in mind that the client is the one paying you, no matter how unrealistic his requests may be, you must adapt to his ‘’wants’’ and ‘’security needs’’. You may not be allowed to do what the job requires or have the manpower or equipment needed but you will have to adapt and do your job with what you have. You may be asked to be in position X and not Y because the client doesn’t feel comfortable otherwise. Consider too that it is also difficult for someone to get used to the idea of having strangers around them with every step they take and with every person they meet. Consider what you are doing that might be adding to or reducing their tension. Talking, staring, where you are standing, your cologne, or your actions can all add to a client’s frustrations.
The professional is one who can work with the difficult client, not the other way around. If you are lucky enough to work for that easy going client good for you, but most of the time you will have to deal with people that will test your limits. Have you ever had a client ask you to protect him but not to be within sight of him?
New professionals usually ask how they would deal with different challenges, like “what if the client asks me to have a drink with him”? What if the client asks you to do things that are out of your area of responsibility?
If you are a Close Protection Operative of the opposite sex of your client, then be prepared to deal with even more difficult situations. Traditionally mixing stress and fear with the comfort a protector can bring and the power and wealth of a client, (or his wife), and an opportunity……
Every one of us, client or Close Protection Operative (CPO), have different, social backgrounds and if you add to that different cultures then be ready to deal with more difficulties.
For many of us who have spent years in this business, (If we are successful enough to still be in this business), we have learned where our boundaries lie. If you are new in the business consider that boundaries exist for all of us. The client has them and so do you. When we are hired to protect a person, we are actually being allowed to step far inside their boundaries but they should not be allowed to step too far into ours. We will see a client in their most private and vulnerable moments, but what happens to our persona as “protector” if they see our weaknesses and vulnerabilities? And what happens if someone outside the client’s circle identifies our weaknesses or vulnerabilities?
How do we identify a client’s boundaries, and how do we educate them on ours? It’s really very simple; we ask. We should consider their social and moral code, their habits, vices and health issues and their fears. Sitting down with the client and discussing their needs and simply asking them where their boundaries are and letting them know ours is crucial to the success of a long term assignment. It may be no big deal for a client to ask you to enter a room where they are using drugs in a party setting or where he and his wife are in bed, but this may be beyond your comfort zone, (your boundary).
What is the difference between professionalism and friendship? Here is a simple rule: “You can’t buy friendship”. If you are being paid, you can’t be friends. If you want to be friends, stop taking the client’s money. Crossing the boundary between Professional and Friend is never successful.
From my personal experience I have found that when I was acting strictly professional the client was uncomfortable. Our task is to make them feel safe but when we appear ‘’untouchable’’ they believe we don’t understand their fears or what they’re going through. It is very important for them to feel we understand them. It is not easy to be the client….Sometimes they will open up and talk to us and we must show them we are listening. This is not friendship. This is part of our job.
If you get too friendly, then automatically your professionalism will suffer in your client’s eyes. Not because he doesn’t trust you anymore but because your laps in professionalism suggests to him that you won’t be taking your job as serious as is needed.
Consider how Psychologists work. They cannot offer professional counseling to people who are in their family or with whom they are friends. They certainly cannot start dating a client.
It is understood that you may share many hours with the client. Talk to him only when he talks to you or when you have to say something that affects his safety. Avoid starting a conversation but always be friendly if the client decides to speak to you. If you are asked a question, try to answer it with a single sentence.
Your relationship with the client’s family members will have to be the same. Don’t be too friendly with them or other staff or guests. Remember who hired you and why. Remember who cuts your check and who ultimately you serve. You should answer to only one person. If you assist or serve anyone else, it must be with the approval of the client and then only at no cost to them.
If you appear too unapproachable or “hard”, you will intimidate those you are serving. Too approachable and the family and everyone else will feel comfortable approaching you. And it will always happen when you need to be focused. Take a middle position with your client which is addressed with professionalism. Again, prior to accepting your contract you must clarify from whom you will be given orders and directions regarding your work.
As a CPO your job is to protect you client’s life and image. You are not there to carry their briefcase or shopping bags, etc. You also should not be carrying the client’s child on your hip, or holding doors open or performing domestic chores. Remember to keep your hands free.
Don’t be afraid to say “no” when you are asked to perform duties which are outside of your role. The client is hiring a CPO not a maître ’de or a butler. It is professional to politely refuse to perform a task outside of your agreed responsibilities instead of accepting it and putting in danger a client or your life. He has hired you to provide security services and nothing else.
The client must see you as an educated, well trained, experienced and professional person, and it is up to you alone to earn his respect. If your client respects you then any of your suggestions concerning his safety will be accepted by him positively.
Alcohol? NO, NEVER, EVER…..while working. But……
What if your client calls you for a drink or coffee while you’re not on duty? In this case you have to ask why he is calling you. Does he see you as a friend or do you think he wants something unrelated to work or to talk about your work? First, remain professional. If your client calls, you respond. Then avoid alcohol at all cost. Consider that in many countries and especially in the United States, if you are in possession of a firearm and you are questioned by police with alcohol in your system, you will be arrested.
Sometimes the most dangerous trap a CPO may fall into is to have a physical relationship with his client or the client’s spouse. Remember that movie where the bodyguard was sleeping with his client? Art sometimes copies life. Being emotionally involved with your client, (or anyone in their circle), no matter how unprofessional we see it, has happened with some colleagues. Understand that if this occurs, the CPO is always at fault. Because the client is dependent on you, they may be more likely to share raw emotion with you or let you all the way in to that last boundary, the personal physical boundary. Take advantage of this vulnerability and you are solely to blame. And if you think you found the love of your life, you will be replaced by the next person the client sees power or an emotional investment in. And who is going to write you that professional referral letter then?
Sexual Harassment is rampant in our profession. Male CPOs are approached by everyone who is attracted to the perceived power of the protector or by anyone trying to get to the client or get into the client’s circle. But if you are a female CPO it is much worse. You will get barraged from both males and females, clients, their family members, friends and then your colleagues. Additionally, sometimes due to culture, there are those who believe that because they hired you to protect them you are there also for ‘’extra services’’. There have been cases like these which have been unreported to authorities but are a common problem within the female CPO industry. Again, that sit down meeting with the client prior to taking the job is strongly suggested.
Your relationship with colleagues:
During our career we will have to work along with people who don’t share the same work ethic, qualifications, training and experience, background, morals or values with us. So whether we like or dislike someone, we shouldn’t allow it to affect our professionalism. Our first loyalty is the client’s safety and the study and mastering of the art and skill toward this goal. Our second loyalty is to the industry to which we have dedicated our lives. Loyalty to our colleagues falls within this, not the other way around.
As we all know, Close Protection is a profession that is unfortunately void of professional standards and requirements. Each country, and even each State has its own licensing or training requirements and in many cases no training is required at all. In light of this, you realize that you have to work to solidify a team with people who bring with them different experience, skills, training disciplines, standards, professionalism, culture, and ethics in the same way a sports team or elite military unit has to work through individual differences to become a uniquely cohesive team.
It is very important that each one on the team promote and maintain a strong working relationship with the others as well as the client, and of course other people who we may be in contact with (house personnel, office staff etc).
Some of the people you are working with may have more or less skill and may be younger or older. So in each situation you must address your issues with them with respect. Never offend anyone no matter the reason, never correct someone while anyone else in present. If you believe they made a mistake you can ask if he would mind a tip or advice. Not many people are open to advice from coworkers. If they refuse your help, respect it and leave it alone. If a colleague makes a sexual advance or even a comment that you are not comfortable with, address it quickly.
In our work it is very important when an issue occurs, to take immediate action to address it. Later you can do your research and as a team and correct it. As in any team, constructive criticism is meant to eliminate future problems.
Try to avoid conversations with your colleagues that include topics which trigger emotional responses like sports, religion, sex or politics. No conversation on these topics can contribute to your client’s safety.
Avoid discussion about family and do not share details about your family, spouse, kids or home life. You don’t know how the information may be used against you or your client later. Can you be blackmailed? Could this affect your client or team?
The only conversation you should entertain is the one that adds to your client’s safety.
Your relationship with fellow citizens and Law Enforcement:
In most countries your authority or legal ability to act is no more than any other citizen. Trying to get a free pass at the club or disturbing the peace will give you and your client a bad image. No you can’t stop the traffic, park whenever you want, stop people from entering in public places or ask to search them.
Many of our colleagues come from a Law Enforcement or Military background, they use to have their own language with their former colleagues and may work along with them or ask for their help. Remember that active Law Enforcement personnel have their own agendas. They are not part of our industry any more than we are part of theirs. Do not ask them to help you do your job. Some may abuse their authority and use it to get close to your client, and may even try to replace you. Be respectful and keep your distance.
Your networking activities
It is common and we see it almost every day in online networks or forums, people who hide behind a “screen” or “nickname” and make negative comments about other colleagues. It is seen by most as cowardly at best to make public comments about someone while hiding behind a false identity and further, without allowing the victim or viewing audience to verify the experience or credentials of the accuser.
Industry forums serve a couple of purposes. The first is to inform and the second is to allow comments and feedback for the purpose of informing. Unfortunately, they have become a place for the unimpressive to gain their 15 minutes of fame. These chronic complainers, seemingly have plenty of free time, (possibly due to their unemployment), and repair their egos by blaming or criticizing others. Yes, there are non-professionals and there are professionals, but a forum is not the right place to show who is who.
For those who like to comment on different articles or posts online (…that includes many of us…) before you hit “send” be sure you:
1) Read the article/post carefully. It is very disappointing to see colleagues who post a negative comment on an article when it is clear that they neither completely read nor completely understood it.
2) Offer a solid answer/opinion based on logical thoughts or facts (or evidence/search results). Recently, someone tried to show their disagreement with an author. Their only approach to a counter-point was insulting the author which actually proved the author’s point. Someone else tried to answer him by copying and pasting parts from the article and offering negative comments on the excerpts, which further proved the subject of the article; that some people in our industry can’t adapt their soldier mentality and behavior to the more polished corporate environment.
3) Answer in a manner that does not insult the writer or others.
4) Re-read and understand the article. Stating a disagreement is fine but following up with information that goes off topic and writing anything other than what is pertinent to the subject will only make you look stupid.
5) Read the article again,
6) Read your answer again from the perspective of your colleagues,
7) Read it once again from the perspective of someone who knows you,
8) If it doesn’t look professional/logical/in good taste or relative to the article provided, DO NOT hit that “send” button or “publish now” ….otherwise again, you will only end up looking stupid.
If you think companies and recruiting agents don’t look at a candidate’s networking profiles? Think again!
The bottom line is this:
If you lack professionalism on any level or lack interpersonal skills in dealing with people you work for, with or around, you will not be able to hide behind your experience, education or other skillsets.
Founder & Worldwide Director
We are addining another training course in our calendar for 2013 that will be hosted by White Star Services.
Some of the topics taught in Executive Protection Program are:
-Principles of Executive Protection.
-Code of Conduct.
-Solo Protector and in a Detail.
-Use of Force/ Combatives
-Surveillance and Counter-surveillance.
-Protective Intelligence and Advanced Operations
-Basic Pistol Training and Firearms Safety
-Event and Estate Security
-Dealing with Media and Paparazzi
-Behavioral Intelligence and Attack Recognition
-First Aid CPR/AED
Course fee $3000.00
“This course complies with the minimum requirements of the Texas Department of Public Safety Private Security Bureau to issue all three of the registrations needed to work in the State of Texas. The three registrations are: Unarmed Officer, Armed Officer and Personal Protection Officer (Bodyguard).”
***Athena Academy maintains the right to decline with no further explanation any training application.***
***Athena Academy maintains the right to change training topics, curriculum and instructors according to class needs until the first day of class.***
***The 8 day residency training is physically demanding therefore all participants will be required to send a letter from your physician indicating you are fit enough to participate before your registration in the course will be confirmed.***
***All participants must send us a criminal background showing a clean record.***
Application date open until May 1st, 2013
For more information contact visit http://www.athenaacademy.com
The reason I wrote this article is due to a horrible crime that took place several days ago in Greece. A 34 year old woman returning home late at night, while unlocking the door of her apartment building, was grabbed and pulled away by a violent criminal. She was raped, beaten, doused with gasoline and then set on fire while she was still alive. Despite living in a crowded neighborhood where many people heard her screaming, not a single person went out to see what was happening until it was too late. The most horrible part is that both her father and brother could hear a woman screaming, but they never thought it was their beloved family member.
The criminal, a 27 year old, who has been accused in the past for sexual attacks by other victims, had been released back into society due to a lack of evidence to convict him. He was described as a male with strange and abusive behavior toward women. The blame cannot be solely shouldered by the Greek Justice and Authorities for allowing this man to continue his abusive acts which ultimately ended the horrible murder of this woman.
I would like to raise the attention to fact that people in today’s society are failing to care about others or act to assist someone in distress. If one of the neighbors, hearing her first screams, had gone outside and yelled at the criminal or made his/her presence known might have assisted in stopping the crime which would have saved the poor woman’s life. Witnesses said they heard a woman screaming, but, they were scared to go outside and see what was wrong. Several just didn’t think it was something serious enough to investigate. It must be horrible for the family members and neighbors to know they could have saved this woman’s life if they had acted instead of hiding. This lack of action will most likely haunt the community for a long time.
We are obviously not responsible for the actions of criminals within our community, however, we are responsible for or actions or lack thereof. Being a responsible citizen that cares about his/her neighbors can save lives. You don’t have to be the hero that will stop the crime by physically engaging the criminal. You can be the hero by just paying attention and reporting suspicious or criminal acts. Let’s think about it, maybe the victim wasn’t our sister or daughter, but if it was, wouldn’t we pray that someone would act if they heard her screams for help and react fast enough to save her? I’m sure we all would pray for that.
Leaving the comfort of your couch and going out to see what’s taking place can save people’s lives. Criminals don’t want to be captured and usually will flee if confronted by witnesses. Making criminal aware that someone is watching is an extremely strong deterrent to their criminal activity and makes for a much safer community.
Athena Academy Founder
As posted on Israel Security Agency website: (http://www.shabak.gov.il/english/history/affairs/pages/anne-mariemurphycase.aspx)
On Thursday, April 17, 1986, at the Heathrow International Airport in London, El Al security agents thwarted an attempt to blow up an El Al plane in mid-air. The plane, a Boeing 747, flight no. 016 on the New York – London – Tel Aviv route, was preparing to depart with 395 passengers and crew
The plan was to plant explosives in the belly of the plane; the explosives were to be transported by a duped and innocent passenger entirely unaware of their existence.
El Al security agents at the London stop uncovered the explosives and prevented the terror attack. After the discovery of the explosives, local authorities took over and arrested the passenger; later also arresting the man who sent her, a Jordanian Arab named Nizar Hindawi.
The passenger, a 32 year old Irish woman named Anne-Marie Murphy, who was six months pregnant, arrived at the check-in desk some forty minutes before it closed. She was approached and questioned by the deputy security officer as part of routine passenger security checks.
No suspicious signs were revealed during her questioning. The passenger, who gave the impression of being a simple woman, responded in the negative when asked if she had been given anything to bring to Israel. During the questioning she was calm, and revealed no sign of nervousness. In the check of her baggage, suspicious signs came to light: a Commodore scientific calculator with an electric cable was found; the bag raised suspicion due to its unexpectedly heavy weight. The security officer’s examination of the bag revealed explosives concealed in the bottom of the bag, under a double panel. He called the police, and the passenger was arrested.
Examination of the bomb by the local police revealed a detonator in the Commodore calculator coated with plastic Simtex explosives, connected to an electronic timing device which was set to activate the major explosives cache hidden inside the bag.
An examination of the timer mechanism, once it was disconnected from the explosives, revealed that the jet was intended to explode about two and a quarter hours after its takeoff for Israel, at a height of 39,000 feet, when it would have been airborne between Italy and Greece.
Hindawi’s Syrian connection
Anne-Marie Murphy’s interrogation revealed that she had met a Jordanian named Nizar Hindawi about two years earlier. He presented himself as a journalist, and a relationship developed between the two. The relationship was on and off, given that Hindawi was not permanently resident in the UK. In April 1986, when they met again, he discovered that she was in advanced stages of pregnancy as a result of their relationship. He suggested that they marry, and spend their honeymoon in Israel. He gave her a sum of money for buying clothes, acquiring a passport, and purchasing a plane ticket to Israel. He further told her that as a Jordanian, he was unable to travel together with her, but would travel to Jordan and from there he would travel by land to Israel in order to meet her at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
On the night before her flight, Hindawi arrived at her house with a large bag and helped her to pack her belongings. During the drive to the airport, she noticed that he was fumbling in her bag: later on it was revealed that this was in order to connect a battery to the Commodore computer and to attach it to the bottom of the bag, close to the principal explosives cache.
The interrogation of the terrorist Hindawi as well as other individuals arrested in the case, revealed that the Syrians were behind the plan, through members of their embassy in London. Syrian air force intelligence men brought the bag, which was later equipped with explosives, from Syria to the UK, via Syrian Airlines. These Syrians also prepared an operational infrastructure in London, including a safe apartment used for briefings, preparation and escape following the attack. Hindawi’s interrogation revealed that he had been linked with the Syrian intelligence since the 80’s, as well as with two senior officers in the security administration of the Syrian air force.
In February 1986, one of the two, Haytham Sa’id, proposed to Hindawi that he plant a bomb in an El Al jet. Hindawi received detailed instructions from Sa’id regarding how to plant the bomb. Sa’id further advised Hindawi to use a woman to plant the bomb in the jet, explaining that a woman would arouse less suspicion. Hindawi was promised $250,000 for carrying out the mission.
Hindawi decided to make use of his girlfriend, Anne-Marie, to plant the bag in the El Al plane. He proposed to her on April 7, 1986, and suggested that they hold the wedding in Israel, as well as the honeymoon. On the 16th of April, Hindawi helped his girlfriend pack her bags, in the bag he brought her specially for this purpose. The next day, he accompanied her to the airport. On the way, he activated the explosive mechanism of the bomb.
Hindawi returned to his hotel after bidding farewell to Murphy, and waited for the Syrian Airlines crew car which would take him to the airport, where he would depart for Syria. When the car arrived, one of the crew members informed him that Anne-Marie Murphy had been arrested at the airport. He instructed Hindawi to hail a taxi and to go immediately to the Syrian embassy. The man gave Hindawi a sealed envelope, and instructed him to hand it to the Syrian ambassador personally.
When the ambassador read the missive, he instructed Hindawi to travel, with two Syrians, to the safe apartment in London. Hindawi was held in the apartment until the next morning, when the two Syrians again arrived to accompany him back to the embassy. Hindawi suspected that they were about to kill him. He fled and called his brother, who called the police. Hindawi was arrested. At the time of his arrest he was in possession of a Syrian passport.
The apartment in which Hindawi had been held was that of a guard in the Syrian embassy, and the Syrians guarding him were embassy guards. The three were expelled from the UK. A British police search of the apartment revealed Hindawi’s false documents as well as official Syrian embassy documents.
The trial and the consequences
Anne-Marie Murphy was not tried. Nizar Hindawi was sentenced on October 25, 1986, to 45 years imprisonment. During the trial, his defense attorney attempted to claim that the affair was a Mossad provocation, and that the Mossad had planted the bomb in order to “uncover” it and thus gain political capital against Syria. The security officer who testified in the trial under the name Mr. A, hidden from the audience and reporters by a curtain, was forced to deny that he was a Mossad agent as well as that he himself had hidden the bomb in Anne-Marie Murphy’s belongings during the security check…
As a result of the affair, Britain cut its ties with Syria. The exposure of the explosives in London foiled the terror attack, and saved the lives of 395 passengers and crew. The Israeli prime minister at the time, Shimon Peres, later stated that if the attack had been successfully carried out, the state of Israel would have been forced to go to war with Syria as a result of the Syrian role in the attack.
A rare coincidence
This incident occurred in London less than six months after El Al’s security apparatus had been put to the test: on the 27th December, 1985, two groups of terrorists simultaneously attacked groups of El Al passengers in the Rome and Vienna airports.
The attacks were thwarted, leading to the deaths of three terrorists in Rome, and the arrest of the fourth, who was wounded. In Vienna, one terrorist was killed and two were caught. During the Vienna incident, El Al security officers and guards led a hot pursuit of the terrorists’ car, together with the local police. In the two incidents together, sixteen civilians were killed, including an El Al passenger, and 120 were wounded, including 7 El Al employees, 4 deputy security officers, and one security guard.
It turned out that the “Abu Nidal” organization was behind the planning and execution of the two attacks; and furthermore, the terrorists departed from Damascus, the “Abu Nidal” faction headquarters, for both Rome and Vienna. There was a rare and coincidental connection between these two incidents and the London incident: the security officer of the London flight was involved in the Vienna incident as well, where he had been serving as a backup security officer at the local El Al station.
These two incidents reflect some degree of the great complexity in the field of security, and the high level of expertise required to provide a response to a variety of threats: the preparedness and the quick reactions needed for an immediate response to an attack initiated by the opponent; as well as the “mind war” between the security apparatus and the terrorist organizations eager to find gaps in security which can be used to infiltrate explosive devices to explode planes in midair, even with the unwitting aid of duped passengers.
An examination of the timer mechanism, once it was disconnected from the explosives, revealed that the jet was intended to explode about two and a quarter hours after its takeoff for Israel, at a height of 39,000 feet”