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Here we go. Teachers, security specialists, resource officers, and even parents. Let me suggest that you unleash the Five Step Hard Style on those pesky and sometimes dangerous Disruptive Students and I can guarantee with confidence – if, of course, you use this neat little cluster of Verbal Judo techniques with the right attitude, tone, and intent (see the previous 5 posts entitled Defuse Anyone. Anytime. Anywhere).

Why the 5-Step? Simple. Because it is specifically designed to influence Difficult People to comply. Okay. Kind of a vague and over-generalized claim that proves nothing. Maybe this will help.

I am a frigging Difficult Person. Does not make me a bad person. As George Thompson, the founder of Verbal Judo, says: It was Difficult People – people who would not take “no” for an answer; people who always asked “why?” when told something – who founded and won over this country. And, like most Difficult People, I am “psychologically, philosophically, physically, and attitudinally incapable of doing what I am told to do, at least the first or second time I am told!” Hell, I was at a Yankee game this week and someone in our group told our group to stand up and cheer and I sat there with my arms crossed!

And the fact is, the great majority of Disruptive Students are Difficult People. Think of them as inherently incapable of doing what they are told to do, adopt the 5-Step, and, trust me, you will be able to handle almost every one of them.

And here is a neat bonus. The 5th Step requires Action. Meaning, any student who refuses to comply by the 5th step has been advised of the consequences of his or her actions and any action you take can easily be justified at any administrative hearing.


  1. ASK INSTEAD OF COMMAND. Research and experience has proven to me that about 96% of all Difficult People will comply, if they are asked instead of commanded to do something
  2. EXPLAIN (SET CONTEXT). A student who is asked to do something and refuses will often comply if the authority figure explains why they are being asked to do something. Remember: Difficult People like to ask why and they bristle when told that the reason is “because I told you so—“  If you ask and explain, 97-98% of Difficult People WILL comply!
  3. GIVE THE STUDENT OPTIONS. Every Difficult Person or Disruptive Student likes to think he or she is the one choosing to do something. And, actually, Verbal Judo is influencing the person to do something you want him/her to do and having the person believe it was his/her idea in the first place. “Look, Sam, you have some real good options here is a terrific way to get a student’s attention)—“ My experience and VJ’s research reveals that we are up to about 98-99% of Difficult People will have complied at this point.
  4. CONFIRM. By this point we are in pretty good shape. Nine out of 10 of our Disruptive Students have complied and we only have one out of the original 10 still defying us. Before we take action, though, we need to confirm for the record that there is nothing we can do or say that will get this kid to cooperate. We can do this by way of the Confirmation Statement: “Jon, is there anything I can say or do to get you to go along with the program today? I really hope there is.” Is the ideal way to make this statement. In some cases, when an officer used this statement, the Bad Guy has even laughed, dropped his staunch defenses, and went along with the dealio.

But, like I said earlier, if the Bad Guy continues to defy the security team or the teacher, everyone knew it was time for Step 5.

  1. ACTION. This is when the teacher, parent or officer would move in and do whatever protocol called for. If there would be any legal repercussions, the authority figure would be able to say that the student had every opportunity to comply, but refused. He or she gave you no choice.

Until Next Time, Stay Safe.


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