Conflicts and crises, though sometimes inevitable, do not have to splinter a workplace team. Learn how to handle communication hurdles and build a more solid group in the Verbal Defense and Influence class at the Gulf Coast Safety Institute March 26-28.

This nationally recognized course, first launched at the Gulf Coast Safety Institute in a one-day format last fall to rave reviews, demonstrates how to effectively communicate in stressful situations and how to resolve conflict.

Participants will discover how to build cooperation and collaboration, improve customer service skills, enhance professionalism and lower workplace stress levels. Activities, stories and interactive exercises will demonstrate how to prevent interpersonal conflict, de-escalate violence and defuse confrontations.

The skills developed in this course are vital for any professional interacting with customers, the media, co-workers or individuals in leadership positions. Created and delivered by the Vistelar Group, the training is an essential addition to any organization’s risk-management efforts (e.g., diversity, ethics or conflict-resolution training).

"Verbal Defense and Influence is not just flavor-of-the-month training. It is a valuable life skill and tool to help you remain in control of yourself as you deal with some of the most stressful encounters you will ever have with other people,” said safety coordinator at Aramco Services Co. Mark Ritter, who attended the one-day session last fall. “The skills really help me as a safety professional in dealing with the push-back that we safety guys get from time to time. The Verbal Defense and Influence 5-Step hard style works every time and gives me an audit trail that cannot be denied when I am forced to take corrective actions."

Training benefits spill over into employees’ personal lives as well as they learn to address verbal abuse and harassment, maintain their emotional safety in dealing with others and even help their children manage bullying – all resulting in their enhanced productivity during work hours.

Teaching the class is Peter Harrell Jr., president of Harrell Communications and a certified National Trainer in Verbal Defense and Influence. Harrell’s engaging, dynamic style of facilitating has both entertained and given audiences a valuable educational experience. Retired from a 20-year career with the state of Texas, Harrell excelled as an executive management trainer where he created, implemented and delivered leadership training for executive managers and supervisors. Additionally, Harrell maintains a 35-year acting career with roles in 50 national and regional commercials, 25 movies, 20 theatrical productions and more than 40 roles in television.

The cost of the class is $350 for COM in-district students and $355 for out-of-district students.

To register, contact the COM Continuing Education Department at 409-933-8586.

The Gulf Coast Safety Institute is located at College of the Mainland. Established in 2007, the institute focuses on providing safety and health education, training and outreach. For more information on the institute, contact Cindy Lewis, director, at 409-933-8495 or or visit