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Critical Thinking Skills for Security Guards


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Overview of thinking skills for security guards

The capacity to evaluate a more comprehensive picture and draw conclusions is referred to as critical thinking. These traits are necessary if you want to examine security threats at work and make decisions based on logic rather than feelings. You can come up with timely decisiveness by using critical thinking. For instance, you usually make better decisions if you can swiftly assess behaviors and establish a potential security threat. You can choose patrol routes and locations and implement the best emergency response strategy using your critical thinking abilities.

Every day, security professionals responding to changing risks make choices based on lack of knowledge, incomplete information, and limited resources, as the case may be. It is, therefore, not surprising that Security Officers need effective decision-making, communication, and critical thinking as essentials for success in their professions.

Critical thinking: What is it?

Analyzing matters on the ground to thoroughly and cautiously address a topic the problem is the act of critical thinking. Having an eagle eye for events around your workplace, posing deliberate queries, and considering potential answers are all steps in the critical thinking process. For instance, if a security officer would have to settle a dispute between a staff member and a customer, utilizing critical thinking to determine the nature of the conflict and take the appropriate course of action.

Why are thinking skills essential for a security officer?

A security officer must have a sense of sound judgment and top-notch problem-solving skills, hence the need for critical thinking abilities to operate professionally and prevent matters from escalating. Imbibing thinking skills can immensely help the security officer with every problem that has to do with the organization's security. Employers of labor value and seek out officers that have high critical thinking abilities because of this.

Essential Critical thinking skills for security professionals

These are five critical thinking abilities that you can develop to assess challenging security issues, prepare for the unexpected, and avert costly errors.

·       Question your underlying assumptions

Use a systematic attempt to enumerate and question the core assumptions or mental model that guide how you interpret the data or your reasoning. Highlight your working assumptions and then evaluate each one to see if it is:

1 - Sound (meaning that's how resources will be committed).

2 - Needs qualifications (meaning it might be true in most cases but not all).

3 - Lacks evidence (talking about your significant uncertainties).

As you get more knowledge or the situation changes, you modify the list and decide if your main uncertainties should be turned into collection demands or research subjects.

·       Look for inconsistent data

The core of the scientific method (critical thinking) is to look for conflicting evidence and understand that you do not need to be a scientist conducting a controlled study to use it. Suppose you think the problem you have at hand looks puzzling. In that case, you can compare each side of the story to determine which information is disconfirming and how substantial it is in challenging conventional wisdom. Your brain will innately try to fit different pieces of data into a narrative or lead to assumptions as it concerns your workplace security. Critical thinking can save you a lot of time when sorting through complex possible options and numerous pieces of data. Suppose you have some information at odds with one of the hypotheses, such as a strong alibi. In that case, you can quickly rule that possibility out and turn your focus to additional information.

·       Observation skill

Critical thinking begins with the ability to observe. A new issue can be promptly sensed and recognized by a security officer. Those adept at observing can also discern the potential causes of problems. Based on their prior experiences, they might even be able to anticipate when a problem might arise before it does. You can improve your observational skills by slowing down how quickly you receive information and paying more attention to your environment. To carefully consider what you're hearing or seeing, you may use mindfulness skills, journaling, or active listening inside and outside the workplace. Then, consider whether you see any patterns in behavior, transactions, or data that you and your team could find helpful to address and prevent security threats.

·       Analysis

Analytical abilities become crucial once an issue has been discovered. Knowing which facts, data, or information are essential in analyzing and evaluating a situation is a prerequisite that every security guard must have. Analyzing frequently entails compiling unbiased research, checking the accuracy of the information with pertinent inquiries, and impartially evaluating the accounts of the parties involved. By accepting new challenges, you can develop your analytical abilities. To challenge yourself to think creatively and critically, you may, for instance, read a book about a subject you don't understand or enroll in an online math course. By doing this, you can develop the ability to understand new information and come to informed conclusions.

·       Inference

Drawing speculation from the information you gather entails the skill of inference, which may call for technical or security-specific training or expertise. Making an inference denotes establishing conclusions based on scant knowledge. For instance, with the information, a security officer may have to wrap his head around the real cause of the issue between the staff and the customer. Focus on making reasonable assumptions rather than jumping to conclusions to develop your inference skills. This calls for taking time to search for and consider as many hints as possible thoroughly. Things such as complaints or reports could aid in evaluating a situation.


·       Take into account alternate theories

Our brains are incredible machines that can "make sense" of situations based on limited information. Failing to take into account missing information and possible alternatives can send us down the wrong path, from which our inherent biases will prevent us from turning back. As a result of our deeply ingrained attitudes, we only see one possible outcome. Alternative explanations are simple to come up with by:

-Stating your primary hypothesis (or informed guess) and coming up with alternatives that cover the entire spectrum of possibilities, from the most improbable to the most likely,

-Using a framing framework similar to the journalist's "Who," "What," "How," "When," "Where," and "Why," break down your central hypothesis into its constituent parts, examine each critical aspect, and suggest potential combinations for consideration.

-Demonstrating the reverse of your lead hypothesis as a null hypothesis: something Must be or is not (i.e., guilty or not guilty). The NOT hypothesis is a catch-all for data that initially appear abnormal but eventually become more diagnostic.

·       Pay attention to detail

Security professionals are taught to pay attention to many elements of their work. In unusual locations where open access is either regular or seldom, staff checking for public activities may detect trash, smoking butts, and empty bottles. Security is looking for a customer behaving unusually. Behaviors include being irrational, anxious, sweating profusely, persistently observing staff or authority figures instead of going about their job, or continually visiting the same spot. Additionally, they are searching for modifications to the property, such as opened or relocated gates, unsecured windows or doors, new cars, and unattended luggage or deliveries.

·       Detecting prejudices

The most intelligent people struggle with this skill since biases can go undetected. So, security officers must be strong critical thinkers. They must make an effort to assess information objectively. They consider themselves a judge who wants to evaluate the arguments made by each side of an argument while also considering any biases the party may have. Learning how to put aside personal biases that may skew your judgment is as important—and arguably more challenging. Detecting prejudice is crucial to understanding how to view things from many perspectives.

·       Choosing relevance

Finding the most crucial information for your attention when faced with a difficult situation is one of the hardest critical components of thinking critically. In many cases, you'll be given information that can appear significant. It might just be a small piece of knowledge, but it might be substantial. Setting a clear direction for what you're attempting to understand will help you improve your ability to judge relevance. Are you expected to come up with a solution? Should you be looking for trends? When you choose your ultimate objective, you can utilize that information to help you decide what is essential. Finding pertinent material might be challenging even when there is a precise aim. Making a concrete list of data items and ranking them according to importance is one way to combat this. When you break it down this way, you'll probably come up with a list with some vital information at the top and some at the bottom that you can probably ignore. From there, you can concentrate on the issues in the center of your list that are less distinct for additional analysis.

·       Research

Independent research skills are essential when comparing viewpoints on a subject. The facts and data used to support an argument may be out of context or derived from dubious sources because statements are supposed to persuade. The best defense against this is verifiable proof; track down the information's source and assess it. Having a keen eye for unverified statements can be helpful. Does the individual making the argument provide their source for the data? If you ask or look for it yourself and there isn't a straightforward response, that should be a warning sign. It's crucial to understand that not all findings are reliable, so take the time to research the differences.

·       Understand the context

Here's another critical thinking skill a security officer should possess, possibly the most important. It involves learning to pause and consider the overall situation. Putting yourself in the position of your customers, coworkers, and clients will help you learn how to "think beyond your pay" sooner. What do they require of me, you should consider. "How can I frame the problem to help?" Moreover, "Do I need to frame their inquiries in a wider context?" Simple framing approaches can help you, and your colleagues get and stay in sync, make coordinating as simple as possible, and prevent the need to reframe initiatives after they are well underway.

·       Determine major drivers

Understanding the factors at work in a security scenario can help you foresee the future and lessen the likelihood that you will be entirely caught off guard. The range of potential outcomes can be captured by altering the weights of these significant drivers to produce plausible alternative scenarios. Observable and collectible, genuine, dependable, steady, and unique indicators can monitor which plan is taking shape. Uniqueness should be a goal, despite being challenging to achieve.

·       Benefits of critical thinking in security

You can cope with the complete spectrum of security issues with these critical thinking skills, from insider and cyber threats to safeguarding sensitive installations. If you structure projects, avoid analytical pitfalls, encourage creative solutions, and present persuasive justifications for countermeasure enhancements, you may work more effectively, make better decisions, and be more prepared for the worst.

Conclusively, you can understand and respond to events using all the facts and information available if you can think critically as a security professional. Critical thinking at work typically entails digesting and arranging facts, statistics, and other information to define an issue and create workable answers.

Think about the above-mentioned critical thinking abilities, and start working on them.

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Effective Techniques to Improve Observation Skills for Security Guards

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Security guards must possess strong skills that will help boost their productivity, grow their expertise, and help them handle situations more efficiently. There are several fundamental skills that every security guard needs:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Organization
  • Critical Thinking
  • Observation

You must understand why these skills are so crucial and how you can aid their development to become a much better guard. We dive deep into this article with the emphasis placed on observational skills.


Observation is the article's primary aim because this is one of the essential skills that any security guard should have. Observation and surveillance work together to form a fundamental building block of a security program. Some of the situations you would employ this skill include:

  • In the examination of any activities from the camera monitoring rooms. 
  • The monitoring of any activities from the office building's front desk. 
  • Watching for any questionable activities, especially at night.
  • Monitoring the behavior of individuals in event venues, especially when in crowds.

Observation requires you to pay keen attention to detail so you can notice any activity in the area you guard, no matter how small. Practical observation will make it much easier for you to see any potentially dangerous situation before it even swings into action.

Boosting Your Observation Skills

A security guard's observation skills can be their most potent attribute in detecting and deterring any potential dangers or risks in the area they're guarding. Surveying and observing any unusual occurrences that could threaten the security and safety of people and property in the area is an essential skill for any security guard.

When you are on duty, you need to engage all your senses to make detecting security hazards and risks much easier and quicker. Four of these five senses are a vital part of your surveillance skills. The senses include:

  1. Sight: Using your eyes to watch unusual activities through visual perception.
  2. Hearing: Using your ears to listen to unusual sounds in the area.
  3. Smell: Using the nose to detect abnormal fragrances or odors in the environment.
  4. Touch: Using the skin to feel surfaces, people, and packages and identifying potential risks or hazards.
  5. Taste: Rarely used.

What Do You Need To Observe?

You should observe and note specific details as a security guard. These include:

  • Movement: This is possibly the most vital detail to watch because it can help you detect the possible intent of people and objects.
  • Silhouette: Identifiable or familiar figures can easily be spotted in the area you're guarding, so you should watch out for the unfamiliar ones.
  • Spacing: You should also watch out for any space between the object and the environment you guard.
  • Surfaces: Watch out for surfaces, and keep note of the contrasts and textures of any surfaces in the area.
  • Shadows: It is also essential to keep an eye on shadows, especially at night.
  • Shapes: Watch for irregular shapes and detect any objects by their profile.

As a security guard, it is also crucial that you can remember things in detail. You can practice and train to help in developing this skill. Ensure you involve every single piece of information involved in the story in detail. 

Exercise Your Memory Muscle

One key factor in practical observation is to possess strong memory skills. Memorizing the normal condition makes it easier to observe and identify an abnormal state. To improve your memory skills, you first must understand how memory works. The human memory comprises three parts: the sensory register, short-term memory, and long-term memory. 

  • The sensory register is where information is first stored. The initial processing of information occurs when you see, hear, smell, taste, or touch something. 
  • Short-term memory is what you use to remember information for a short period. It can hold about seven pieces of information for about 20 seconds. 
  • Long-term memory is where information is stored for a more extended time. It can hold an unlimited amount of information.

You can improve your memory skills by using different techniques to improve your observation skills. One method is called chunking. Chunking involves breaking down information into smaller pieces and then putting it back together again, focusing on one piece at a time. Practice makes perfect; the more someone practices recalling information, the better they will become at doing so. Finally, staying mentally active and engaged helps keep the mind sharp and improves memory skills.

Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is the perception of environmental elements and events regarding time or space, comprehending their meaning, and predicting their future status. In its most basic form, situational awareness is understanding what is occurring within the environment, the people, time, vehicles, and the potential threat those variables pose. 

The Three Stages of Situational Awareness

  • Perception: Knowledge of the familiar sources of information available. 
  • Comprehension: Be able to extract the information from the collected information. 
  • Anticipation: Have the ability to anticipate how an incident will develop and evolve.

It is crucial for security guards to have proper situational awareness. Advanced situational awareness training aims to improve an individual's ability to predict potential threats and act accordingly. Situational awareness is more of a mindset than a skill. Ignorance of potential danger makes it unlikely that you will see the threat.

The Cooper Color Code 

The United States Marine Jeff Cooper developed the four levels of alertness and focused on a correct combat mindset. 

White - Unaware and unprepared to take action. 

Most people spend much of their lives in this state of mind. If attacked in condition white, the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy of your attacker—if suddenly confronted. In contrast, your immediate reactions to this condition will probably be surprise and denial.

Yellow – Prepared, alert and relaxed.

The individual watches their surroundings in the Yellow stage and constantly assesses their situation. It's not that they cannot trust their surroundings, but the individual tends to be more vigilant.

Orange – Alert to probable danger and ready to take action.

A threat has been identified, and a solution is being formed. Orange has a severe drawback that the Yellow mentality does not. When determining the danger, the individual goes into a state of tunnel vision where they focus on the threat. This tunnel vision completely obscures any possible secondary threats from the individual's mind. In that lies its shortcoming; it would also be insanely exhausting to attempt an Orange state of awareness at all times.

Red – Action mode, focused on the emergency at hand.

A plan has been formed, a decision has been made, and the individual is dealing with the threat. This state is primal brain activity well within the flight or fight response. Adrenaline is in full swing, and individuals carry out incredible feats despite extraordinary circumstances. Red is where human beings carry out lethal action.

Black – Panic, and breakdown of physical and mental performance.

Another stage was added later, Black, defined as a complete shut down of the brain due to a system overload due to an excessively elevated heart rate or mental stimulus. A person in the Black cannot function in any fashion.

Documenting Observations

Noting any observations you make is very important. It allows you to quickly and easily recollect any vital thing you have noticed. When recording your observations, ensure you only put facts and methodically order them. Do not reflect any assumptions in your notes, so anyone that reads them will get access to only the facts. Avoid any assumptions in your notes because it can lead to a bias. 

A fact is a detail that can be proven to have happened. In contrast, an assumption is interpreting a situation without specific proof. 

As a security guard, you often need to record details of people and vehicles in the area you're guarding for incident reporting and investigation. There are several different methods to capture the valuable information you get about people and vehicles. 

Recording Details About People

A quick and efficient method that you can use for recording details about people is the A to H method. You can do this in your security method, and it implies writing down these qualities about the people you notice:

  1. Age (child, teenager, adult, senior citizen, etc.)
  2. Build (either muscular, thin, fat, etc.)
  3. Cloth (the outfit they wear, especially if there is anything unique about it)
  4. Definitive features (scars, tattoos, piercings, etc.)
  5. Elevation (the individual's height)
  6. Face (shape of the face as well as facial features)
  7. Gait (the way they walk, especially if they have a limp or unique movement)
  8. Hair (this includes length, color, etc.)

Recording Details About Vehicles

There is a technique known as the "SCRIM" format to record details about vehicles, and it is easy for you to note important information about the vehicle. SCRIM stands for

  • S. Shape (the type of vehicle, whether a truck, SUV, sedan, etc.)
  • C. Color (the vehicle's color)
  • R. Registration (plate number, expiration month and year, State, and County)
  • I. Identity features (any unique features on the car like upgraded parts, a smoking exhaust, dents, scratches, etc.)
  • M. Make and model of the vehicle

Observation is more than simply paying attention to details you already have an answer to; it also entails:

  • Interacting with your environment through mindful observation.
  • Actively observing details.
  • Using logic and imagination to envision possible consequences. 

Having good observational skills is more than just seeing or noticing something. You must also understand what you have witnessed and know how to record it efficiently. The observation you acquire from the environment you're guarding can be the key to ensuring its security. You always need to know what is happening in the surrounding areas. Any important observations you witness should be recorded in your security notebook, so you always have a record. Boost your observational skills with these tips, and you will become a better guardian of people and property.

Alliance Training & Testing

(615) 669-3121
315 Deaderick St. #125 
Nashville, TN 37238
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Effective Security Guard Attributes



Effective Security Guard Attributes

It's tough to be a security guard. You have to keep your eyes and ears open — you can't let anything get past you. Security guards are the first line of defense for many businesses, government agencies, schools, and they're an invaluable part of our society.

There are many qualities that all security officers should possess in order to be successful at their jobs. The purpose of this article is to examine the qualities that one should be able to demonstrate as a security officer. To begin, I will go over some of the roles and responsibilities.
What are the duties and responsibilities of a security officer?

Inspect and patrol premises regularly

The job of a security officer is to inspect and patrol premises regularly to maintain order and prevent fire, theft, vandalism, terrorism, and illegal activity.

Provide assistance to people in need

Also, security officers offer assistance to people in need. There is a necessity to be friendly and approachable so that a security guard can help people who feel in danger or lost.

Monitor property entrance

Ensure the safety of the property that you are hired to guard as a security officer. Various security measures can be taken, ranging from monitoring traffic and vehicles to preventing theft and vandalism. If you work in a mall, your role will be to ensure the safety of shoppers. If you work in a warehouse, you will be tasked with preventing theft and vandalism.

Authorize entrance of people and vehicles

One of your responsibilities as a security guard or officer is to control access to a building or other secure area. Typically, this involves verifying identification, approving permissions, and authorizing vehicle and person entry. 
It may also be necessary to conduct searches or screen people with metal detectors to prevent the entry of weapons and other contraband. 

Secure all exits, doors, and windows

A security guard is responsible for providing security to a property, premises, or event. As well as responding to fires, thefts, and violent acts, security officers may also respond to other incidents that occur. It is important to keep an eye out for suspicious activity in the area and report any suspicious activity. Besides escorting, they can also patrol the premises.

Submit reports of daily surveillance activity

Keeping accurate records of events and incidents is essential, as is reporting any concerns to their supervisor. Security officers might be required to work overtime, including holidays and weekends. Keep an eye on surveillance equipment and check for any suspicious activity. 

Respond to alarms and react in a timely manner

When anything occurs that requires immediate attention, such as an accident or someone getting hurt, you need to seek help as soon as possible. You can contact 911 or local authorities, such as the police, who will handle the situation. Creating reports that summarize information about suspicious activity or security violations would also be part of your role.

Characteristics of an Effective Security Officer

Assessing your personality traits is the first step to becoming a security officer. Identify your strengths. Do you have good organizational skills? Do others describe you as friendly or outgoing? Do you pay attention to details? Is working with people something you enjoy? Other than these personality traits you need to have the following characteristics:


Confidence is a key factor that people look for when they hire someone. Before anyone else believes in you, you must believe in yourself. Make sure your resume highlights your accomplishments and demonstrates your skills when applying for a position as a security officer. 


In order to be able to protect people and property, a security officer must be trustworthy. A security guard's integrity is one of their most valuable characteristics.

Integrity means doing what is right even in the presence of no one. Even if it's easy, it's never wise to exploit a situation or use your position for a crime.

Respect for everyone, including colleagues and clients, is a characteristic of an integrity-driven security guard. They will also admit to any mistakes they make so that they can learn from them and avoid them in the future.

Integrity enables security guards to provide their customers with excellent customer service at all times!

Great Communication Skills:

For a security officer, communication is equally important. Talking isn't enough, you need to listen carefully and respond appropriately. It is important to understand what people are trying to tell you and to make sure they comprehend what you are saying.

Steady Under Stress:

The most important thing is to maintain a calm demeanor. You may meet people with all kinds of temperaments and circumstances, so you have to remain calm, cool, and collected. It's your job to keep things under control regardless of the situation.

A security officer must be good at resolving conflicts in order to be effective. Security guards must be skilled at using words, language, tone, and demeanor to diffuse a potentially dangerous or volatile situation

Highly Alert and Observant Skills:

As well as being able to handle the unexpected, they must also be flexible. When confronted with a new situation, they must determine the right course of action without hesitation-even if they haven't faced it before. During stressful situations, this requires quick thinking and good decision-making skills.

Strong Interpersonal Skills:

An effective security guard must be able to interact with others in a friendly and respectful manner. The ability to calm down potentially violent individuals and resolve the situation peacefully is especially important when dealing with disruptive people.


Being late or otherwise unreliable will reflect poorly on security guards' employers in the eyes of clients, so guards should always be ready to go to work when they are scheduled to work. Furthermore, having reliable security guards means employers will not need to worry if they fail to show up for their shifts unexpectedly.

Qualities Every Security Officer Should Have

1. Be a Team Player

The duty of being a security guard does not mean that you are on your own and that you are instead part of a security team. To ensure that everyone stays safe, it is necessary for you to work closely with other guards and supervisors. When working for a security company, a great security guard always works well with his or her team, communicating continuously and offering assistance whenever needed.

2. Always be Punctual

It is important that you arrive on time for all of your shifts, whether you are going to your supervisor's appointment or monitoring the security cameras. By showing up on time each day, you are demonstrating to your supervisor that you are committed to your job as a security officer.

3. Maintain Professionalism

Even in the most stressful situations, staying calm is imperative to a security officer. Be professional at all times, whether it is with customers or with other employees. People who look to you for assistance will trust and respect you if you maintain professionalism at all times.

4. Always Keep Learning

You have the responsibility to recognize threats and protect your employer as a security officer. These days, there are so many ways for people to commit crimes that this can be a big challenge. Learning about new threats and evolving technologies can help you anticipate problems before they occur, so it's important to take the time to keep up with everything.

Keeping up with laws, technologies, and techniques in the field isn't enough if you only know how to do your job well. Also keep up to date on industry developments and best practices.

When you get home from work, you should read up on specific topics (like how to use a new piece of equipment). In fact, you might even benefit from talking with others in the field to learn what they're doing and what lessons they've learned!

5. Be Honest

For security officers, honesty is essential as they often have access to sensitive information about people and businesses. This information must be treated with the utmost care so that it's not misused in any way.

6. Stay Calm

During your career as a security officer, you will encounter a variety of stressful and tense situations-but it's crucial that you remain calm to prevent the situation from escalating. It's important to keep in mind that this ability is not only important for your own well-being, but also for others around you.

7. Able to Take Charge

When it comes to emergencies, security officers are the first responders. To become an effective leader, you need to be able to take charge of the situation when it's needed most. The situation at your place of business must be assessed as quickly as possible in order for you to be able to decide how to deal with it.

8. Able to Make Quick Decisions Under Pressure

Guards must also be able to make quick decisions when there is a lot of pressure on them. You may feel as if the world is standing still and that everything around you is moving at a slow pace when you are in an emergency situation. Especially in these kinds of situations, it is crucial to have someone who is able to make an informed decision without hesitation or second-guessing themselves—this might mean the difference between life and death!

9. Detail Oriented

Last but not least, security guards need to be detail-oriented. Keeping an eye not only on what's going on around you, but also on what people are saying will ensure that you recognize potential threats in time to prevent them from becoming serious problems.


As a security guard, you should do some research and consult with people who have experience in the field. In this line of work, mentors and coaches can offer advice on how to succeed. Don't think you know everything, but remain confident in your abilities, skills, and knowledge. Always treat others respectfully. You will find it easier to cope with difficult situations if you are able to gain trust from those around you. When it comes to security, things happen, but being prepared and knowing what to do makes all the difference.

Alliance Training & Testing

(615) 669-3121
315 Deaderick St. #125 
Nashville, TN 37238
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