Not all negotiators are equal with their abilities and skills. There are several mistakes that hostage negotiators can make during a crisis or hostage negotiation. One of the biggest mistakes hostage and crisis negotiators make is rushing the negation process and moving entirely too fast Sebenius 2001. Time is said to be a negotiator's greatest ally during crisis or hostage negotiation. Time is also one of the most crucial tools for negotiators during negotiations of crisis and hostage situations Fuselier 1981. In a crisis situation the individual in crisis is not able to communicate and explain their story when the negotiation is being rushed. When a crisis or hostage negotiation process is slowed down it allows the individual in crisis to calm down Sebenius 2001. This is important because crisis and hostage negotiations are stressful. The individual in crisis is emotional angry stressed and mentally unstable. If the negotiation process is done at a slower pace the individual in crisis can speak and express what they are thinking and feeling and this information assists the crisis negotiator in having a negotiation that is more cognitively based instead of a negotiation that is being controlled by emotions McMains Mullins 2014.
One of the most efficient ways of slowing down the negotiation process is by using the most important skill a hostage negotiator has which is active listening. When a negotiator is actively listening it allows the individual in crisis to speak openly and tell the negotiator what caused the crisis situation. When the negotiator is listening actively the individual in crisis has his emotions and narrative validated and acknowledged. Once the individual in crisis sees that what he or she is saying is being acknowledged a new line of communication can be constructed Bazerman Curhan Moore Valley 2000. Trust and a rapport with the individual in crisis is also built when the negotiation process is slowed down. This is essential because trust and rapport with the individual in crisis will create a much-needed atmosphere that allows the individual in crisis to work well with the negotiator in discussing options that will allow the crisis situation to resolved in a peaceful manner. Another reason slowing down the negotiation process is important is because it allows the negotiation team to review all vital information that will allow them to figure out the reasons the individual in crisis is in his current position Sebenius 2001. When a negotiator moves to quickly during negotiations it prevents trust and rapport from being built between the individual in crisis and the negotiator It also prevents the ability to maintain escalating emotions and it decreases the possibility of a peaceful end to the crisis situation Bazerman Curhan Moore Valley 2000. The results of moving too fast in crisis negotiations can have consequences that are dire It can cause injuries that can be serious and sometimes even fatal Fuselier 1981.
It may seem that expediting negotiations would be the best idea but research has shown that the opposite is true. Maintaining a slow process during a negotiation builds trust, calms the emotions of the individual in crisis and allows a rapport to be built. These contribute to a greater likelihood that a negotiation can and will be resolved in a peaceful manner without anyone being injured or killed McMains Mullins 2014. The second biggest mistake a hostage negotiator can make is not using their active listening skills which reiterates some of the above-mentioned things that are necessary to have a successful negotiation. Active listening skills are easily one of the most important skills a hostage negotiator must-have. Active listening is considered an approach to listening that allows a negotiator to listen in a way that allows him to improve their understanding gain pertinent information and understand the point of view of the individual in crisis Rogan Hammer Van Zandt 1997. Active listening encourages the individual in crisis to keep talking and shows him that the negotiator is paying attention to everything that is being said Active listening also shows that the negotiator is attentive and has an interest in what the individual in crisis has to say. These things allow the negotiator and individual in crisis to build trust and a rapport Bazerman Curhan Moore Valley 2000. If a negotiator does not use active listening skills this can make the individual in crisis feel that no one cares about what he is saying and if he has hostages or is suicidal, if his emotions further intensify he can then kill the hostages or himself. This needs to be avoided at all costs.
The third biggest mistake a hostage negotiator can make when dealing with an individual in crisis is not utilizing the help of mental health professionals. A mental health professional can provide assistance that is extremely valuable during a hostage negotiation. A mental health professional can monitor the negotiation and assess if the individual in crisis is at risk for committing suicide Bazerman Curhan Moore Valley 2000. A mental health professional can also assist with gathering intelligence about the individual in crisis and interview relatives and witnesses. This information can give the mental health professional insight as to what mental illnesses the individual in crisis may have and knowing this information can help the negotiator to negotiate in the most efficient way. A mental health professional will always be able to detect if the individual in crisis has shifts in their mood or stress levels Rogan Hammer Van Zandt 1997. The emphasis of this important activity is on facilitating communication between the negotiator and the subject The consultant also monitors the nature of the relationship between the negotiator and the subject Rogan Hammer Van Zandt 1997. The affective reaction of the individual toward the negotiator is extremely important and can often be utilized to direct the negotiations toward a successful outcome. If stress is not managed efficiently then the crisis situation can become destabilized. Stress can also cause the individual in crisis to do unpredictable things that will complicate a negotiation and this needs to be avoided McMains Mullins 2014 References Bazerman M H Curhan J R Moore D A Valley K L 2000. Negotiation Annual review of psychology 51 1 279 314 Fuselier G W 1981. A practical overview of hostage negotiations Conclusion FBI L Enforcement Bull 50 10 McMains M J Mullins W C 2014. Crisis negotiations Managing critical incidents and hostage situations in law enforcement and corrections Routledge Rogan R G Hammer M R Van Zandt C R Eds 1997. Dynamic processes of crisis negotiation. Theory research and practice ABC CLIO Sebenius J K 2001 Six habits of merely effective negotiators Harvard Business Review 79 4 87 97.