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Let me explore briefly some of the topics that stand out for me as a negotiator without any claim to expert knowledge in the specialty of hostage and crisis negotiation. I was particularly interested in the author’s exploration of communications, one of the many clearly-shared common elements in the field of negotiation. Dr. Greenstone presents excellent advice that would benefit any negotiator. I will touch one of many examples.
Citing Dr. Edward S. Rosenbluh’s 1986 work on distortion in communication during crisis intervention, the author focuses the negotiator on one of the significant truths about negotiation in general. Distortion can occur as a result of what a person “means to say;” “actually says;” and the other party may “believe” they heard. We are obviously on firm ground with this early observation and many other key areas of critical importance to true communication are noted as the author proceeds.
Among skills elements explored are methods of clarifying messages, eliciting information, and even dealing “effectively” with silence. There is also a listing of active listening techniques as well as review of many non-verbal signals and their meanings. All of it is first-rate.
Although there is much here of value to any negotiator, including a brief listing of what to do if one is held hostage, this is a book for the specialist. It provides methods to determine whether incidents are either a hostage or a crisis events, advice on using translators in negotiation, steps in a surrender plan, lists of dos and don’ts in negotiations, tips on using time to advantage and alerts and sage counsel about the seemingly endless array of negotiation choices and phases that the negotiator may face in the field. It is an astonishing guide to the field of which the author should be proud and the reader thankful.
Law enforcement negotiators will find worksheets ranging from Violence Risk Analysis through Intelligence Report to Debriefing Sheets. This is a comprehensive and useful work by an outstanding expert in the field.
The book includes an extensive Bibliography.
John Baker, Ph.D.
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