The Secrets of Hostage Negotiators | Scott Tillema | TEDxNaperville

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[Music] we live in a world filled with people in crisis pick any issue and it's one angry person versus another it seems like it's becoming difficult to have a thoughtful conversation with anyone who has beliefs different from our own simple disagreements turn into heated arguments between two outraged people that often end up and shouting or even violence and it's not just people now it's groups and organizations political parties or even entire countries this failure to effectively communicate leaves us wondering how can we fix it or could we prevent it I'm a police officer and I have some training and experience in crisis and hostage negotiation I've been part of some pretty complex incidents that required a positive resolution now I'm not naturally a great communicator this was a skill that I needed to learn but really we all need to learn the basics of crisis negotiation because whether it be in your work or your relationships you're always going to be having an argument or a conversation or a negotiation trying to convince someone of something and just because we communicate all the time doesn't mean that we're any good at it I realize that some of you may have some training in business negotiation and that's important but police officers deal with people in crisis and that adds a whole new layer of emotional complexity to any situation this a straight business negotiation may not work in a hostage negotiation because I can't negotiate for three or four hostages and offer to leave one or two behind and think I'm still getting a pretty good deal and in crisis negotiation it's not like dealing down the price of a car I can't threaten to walk out on the negotiation if I have someone in front of me who's suicidal and may need my help so I'd like to share with you four important principles of crisis and hostage negotiation these are techniques that will lead you to greater success in your work and in your relationships concepts that can be learned by anyone and applied in any situation seek first to understand when was the last time you had an argument or a negotiation with someone and right from the start you knew exactly what the other person wanted it doesn't happen very often one key to a successful negotiation is to slow things down and learn what the other side wants in fact we teach our negotiators we don't even engage with someone until we first try to identify the situation we're getting ourselves into our whole model of negotiation is based on seeking first to understand because information that I gained before and throughout the negotiation is going to be critical to my success and this is no different than any negotiation or argument that you might find ourselves in I enjoy sports so let me ask you a sports question how many points is a field goal worth I hear three you might be thinking three and that sounds like it could be right but if someone's life depended on it would you be certain that that was a correct answer what are the consequences if you were wrong you may have assumed that I was asking you about American football but think of our friends who might be watching this talk from somewhere in Europe that have never seen American football but know about this board of basketball in basketball a field goal is a shot that could be worth three points but it might only be worth two let me share with you some experience from my work our team was called to the home of a man who was suicidal and I remember getting to his home and walking down the basement stairs and when I got down there I turned I could see a man across the basement he was about seven years old and he was holding a gun to his head so I began so my name is Scott I'd like to help and I started listening and we talked a little bit and he told me that he wanted to die and I could see that he was in crisis I could see that he was serious so I listened some more and I remember his gaze that had been fixed on the floor slowly lifted and he looked me right in the eyes and he asked me are you going to take me to the hospital and I thought this was my opportunity I really wanted to help this man so I said yes of course we're gonna take you to the hospital but at that moment I misunderstood it was like I quickly answered three when he was really hoping I would say two I fail to ask the important questions first because I was in a hurry to be understood I hadn't realized again but there was one place on earth this man did not want to go and that was to the hospital we must always seek first to understand know when to deliver your message if you think the best way to persuade someone is to get your point across as soon as there's a break in the conversation well that's not real communication that's just waiting to talk and we all know somebody who's very good at that but you're not going to influence anyone's beliefs so who do you listen to when you have an important decision in your life whose advice do you value whoever it is I'm sure it's someone that you have a strong relationship with someone you know and trust and we can allow others to know and trust us by building rapport and once we've calmed someone down and once we've listened to someone and worked on understand them it's only then we can prepare them to receive our message and do so effectively now we grow our relationships by building rapport through active listening concepts like minimal encouragers yeah mm-hmm okay just to let them know you're still listening or asking open-ended questions again it keeps them talking but now it allows us to steer the conversation and it involves them working with us as a problem solver reflecting or mirroring back to actual words that someone says I do this with my kids all the time they have no idea emotion labeling let's get to the feeling behind the words you sound sad you sound angry paraphrasing anybody can do that use I messages I want to help I feel we're making progress here or effective pauses because a pause at just the right moment can really draw your listener back in or leave them room to keep talking finally summaries we don't tell people I understand that's superficial instead we demonstrate to them that we understand by using our own words to summarize all the words they said with all the emotion they said it with so we can get them to the point where they say that's right these are the skills of active listening and some people dismiss and say yeah well I know about that it's the great negotiators who actually master this and can do so with empathy and compassion so in a city not too far from here the police went to the home of a man to arrest him but before they could get him he grabbed two butcher knives and ran up on the roof they called for the SWAT team to help out so I get to this home and I can see it's a two-story single-family house and there's a man on the roof and he's got two big butcher knives right to his throne our lead negotiator for this call was my partner Jeff and Jeff got this guy on the phone who's doing a great job of active listening but we were having trouble keeping his attention so we came up with a plan I went to the neighbor's house went inside went up to the second floor to a window closest to where this guy was at up on the roof and my job was to try to exert influence on him without first building rapport and we know this should never work but I thought if I did a bad enough job negotiating maybe we could get him focused back on Jeff so my best police voice I told him drop the knives put the knives down and get off the roof surprisingly that didn't work but it did get him focused back on Jeff but he wasn't asking Jeff for help I'm coming off the roof he was asking Jeff for help on how to get rid of me but that was okay because we had his attention and it's only once we have someone's attention and we've calmed them and listen to them that we can effectively deliver our message know when to deliver your message it's not what you say it's how you say it so for years as people learn that I was a hostage negotiator they would all ask me the same thing so what do you say to people to get them to come out well there there is no magic phrase to get someone to come out or if there is they haven't told me what it is yet but we do know that seven percent only seven percent of communication is in the actual words we use the majority of it is in our nonverbal body language and there's really difficult to do when you're on the phone with somebody and traditionally that's how we do most police negotiations the rest of communication is in your delivery your tone or how you say what you say why are you here you know really why are you here some of you are here right now listening to me hoping to hear something insightful about negotiations or psychology or communication and I realize the rest of you are stuck with me because you couldn't find anything else to do but if I ask you this way same four words why are you here you may begin to think we shouldn't be there maybe we should be somewhere else or perhaps the good speakers across the hall and we should go listen to them same four words why are you here now I've just insulted you because it sounds like the rest of us we all belong here we're part of something special but you are not invited to our party it's all in how you say what you say a few years ago a man broke into a home and he was looking for his ex-girlfriend he started shooting someone called 911 and the police rushed to the home when the first officer got to the door the gunman shot the police officer right there in the door he took his ex-girlfriend hostage in the basement they called for SWAT immediately and we quickly came to that house My partner Joan was our lead negotiator and I had the privilege to sit by her side as she did this negotiation the gunman said if anybody comes in I'm shooting them and if there's any tear gas coming in I'm shooting her what options do we have is there a better alternative to a negotiated agreement at this point we realized quickly that not only are we negotiating to save the life of this hostage but we're doing it to protect the lives of our police officers I think back and try to remember exactly what Joan said and I I can't recall the words but I do remember how she said it and she delivered our message perfectly think back to your last argument or negotiation maybe one where it didn't work out so well for you how was your tone to remember what would happen to this hostage if we were rude or mocking or condescending or just plain indifferent even under the tremendous stress of the situation Joan was able to maintain emotional control and she executed a critical rule of hostage negotiators and I know if we can do it you can do it too it's not what you say it's how you say know the power of respect so it was my first negotiation the police were called to an apartment to investigate a domestic disturbance and when they got there they heard a woman calling for help they heard the sound of duct tape being unrolled and a bullet being racked into a gun and the man threatened those police officers from the other side of the door they decided to back off and call for SWAT at this point in my career I had been a police officer for about five years but I was a brand new negotiator I had never been the guy to actually conduct a negotiation until this day so right before I called inside and talked to this man I remember thinking two things first there's a woman inside there and she really needs our help and if we don't do something pretty quickly she could be killed and second I couldn't remember any of my negotiations training I couldn't remember what to say what not to say I couldn't remember what to do nothing I just hadn't practiced under that much stress before my point here is this you might be taking notes right now and thank you for that and you might be coming up with a plan and a strategy for how to have a better argument but when it comes time for your next negotiation for your next argument and you can't remember anything else about what we talked about here today please remember this one thing you're talking with another human being someone who has feelings and emotions that matter someone who has people who love them someone who wants to feel important someone who does not want to feel stupid or be embarrassed someone who should be respected and I don't care if you don't think they should be respected I bet they think they should be respected and that's what matters you know that old saying treat others the way you want to be treated let's treat others the way they want to be treated if you've been listening to someone and working to understand them you will know the words to say there's tremendous power in unconditional respect and treating someone with respect and dignity and fairness especially when they don't expect it from you can be the key to an incredible incredible conversation know the power of respect you don't need to be a great negotiator to do great things in your life or in the lives of others you have tremendous power to be deeply impactful at critical moments and don't just try to persuade someone of something your words have the ability to inspire them and if you still don't believe in the power of these principles of negotiation remember these four real-life examples the old man with a gun to his head our team talked with him for 18 hours but in the end he shot himself and I was told that he lived that he was given a second chance at life and I look at that as my second chance as well and I will never ever ever forget that we must always seek first to understand or the guy with the knives to his throne once we had his attention we could assure him of his safety and we knew that he was in a place that he could hear us and he could process that message and that's when Jeff asked him to put the knives down and come off the roof and he did because we knew when to deliver the message or the woman who is held hostage in her basement Joan did everything she could to control how we delivered that message and I know in my heart that Joan is a huge reason why that woman is alive today physically unharmed from that situation and the police officer thankfully he survived as well and finally my first negotiation where I couldn't remember what to say I talked to that man with dignity and respect and before I realized it we had reached a peaceful surrender I believe that through our model of negotiations we can improve policing we can improve society but we must first begin by improving ourselves these are the principles of hostage negotiation but there's so much more broad than that these are the principles of basic human relationships and once you get good at them they're the principles of leadership and greatness could you imagine if we lived in a world where we took time to listen to each other and understand each other and civilly discussed our differences and did so with dignity and respect now you know the secrets of hostage negotiators and I promise you the first step in changing the world can begin with you thank you [Applause]
Channel: TEDx Talks
Views: 773,771
Rating: 4.9031773 out of 5
Keywords: TEDxTalks, English, United States, Social Science, Communication, Connection
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Length: 18min 21sec (1101 seconds)
Published: Tue Dec 06 2016
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