What Is Crisis Negotiation?

If you like suspenseful television shows, you have probably watched at least one episode with a dramatic hostage situation. With your eyes glued to the screen, you anxiously waited for the police detective to convince the offender to let the hostage(s) go. Although this might be entertaining for a television series, crisis negotiation is very serious in the real world. In addition, crisis negotiation is not limited to law enforcement. Businesses are sometimes taken “hostage” as well.

Photo by Harri Kuokkanen on Unsplash

Crisis Negotiation in Law Enforcement

Perhaps the most common type of crisis negotiation is within law enforcement and disaster relief agencies. These are the kinds of situations that involve human hostages and risks to physical safety. From police and sheriff departments to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to SWAT teams, law enforcement officers use crisis negotiation tactics to de-escalate potentially life-threatening situations. This kind of crisis negotiation involves the use of special crisis negotiation equipment and substantial safety training. By utilizing these resources, the goal is to save lives while avoiding unnecessary risk to officers, citizens and victims.

Crisis Negotiation in the Business World

In a world full of rapid change and uncertainty, no one knows when a crisis will occur in the business world. Whereas law enforcement crisis negotiation involves physical safety risks, crisis negotiation in the business world can involve company and financial risks. For this reason, it is becoming increasingly common for organizations to adopt crisis management plans that include crisis negotiation. As with crises found in law enforcement, crises in the business world can be high stakes. With any kind of high-stakes situation, is important to remain calm and to keep one’s emotions in check.

Crisis Negotiation Tips 

Whether you are dealing with crisis negotiation as a law enforcement officer or as a business owner, there are things you can do to make things smoother. First and foremost, prepare your team for disaster. Preparation can eliminate significant stress. During a negotiation, practice empathy and active listening skills. Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes can help build a relationship, and, in turn, help build trust.

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