Hostage & Crisis Negotiators: Nonverbal Communication Basics

Learn the skills used by these expert negotiators and how it can help you.

Law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiators are world-renowned for their ability to apply expert conflict resolution and communication skills in situations that are tense, (potentially) volatile, and where lives can be at risk.

Learning the skills that these professionals apply to their distinct negotiation setting is not only interesting but it can also help you. Although their work is very different from yours most likely, the tools they use to effectively communicate and resolve a situation is still applicable to you and your work.

Nonverbal communication plays an important role during hostage and crisis situations involving law enforcement personnel. Nonverbal communication is not limited to solely “body language” but rather includes a variety of other elements. To raise awareness of the numerous nonverbal communication elements that are possibly present during an interaction, I created the METTA acronym (movement, environment, touch, tone, and appearance) during my doctoral research on nonverbal communication and mediators.

Below, I have applied the METTA acronym to the hostage and crisis negotiation setting offering an introductory look at how nonverbal communication can impact the negotiations while also offering insight to the skills used by these professionals.

Movement. Congruent body movement that is matching the words being spoken helps display genuine empathy while also contributes to developing rapport and building trust. Even when communication signals are limited such as just talking via phone, it still plays an important role. Think about the next time you are on the phone and notice how often you nod your head, use hand gestures, and use paralanguage such as “mmm” to express agreement or understanding.

Read the rest of the article at PsychologyToday.com [HERE].

                        author

Jeff Thompson

Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School… MORE >

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