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In this most critical of negotiating situations when life and death may literally be the stakes, we learn that the negotiator is far from “winging it.” The pattern is set, the techniques are known and the negotiation will proceed under a well-rehearsed plan.

Hostage negotiations involve a negotiation team, a technical support team and a tactical team prepared to execute a non-negotiated resolution if necessary. The members of the negotiation team each have defined roles and divide responsibility for the process. Importantly, negotiators negotiate, but do not have authority to make agreements without approval from their commander. It would be a wise course for many negotiations.

Goals are clear at the beginning of the negotiation: Get the people out alive and its corollary, a caveat not to make the situation worse set the framework. Every negotiation is planned to be long-term and clear rules are in place to provide boundaries on what or may not be negotiated, providing the hostage taker with guns or more hostages is obviously out of the realm of possibility. Importantly, also, concessions are always trades, a wise prescription that too many non-hostage negotiators forget to their sadness.

The negotiator’s goals are to build rapport, trust and to establish empathy with the hostage-taker. This is a process of listening, demonstrating respect, adhering to truth and promises and engaging the other party in mutual problem-solving enterprises to reach a safe and workable resolution to the crisis.

Mr. Misino is at his best in taking the reader through the major elements of hostage negotiation and illuminating them with examples from his experience. For this reviewer, however, the attempt to apply its fundamental principals to other negotiating situations leaves much to be added. These become positional encounters in which target prices for cars and homes are won or lost and the search for collaborative valued-added solutions is absent. Hostage negotiations as described by Mr. Misino, after-all, are very much the same sorts of engagements.

This is a book that will be of interest to the new hostage negotiator and the casual reader in negotiations.

John Baker, Ph.D.
Editor

As a service to our readers, you may order this month's Review's Review selection by clicking on the appropriate icon below:

'Negotiate and Win: Proven Strategies From the NYPD’s Top Hostage Negotiator' Negotiate and Win: Proven Strategies From the NYPD’s Top Hostage Negotiator [Amazon.com]

'Negotiate and Win: Proven Strategies From the NYPD’s Top Hostage Negotiator' Negotiate and Win: Proven Strategies From the NYPD’s Top Hostage Negotiator [Amazon.co.uk]

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September 2004