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Rule Number Three; THINK SURVIVAL. I use an
acronym called T.H.I.N.K.
T=Team Control; you are never alone in the incident. Even if you are the only hostage, you will have professionals working to aid your release. However, remember they will not have the luxury of communicating with you directly, so remember you ARE part of the TEAM and your assistance is needed.
H= Hold them Accountable. Watch what is going on around you without being conspicuous. It will be useful in future disciplinary and legal actions. Moreover, it is useful in keeping your mind off your present situation.
I=Instincts, Follow your Instincts. Before you are "caught" up in a poor situation, listen to your gut feeling. Listen to that "butterfly" in you tummy. If the situation does not look right, smell right or even "sound" right or normal, tell someone. Talk to someone in authority. Let people know what you are thinking or sensing. Even if you're wrong, you do not have to live with the failure or guilt of not having let someone know what you felt. Keep in mind Team Control even if you are not on the current team that your senses have been alerted about.
N= No escaping! If you try and you fail, you are in big big trouble with the hostage taker. That will undoubtedly "piss" him or her off. That is not to say if there is an OPEN door, and I am standing by that door, that I would not try to leave. Nevertheless, I would have to consider the other persons being held and their potential problems if the hostage takers got angry over their recent loss.
K= Keep your self-esteem. Keep your chin up. That is so important to your sanity and your survival. Remember your family and your friends. Keep your Pride.
We hope you and your co-workers never need to use this advice.
Dr. Curtis M. Johnson is a Senior Trainer with The Negotiation Skills Company and a dentist in both private practice and with the New York State Department of Correctional Services. He is also a certified Situation Controller (Hostage Negotiator). As a trainer, Dr. Johnson specializes in "How to Handle Difficult People" and the development of skills for counteracting Verbal Dirty Fighting as well as Conflict Resolution.
Dr. Johnson has served as Team Leader for the Crisis Intervention Unit at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, a 2,300 inmate maximum-security penitentiary, initiated the New York State Critical Incidence Stress Debriefing Unit and is an invited mediator with the Yonkers (N.Y.) Mediation Society.
Curtis Johnson may be reached at www.negotiationskills.com.
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Copyright© 2002, The Negotiator Magazine