The Negotiator Magazine

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THE FOUR PHASES OF NEGOTIATION
IV.  Step One - Preparation
            i. Hostage Negotiations
            Every situation is different, so every situation should be treated differently.  Hostage negotiators are called only when the officers need additional expertise and equipment.  Therefore, when a hostage negotiation team arrives at the scene there are already many officers there. 
                      The first job of the hostage negotiator is to ensure safety in order to minimize the number of people that can potentially be hurt.   To accomplish this objective, the situation is secured with an outer and inner perimeter so that nobody gets in or out.  Vans – which resemble mobile homes – are set up to assist in monitoring the scene, to provide computers, and to distribute weapons.  Depending on the hostage taker’s stress level, background, and who is with them – they need to be treated accordingly.  Hostage negotiators must evaluate all factors and subsequently determine what response is appropriate. 
            ii. Legal Negotiations
            Legal negotiations require similar preparation.  Just as the hostage negotiators must secure the scene, the lawyer negotiator must secure their strategy.  “The goal of good preparation, even for a relatively simple negotiation, is to construct a specific plan of action for the situation you face.”   The plan of action depends on a combination of the perceived importance of an ongoing relationship, and the perceived conflict over the stakes involved.  
A hostage negotiator attempts to obtain the best solution for the hostages, and similarly, the lawyer attempts to “establish a client-centered, collaborative relationship that supports problem-solving negotiation.”   Therefore, the negotiator should ensure that during the preparation phase they do the following:  (1) Assess the situation; (2) Match the situation, strategy, and style; (3) Examine the situation from the other party’s point of view; and (4) Decide how to communicate.   By creating a thorough bargaining plan, a negotiator will begin discussions with an advantage that an unprepared negotiator simply will not have.

V. Step Two - Information Exchange
            i. Hostage Negotiation
            When a hostage negotiator arrives at the scene he will immediately need to determine:  “the numbers and names of the hostage takers, what they are demanding and what they really want, their emotional state and how close they are to harming hostages, and the number of general health of hostages.”   In addition, there are countless assessments the negotiator will want to make regarding the mentality of the hostage taker, details of the hostages, and information regarding the location and any corresponding buildings.


Hostage Negotiations, at http://changingminds.org/disciplines/negotiation/styles/ hostage_negotiations.htm. 

Shell, supra at 120. 

Id. 

Robert H. Mnookin, Beyond Winning:  Negotiating to Create Value in Deals and Disputes 178 (Harvard University Press 2000). 

Shell, supra at 120-29. 

Hostage Negotiations, at http://changingminds.org/disciplines/negotiation/styles/ hostage_negotiations.htm. 

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May 2007