Catherine’s Weekly Greeting

Lessons From A Hostage Negotiator

Catherine’s Weekly Greeting 06/07

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When preparing for difficult conversations, make sure you are creating a mental movie with the outcome that you want. Our thoughts create the pathways for our actions to follow.

I read such an interesting article today with tips from Christopher Voss, a former hostage negotiator on how to handle difficult conversations.

In his case, of course, negotiating with terrorists is a high stakes game, so it’s imperative to get it right, but so too are some of our everyday conflict situations – whether they are in the domestic or work environment.

His advice in preparing for difficult conversations is: “We often prepare but don’t realize it. When we think about the conversation, we picture ourselves getting mad.”

That is preparation. So, if that is all you prepared for, that is what you are going to get. He goes on to say: “You need to do what athletes do. They prepare by envisioning their performance, by envisioning themselves doing things right.”

Voss emphasises the importance of listening, being open to being wrong, and showing vulnerability. When going into any difficult conversation, he said: “You need to envision yourself taking a different tone. If you use a calm tone of voice, it will actually calm you down.”

Then you want to rewire yourself for gratitude. The brain functions more effectively when you are in a positive frame of mind. And gratitude is highly positive. I found that gentleness quite surprising as I had always imagined successful hostage negotiators to be tough and immovable. It seems the opposite is true.

So, on this fine, bright, and perfect Monday morning I wish you positive thoughts and successful outcomes for your day and your week. Let’s take a moment to preset our expectations so that we can run the movie that allows us to achieve the success we dream of.

With kind regards

Catherine