Friday, November 10, 2017

‘An error is feedback’: the experience of communication error management in crisis negotiations



So as human beings, we are not perfect. That includes crisis hostage negotiators. So how do we handles errors during negotiations and how can we learn from them and more importantly figure out ways to avoid them in the future? 

Miriam S. D. Oostingaa, Ellen Giebels and Paul J. Taylor explore this in their recent research paper. I encourage you to read the entire paper at the link below while I also pulled some snippets from it:

Ways to improve At the end of the interview, we asked negotiators to reflect on how errors could be best addressed within negotiation teams. The interviewees offered four solutions. 
The first had to do with practicing and training. All interviewees agreed that this should be done more often. They suggested that negotiators should observe each other and reflect on what happens, so that everyone can learn from each other’s errors. 
Research (Heimbeck, Frese, Sonnentag, & Keith, 2003) shows that this approach towards errors within training sessions indeed has a positive effect on – adaptive transfer – performance. 
Second, they mentioned ensuring that the negotiator’s role and their associated equipment was set up in an optimal way to, for example, ensure that they had sufficient time and resources to effectively debrief on errors (cf. Spence & Millott, 2016). 
Third, they suggested a yearly check-up with a psychologist, to ensure that any emotional sequela of prior service is identified and managed.
Fourth, the interviewees acknowledged that the available knowledge in science should be used in a better way, for example, by discussing the newest scientific insights in training days. 

And here’s a reference on sensemaking, an important concept all negotiators should be familiar with:

To be effective, the negotiator must make sense of what is going on and engage with the perpetrator’s needs perception of what is occurring (Wells, Taylor, & Giebels, 2013). 
According to Weick, Sutcliffe, and Obstfeld (2005, p. 409), this sensemaking can be defined as: …the ongoing retrospective development of plausible images that rationalizes what people are doing. It is a diligent process used to unwrap what is going on and determine what motivates the other person and, critically, what can motivate them to take a more cooperative position (Donohue & Taylor, 2003). 
Nonetheless, negotiators face unexpected twists and turns all the time (Weick, 1988) and an error in sensemaking may easily lead to an error in communication.
Read the full paper [HERE]. 

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