Dialogue/Negotiation Not Confrontation

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We think that we can overcome problems, be it at home or in the workplace through attacking and arguing.  That often leads only to a dead end, with relationships either broken or strained.  The better way is dialogue and negotiation.

The power of dialogue, to resolve conflicts, even beyond the home and the workplace,  is very evident from the following incident.  During the Munich Olympics in 1972, eleven Israeli athletes were taken hostage by members of  a Palestinian terrorist group called Black September.  At that time, storming the location at an opportune moment used to be the usual way of resolving such problems.  In the shootout that eventually took place all the hostages, five of the terrorists and one German police was killed.

After the incident, two police officers of the United States, Harvey Schlossberg and Frank Bolz, who believed that dialoguing with the terrorists would produce better results put together some guidelines for using dialogue in such situations.   Some time later, on January 19, 1973, four members of a Muslim terrorist group entered a sports store near Brooklyn and took twelve people hostage.  After an initial shootout in which a police officer was killed, Bolz and Schlossberg arrived on the scene and advised to “talk and wait.”  The police took their advice seriously.  They talked and waited, for forty-seven hours!  At the end of it the four terrorists surrendered.  No one else was hurt.  “While assaults lead to a 78 percent casualty rate, data from the FBI shows that negotiation during hostage situations results in a 95 percent success rate.” The motto of the New York City Police Department Hostage Negotiation Team is “Talk to me.” (Eric Barker, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, 2017, p. 161).

The next time your are faced with a difficult situation be it at home or in the office, try patience and dialogue!

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