1st Edition

Crisis Talk Negotiating with Individuals in Crisis

    218 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    218 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Based on extensive analysis of real-time, authentic crisis encounters collected in the UK and US, Crisis Talk: Negotiating with Individuals in Crisis sheds light on the relatively hidden world of communication between people in crisis and the professionals whose job it is to help them.

    The crisis situations explored in this book involve police hostage and crisis negotiators and emergency dispatchers interacting with individuals in crisis who threaten suicide or self-harm. The practitioners face various communicative challenges in these encounters, including managing strong emotions, resistance, hostility, and unresponsiveness. Using conversation analysis, Crisis Talk presents evidence on how practitioners deal with the interactional challenge of negotiating with people in crisis and how what they say shapes outcomes. Each chapter includes recommendations based on the detailed analysis of numerous cases of actual negotiation.

    Crisis Talk shows readers how every turn taken by negotiators can exacerbate or solve the communicative challenges created by crisis situations, making it a unique and invaluable text for academics in psychology, sociology, linguistic sciences, and related fields, as well as for practitioners engaging in crisis negotiation training or fieldwork.

    1. Crisis talk, from practice to training 2. Getting the conversation started 3. How words reduce resistance towards the negotiation 4: Managing emotion 5. Overcoming resistance 6. ‘Coming down’ – scaffolding a resolution to the crisis 7. Backstage/frontstage and the negotiation team 8. From practice to training


    Rein Ove Sikveland is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Academic and Professional Communication at NTNU, Norway. His expertise is in conversation analysis and phonetics. Rein researches the linguistic and interactional practices that underpin practitioners’ management of conversations in education, health services and crisis negotiations.

    Heidi Kevoe-Feldman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Northeastern University, USA. She uses conversation analysis to examine communication patterns and problems that arise in institutional settings. Recent research projects include working with emergency medical dispatch call centres with a focus on identifying various barriers (e.g. physical, psychological, and communication) that interfere with helping callers in a time of crisis.

    Elizabeth Stokoe is Professor of Social Interaction in the Discourse and Rhetoric Group at Loughborough University, UK. Her current research interests are in conversation analysis, membership categorization, and social interaction in various ordinary and institutional settings, including neighbour mediation, police interrogation, role-play, and simulated interaction.

    "Words matter during a crisis. This book is critically important for hostage negotiators, emergency dispatchers and mental health professionals. Through extensive research and analysis, the authors provide a fresh concept of communications theory for handling emergency calls and it provides tools to enhance the vital skills needed when a life is on the line."  —C. Blair Sutherland, Ret. Director of Telecommunications and 911 Commission member, Massachusetts State Police, USA

    "This book will save lives! After seventeen years of crisis and hostage negotiation I thought I knew what I was doing...How I wish this had been available when I started out. It tells me what I should have been saying and where, by chance, I stumbled on just the right words I know why they worked. If people or lives depend on you, then this is the book for you." —Chula Rupasinha, Former UK Hostage Negotiator, UK

    "Finally! A book devoted to the "art" of emergency call taking, the authors take an in-depth analysis of the technical and subjective aspects of a call for help and teach us to communicate better for the person in crisis. This book should be on any must-read list for every emergency telecommunicator, supervisor, and executive worldwide."  —Rich Lindfors, NRP, EMD Quality Improvement Manager, Richmond Ambulance Authority, Richmond, VA, USA 

    "This book explores how police crisis negotiators and emergency dispatchers talk and interact in life-or-death situations. The reader is presented with real-life examples of distressing and emotional situations where lives are at stake and where every moment, word and turn of talk counts. With the detailed yet accessible analyses, the book is a compelling example of using conversation analysis to analyse real-time talk and interaction with an aim to develop and improve professional practices. It shows how formulating and delivering words in this or that way can lead to different outcomes; choosing and formulating the words correctly solves crisis situations and saves lives. The book provides practical and useful advice on how to interact in high stakes situations. The book is an excellent read for professionals who encounter people in crisis situations (e.g., police hostage and crisis negotiator and emergency dispatchers). It is also a fascinating read for academics who are interested in talk, language, grammar and social interaction. More generally, the book may find readers in people interested in crisis communication and the work of crisis professionals."  —Pentti Haddington, Professor of English language and interaction, University of Oulu, Finland

    "This book manages to identify, quantify and put into words the practical skills of an experienced negotiator in a way that has never been done before. Their contributions have been integral in shaping and developing the language and tactics for overcoming resistance in particular, taught and deployed operationally by students and experienced negotiators alike. I would recommend anyone who wants to truly understand influential language through the eyes, ears and mouth of a negotiator to read this book." —Inspector Laura Burns, Training Lead, Hostage and Crisis Negotiator Unit, Police Scotland (2017-2020), Scotland