Q & A Table of Contents
How Can I Get To Be A Crisis Negotiator?
From: Joseph, Baytown, Texas
Question: I am a recent college graduate. I received my BS in Communication.
I was searching on the internet and typed in "Becoming a
Negotiator" and fell upon a question answer session between you and someone
Have you ever seen the movie ‘The Negotiator’ Starring Samuel Jackson? I
wanted to know if there was a way to apply for a career in that. Would one
just call up the local police station and inquire? I know that that was just
a movie, but it has to be a job title or a person that does something
similar to that within a form of authority dealing with people who just need
to be calmed down before they do
something they have no business doing.
How could someone become that person the authorities call when someone is
about to jump off a bridge. "This guy just refuses to cooperate or calm
down, and seems content on killing himself, were going to have to the police
to smooth out the situation." That's a dramatic example, but essentially,
that's what I was wondering about. How could you do that for a living?
Response: Formal training is only a small part of what it takes to become a
successful crisis negotiator. While there are people who have developed
reputations as folks to bring in to handle negotiations in hostage,
criminal, or threatened suicide situations, for the most part those
negotiators have extensive experience in dealing with tough situations —
before they get designated as crisis negotiators.
Often people in law enforcement demonstrate negotiation skills that can be
brought to bear on resolving crises. One of the members of TNSC’s team was
taken hostage during his work in a prison system; that experience opened his
eyes to many of the issues involved in negotiation and he has gone on to
develop expertise and credibility.
In essence, everyone’s negotiation style is something that develops as they
grow up and as they pursue their careers. Formal training to enhance those
skills is offered by some universities, many private organizations, and even
through professional associations such as the Texas Association of Hostage
Negotiators and the International Association of Hostage Negotiators.
Someone without experience lacks credibility; one must pursue a career in a
field that encompasses the possibility of crisis negotiation to be exposed
to such situations and thus develop experience. In the meantime you can
look at the professional associations mentioned above for more specific
advice on how to enter a career path in that direction.