The power of emotion

Dec 06 | 2022

Cathy MacDonald is a former police officer working with Police Scotland for over 30 years. For much of her career she worked as a hostage and crisis negotiator helping to defuse dangerous situations in which communication had broken down.

Cathy MacDonald  This included long-term hostage negotiations, the longest of which she explained lasted for four years, and more acute situations, such as potential suicides, which would be resolved more quickly.

Cathy explained that although every situation was different, they could be tackled using the same principles.  In fact, it was essential that she did have a communication framework to use as a guide as situations often required rapid thinking and decision making.  Having a structure to follow had helped her and her team during up to 400 deployments a year in Scotland, a figure that has almost doubled in more recent times. It was an element of this framework that she intended to share with the Young Movers.  It would be helpful to them in their working lives, when handling customers and managing their own teams, and would also be useful for personal communications (read on!).

She also shared some helpful techniques.  For example, Cathy asked if there were any questions, and nobody answered.  Then she took a different approach: “I am sure you all have questions, who’s first,” she asked. Immediately the communication with the audience was made and the questions flowed. Cathy also pointed out that there is always a reason behind a question.  In each case she asked the questioner to explain further: an interesting technique to dig deeper into people’s true concerns, but in an unthreatening way.

There are many situations, both in business and privately, when we would rather not have a conversation. But there are also times when not doing so has consequences of its own ...

Photo: Cathy MacDonald.

Click here to read the full story in The Mover magazine.

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