Crisis Negotiator Mediation Students How to Redirect Unproductive Behaviors

Brandon Peters brings more than two decades of experience as a highly-respected civil litigator to his mediation career, which began with a successful solo practice and continues with Upchurch Watson White & Max. He takes a data- and evidence-driven approach to resolving disputes without ignoring the all-important human factors. To schedule a mediation with Brandon, please call his case manager, Cathy McCleary, at (800) 863-1462, or visit our online calendar.

Florida Mediator Brandon S. Peters Florida Mediator Brandon S. Peters

We had another guest speaker join us this week for class at Florida A&M University College of Law – a veteran detective for the Orlando Police Department who happens to be one of the agency’s most experienced crisis negotiators. My students and I sat mesmerized for two-and-a-half hours while he explained the history and theory of modern crisis negotiation and then narrated audio excerpts from an actual hostage situation he participated in several years ago in downtown Orlando.

Halfway through class, we normally take a comfort break. I had planned to let our guest leave at that point, but he never made it to the door; my students bombarded him with all sorts of great questions. At the conclusion of the break, he kindly agreed to stay until the end of class, and I canceled my lecture for the day so everyone could continue learning how a real crisis negotiator does his job.

I have been trying to impress upon my students how emotionally agitated individuals can disrupt a mediation conference. As potential future mediators, they need to plan strategically and prepare for the worst. Last week’s guest lecturer – a psychiatrist – underscored the critical importance of identifying and understanding irrational thinking. This week’s guest armed my class with some basic tools to help redirect the unproductive behaviors of emotionally unbalanced mediation participants.

It is the rare mediation conference when one of the disputants displays the level of anxiety of a real-life hostage taker. The situations are analogous, however. Although I hope none of my students will ever be confronted with the task of literally talking someone off of a ledge, I am confident they are now better equipped than many of my colleagues to confront and manage emotionally-driven, disruptive behavior during their professional endeavors.

For the previous installment of Brandon’s adventures at FAMU, please click here.

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