Thursday, 17 August 2017

Handling situations that hold you hostage

Are you being held hostage without knowing it?? Last month I was doing research on ‘Authentic Dialogue’ and ‘Conflict management’ and I came across this gem of a book.

Here is the starting story from this book:

A nine-year-old girl was spending time with her grandparents in Kansas. The grandfather was away, so she was sleeping with her grandmother.

Suddenly, she woke in the middle of the night to see her elderly grandmother sitting up in bed and a man standing over her, dripping with rain and with a wooden club in his hand, ready to strike. The little girl felt a scream rising, and then her grandmother touched her hand and she felt a flood of calm wash over her. 

The grandmother said to the man, “I am glad you found our house. You’ve come to the right place. You are welcome here. It is a bad night to be out. You are cold, wet, and hungry. Take the firewood you have there and go stir up the kitchen stove. Let me put some clothes on, and I will find you some dry clothes, fix a good hot meal, and make a place for you to sleep behind the stove where it is good and warm.” She said no more but waited calmly.

After a long pause, the man lowered the club and said, “I won’t hurt you.” She then met him in the kitchen and cooked him a meal, gave him the dry clothes, and made a bed up for him behind the stove. The grandmother then went back to her bed and she and her granddaughter went back to sleep. They awoke in the morning to find the man gone.

At about 10 A.M., the police arrived with a canine unit that had followed the man’s scent to the house. They were shocked to find the grandmother and granddaughter still alive. The man was a psychopathic murderer who had escaped from prison the night before and brutally slaughtered the family who were the nearest neighbours.

This story gave me goose bumps. I was wondering how would I handle such a situation. How would you? I learnt that there is a another way beyond fight / flight / freeze response.  

The author goes on to say:

This amazing grandmother had created so much emotional bonding with the intruder that he could not kill her. She had treated him with a kindness and respect that had disarmed him both literally and figuratively. The fact is people do not kill people, they kill things or objects …

Fortunately, the likelihood of physically being taken hostage is slim. However, all of us can be taken hostage metaphorically – that is, made to feel threatened, manipulated, and victimized – everyday by bosses, colleagues, customers, family members, or virtually anyone with whom we interact. We can also become hostage to events or circumstances happening in our lives. We can even become hostages to ourselves, our own mind-sets, our emotions, and our habits.

The author is a former hostage negotiator. He offers keys to managing conflict at work and in our everyday lives.

This book changed my relationship with conflict. I had a kind of ‘conflict phobia’ and a tendency to avoid confrontations. I learnt that it is only by openly facing conflict that one can truly progress through the most difficult challenges. I have started taking things head on instead of avoiding them or hoping that they disappear by some magic.

With many true and compelling stories, this book shows how to:
-        Put the ‘Fish on the Table’ to resolve conflict
-        Learn to bond, even with your ‘enemy’
-        Never think like a hostage
-        Tap into the power of dialogue and negotiation
-        Access the law of reciprocity to build cooperation
-        Be a secure base to establish trust
-        Understand that the person is never the problem
-        Master the mind’s eye and visualize success

This TEDx talk by the author will also give you a good glimpse of this concept. Do take a look:
This TEDx talk

Reading this book gave me a new level of freedom. I highly recommend this book to help solve the hostage situations in your life, if any.