The ability to negotiate is one of the great talents that we must learn in any circumstance of life. Dialogue is always possible, as David Corona, the author of this book, explained to the French interior minister after the attacks in charlie hebdo . When it seems that there is no way out, there is always the possibility of opening new points of view to reach mediation, without reaching violence.
This is the basis of Negotiate a book that serves as a guideline for managing emotions, empathy and personal growth, from the experience of a person who was a member of the elite corps (GIGN) of the French army for many years.
There he ended up learning that he preferred the weapon of the word to the precision rifle. For this he used long years of training that are described in the first part of the book. One of his best lessons was never to give up, neither when he failed the entrance tests, nor when he was unable to pass the harsh tests to which he was subjected. Baths at zero degrees at dawn, twelve-week courses ascending peaks, handling explosives or returning to the coast from the high seas, in a compendium of survival rites to become someone impervious to pain and suffering. This initiation journey served the author to consolidate his ability to face the most hostile situations in life.
This is what it took to be a great negotiator, along with understanding the power of the mind and the limits of the body. “The mind is capable of pushing our body much further than we thought capable of. Trust him and let him show you your true resources.”
The second part of the book focuses on what it means to be a negotiator, with different personal experiences. The cases continue as the reading increases in intensity and we discover the weight and power of words. A first negotiation that ended in success, after a long four-hour monologue, without the interlocutor saying a single word. Another experience that ended in an ultimatum, with a convict who had a hostage with a knife to his neck. He was looking for a suicide by cop , that the cop killed him to avoid suffering. If he didn’t, he would kill his hostage. In the end, the structure of the language, the intonation of the voice, the movements of the body, the look or the presence of emotions and all those resources available to a negotiator, served to avoid death in exchange for a tranquilizer pill.
One of the climaxes in the life of this negotiator was his intervention after the attacks on the magazine charlie hebdo , a highly publicized case that ended with two of the terrorists entrenched in a printing press along with a hostage. In this case, the negotiator did not get what he wanted. Despite the fact that the victim was released, external violence brought down the Islamists. His message was not enough. Finally, in a negotiation during the kidnapping of a girl, David Corona left his position to continue working in the world of private companies.
In the author’s words, “being a negotiator is embodying the first and last opportunity. Understand the power of words, of intentions, of the invisible, of the imperceptible. Every word spoken, whether misguided or well chosen, can unleash a barrage of gunshots or a torrent of tears.” Offering more than two alternatives turns a dilemma into a choice, and we humans like to choose. The word is a weapon that, unlike others, has the ability to save, not kill. Each negotiator has her style and a conflict is a score with notes that everyone is free to play as they feel. We must believe in the power of dialogue and mediation. If one learns to negotiate, he will be able to banish verbal and physical violence, in addition to those impulses that bring out the worst in us.
This is not a classic self-help book because its author is someone who has lived between combat and negotiation. To learn to negotiate there is no need to practice Buddhism in Nepal or have a degree from Harvard. Limit situations show us the person we are. The cowardly is the violence. Courage lies in the art of mediation.
Vanguard Books. 232 pages. 19 euros