U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Active Listening and Beyond: Problem Solving In Crisis Negotiation

NCJ Number
Gazette Volume: 64 Issue: 2 Dated: 2002 Pages: 19-20
Mike Webster
Date Published
2 pages
This article presents an approach to problem solving that is helpful to police crisis negotiators.
Solution-focused problem solving is based on the work of a group of counselors that worked at the Brief Family Therapy Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is based on the principle that problems are not necessarily directly related to their solutions. The solution may lay in behavioral changes, and may be specific to the individual. This approach tends to cause individuals to focus more on solutions than on problems, on successes more than failures, on strengths more than weaknesses, and on the future rather than on the past. Questions are of central importance when focusing on solutions. It is thought that individuals become involved at a different level when they are asked specific questions rather than when statements are made. There are three critical questions that are most effective when posed within the boundaries of a cooperative working alliance: the exception question, the outcome question, and the coping question. The exception question calls attention to what the individual was doing differently when the problem was less intense or not present at all. With the outcome question, the crisis negotiator is indirectly asking the subject what life will be like when the problem no longer exists. The objective when asking a coping question is to uncover how the individual manages to cope with problems on a day-to-day basis. The best way to do this is to focus on a specific complaint and ask the individuals how they manage to cope with it. All three questions can be addressed from the relationship perspective. The relationship form asks the individual to step outside of him/herself and view the problem from someone else’s perspective. The potential for new information is inherent in this form. Bibliography