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Home » A Hostage Negotiator On How To Resolve Conflict: Karleen Savage (Transcript)

A Hostage Negotiator On How To Resolve Conflict: Karleen Savage (Transcript)

Full text of Karleen Savage’s TEDx Talk titled ‘A HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR ON HOW TO RESOLVE CONFLICT’ at TEDxValparaisoUniversity conference.

Listen to the audio version:


Karleen Savage – Hostage and Crisis Negotiator

When people find out I’m a hostage negotiator and I work in conflict resolution, you get a look on your face. And when you do, I know you’re thinking of those high-stakes scenarios that you see in the movies: The police barricades, snipers on rooftops, helicopters circling overhead. Is it a bank robbery gone wrong? A hostile takeover at an embassy? Something out of Die Hard? [Wimmy] and Bruce?

You like that? Joking. Just joking.

But what isn’t a joke is what gets left out. What doesn’t come to mind when we think of high-stakes crisis, and conflict resolution? And that’s us. It’s the couple that’s working through the rough patch in their relationship. It’s the exasperation in-laws feel when a new marriage divides families. It’s emptiness syndrome, relentless arguments over finances.

For me, it’s a 14-year-old teenager on the other end of my crisis call. It’s all of these things that might be resolved if we had the tools, but are also the kinds of situations that can decimate and destroy and tear families apart.

What I want for you is to see that the highest stakes in conflict resolution are happening in the relationships we have every day. If you build those relationships and those skills, you have an opportunity to protect and elevate those relationships. Because when you’re in an argument with your spouse, with your teenager, there’s no backup SWAT team standing by to help. It’s just you. And that means the stakes are as high as they can get.

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