25 April 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
The parallels between facilities management and hostage negotiation may not be immediately apparent.
But a former Scotland Yard hostage negotiator speaking at the IWFM Conference this week said the two professions actually use similar people skills.
Richard Mullender, who has negotiated with terrorist organisations, people threatening to commit suicide and perpetrators of domestic violence, told conference attendees that the key in all these situations was having excellent listening skills.
Although Mullender had honed his skills in extreme situations, he argued that they were fundamentally the same skills that facilities professionals need to exploit when dealing with conflict resolution or negotiating a contract with clients.
He outlined the basics of listening, including how to respond when someone is speaking. In this scenario he said: "Every time you ask a question, you move away from the original thought [of the speaker]."
He pointed out how this actually brought the interrupting person's agenda into the conversation, moving away from true listening of the subject originally talking. Some of the rules that apply when listening include nodding the head, smiling, and encouraging the talker with phrases like "go on".
He also pointed out the basics of body language such as having an open stance, leaning forward and making eye contact but not eye-balling - this has "an effect on the brain as the body is telling it the conversation is important", said Mullender.