[anxiety, and how the FBI can help]

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This morning when I was doing my daily routine of chugging iced coffee and Googling stress reduction techniques, I came across an article about FBI hostage negotiation techniques.

If you’re wondering what FBI hostage negotiations have to do with stress reduction, I was too. But apparently the techniques the FBI uses can help with managing your stress and emotions, which if you really think about it, somehow makes perfect sense. When I’m feeling anxiety, it’s like my own brain is holding me hostage.

I was curious, though. How exactly do you go about negotiating in a crisis hostage situation? How do you get a crazy person to listen to you? Most importantly, how can this help you get your crazy brain to listen to you? Well, there’s this thing called the “Behavioral Change Staircase”, which appears to be a euphemism for “Getting people to put down a gun.” It goes something like:

  1. Active listening: get their side of the story. Like when a psychologist goes, “How do you feel about that?”
  2. Empathy: Know where they’re coming from.
  3. Rapport: They’re like, I feel like you feel what I feel.
  4. Influence: You’ve gained their trust and have a shot at getting them to listen to you.
  5. Behavioral Change: They do something (hopefully what you told them to do, like putting down their weapon).

The idea here is that people are emotional, and by identifying and acknowledging your emotions, you actually feel better. Literally just saying “I am feeling like this right now” magically calms you down. Even if those feelings are insane. I mean, in a hostage situation this person could be totally psycho and have completely invalid feelings, but they’re still feelings. It’s crazy how powerful it is that even just saying, “Yeah. I get it. You’re feeling those feelings,” can make a huge difference.

Is it super bizarre that crisis negotiation and hostage situation techniques apply to your own mental health? Maybe. But if you really think about it, doesn’t it help when you vent to your friend about how stupid it was that this guy texted you at 2 AM asking if he wants to Netflix and chill even though he totally has a girlfriend, and they’re like “Oh I would totally feel that way if I were you, that sucks,” and you’re like “YEAH IT DOES SUCK!” and your friend did nothing to fix the situation but you feel instantly better?

The FBI knows what they’re doing.

The point is, it’s ok to take a breather and recognize that you have feelings. And it’s ok to tell others how you’re feeling. And it helps if you listen to others when they tell you what they’re feeling. And then everyone can calm down and no one gets hurt. Or, you know, stressed out.

The FBI knows what they’re doing.

The point is, it’s ok to take a breather and recognize that you have feelings. And it’s ok to tell others how you’re feeling. And it helps if you listen to others when they tell you what they’re feeling. And then everyone can calm down and no one gets hurt. Or, you know, too stressed out.

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