My dad is a trained hostage negotiator. He applied the skills that experts use in crisis situations to get me to follow orders as a kid — and it worked.
I was not a disobedient kid, but I can tell you that when my dad requested I do the dishes, they always got done much faster than when my mum demanded the same thing. How’d he do it?
I went right to the source to find out.
Captain Keith O’Sullivan, former Commander of the Wayne Police Department Crisis Negotiation Unit — also known as my father — explained a few of the techniques hostage negotiators use to get what they want. Conveniently, these tips also prove useful when assigning your kids chores.
1. Be nice
“It’s hard for people to be mean to someone who is being nice,” says O’Sullivan. So, when assigning an unpleasant task, do it with a smile. A calm or friendly voice will be received better than an urgent or demanding tone.
2. Frame orders as requests
People don’t like being told what to do. If a negotiator wants a barricaded subject to cooperate, they will ask politely if he can come out to discuss the problem. If you want your teenage daughter to clean her room, casually mention that it’s a little messy and ask if she could find some time to fix that.
When you want something done, the request may initially be met with resistance.”Then you find common ground,” says O’Sullivan. “For example, ‘As soon as you release that hostage, we can work on getting through your list of demands.’ Or, ‘As soon as you tidy that room up we can head out to get ice cream.'”
3. Practice active listening
This is crucial if someone is trying to argue with you or prove a point.
Does your son want to go to his friend’s house before mowing the lawn? Don’t interrupt. Resist the urge to disagree. Just listen.
“Let the hostage taker — or in this case, family member — know that you’re listening to their concerns and reassure them that you’re on their side,” says O’Sullivan. “Then the rest of the negotiation becomes easier as you move towards accomplishing your goals”
“In the end, you want everyone to feel like they took part in the decision making process and you made things happen together,” says O’Sullivan.
In other words, your daughter will feel like she wanted to take out the trash.
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