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Framing Problems in Crisis Negotiation: Reframing in the Case of Waco
Unformatted Document Text:  Reframing in the Waco Negotiations 22 functions like “well” in “well, ordinarily I would, but.” Morris et al. (1994) also suggest that “well” functions as the speaker’s attempt to maintain the flow of the conversation and not reject the request outright. “Dick” does this nicely as it parallels Wren’s “David” just before his request for help. “I would love to. But” cushions an upcoming rejection by indicating that helping others is something he enjoys. Koresh’s reported trouble, “you’re not representing me. God’s gonna represent me,” gives the account and implies that he cannot help Wren. It renders moot Wren’s attempted representation of Koresh (line, 348, “I’ve been trying to represent you”) and therefore any need for Koresh’s help at all. As the rest of the excerpt shows, Koresh does offer help after all, but it is on his religious terms. As Morris et al. (1994) indicate, the cushioning (“well, ordinarily I would”) allows for the requestor to revise the initial invitation, proposal, etc. Wren does so by modifying his request to a “personal favor” (lines 351, 353). Koresh complies by saying, “Here’s how I could help you out” (line 354) and follows up with a question, “Would you like to know the Seven Seals” (lines 354-355). Wren is cornered by this question because answering it hinges on his original request for help. Saying “yes” invites the kind of help Wren presumably does not want (i.e., a bible study on the Seals). Saying “no” would invite Koresh to respond with “then I can’t help you.” The second part of Wren’s answer, “but I need to go to my bosses” (lines 356-357), offers an account for an implied refusal to learn the Seven Seals by reporting a trouble as in the last part of the formula, “well, ordinarily I would, but … [there’s a problem].” However, the first part of Wren’s answer, “Certainly. I’m happy to learn about the Seven Seals” (lines 356), does not so clearly forecast or cushion an account or rejection. Koresh’s timing in the start of his second question, “well how bout then you got do you got your bible?” (lines 358-359), is such

Authors: Agne, Robert.
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Reframing in the Waco Negotiations 22
functions like “well” in “well, ordinarily I would, but.” Morris et al. (1994) also suggest that
“well” functions as the speaker’s attempt to maintain the flow of the conversation and not reject
the request outright. “Dick” does this nicely as it parallels Wren’s “David” just before his
request for help.
“I would love to. But” cushions an upcoming rejection by indicating that helping others
is something he enjoys. Koresh’s reported trouble, “you’re not representing me. God’s gonna
represent me,” gives the account and implies that he cannot help Wren. It renders moot Wren’s
attempted representation of Koresh (line, 348, “I’ve been trying to represent you”) and therefore
any need for Koresh’s help at all.
As the rest of the excerpt shows, Koresh does offer help after all, but it is on his religious
terms. As Morris et al. (1994) indicate, the cushioning (“well, ordinarily I would”) allows for the
requestor to revise the initial invitation, proposal, etc. Wren does so by modifying his request to
a “personal favor” (lines 351, 353). Koresh complies by saying, “Here’s how I could help you
out” (line 354) and follows up with a question, “Would you like to know the Seven Seals” (lines
354-355). Wren is cornered by this question because answering it hinges on his original request
for help. Saying “yes” invites the kind of help Wren presumably does not want (i.e., a bible
study on the Seals). Saying “no” would invite Koresh to respond with “then I can’t help you.”
The second part of Wren’s answer, “but I need to go to my bosses” (lines 356-357),
offers an account for an implied refusal to learn the Seven Seals by reporting a trouble as in the
last part of the formula, “well, ordinarily I would, but … [there’s a problem].” However, the first
part of Wren’s answer, “Certainly. I’m happy to learn about the Seven Seals” (lines 356), does
not so clearly forecast or cushion an account or rejection. Koresh’s timing in the start of his
second question, “well how bout then you got do you got your bible?” (lines 358-359), is such


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