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Framing Problems in Crisis Negotiation: Reframing in the Case of Waco
Unformatted Document Text:  Reframing in the Waco Negotiations 26 Discussion and Conclusion In sum, reframing practices such as lexical recontextualizing, divisive cooperation, cornering (or frame-trapping), and changing the contest, show how competing frames were revealed in the Waco negotiations. For instance using certain key words to reshape the issue at hand from “coming out of the compound” to “preparing for Judgment Day” consistently relegated the importance of the FBI’s goals. Donohue and Roberto (1993) have indicated that negotiators experience more difficulty in building relational consensus, and therefore resolve the crisis, in the competitive patterns than they do in cooperative patterns. But their findings say little about what that means for the moment-to-moment interaction in negotiations. Describing divisive cooperation in this chapter shows that fostering cooperative patterns and developing a positive relationship may not be an easy task. Generic advice provided for crisis negotiators in how they should engage with subjects assume that rapport and cooperation are indicative of each other (Lanceley, 1999; McMains, 1996). Much of this advice is based on Ury’s (1991) well-known book, Getting Past No, which prescribes five strategies on which negotiators can focus when negotiating with difficult people. Common for each of these five strategies – in addition to the assumption that rapport and cooperation are indicative of each other – is that negotiators should generally be non-threatening, facilitate ventilation and validation, and elevate the self-esteem of the opponent. One of Ury’s (1991) strategies, “changing the game,” is conceptualized similarly to reframing techniques used in counseling and therapy (Coyne, 1985; Gale, & Brown-Standridge, 1988). In this strategy the negotiator does not reject the opponent’s point of view but recasts it in a way that directs attention back to solving the problem in a way that satisfies both sides. One way of doing this, says Ury, is to ask problem-solving questions such as “why,” “why not,” and

Authors: Agne, Robert.
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Reframing in the Waco Negotiations 26
Discussion and Conclusion
In sum, reframing practices such as lexical recontextualizing, divisive cooperation,
cornering (or frame-trapping), and changing the contest, show how competing frames were
revealed in the Waco negotiations. For instance using certain key words to reshape the issue at
hand from “coming out of the compound” to “preparing for Judgment Day” consistently
relegated the importance of the FBI’s goals. Donohue and Roberto (1993) have indicated that
negotiators experience more difficulty in building relational consensus, and therefore resolve the
crisis, in the competitive patterns than they do in cooperative patterns. But their findings say
little about what that means for the moment-to-moment interaction in negotiations. Describing
divisive cooperation in this chapter shows that fostering cooperative patterns and developing a
positive relationship may not be an easy task.
Generic advice provided for crisis negotiators in how they should engage with subjects
assume that rapport and cooperation are indicative of each other (Lanceley, 1999; McMains,
1996). Much of this advice is based on Ury’s (1991) well-known book, Getting Past No, which
prescribes five strategies on which negotiators can focus when negotiating with difficult people.
Common for each of these five strategies – in addition to the assumption that rapport and
cooperation are indicative of each other – is that negotiators should generally be non-threatening,
facilitate ventilation and validation, and elevate the self-esteem of the opponent.
One of Ury’s (1991) strategies, “changing the game,” is conceptualized similarly to
reframing techniques used in counseling and therapy (Coyne, 1985; Gale, & Brown-Standridge,
1988). In this strategy the negotiator does not reject the opponent’s point of view but recasts it in
a way that directs attention back to solving the problem in a way that satisfies both sides. One
way of doing this, says Ury, is to ask problem-solving questions such as “why,” “why not,” and


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