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Framing Problems in Crisis Negotiation: Reframing in the Case of Waco
Unformatted Document Text:  Reframing in the Waco Negotiations 27 “what if” questions. The key in changing the game is to act as if the opponent was trying to solve the problem, thus drawing him/her into a problem-solving frame. Recasting attention back to solving the problem could not work in the Waco negotiations because both sides had different views of what the problem was and how it should be resolved. Further, reframing practices in this study shows that both parties in negotiation can employ negotiation strategies, not just one. The generic advice for crisis negotiators is based on principles of effective communication that assume a sender-receiver model of communication (McMains, 1996). It assumes that crisis negotiators can achieve their goals by following certain guidelines for what to say (or not say). Saying the right things to the subject/perpetrator will have a desired effect on his/her behavior, thereby achieving the larger goal of apprehending the subject/perpetrator without further loss of life. Ignored is the possibility that the other party could employ similar tactics as the negotiators. Koresh practiced his own form of refaming in the negotiations. He changed the game from a law enforcement situation to a biblical one. A negotiator cannot successfully reframe a situation in one direction and sustain it if the other person reframes it back to its original frame (or any other frame). Another lesson to learn from examining reframing in crisis negotiation is that rapport may not lead to resolution. In many ways the negotiators experienced what Donohue and Roberto (1993) call a cooperative paradox (see also Donohue, 1998). In this type of paradox parties may have good rapport with each other (high affiliation) but still have little control over each other (low interdependence). Davidians and negotiators alike expressed that they liked each other (though Koresh and Schneider indicated that they like some negotiators more than others). The extent to which those expressions were sincere can be argued on some level. Koresh often also explicitly expressed that he did not trust the FBI, and there were moments of anger and

Authors: Agne, Robert.
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Reframing in the Waco Negotiations 27
“what if” questions. The key in changing the game is to act as if the opponent was trying to
solve the problem, thus drawing him/her into a problem-solving frame. Recasting attention back
to solving the problem could not work in the Waco negotiations because both sides had different
views of what the problem was and how it should be resolved.
Further, reframing practices in this study shows that both parties in negotiation can
employ negotiation strategies, not just one. The generic advice for crisis negotiators is based on
principles of effective communication that assume a sender-receiver model of communication
(McMains, 1996). It assumes that crisis negotiators can achieve their goals by following certain
guidelines for what to say (or not say). Saying the right things to the subject/perpetrator will
have a desired effect on his/her behavior, thereby achieving the larger goal of apprehending the
subject/perpetrator without further loss of life. Ignored is the possibility that the other party
could employ similar tactics as the negotiators. Koresh practiced his own form of refaming in
the negotiations. He changed the game from a law enforcement situation to a biblical one. A
negotiator cannot successfully reframe a situation in one direction and sustain it if the other
person reframes it back to its original frame (or any other frame).
Another lesson to learn from examining reframing in crisis negotiation is that rapport
may not lead to resolution. In many ways the negotiators experienced what Donohue and
Roberto (1993) call a cooperative paradox (see also Donohue, 1998). In this type of paradox
parties may have good rapport with each other (high affiliation) but still have little control over
each other (low interdependence). Davidians and negotiators alike expressed that they liked each
other (though Koresh and Schneider indicated that they like some negotiators more than others).
The extent to which those expressions were sincere can be argued on some level. Koresh often
also explicitly expressed that he did not trust the FBI, and there were moments of anger and


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