Should police negotiators ask to ‘talk’ or ‘speak’ to persons in crisis? Word selection and overcoming resistance to dialogue proposals
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionResearch on Language and Social Interaction. 2020, 53 (3), 324-340. 10.1080/08351813.2020.1785770
This article explores whether and how word selection makes some proposals easier to resist than others. Fourteen cases (31 hours) of UK-based police crisis negotiation were analyzed exploring (a) how negotiators use the verbs talk or speak when proposing “dialogue,” and (b) to what extent the strength of resistance of persons in crisis toward the proposals may be attributed to this word selection. We found that persons in crisis were more likely to overtly reject proposals formulated with talk compared to speak. And while negotiators used both talk/speak when proposing dialogue, negotiators and persons in crisis associated talk with more evaluative stances toward dialogue compared to speak. This article has implications for the study of word selection in interaction and for crisis negotiation and other professions where “talk” is promoted as the solution. Data in British English.