Publication details [#67375]

Archer, Dawn, Rebecca Smithson and Ian Kennedy. 2018. Achieving influence through negotiation: An argument for developing pragmatic awareness. In Kryk-Kastovsky, Barbara and Dennis Kurzon, eds. Legal Pragmatics. (Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 288). John Benjamins. pp. 181–201.
Publication type
Article in book
Publication language


This chapter focuses on a now-infamous case involving 20-year old Grant Sattaur and a Californian Police Negotiator. We focus, in particular, on the last four minutes of their two-hour conversation in 2007, prior to Sattaur taking his own life. We demonstrate that, by this point in their discussion, the Negotiator was not making effective use of recognised crisis negotiation procedures as set out within models such as the behavioural staircase (Vecchi et al. 2005) and SAFE (Hammer 2007). We then go on to demonstrate that, had the negotiator had an awareness of some of the pragmatic principles of communication, he might have been more able to (re)instate components of the negotiation staircase and/or SAFE – even at this late stage in the conversation. This work reflects a larger project, via which the authors explore the linguistic “how to” of influence (Archer and Smithson 2016) with UK police negotiators, in ways that complement their existing knowledge of the psychology of influence (e.g., Cialdini 2008). Police negotiators are particularly encouraged to reject any notion of mythical ‘verbal magic bullets’ (Burleson and Goldsmith 1998: 259), which work regardless of context and/or an interlocutor’s resistance, because of the complexity of crisis negotiation, communicatively speaking.