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Key Takeaways

  • Individual journeys to professional roles can be deeply influenced by early life experiences and societal challenges. Inspiration often comes from community figures, leading to significant career shifts that align with personal passions for service.
  • In any profession, diversity enriches the workspace, and mentorship plays a critical role in personal and career development. These elements are crucial for fostering understanding, empathy, and progress within organizations.
  • Successful negotiation relies heavily on empathy, patience, and, sometimes, innovative approaches. These skills are not only vital in professional settings but are equally applicable and beneficial in personal life and family interactions.
  • Building effective teams requires a focus on diversity, collaboration, and continuous learning. Challenges within teams can be mitigated through patience, discipline, and a strong adherence to proven procedures.
  • Maintaining self-regulation and a clear focus on objectives is essential in high-stakes or stressful situations. Techniques such as deep breathing can help one stay grounded and effective.
  • Integrating real-world experiences into academic teaching enhances the learning experience, bridging the gap between theory and practice. Skills such as conflict resolution, communication, and de-escalation are valuable across various contexts, from law enforcement to community engagement.

Executive Summary:

Hi everyone! We appreciate you joining us on a brand new episode of the NEGOTIATEx podcast. With us today is Adrian Goodwin, a distinguished 19-year veteran of the NYPD, adjunct faculty member at John Jay College, award-winning author, and dedicated educator. 

Adrian, celebrated for her contributions as a hostage negotiator and community bridge-builder, has recently been honored with the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award and recognized as an international world civility ambassador.

So, without further ado, let’s delve into the insights that Adrian shares in this episode.

From Classroom To Cop Car: Adrian’s Journey To The NYPD

Nolan kicks off the discussion by asking Adrian about her experiences in the New York Police Department (NYPD) and if she has always intended to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Adrian responds by sharing her journey from a challenging childhood in an urban area during the crack epidemic to becoming a second-grade teacher and then transitioning to law enforcement. Growing up in a single-parent household, she was keenly aware of her surroundings, distinguishing between fireworks and gunshots from an early age. 

Inspired by community servants like teachers and policemen, she harbored the ambition to make a difference. Her path to the NYPD was fueled by a lifelong dream of serving in law enforcement, a dream she had vocalized since seventh grade.

Adrian’s Insight On Diversity And Mentorship In Law Enforcement

Next, Adrian highlights the challenges faced by women in a male-dominated field, emphasizing the need for continuous progress. She advocates for mentorship as crucial for career development, sharing her commitment to mentoring young officers and promoting a broader understanding of law enforcement’s positive opportunities. 

Adrian also expresses gratitude for the leadership and mentorship of Jack Cambria in her roles in hostage negotiation and academia.

Adrian’s Mastery Of Negotiation In Law Enforcement And Life

Adrian recounts a memorable crisis negotiation with an emotionally distressed individual facing a divorce and custody battle. Utilizing a drone for the first time, negotiators gained valuable insights into the individual’s position and state, facilitating a successful five-hour negotiation that ended with the individual surrendering. 

This operation underscored the importance of empathy and patience in crisis situations, qualities that Adrian emphasizes as crucial in her role. Her efforts, in this case, were recognized with the Hope Award from the American Suicide Association.

Adrian also compares negotiating with her family to her professional negotiations, highlighting the unique challenges of dealing with loved ones. She uses her skills in empathy and understanding in both areas, illustrated by a recent interaction between her twin daughters. The twins’ mature negotiation over a disagreement impressed her, showcasing how negotiation skills can be effectively applied and learned at any age, even in family dynamics.

Adrian’s Blueprint For Building Effective Negotiation Teams

Next, Nolan asks Adrian about the criteria for building an effective team. He seeks insights into how such a team navigates internal dynamics to ensure success.

In response, Adrian highlights the importance of diversity and teamwork in building an effective negotiation team, emphasizing the unique contributions of female negotiators and the value of varied personal experiences. She discusses challenges faced when team members do not collaborate effectively or when there’s a lack of patience and discipline in intense situations.

Adrian stresses the need for confidence, continuous learning, and adherence to negotiation procedures to enhance team performance and outcomes in crisis situations.

Adrian’s Strategies For Self-Regulation In High-Stakes Negotiations

After that, Adrian highlights the importance of self-regulation in high-stress negotiations by focusing on the end goal, taking deep breaths, and not taking things personally. She maintains perspective by remembering that the objective is to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome, whether it involves persuading someone to leave a dangerous situation or to surrender peacefully. This approach allows her to remain grounded and effective in crisis situations.

Integration Of Real-World Negotiation Skills Into Academia

Towards the end of the episode, Aram asks Adrain how she incorporates her experiences related to conflict resolution into the courses she teaches.

Adrian highlights that she integrates her experience in law enforcement and conflict resolution into her teaching, focusing on peacekeeping in multicultural societies, communication, ethics, biases, and prejudice. 

She emphasizes the importance of respect, conflict resolution skills, de-escalation techniques, and verbal judo in her courses, drawing on her practical experience as a negotiator. Verbal judo, a form of de-escalation, is highlighted as a crucial skill in maintaining effective communication and managing confrontations at a manageable level.

Thank you for your time!


Nolan Martin : Hello and welcome to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. I'm your co-host and co-founder, Nolan Martin. As always, good friend, co-host, co-founder, Aram Donigian is joining me today. Aram, want to kick it off?

Aram Donigian : I will. Thanks, Nolan. Good to see you. I feel like we should be starting with some sort of music. I don't know if it's kind of blue bloods or something, but we've got a treat for you today folks. Adrian Goodwin is a 19-year veteran of the New York Police Department, serving as a second grade detective, investigator and hostage negotiator.

She's also an adjunct faculty member at John Jay College, an award-winning author, dedicated educator, and sought-after speaker. In 2022, Adrian received the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest tier awarded for volunteer service throughout one's lifetime. She has also been recognized as an international world civility ambassador for her cross-cultural readiness and stand for justice and peace through civil dialogue.

Committed to bridging gaps between law enforcement and communities, she conducts workshops impacting students and speaking at various events. Adrian also chairs forums on community relationships and youth empowerment, showcasing her commitment to change law enforcement perceptions and promote diversity and inclusion.

A devoted mother of four children and wife, Adrian is rooted in faith, family, and community. She earned a master of education from Cambridge College and holds an honorary doctorate degree of leadership letters. Adrian, thanks so much for joining us today.

Adrian Goodwin : Thank you so much for having me. It's truly an honor to be on NEGOTIATEx

AD : And you've had quite a busy fall. We were talking on the pre piece, but we actually delayed this recording because congratulations! You got promoted and you just crossed the 19-year threshold. Amazing!

AG : It’s so exciting. I don't even know where the time has gone. First it was like, okay, when am I going to get off probation? And then you hit the peak and now you begin to go downhill. So it's been a great, great ride.

AD : Good. Well, thanks for making the time to be here.

AG : Absolutely.

NM : Well, Adrian, thank you for joining us today and for your service. Wondering if we might start by asking you to share about your journey in the NYPD. Were you always destined for law enforcement?

From Classroom To Police Badge: Navigating Hope And Ambition In A Turbulent Urban Childhood [03:02]

AG : So, I'll go back from nine years old growing up in an urban community, a single parent household during the time at the height of the crack epidemic, and I always share that the age of nine, I knew the distinction between fireworks and gunshots. I would hear them ring out all throughout the year. But I was a person that found the glimpse of hope that I can be all that I can be, and I leaned on those that I saw serving in my community, whether it was the teachers, the policemen, or the firemen.

Fast forward after graduating, I became a teacher. No one knows that I was a second grade school teacher a couple of years before transitioning to law enforcement, but it has been an amazing journey thus far. And when I discovered Facebook many moons ago, there was a classmate from seventh grade who said, that's all you talked about in seventh grade was being a police officer. So here I am.

NM : Very cool.

AD : Pretty amazing, and I love that you spent some time as a teacher. I think if you can be an elementary school teacher in this country practically anywhere, you can probably do almost anything.

AG : Yes, I agree.

AD : Adrian, as a black woman, what challenges have you had to overcome in your career and are there ways that your gender and race have made you a more effective police officer?

A Journey From Urban Challenges To Law Enforcement Trailblazer [04:20]

AG : Yeah, I would definitely say race. Growing up in an urban setting, seeing things that maybe most children don't see and experience that leads for me to be a more empathetic police officer, more understanding and caring about other people's issues. I wouldn't say as a black woman, I face challenges. I would say as a woman overall, I think most women can share in how do you navigate this landscape of a male dominated profession, maybe working two 10 times harder to prove yourself.

Finding yourself in spaces where you are the only one, right. In 2023, we're still saying the first police commissioner, the first this, the first that in law enforcement. So even though we have made strides, I think we still have work to do, but it has been a great journey thus far, and I think that my diverse background and experiences definitely lend to being a more compassionate police officer.

AD : Can I ask you a follow up, which is, if you were given advice to a younger version of yourself 20 years ago, or imagine a young person that is listening to this and wants to embark on a similar path that you've taken, what would that advice be?

AG : I would say to find a mentor. I wish I would've had a mentor 20 years ago. I am the first generation law enforcement police officer in my family, so I didn't really have anyone to lean on for guidance. If I can go back and just add a title in there, I would have loved to have been like a commanding officer of a precinct, but if I would've had that guidance, someone could have led me down to a hay study, take the test, move up the ranks. So I had to navigate the space all on my own. So mentorship is very important.

AD : I'm going to ask another follow on, and this is one of those surprises that we said we might throw some in. Do you do some mentoring for young officers today? Is that part of the responsibilities you just adopted naturally?

AG : Yeah. Everything that I do now is centered around mentorship and empowerment. Through my teaching as a faculty, through my activism and community service, I'm always lending my skill set and just experiences because people only know about law enforcement, what they see on TV.

So I love to give a broader perspective of all of the amazing opportunities that law enforcement does present, which people just don't know. I always get the parents that say, you should have been a recruit, because I probably would've signed up. I've been a police officer, you're really good. I'm like, oh, so many great opportunities. But yeah, it definitely threw my work in service in the community.

NM : The NYPD under Jack Cambria was one of the first to establish hostage negotiations as a formal activity and developed some of the leading training around it.

AG : Gentleman Jack, that is what we call him, he is simply the epitome of just what a thoughtful leader is, very kind hearted, compassionate. So to be able to be a part of the team under his leadership is like a dream and to be taught and led by him for so many years before he retired. And when I think about the two things that are the most important in my life, he had a direct impact on that. And that was one, being a part of the greatest police department of the world, hostage negotiation team, but also my faculty tenure at John J College, he had a part to play in that as well.

So thank you, Jack. If you decide to listen to this podcast, which you should, thank you. Thank you for your leadership.

NM : What are some of your experiences, both successes and failures?

Turning Crisis Into Connection: A Story Of Empathy And Negotiation In Law Enforcement [07:58]

AG : The collaborative work of negotiators being around people who come from diverse backgrounds and the experiences, whether it's different challenges that they have faced or depression or divorce, those are some of the great successes, failures, I haven't had any as of yet. I have seen them from afar, but that's pretty much it.

AD : Can you tell us about your first time in a crisis or hostage situation that you're doing this for real, after probably going through quite a bit of training? What was that like?

AG : Yeah, so I was coming into work and I get the call that there's a barricaded, emotionally disturbed person with the firearm inside of an apartment. And this was the first time that the job had used a drone, an emotionally disturbed case. Just think about downtown Brooklyn, a city where you have high rise buildings. The drone was able to see inside of the apartment, they were able to see where he placed the gun, where his movements were, and we were able to communicate through the door and through the phone. That was a five-hour negotiation of this man who was going through a divorce battle, custody battle.

So when you're on on all of the training, begin to kick in, you do your assessment, you gather your intel, things that can kind of lead you to get this person to move in a direction and influence his behavior to come out, which he did after five hours and he went to the hospital and got the help that he needed.

But I always shared this piece of the story that I leaned on that I got from his brother was that he was a great father, he was a great father, he was a great soccer coach, and that is what I told him, your son needs you. He needs you here. He has a game coming up. At first he, no, he'll be all right, but at some point it struck a chord with him, and that was one of the moving factors of him surrendering. And that was a great moment.

And maybe about six months later, I got a phone call from the American Suicide Association and they awarded myself and about 10 other police officers from various jobs for saving his life. So it was called the Hope Award, and I remember getting that phone call and just being overwhelmed with emotions to really take part in someone's life. That takes a lot for a person to really suppress your emotions, to deal and help someone navigate through their own. So that was a great job.

AD : Well, and it got me thinking, Adrian, to what you were saying, just a couple of questions before around just the role of empathy and how having grown up, seen a lot of things that a lot of other folks just don't see increase this capacity within you for empathy and connection, I would think, especially in the situation you just described, that's a fairly essential characteristic or quality to bring to the table.

AG : Absolutely. Leaning on empathy, just understanding what someone else is going through, understanding their perspective can help you navigate. Having this positive negotiation, getting them to comply, that takes time. That takes a lot of patience. That takes reflecting because sometimes that dialogue is not always friendly depending on what's being said from the other party. So taking that but still moving the goalpost forward absolutely takes a lot of resilience.

AD : Well, talking about connecting with people who have a very different perspective, and it might even be a hostile conversation sometimes. You're a mother of four and you're married to a former NYPD detective, so what's more difficult? Hostage negotiations or the negotiations you get at home? And on a maybe more serious note, what are the skills that bridge those two aspects of your life?

Mastering Negotiation Skills At Home [11:37]

AG : Look, anytime the person is closest to you, we know that's the hardest form of negotiation.

AD : Funny but true, right?

AG : Funny but true. We're negotiating each and every day, and I bring those skill sets in because as a mom, you are wearing these different hats. You have to be empathetic, you have to understand the child's understanding of where they may see things. But a perfect example, that's such a great question. Just two days ago, I'm a mom of four, but we have twins. The other two are in college.

The twin girls were having their moment, and one was extremely emotional, and I was able to sit back and allow them to navigate. And let me just tell you guys, I was impressed with the vernacular and just how composed they were, and they're only nine years old. And they said, well, you make me feel like this. I feel like you pick on me. And then Mia goes, and she says, can you tell me exactly what it is that I did to you so I don't have to do it again?

AD : Wow.

AG : And she said, but last time she said, no, but can we talk about what took place today? And I was just like, okay, okay.

AD : That's awesome. As another parent of a bunch of kids, I'm impressed by that. How encouraging to see kids adopting one, the language as you said, that vernacular, but also the composure around kind of the process and saying, Hey, we can talk about what happened last time, but right now we're talking about what's occurred today and let's say there. To me, I mean, that's just masterful. I mean, that's very mature process management that even senior corporate leaders struggle with sometimes.

AG : It goes to show you that anyone can learn negotiation skills. It's about the application of it and really being intentional each and every day to show up in spaces, to really give people the space to share their feelings and have them navigate through it. So I had to go like this.

NM : Very cool. So what does it take to build an effective negotiation team beyond the skills of individual negotiators? Are there any examples of how you've seen the hostage negotiation team navigate internal negotiations to successfully handle difficult situations? So first, how to build an effective negotiation team, and then how did they navigate that?

The Value Of Diversity And Unity In High-Stakes Situations [13:54]

AG : Yeah. I'm not in leadership as far as in the negotiation space. I'm one of the negotiators, but outside of that skillset is definitely building a team that is committed to the mission that can work collaboratively. Having a team of guys who have different experiences. I think some of the challenges that I have seen is not too many female negotiators. There was a job that happened in another borough and the supervisor said, you know what? Let's get Goodwin. She has that more nurturing side. She has a great tone. I think she'll be able to deliver on this job.

But I think that can be a disadvantage for a lot of negotiation teams is not having enough female negotiators. And then that just kind of adds to the enrichment of the team is having maybe a wife, maybe someone who went through a divorce, maybe someone who had depression, financial crisis, job issues. That supervisor can then pull from all of these different situations in order to find the best fit to lead that role as the lead negotiator. And we know that sometimes the roles get switched out, sometimes you have to put the next person on, but that teamwork is definitely the key.

NM : When have you seen it just go poorly? Either someone didn't like the role that they were in and they just didn't try and facilitate the process. Have you ever seen that?

AG : Yes. Sometimes when you have too many different hands in a situation who don't know how to just step away and allow the person who's trained in the area do the job. I have seen that go left or even a negotiator stepping up and really gaining the momentum to getting this person to building a great rapport. And then you have someone that may blurts out, just come on. And now we have to start from ground zero again.

So when we don't have people that's on the same team or people that feel like they can do the work, but they don't have the patience, it prolongs the job. And I've seen that happen quite a few times.

AD : You've got military connections and obviously Nolan and I both come from that. The idea of unity of command, singular voice, so important. And I think it just gets back to being able to train and the discipline that needs to happen around procedure, around process, around negotiation process and the trust that's built within your teams as well, right? The trust that you are a skilled negotiator. You have 19 years of service, I need to let you go ahead and do what it is that you do and lead this.

AG : But I think sometimes too, it could be a lack of confidence from that negotiator. It's not easy when the lights are on you and you have to take the lead in some of these intense situations. So just believing in yourself that you have the training and at each job you're going to get better and better at it. But just stay a student, stay teachable, stay coachable, and you'll build that level of confidence.

AD : And Adrian, I love where you just went with that. Another question here around self-regulation. Think so much around, so many of the times when we've had someone with your background on this program, we talk about the things that you may do externally that you're doing to a person in crisis or a hostage take or something you just said. There is this piece around my own self-confidence in those high stress situations, how do you self-regulate, self-manage so you can show up again in just an incredibly stressful high situation in the best way possible for yourself.

Staying Grounded In Crisis: A Negotiator's Guide To Focus And Empathy [17:41]

AG : First is taking a deep breath, taking a deep breath, assessing where we are, what are the goals and what are we trying to achieve? And just truly keeping the end goal in mind and every step that we take, it moves us forward. That's how I kind of just stay ground and centered, not taking things personal in negotiations because it's not about me. It's about finding this mutual beneficial arrangement to, Hey, one, I need you to come out the apartment. I need you to come off the bridge. I need you to put the knife down.

Regardless of any words that exchange from this person's standpoint, it's not directed at me. And I just have to understand that. And I think if people just took a moment to say, Hey, it's not about me. How can we get to the end goal and come up with a resolution?

AD : That's a beautiful statement. It has such broad application professionally and personally. You're a college faculty member as well. How do you integrate your own thinking on professional experiences in conflict resolution into the criminal justice courses that you teach?

A Law Enforcement Officer’s Perspective On Communication And Understanding [18:49]

AG : Yeah, so I'm in a law and police science department, and one of the courses that I teach is police and diversity. So it's peacekeeping in a multicultural society, just looking at cross-cultural issues and ethics and biases and prejudice. And at the root of all of that, we talk about communication because that's key when interacting with those that come from diverse backgrounds.

At the end of the day, people want to be respected. So able to share those conflict resolution skills and de-escalation and verbal judo. Those are some of the things that we discuss in class. But then also to lean on my practical experience as a negotiator really adds for an enrich course around bridging a gap between law enforcement and a community and really breaking down some of those myths and stereotypes and how can we move forward as one.

AD : Did you say verbal judo? What is that?

AG : Oh, verbal judo is a form of de-escalation. It's how you start a dialogue, right? That's communicate. If you start at 10, you can never really de-escalate. So we always want to increase those steps one by one or level by level, I should say. So just the way that we communicate with people that we may come in contact with. Because if you start at a level 10 as a police officer, how do you de-escalate that?

So, we always want to make sure that we are building on our active listening skills, building our rapport, and trying to keep things at level playing field when we're interacting with the community.

AD : Thanks. Yeah.

NM : Hey everyone, Nolan here. I have to jump in and end today's podcast of part A of the show, be sure to rate, review and subscribe to the NEGOTIATEx podcast if you haven't already. And also join us next week for part B of this awesome interview.

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