“Whenever and wherever possible, always try to assume positive intent when looking at the actions and behaviors’ of others” - Gary McDougall

Gary McDougall

Conflict Resolution, Communication and Negotiation Expert

Gary McDougall is a retired police officer who served with the Calgary Police Service for 25 years.  For the last nine years of his career he was a member of the Hostage and Crisis Negotiation Team.

Gary McDougall served as both a Team Leader and Training Coordinator for the Calgary Hostage Negotiation team and was a frequent Instructor at the National Canadian Police College in Ottawa, delivering both basic and advanced hostage/crisis negotiations courses to police officers from across North America.

Additionally, McDougall served as an Instructor at the FBI Training Academy in Virginia, assisting in the training of new FBI Hostage Negotiators. After retiring from law enforcement in 2006, he became a frequent presenter at hostage and crisis negotiation conferences and seminars and is an internationally recognized subject matter expert in the area of negotiations, having presented at over 70 conferences across North America in the past decade.

Gary McDougall is currently a Lead Instructor for an organization called the National Tactical Officer’s Association, and travels throughout North America teaching both Introductory and Advanced training courses in Hostage and Crisis Negotiation strategies and techniques. He has parlayed the experiences he gained through his hostage negotiation career into the corporate world and now applies those training concepts into the presentations he offers. He specializes in the area of interpersonal conflict and engaging in conversations and interactions with difficult people. Additionally, he offers presentations in the areas of interest-based negotiation strategies, workplace violence, situational awareness to enhance employee safety and constructive conflict management.

Gary McDougall is a certified Mediator and holds a Certificate in Mediation and Negotiation, receiving that certification through the Alberta Mediation and Arbitration Society and the University of Calgary. He also holds a Certificate in Personnel Management through the University of Calgary. He received the Senior Police Administration Certification while serving with the Calgary Police Service. He is also the holder of the Alberta Centennial Police Service Medal as well as the Canadian Long Service Medal for his commitment to law enforcement in Alberta.

Topic Presentations

Gary McDougall's engaging and powerful keynote presentation entitled Communication Skills; Because Every Word Matters, will invite you to look at the way you have traditionally communicated. Effective communication seems to be a dying art in North American culture as people seem to have become socially isolated. Given this degree of social isolation, when we do find an opportunity to communicate with others, we need to maximize the value of that communicative investment. This presentation will assist you in conveying your message, managing assumptions and ensuring that the message intended was the message received.

Some of the communication strategies we have historically subscribed to may not be effective in terms of message delivery and there is value therefore in looking at, not only what we are saying, but also what we mean.

Some of the key learning outcomes included in this presentation are:

  • How our individual perceptions, assumptions and mindset affect our thoughts, behaviors’ and attitudes and ultimately the outcome of our personal interactions;

  • The impact our tone, emphasis and body language have on the message we are trying to convey.

  • Understanding that some very simple words that we commonly use can derail the effectiveness of our communication and ultimately our interpersonal and business relationships.

  • Recognizing the fact that, in many cases, we judge other people by their actions whereas we often judge ourselves by our intentions.

McDougall shows how these factors are crucial to understanding why some conversations and relationships fall off the rails.

Negotiation is defined as a discussion between at least two people, in which at least one of the participants has a desired outcome or agenda.

If you had any interaction with your children this morning, it likely involved negotiation - Get up and get dressed, it's time for school.  The conversation you had with your co-worker this morning may also have been a negotiation - Where do you want to go for coffee?

Most people learn negotiation skills at a very young age and have been practice them through childhood. Some of those strategies are effective and others, less so. The focus of this presentation is to underscore the value of the negotiation strategies you already employ and to offer suggestions on how to be more effective during your negotiations. Whether you are negotiating over the sale price of a new car or negotiating a multi-million dollar contract on behalf of your organization, these skills help to create value.

Gary McDougall is a firm believer that the negotiation tools and strategies he learned as a hostage and crisis negotiator are interchangeable with negotiation strategies used within the sphere of business negotiations. In this presentation, he will share the strategies that worked well during his negotiations as well as those that did not work well and those lessons learned can offer powerful insights for the attendees of this presentation.

Some of the key learning outcomes included in this presentation are:

  • Understanding the concept of the “Negotiator’s Dilemma” - finding the balance between achieving our substantive outcome while maintaining or improving the relationship we have with our counterpart.

  • Recognizing the pitfalls associated with the “Negotiator’s Mindset” whereby we often make assumptions when we perceive we are engaged in the process of negotiation.  This includes the common assumption that the other side is going to try to take advantage of us and are not to be trusted.

  • Comparing and contrasting the differences between “Traditional Positional Bargaining” with the concept of “Interest Based” negotiation.

  • Examining the “negotiators toolkit” which includes exploring options with the other side, looking at alternatives and identifying the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.

Functional interpersonal relationships are at the core of business success, and in some cases interpersonal conflict is a significant impediment to a successful relationship. Conflict is defined as a state of tension, opposition, or an expressed struggle between two parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce rewards and interference from the other party in achieving their goals. One aspect of conflict is related to “perception,” as, in many cases your perception drives your thoughts, your feelings, and your behavior.

Every conflict, every difficult interaction, every difficult situation—has three different components, which include: the issue at hand, each party’s position and their underlying interest. The key to managing these kinds of interpersonal conflicts is to shift from engaging in a positional conversation and instead, seek to understand what is important to each side (Their underlying interest and yours).

In this presentation, Gary McDougall will explore strategies and techniques for navigating through these difficult engagements and strive to arrive at an outcome that meets each parties needs. He will share techniques to ensure that both conflicting parties feel they have been heard, listened to and validated. For those high conflict situations, McDougall will share the strategies he used to manage difficult engagements in his former career as a hostage and crisis negotiator.

Some of the key learning outcomes included in this presentation are:

  • Understanding the need for professionalism, strategies for managing our own anger during difficult interactions and strategies for managing strong emotions in those difficult people we interact with.

  • Strategies for defusing angry people and dealing with verbally aggressive subjects.

  • An examination of the concept of “response expectation” and the “emotion/reason equilibrium”. This provides some understanding of why people act as they do in conflict.

  • How to set boundaries for people to let them know how we expect and deserve to be treated during hostile or emotion laden engagements.

Recent changes to Canadian Legislation place a significant burden on employers to ensure that they maintain a safe work environment for their employees. Ensuring employee safety is a legal requirement since the proclamation of Bill C-45, which is now addressed in Section 217.1 of the Canadian Criminal Code. Employers are legally bound to ensure employee safety and there are significant criminal and civil ramifications for non-compliance.

In this presentation, Gary McDougall will provide you with an insight into how, in many cases violence follows a pattern of escalation which creates a need for employers and co-workers to recognize these indicators of escalation. Additionally, attendees will gain an understanding of the classification of risks which include the risk associated with an unknown person (not associated with your workplace) entering to commit a crime such as robbery, assault or theft.

Other risks include the risks that can be posed by co-workers and former co-workers, the risks associated with clients or former clients and finally, the risks associated with a domestic situation spilling into the workplace. Gary McDougall will offer information in relation to how, in many cases violent people are purposeful in their actions; dates, methods and locations are significant and often drive the violent actions. He will also explore the similarity in patterns between suicidal subjects and homicidal subjects. The session will also offer strategies to employ in the unlikely event a violent situation arises in the workplace and what actions to take to ensure your personal safety.

Some of the key learning outcomes included in this presentation are:

  • As a society, it seems the focus is on mitigating the risks associated with fire at our workplace when perhaps more consideration should be on addressing the risks associated with workplace violence.

  • Understanding that, in some cases, people contemplating violence, illustrate or display warning signs, which is helpful in preventing an escalation.

  • Recognizing the key warning signs potentially violent people sometimes exhibit when escalating toward violence.

While the law requires that employers create and maintain a safe work environment for their employees, when a violent event occurs in a workplace setting, each individual employee is responsible for their own safety. That said, in some workplaces, there are employees that operate in a state of oblivion, with no recognition or understanding that situations and circumstances may arise that are a risk to their personal safety. In this presentation, Gary McDougall will provide information designed to to create situational awareness and encourage people to match their level of awareness with the potential risks that may be present in the workplace.

This session will also outline the route potentially violent people follow as they move toward violence. Understanding this escalation pattern is critical information for anyone that may work in an environment in which there is a potential for violence. The session will also include information relating to human intuition and our need to pay attention to the subtle warning signs that sometimes lead to violence. People attending this presentation will walk away with tangible strategies for creating their own personal safety plan, using the information offered during the presentation to create their own plan.

Some of the key learning outcomes included in this presentation are:

  • Understanding the indicators of concern that may suggest a person is escalating.

  • A familiarity with the five various levels of situational awareness, including: tuned out, relaxed awareness, focused awareness, high alert and comatose.

  • Discounting our human intuition is both dangerous and imprudent. Responding to our intuition is not about over-reacting, rather about paying attention to, and adjusting the level of awareness.

  • An awareness of the three most common stages of response to crisis; flight, fight or freeze and how to select the appropriate response.

  • An examination of the psychology of evacuation in the event of a crisis. Perhaps following the crowd may not be the most appropriate response.

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