So…just got smacked in the third eye. It turns out, I’m a terrible hostage candidate; personal and professional – depending on your perspective, of course.

Right up front – many thanks to all my would-be oppressors who unwittingly provided an opportunity to practise, in my opinion; the single most practical communication skillset on the face of the Earth. That of the negotiator.

Had a totally Eureka moment, when I stumbled into sentient being Haydn Thomas’ Courageous Leadership Conversations workshop at the three-day Convergence Change Conference last week.

All I can think is, how did negotiation not make it as a communication degree unit…ethics is, and apparently, that’s gone out the window?

As a broadly practiced 21-year communication professional – just a thought: if you ever choose just one industry course, Haydn recommends the ENS International negotiator training. Given we only touched subject matter, I’m waiting for course details as we speak.

Unfortunately, the situation is this. Business actively works to cultivate hostages, all the while communicating opposing messaging of innovation, collaboration…pick a hot creative term and look up its antonym. That’s exactly where it’s at.

And I’m sorry to be the bearer of this pile of shit news. But the fact is: it will never behove the majority of established business to empower free-thinking that goes directly against hierarchy.

We are the medicated, homogenised mass who unbeknownst, play our parts to a T. And sometimes that’s OK, because let’s face it – everyone has responsibilities and when children are involved, then my hat goes off to the self-hostage. They are taking a massive hit for the team. I have felt and seen your trauma…you are my hero’s.

The problem is, you cannot be a hostage and not suffer the effects of ill health. And I have first-hand experience.

Until four months ago, it’s fair to say I was a dissident hostage with a diagnosed, medicated major depressive disorder.

So, what changed? I negated the situation to take a leadership role including that of negotiator…and as a result, I no longer take anti-depressants or suffer depression. Imagine my pure joy.

Another health strategy I employ, is effectively running away from a succubus. You know – the taker. They, in fact, are also holding you hostage.

Don’t get me wrong – we all take. That’s the game. But if you don’t give and take – in the words of Melbourne Cup winning jockey and all-round legend Michelle Payne…get stuffed.

They can also use tactics like eyeballing – I know this intimately and damn it’s fun for my type. The trick per Haydn, is no quarter – whoever break gaze first, loses. Game on, people.

But it was the status role play that had me stumped – I’m sure Haydn was watching me not getting it, simply because I’m a fighter; for me there are only two positions. Victim and non-victim. Wrong! There are four status positions: but it’s the Alpha at number one that left me feeling like a shower.

Imagine massive ego, overbearing, uses their body to intimidate – can be recognised by all-important ‘glide’.

So, second position will see someone clomping heavily and moving quickly, but if you want to pull rank in motion, slow that shit right down and draw yourself upwards to create personal power.

And I’m thinking, nuh, when is that working for someone who needs to connect – then it hit me.

I gave Dad a triple banger at Chrissie after a blue with folks. I got up and walked across living room towards Dad, headed for door; to which he said, don’t walk out.

It was a final call to arms so I deliberately slowed self, and eyeballed him with, ‘this isn’t walking – this is running’.

And that’s why Haydn’s course was so illuminating and achieved my conference objective: to access more compassion and help me negate my linguistic blunt force trauma.

I will always choose the carrot over the stick messaging or as Haydn says, pull or push influencing style – but I need the insight to access the love.

The fight with Mum appeared as fear about my start-up: but it’s an illusion. Mum’s actual fear is abandonment by me.

There’s a story about her packing a little bag aged 6 or 7 and running away from home. She was attempting to take her mother hostage to get love – and what did Mardi do…sent her 4-year-old brother to track Mum. Not come after her, like any well mother would do. And my heart broke for that little girl.

So now Dad and I have taken the role of negotiators; I’ve begun to feed him strategy and build Mum up – because the abandonment fear goes to inferiority. Even recently her older brother told her that she was stupid to her face, twice! Honestly, who are these people?

What it comes back to is this…are you listening to yourself? Is your gut screaming at you to create change and you’re actively ignoring your intuition?

I had depression because I wasn’t reacting and responding to my trauma. Sometimes you’re on a ledge, with a burning change platform and you’re frozen with fear. I was. Now I’m not.

If you’ve got a burning platform and it directly affects someone that you’re responsible for, like children, and you’ve got your fingers stuck-in-ears, going ‘la la la’ – then I’d suggest to do something, even small, to see what could be.

Because funnily enough, once you have change impetus it creates a chain reaction…and that’s when you know that you’re on the right path. Even if it’s just a courageous conversation with yourself. You’ll feel heaps better.

Addendum: my old man Sandy gives great eye…needless to say, he’s no hostage either. I guess you do learn from the best.