Human story of the week is this tale,  from St Paul, Minneapolis, about two beer deliverymen who talked a man out of jumping off a bridge by offering him a 12-pack of Coors Light.

The best account of this incident is in the Chicago Tribune, but since their website is off limits to Europeans (to protect our rights under the GDPR !) here's the story.  Seeing the man on the ledge, and not prepared to wait until the police arrived, the deliveryman initiated a conversation.  He found out the man's name, where he grew up, whether he had kids, and he built some common ground in that both men had grown up in tough neighbourhoods.  He offered the man some food, then some money, and eventually he mentioned a drink.  So a 12-pack was lifted off the truck, the beer was cracked open, and soon the incident was over as the man came back to safety.

We won't know what changed the man's mind, but as a local police spokesman said "beer has been bringing people together for a long, long time".  

So how would you have handled the situation?  Having been in a similar situation myself, albeit within the safe environment of training under the guidance of professional crisis negotiators from CEDR's training faculty, I can attest that, when you're standing on the roof with someone who's literally on the edge, the pressure to "say the right thing" is enormous.  And whilst what I learnt on that roof still leaves me a very long way behind my colleagues, who have years of experience in literally life or death negotiations, what I have taken away is some skills, processes and an attitude of mind that stands me in good stead for those pressure situations where I'm thrown into a negotiation without getting the opportunity to prepare.  For, to quote the Greek lyric poet, Archilochus, when most of us are under pressure, "we don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training".  

CEDR offers a wide range of tailored packages that include our flagship Advanced Negotiation Course or our new modular programme in 'Skills for Life' - master active listening, managing emotion, how to have that difficult conversation and be an agent of influence. To learn more, contact the CEDR Skills team at

Graham Massie is a member of CEDR Chambers, a panel of highly experienced mediators with proven excellence in providing mediation, training and consultancy services to clients.