What We Can Learn from Hostage Negotiators for Your Negotiation

This article entitled “Police Negotiation Techniques and Negotiation Skills from the New York City Police Department Hostage Negotiation Team, Learn these crises skills from negotiators in the trenches” is offered by the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation Daily Blog.  This article offers some great insight.   The key points of the article are presented below.  Keep in mind that in a hostage negotiation the negotiation is all about crises negotiations and maintaining the peace.  However, there are lessons learned from this process that can help with integrative negotiations as well. 

The seven skills presented in this article are:

1 Talk to me

2 Patience

3 Active Listening

4 Respect

5 Calm

6 Self-Awareness

7 Adaptability

Each of these skills may seem self-evident, but the reality is that each takes practice and needs to be both learned and intentionally applied. 

We know that our brains are 98% emotional and 2% rational.  We also know that building a relationship first is critical to building trust and working towards a negotiation.    In a hostage negotiation the hostage negotiator is starting from a very negative position and has to quickly build rapport.   From my book Peaceful Resolutions, A 60-step illustrated guide to conflict resolutions I include research from hostage negotiators training and offer the following:

“Conflict resolution often calls on a range of skills (e.g., social awareness & psychological insight, emotional maturity, empathy, intuition, analytical ability, administrative ability) all at once.

Think about a hostage situation where a hostage negotiator asks the hostage taker what name he or she prefers to be called, and then addresses that party with utmost respect while speaking slowly and calmly. The hostage negotiator indicates that his or her role is to keep everyone safe. The conversation continues at the level and pace of the hostage taker. These initial steps in hostage negotiations are often helpful: (1) deal with emotions first; (2) listen to learn; (3) build trust through small concessions.”

The commentary associated with hostage negotiations offers some very good insight and some thoughtful commentary that can be applied to other negotiations.   Similarly in intense business negotiations the effort needs to be made to build a relationship first, listen to the other party and explore interests, and be there to educate in order to work towards the initiative of negotiating.  The stage needs to be set.  Time needs to be set aside for these very important elements in order to initiate the negotiation.  By building a relationship, listening and educating first business negotiations can be far more fruitful.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, NSA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]