FBI Hostage Negotiation Tactics You Can Use

All knowledge is welcome if it helps us achieve our purposes on a personal or professional level. An example, the experience of security agencies like the FBI.

The professional field is nourished by knowledge of any area that we can imagine. Who would have thought that a book on military tactics like Sun Tzu’s Art of War would be studied in universities and business schools to be applied in negotiation techniques? The same is true of success stories in the sports field.

negotiation techniques

In a society so competitive and where knowledge is necessary to constantly improve and innovate, any new idea is well received by boards of directors or business experts.

It is not surprising, then, that in the usual and varied talks that take place in different forums and congresses, profiles such as Christopher Voss, author of the book Never Split The Difference and expert in negotiation who worked for the FBI as a hostage negotiator appear. Currently, he also teaches in Georgetown and Southern California and if we search his name on the Internet we will find many videos of some of his conferences.

What does negotiating to free hostages have to do with working in an office? Let’s see some of the keys Christopher Voss gave at LinkedIn Talent Connect 2019, held last September in Dallas, Texas.

Give And Take

In the bases of negotiation techniques, it is always said that the two subjects involved each seek their own benefit, something that is not always compatible. Obviously, each one wants to achieve the maximum of their objectives, but for the negotiation to be possible and to succeed, it is clear that both must give and receive.

But Christopher Voss reminds us that we are not always aware that we are in one working with a base of negotiation techniques. In his own words, “If the words I want, need or would come out of your mouth, you are in a negotiation.” And here comes that maxim of negotiation: to receive, sometimes you have to give. Precisely, one of the mistakes is to think only of what we want.

Or in other words, to get what you want, you have to make the other party feel like they are going to receive something in return. As Chris Voss himself says, “We want reciprocity. We want to know that the person we are going to help is going to help us. ”

Empathy and Trust

According to Christopher Voss, empathy is essential in any negotiation, since it is so important that the other person understands what we need and why we understand what that person needs. In other words, we must demonstrate that we understand the other person so that he understands us.

Empathy does two things. On the one hand, it helps us understand who is on the other side and, on the other, it helps to create a climate of trust between both parties, something that according to Chris Voss must be achieved as soon as possible to make a good impression.

Another detail to keep in mind is that empathy is not the same as sympathy or showing compassion. Understanding the other side does not mean that we must agree on everything or agree on the same ideas.

To err is human

One of Chris Voss’s tactics as an FBI hostage negotiator was to make mistakes on purpose. The reason? Help the other person let their guard down. In his own words: “When you are correcting someone, you let your guard down. You feel that you are collaborating and you feel that the other person is listening to you ”.

In this process, Voss considers that the other party can unconsciously contribute information that would not have arisen in the conversation had it not been for that error. And in this sense, according to Voss, “if they shared information with you they shouldn’t have shared it, they won’t regret it because they won’t even remember it.” Specifically, he states that ” people do not remember what they say, they only remember how they feel when they say it.”

Seek yes through no

The goal of a negotiation is to get something. If we ask someone to do something for us, we look for a yes, but Christopher Voss believes that getting that yes immediately is counterproductive. Or, in his own words, “What happens when someone tries to get us to say yes? We have misgivings. We know there is a lure. We ask ourselves, what is the trick?

Instead, Chris Voss recommends looking for the other person to use no as an answer by altering our request. That is, instead of looking for a yes, Voss is more conducive to the other person not finding reasons to deny us that favour or that request that we are making.

Or what is the same, “ An uncalibrated is worth at least five yes. You’d be amazed at what people are capable of saying no. ”

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