Movies represent hostage negotiations as high stakes, dangerous, and high tension. Business negotiations can have the same attributes, depending on the deal. Both carry a lot of risks and a lot of stress. My past guest on Negotiations Ninja, Jack Cambria, was a member of the NYPD for 34 years, the last 14 of those years as a hostage negotiator. Wondering if police negotiations are as the movies would have us believe, Jack and I discussed some of the specifics and similarities of police negotiation and corporate negotiation.
Police negotiations and corporate negotiations both rely on active listening for resolve. Both are often dealing with a person who is not rational, so building trust and rapport are essential. One advantage of procurement is that generally, both sides will know necessary details about the negotiation beforehand: location, involved parties, topics. On the other hand, crisis negotiation could happen anywhere, forcing negotiators to listen exceptionally carefully and think on the fly. Despite knowing some of the details, assuming the needs of the other side in a procurement negotiation is dangerous to the bottom line. There is no substitute for authentic listening. In any negotiation, think of it as entering a movie partway through. Figure out what has transpired to get to this point.
“To solve a problem, you first must be able to identify what that problem is, and then you can develop your negotiation strategy,” says Jack.
Our upbringings, surroundings, and experiences all lead to how we observe and what we think. Due to this, active listening and empathy become very important in negotiations. Different people perceive things differently, which makes every negotiation slightly different. Building trust is key, which goes for police negotiations and corporate negotiations.
Resolution is the goal of every negotiation. Nevertheless, not every negotiation will be victorious. In a police negotiation, losing could mean lost lives. That is the worst-case scenario, and that adds a lot of pressure. Jack can’t always give the other side exactly what they want, but, by active listening, he can identify something he can give them. For example, a jet and a lot of money are out of the question, but a pack of cigarettes is doable. This tactic applies to business negotiations. As long as communication lines are open, there is still a possible solution. Listen carefully, use a calm voice, and think about other assets or solutions that can be offered. The importance of tone of voice cannot be underplayed. The second a voice escalates, so does a negotiation.
Both police and corporate negotiations take time, and people have to be able to walk through their emotions. Allow time for emotions and don’t take losses personally.
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