Sunday, March 9, 2014

Negotiation Lessons Learned by an FBI Hostage Negotiator

Retired FBI Chief Negotiator Frederick Lanceley shares some important lessons he has learned while also showing how these learnable moments apply to other types of negotiations such as being a salesperson.

In the early 1970s, between graduate school and my FBI career, I had worked as a salesman. When I became involved with and, later, led the FBI's hostage negotiation program, the similarities between hostage negotiation and what I learned as a salesperson became evident.

Here Lanceley reminds us that as conflict resolution professionals, we need to put aside our thoughts (including judgments), not get baited, and use active listening that is grounded in empathy.
It is not about you
We, negotiators and sales people, know that our subjects and clients sometimes behave in seemingly irrational ways. We know how difficult it is to be truly heard or understood. Not matter how difficult the client or subject, we must remember that this negotiation is not about you, the negotiator or salesperson. It is about the subject or client and his or her needs. This point is may be hard to keep in mind especially when the client is nasty, insulting or worse.
The next tip Lanceley offers happens to be #6 on my list of 10 Mistakes a Crisis Hostage Negotiator Has Made & How You Can Avoid Them- Words &  Actions Not Being Congruent:
People believe in demonstrations far more than words. For example, negotiators in Waco were telling Mr. Koresh that everything was going to be resolved peacefully. On the other hand, what did Mr. Koresh and the Branch Davidians see when they looked out the window? Tanks! Who were they more likely to believe? A voice on the telephone or what they saw out the window?
Lanceley then offers a suggestion on how to the negotiator should introduce themselves. I find this of particular interest as it is part of my current research- how do you introduce yourself? Seemingly, there is not a clear method based on research and trainings.
Suggested negotiator introduction
How one opens a negotiation can be very important. It may set the tone for hours, if not the duration of the incident. The introduction used by many negotiators in the United States is as follows: "My name is . (No rank or title.) I am a negotiator with the _____________Police Department. I would like to help."
Read the full article from here.

Frederick J. Lanceley, MSAJ, retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was the FBI's senior negotiator and principal director of their internationally acclaimed crisis negotiation course. He has been involved in several hundred hostage, barricade, suicide, aircraft hijacking and kidnapping cases. Mr. Lanceley has trained officers from every major law enforcement agency in the United States and over 50 foreign countries.

He is the author of the best-selling book entitled On-Scene Guide for Crisis Negotiators, now in its second edition.

Mr. Lanceley is currently the Director of Crisis Negotiation Associates, Inc. Visit his web site at