Monday, December 29, 2014


By Lynne Kinnucan

The Roman god Janus, responsible for overseeing the beginnings and ends of conflicts, was also the god of transitions. As we transit into 2015, we wanted to look at what we have learned from the insights and practices of negotiators who are experienced in transitions. All of them based their work in authentic listening.

We mentioned active listening in almost every issue last year because, although it is an old practice, it is played out in ways that are always new.  This month’s Corner reviews some of the comments on hostage negotiation techniques and the common root from which they spring. 

Trainer and retired FBI hostage negotiator Derek Gaunt noted that deep listening is a powerful skill, but difficult to master, and he works from day one to get the active listening skills off the page and into his students’ muscle memory. 

He steers them away from one of the biggest mistakes a hostage negotiator can make: using active listening skills like a robot. If a negotiator is thinking only about which skill to use next, the subject may think the negotiator doesn’t care about his problems and … how to put this ….may react badly.  Negotiations have been won and lost over this skill.

Gary Noesner, retired hostage negotiator and author of Stalling for Time, expands on this:  

The sincere and genuine demonstration of your interest and understanding of the other person's problem/point of view is far more important than your ability to provide a quick solution."  

In fact, the quick solution is often damaging to the process of attunement and resolution.  The listening must come first.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Building Trust in a Volatile Situation

David Horsager Headshot
The recent "Siege in Sydney" provided me with the chance to consider how the Trust Edge illustrates a workable approach even in the most volatile, life-threatening and unpredictable situations. Police and military forces around the world have developed specific protocols for obtaining the safe release of hostages in an increasingly dangerous world. These protocols were born out of the aftermath of the 1972 Olympic hostage crisis in Munich, which tragically ended with the deaths of 9 hostages and one police officer. Wishing to get better results when similar incidents happened in the future, teams of professional negotiators, law enforcement and military personnel have developed a better way of managing these terrible situations...similar in many ways to the Trust Edge.

David then talks about the C's

  • Compassion
  • Connection & Connectivity
  • Commitment
  • Conclusion
I encourage you to read the full article [HERE]. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Just Shut Up And Listen"

From the NY Times article on Thanksgiving tips on dealing with family issues:

“Just shut up and listen,” said Frederick J. Lanceley, the F.B.I.’s former senior negotiator and former principal director of its negotiation course, when asked how to get two parties who are at odds with each other to cooperate at the holiday dinner table. “People want to be heard. They want the attention.

Mr. Lanceley said that during his 26 years with the F.B.I., his active listening skills caused perpetrators in various cases to confess, to ask if they could write him from jail or to even offer him a job. Mr. Lanceley advocated the following course of action: 

Repeating what the other person says, we call that paraphrasing. ‘So what you’re telling me is that the F.B.I. screwed you over by doing this and that,’ and then you repeat back to him what he said. Also, emotional labeling: ‘You sound like you were hurt by that.’ ‘You sound like it must have been really annoying.’ Little verbal encouragements: ‘Unh-huh,’ ‘Mm-hmm.’ A nod of the head to let them know you’re there.”

The article quotes familiar names from the Law Enforcement Crisis/Hostage Negotiation world such as Chris Voss, Gary Noesner, Jennifer Higby, Jennifer Hardwick, Robin Burcell, and Judy Couwels. 

Read the full article [HERE].

Monday, December 1, 2014

A deal's a deal: Former FBI negotiator Chris Voss lands 6-figure deal for 'Killer Deals.'

A former FBI hostage negotiator has a six-figure deal with an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers for a book entitled "Killer Deals."

Read the full (and brief) article from the AP [HERE].

Read more about Chris Voss [HERE].