FBI Hostage Negotiation Techniques You Can Use to Achieve Better Outcomes
PART 1 – Active Listening
The goal of the FBI hostage negotiator is to, “work with the person in crisis towards a peaceful solution that previously seemed impossible.”
The FBI developed a 5 step model called the Behavioural Change Stairway. It is the basic strategy applied to heavily armed hostage and high stake negotiation situations but can also be applied to any conflict faced.
The 5 steps are:
5. Behavioural Change
As specialists in negotiating we often observe people skipping steps 1-3 and start at 4. It makes sense that we would start with “Influence” as we are trying to get our point of view across. If people were unemotional and completely rational this would work. Unfortunately, they are not. People have feelings, ego, like to be affirmed and felt heard.
Let’s start with focusing on improving Step 1 - Active Listening
This is a skill that will help you build rapport as well as gather important information. The elements of active listening are:
1. Listen. Don’t critically comment, disagree or interrupt.
2. Acknowledge what they are saying by brief affirming comments or nodding of the head.
3. Repeat what they have said in your own words as a summary. This technique is like mirroring. This lets the other party know that you have completely understood them.
4. Question. Ask open-ended questions that build on what they have said. E.g. “I understand that delivery time is important to you. Could you let us know why?”
You can see that applying “Active Listening” will build trust by trying to understand where they are coming from. This then allows you to move in a positive direction towards the next steps of “Empathy” and “Rapport”. The other benefit is that you have likely uncovered a lot of useful information.
Stay tuned for Part 2 and 3.
Happy relationship building,