Negotiation: It’s not just used in a hostage situation

Negotiation happens all the time within our lives; most commonly in the work place when bargaining for a job or even in a time of crisis.  Anyone can be a negotiator, and it doesn’t have to just resemble a hostage situation starring Bruce Willis.

Hostage (Google Image)

Hostage (Google Image)

Active Listening

You may think you are a good listener, but are you an emphatic listener?  Of course everyone thinks they are a good listener and this may seem like I am stating the obvious but active listening is a skill in itself.  Listening requires a lot of concentration in order to really understand how the person is feeling. Negotiations happen all the time at work. If a manager can actively listen, it is likely that a compromise can be arranged with minimal conflict. The outcome of this is much better for both parties involved.

Negotiation (Google Image)

Negotiation (Google Image)

 “As parties bargain over the terms of an agreement, they are concurrently negotiating their relationship. In this parallel negotiation, parties seek to position themselves to advantage by using a variety of strategic moves”.

(Kolb, 2004)

Negotiation Staircase

Recently at university, we had a guest lecture from two real-life police negotiators about ‘Negotiation and Influence’. The skills used within a hostage situation can be applied to many other circumstances. This process is called the negotiation staircase.

The first step is emotional intelligence, achieved through active listening; you can determine how an individual is feeling. If this stage is approached inappropriately, the negotiation and bargaining process has already failed and you’re back to square one. Next is the initial contact; the cliché is true, first impressions really do count! Then empathy and rapport emerges which can then build trust. Once these steps are successfully completed, then there is your influence and persuasion.

This video by Human Resources Mag backs up the idea that negotiation within the workplace is similar to that of a hostage negotiation. Hostage negotiation skills can be applied to any situation. It’s all about common goals and maintaining relationships, and that Bruce Willis moment.

I would love to know your thoughts. Do you agree that negotiation is all about active listening and can it ever be compared to a hostage situation?



6 thoughts on “Negotiation: It’s not just used in a hostage situation

  1. I have 2 young nephews and every request, whether it’s eating dinner or putting on a jumper, is a negotiation – so it’s definitely a skill you come across and develop early on! Some people are much better than others, which as you say could be down to how good a listener you are. Another good term I’ve heard for it is ‘nudging’ and there’s a great book about it. It basically means you nudge people towards your way of thinking, so when it comes to negotiation you are already likely to have support for your way of thinking. Remember business is all about people, and at the end of the day how you communicate is going to be key to your success.

  2. Neogiation starts with listening, but there’s more to it as well – you need to show in your begotiation that you’ve a)understood the other person’s position and b) considered it. If they feel you’ve listened but then ignored their feelings you’ve still got a way to go! Negotiation can also include an element of compromise, and it’s important to rememberthis when communicating something. Why should someone act upon the information you’re giving them? What’s in it for them? If you can listen to them, engage them in your way of thinking and inspire a desired outcome or action, your skills in negotiation are really shining!

  3. I remember one key thing from a negotating training session and that is to establish very early on what the other party really wants rather than starting with your agenda. Listen to their reasons and then the negotiations can begin.

  4. I agree Liz, it’s definitely about what you do once you’ve listened. If you listen and don’t agree…what then? How do you handle that? Should you be direct and assert your opinions? Or do you try and persuade them gently? Or do you compromise completely? Fact is it’s all about reading them and the situation. I think it’s something you get better at the more you do it. Some people react best if you tell them straight, others need to be negotiated with in a more subtle way. And it’s true that people need to know why they should agree with you. If you often negotiate with the same person/people, choose your battles carefully. It might be better to compromise on one thing so that next time, when it really matters, they know you feel strongly about what you’re saying – and you’re not just contradictory by nature.

  5. Listening is indeed the most important start & is a skill in itself. Remember: ‘’Who what where when & how’’ can be used in any situation including critical incidents, investigation, workplace and of course in the home!

  6. Thank you for your comments. I agree, Amy, that negotiation is a skill that can be used within many situations and is especially used with children! I like your idea of ‘nudging’ people into thinking the same as you. It links with my point about having common goals which is an important factor. Thanks Liz also for your opinion, I agree that it is important to actively listen and compromise plays a big part within the negotiation process.

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