The Negotiator Magazine

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Everyone involved is a salesperson/negotiator

A law enforcement agency can have the best in negotiation, tactical, and crisis management teams but one person can annihilate an otherwise excellent effort. Anyone communicating a message to the other side is a negotiator so virtually everyone on-scene of a crisis is a negotiator. Everyone must be sending the same message. If the negotiators are taking a conciliatory, non-threatening approach, the tactical team must not pose a threat and the public information officer must be taking the same position, especially if the subject has access to television and radio. Few circumstances will prolong an incident more than sending the subject conflicting messages.

Likewise, there is more to sales than just the marketing department and sales personnel. Everyone in the organization must be saying the same thing; from the CEO to even cleaning personnel. Cleaning personnel talking between themselves on an elevator in the presence of a potential client can derail a deal as quickly as a poor salesperson. A failure to recognize this point can be and has been costly in terms of lives and money.


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?

If a salesperson tells a potential client that the salesperson will take care of him or her, either before or after the sale, but does not return e-mail messages or telephone calls for three or four days. What is being demonstrated with regard to how well the client's requirements will be met?

The writer provides extensive training on active listening for negotiators. One of the reasons that active listening is valued so highly is because nearly all active listening skills demonstrate that the negotiator is listening to the facts as well as the emotion evoked by the facts. Saying, "I understand," is not nearly as effective as demonstrating that the listener understands.

Keep it simple

Albert Einstein once said, "Make everything as simple as possible but not simpler." There are many smart people in the FBI and in your corporation who will come up with complex answers to problems. The secret is in looking for simple answers from smart people! Those are the answers in which I have the most confidence. During an aircraft hijacking, FBI agents at the scene were concerned about a long coat the hijacker was wearing. It was speculated that the hijacker might have a bomb under the coat. Later, when asked why that particular coat was worn to the airport she said, "It was cold and it is the only coat I own."

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December 2004