The Negotiator Magazine

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To foreign police officers, I reply with the question, "Do you mean this year or my entire career?"

I think most foreign police officers are disappointed to learn that I have never shot anyone or even fired my weapon off the firearms range. From US television, one would think that an FBI agent or police officer was in daily gunfights! Additionally, I have only been the victim of a crime once and that was in 1968!

Like most law enforcement subjects, many of your clients are frightened. Your clients are fearful of risking their investment or spending their money unwisely. It is less risky for your clients to do nothing. It is easier to leave their money in the bank at 3% than give it to you manage or risk on a new product. Businesspersons must take the fear out of the transaction for their clients.

As subjects are often fearful that they will lose their lives at the hands of the police, US negotiators overcome that fear by having successful, smaller interactions. Over time, it is demonstrated to the subject that he can talk and have small interactions and no one is going to shoot him. Consider how your clients can have smaller transactions that have the potential for larger transactions later. Smaller transactions conducted with professionalism build trust, reduce fear and demonstrate how larger, more significant transactions will be managed in the future. Have patience.

Subject's needs

Identify the subject's needs and use them to obtain resolution of the incident. The law enforcement negotiator listens for two types of needs that are almost always present. First, there are the instrumental needs, that is, the spoken, often tangible needs such as survival, food, water, comfort and predictability of circumstances. Instrumental needs almost always emerge first because they are easy to talk about with a stranger, i.e., the negotiator or salesperson. For the law enforcement negotiator, the instrumental needs will be things like cigarettes, beer, pizza, back off, etc. For a businessperson the instrumental needs may sales price, return on investment, rent, fees, etc.

Then, there are the expressive needs, that is, the unspoken often intangible needs such as power, acceptance, belonging, affection and self-worth. Expressive needs, if they emerge at all, will emerge later in the negotiation. For example in a sales situation, a client's primary need may be to impress his new father-in-law, who is his boss, with his shrewdness as a negotiator. As a result, all kinds of issues may materialize. Few people will tell you at the outset, "Listen, I've got to be tough here to impress my new father-in-law," but they might tell you later when they trust you.

Negotiators should listen for unspoken needs. One indicator that there are expressive needs not being met is when all of the instrumental needs have been met and a client still will not close a deal.

Expressive needs can be very personal. The subject's shift from instrumental needs to expressive needs may indicate the development of trust and rapport and, therefore, progress in the negotiation.

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December 2004