The Negotiator Magazine

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Repeat customers and trust

In business and law enforcement, trust is crucial. A research project indicated that when asked to rank the most important criteria for choosing an investment firm, clients consistently put return on investment below trust and other "relationship issues." No one makes a deal with someone they do not trust.

Law enforcement negotiators avoid tricks, strive for honesty and keep their promises because in the short run a failure to do so will cost the negotiator his or her credibility; credibility that he or she may not be able to recover. Even the harsh truth when artfully told improves negotiator credibility. Law enforcement negotiators avoid tricks, strive for honesty and keep their promises because in the long run we may have a repeat "customer" and it will be a difficult negotiation if we lied, tricked or did not keep our promises the first time around. Additionally, if law enforcement negotiators are deceptive, the subject will tell others in jail or prison making future negotiations with those inmates more difficult.

The surrender or close

Law enforcement has had situations where the subject wanted to come out and negotiators had to tell the subject to stay inside the stronghold because the tactical team was not ready for him. To this observer, this circumstance is the equivalent of a client saying that he is ready to buy but you replying that you are not ready to close; not a good situation! As a result, negotiators are encouraged to discuss the arrest plan with the tactical team early in the incident.

Part of the surrender may include determining the "surrender ritual" or how the subject wants to surrender. This writer has observed four different surrender rituals. Some subjects want to shave and put on a clean shirt because they know that they will be appearing on the television evening news and they want to look good. Other subjects want to look like "bad guys." A British colleague reported that he told a subject that a sweater could be put over his hands so friends, neighbors and relatives outside the house would not see him in handcuffs. The subject entwined his fingers behind his head and said, "No, I want to go out like this; just like in the American movies." A third form of surrender ritual is that the subject sets up a circumstance that allows the tactical team to tackle him. This way, when the subject goes off to prison, he can say, "I didn't give up. The FBI SWAT team jumped me and there must have been 10 or maybe even 25 of them but I got in some good punches before they took me down!" From the subject's perspective, it is a good, almost true story that will get even better over time. A final form of "surrender ritual" is to just let the situation die slowly. In two aircraft hijackings, FBI negotiators traded 25 people off the aircraft in return for food. Instead of 25 people coming off the plane, 35 people came off the plane. So, the stairs were left in place and passengers just started getting off. At the conclusion, there was no one left on the plane but the hijacker and an FBI agent in one hijacking and in the other, the hijacker, FBI agent and flight attendant. There was no dramatic end to the incident.

For law enforcement negotiators, the surrender is equivalent to a close in a sale. In the writer's view, the secret to a good close is in doing everything well up to the close. If a negotiator or salesperson is having trouble with the close or the surrender, look at the entire process. Surrenders or closes do not stand alone.

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December 2004