The Negotiator Magazine

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            Therefore, the hostage negotiator must determine what concessions are available for him to give in order to gain trust and if necessary, buy time.  Typically, the negotiator needs time to find out what is motivating the hostage taker.   Additionally, the passage of time allows for other experts or members of the hostage team to arrive and prepare.  
The desire for distributive gains has been analogized to the desire to get “a bigger slice of the pie.”   A lawyer negotiator “moves nimbly between imaginative strategies to enlarge the pie and conservative strategies to secure an ample slice no matter what size the final pie turns out to be.”   Whereas, hostage negotiators work with one pie (or goal) and that pie is unchanging.  The measure of a hostage negotiator’s success is whether he walks away with the pie.
IX. Conclusion
            Hostage negotiations and legal negotiations are undeniably intertwined.  They both share the foundational four steps as articulated by Richard Shell:  Preparation, Information Exchange, Proposing and Concession Making, and Commitment.  Yet, the underlying strategies and tactics diverge upon a closer analysis.  The ability to measure the effectiveness of hostage negotiations impacts the process in two ways:  (1)  Extreme opening offers and anchoring are made ineffective and may create distrust; and (2)  Only minimal value can be created. 
            “You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.”   With a thorough understanding of the similarities and differences, negotiators may learn to adapt to and succeed in any “high stakes” negotiations they may encounter.  

Stepthen M. Pollan and Mark Levine, Turning No Into Yes 85 (Harper Business 2000). 

Lanceley, supra at 88.

Mnookin, supra at 9.


Chester L. Karrass, Negotiations Quotations, a/Negotiation1.htm.

Ashley Grovert Pic

Ashley Grovert is a graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School where she was a recipient of the Honor Scholarship.  She has extensive training in labor & employment litigation, and will be joining Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix, Arizona.  Her experience includes working as a summer clerk for Judge Michael Daly Hawkins of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a Team Advisor for the National Student Leadership Conference at Stanford University, and for the Tempe Police Crime Analysis Unit.  Additionally, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State with a B.A. in Political Science and a B.S. in Justice Studies.  You may contact the author at:


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May 2007