How to Talk Like a Real Hostage Negotiator
OMAHA – Recently a group of customer service representatives at a local calling center were treated to a day off from the endless complaints they typically receive, to a day of learning. The hot topic of the workshop was a speech on how to handle any conversation like an FBI hostage negotiator. Forget what you’ve learned about the win-win outcomes, they doesn’t exist. Everyone knows there’s always a loser – just don’t let it be you. So how do you do handle a conversation like a hostage negotiator? Follow these simple steps:
Tried & True Tricks of the FBI
- Use tactical empathy – What is that, you ask? It’s when you pretend to give a damn, but you really don’t. For example, when you’re told the product they purchased is not working like advertised, with a calm tone and slow cadence, you say, “I hate it when that happens.” Just like the pros do when a guy wants to off himself because his skanky girlfriend cheated.
- Don’t strive for the quick “yes” – Why the hell not, you ask? Experts say it’s more rewarding in the art of negotiation to start from no, move to maybe, and then score the yes. A slow yes is a yes everyone can feel good about. Like when you ask someone out on a date. If at first they say no, continue to pursue your goal (without getting arrested for stalking) and when you get the maybe, realize that with a little more tweaking, you’ll get that yes.
- Conduct an accusation audit – What the hell is that, you ask? It’s a list of all the possible negative responses a person can give so you are ready with rapid fire responses before they can list them. For example, say the following, “Don’t worry if the at-home tattoo kit gives you a third degree burn, it comes with Neosporin and a Band-Aid!” It’s another way of saying, accentuate the positive, forget the negative.
- Don’t forget to mirror – What the what, you say? Mirroring is a tactic that can be used in person or over the phone, where the negotiator adopts the language, posture, attitude and tone of the person you are trying to
scampersuade, but sprinkle in calmness at all times. This implies that you are in charge.
But never forget the main rule, “What’s in it for me?” The relentless, yet smooth hostage negotiator should be like a dog with bone who won’t let go – until that bone is gone. At some point, you have to say to yourself, “Meh, I did what I could” and let it go. Sometimes it’s like a game of tic-tac-toe, most end with a cat’s game.