Crisis Negotiations

In examining crisis negotiation, analysts discovered that even the most experienced executives have difficulty resolving a situation that feels like a hostage negotiation. These lessons, taken from crisis negotiation situations and hostage negotiators’ techniques, can help in a variety of crisis negotiation conditions.

For example, hostage negotiators follow certain rules that can be applied to your own crisis negotiation. First, contain the situation by laying down ground rules and limiting the number of opposing parties in the negotiation.

Next, skilled crisis negotiators try to uncover underlying emotional demands, and finally take great pains to build relationships with the opponent. These strategies and more are all a part of successful crisis negotiations.

Even if you don’t aspire to become an actual hostage negotiator, any kind of business negotiation or dealmaking that comes under pressure can be enhanced by taking lessons from hostage negotiation experts. Not unlike integrative negotiators who seek to create value between negotiating counterparts and distributive negotiators who seek to maximize one’s claim to value in the negotiation at hand, hostage negotiators need to be able to “apply a specific set of skills in a strategic manner that is based on the current context.”

The goal of hostage negotiations is to “work with the person in crisis towards a peaceful solution that previously seemed impossible,” or, in other words, to reconcile your counterpart’s problems with the need to maintain the peace for society at large.

Articles included here address many of the tactics hostage negotiators employ, such as opening up avenues for communication, exercising as much patience as possible, employ active listening techniques, show your opponent respect, stay calm, remain self-aware and be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances, even while maintaining the relationships you’ve already built.

Famous Negotiations Cases – NBA and the Power of Deadlines at the Bargaining Table

PON Staff   •  10/07/2021   •  Filed in Crisis Negotiations

famous negotiations

It’s a classic famous negotiations case. In the summer of 1988, National Basketball Association (NBA) team owners and players were at loggerheads over their new contract. At midnight on June 30, the owners declared a lockout, halting preparations for the start of the 1998–99 NBA season. The players and owners negotiated for six long months, … Read More 

Negotiating Controversial Issues in Difficult Negotiations

PON Staff   •  08/12/2021   •  Filed in Crisis Negotiations

When you’re trying to negotiate a hot-button issue in difficult negotiations, what’s the best approach to take? That was the question facing U.S. president Donald Trump as he and his administration attempted to convince the government of Mexico to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, in addition to negotiating other matters of concern to … Read More 

What is Crisis Management in Negotiation?

Katie Shonk   •  06/15/2021   •  Filed in Crisis Negotiations

Organizations often establish elaborate business crisis management plans. Through a rapid, centralized response, an organization can shift swiftly and efficiently from day-to-day operations into crisis-management mode, whether that crisis involves a building evacuation, a tumble in the company’s stock price, or a product recall. … Read More 

Learning from crisis negotiations

PON Staff   •  04/01/2021   •  Filed in Crisis Negotiations

In crisis negotiations, we typically face a number of difficult decisions. Should we try to negotiate on our own or team up with others with shared goals? Should we take time to drive a hard bargain or try to wrap up talks as quickly as possible? How can we account for uncertainty and risk in … Read More 

Negotiation in the News: Last Negotiating Moves From A Never-Boring President

PON Staff   •  01/31/2021   •  Filed in Crisis Negotiations

Whether they love him or hate him, one thing negotiation analysts and practitioners should be able to agree on is that outgoing U.S. president Donald Trump has provided fascinating negotiations to examine and learn from over the past four years. His dealmaking both at home and abroad has been marked by impulsive, sometimes head- scratching decisions; … Read More 

Police Negotiation Techniques from the NYPD Crisis Negotiations Team

PON Staff   •  11/16/2020   •  Filed in Crisis Negotiations

Few negotiators can imagine negotiation scenarios more stressful than the kinds of crisis negotiations the New York City Police Department’s Hostage Negotiation Team undertake. But police negotiation techniques employed by the New York City Police Department’s Hostage Negotiations Team (HNT) in high-stakes, high-pressure crisis negotiation situations, outlined in an article from Jeff Thompson and Hugh … Read More 

Negotiating Change During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Katie Shonk   •  05/04/2020   •  Filed in Crisis Negotiations

Many actions that could help alleviate the Covid-19 pandemic require us to change our behavior on a personal level, such as staying home from work and wearing a mask in public places. Others, such as making coronavirus-related research more widely available, require more organizational and systemic change.

But humans often resist change; we are negotiating change … Read More 

Combatting COVID-19 with Common Interests

Katie Shonk   •  03/30/2020   •  Filed in Crisis Negotiations

As nations rush to slow the COVID-19 pandemic, treat victims of the virus, and develop cures, they face strong motivations to cooperate with one another rather than compete. Scientists and technical experts can help spearhead this collaboration, said Professor Paul Berkman, director of Tufts University’s Science Diplomacy Center, during a March 26 online talk hosted … Read More 

Harvard Law Professor Guhan Subramanian Moderates Panel on Difficult Negotiation Scenarios

PON Staff   •  11/13/2019   •  Filed in Crisis Negotiations

In Harvard Law Today, Brett Milano published an article titled, Catastrophic harms, complicated questions reviewed a recent panel, “Innovative Models for Resolving Disputes after Mass Disasters and Catastrophic Harms,” held at Harvard Law School on Oct. 22. As mentioned in the article, it “brought together three experts who have helped resolve disputes after recent historic … Read More