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
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.