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.

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Beyond slingshots: Better tools for negotiating with Goliaths

PON Staff   •  10/31/2017   •  Filed in Crisis Negotiations

When Alexandra Elbakyan was growing up in Kazakhstan, books, music, and movies were expensive. To access them, she learned how to pirate intellectual property and eventually came to believe that it should be available to all.

After enrolling in graduate school in Russia, Elbakyan began pirating journal articles for herself and other researchers who couldn’t afford … Read More 

Negotiating Controversial Issues

PON Staff   •  04/12/2017   •  Filed in Crisis Negotiations

When you’re trying to negotiate a hot-button issue, 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 both governments. The … Read More 

“No One is Really in Charge” Hostage Taking and the Risks of No-Negotiation Policies

PON Staff   •  02/12/2015   •  Filed in Crisis Negotiations

In the business world, we sometimes are tempted to avoid negotiating with unsavory counterparts—people or groups we view to be immoral, untrustworthy, or simply unlikable—even if they appear to offer the straightest path to our goals. Imagine a counterpart who works in a business that you believe to be immoral, someone who has a reputation for gossiping, or … Read More 

Negotiating in the heat of the moment

PON Staff   •  10/15/2013   •  Filed in Crisis Negotiations

At the time, it seemed to be an example of coolheaded dealmaking in the midst of disaster. In 2009, hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis and changes in consumer preferences, U.S. automaker Chrysler was on the brink of collapse, and the Treasury Department stepped in to do a deal. In exchange for about $12 … Read More 

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