Advanced Negotiation Strategies and Concepts: Hostage Negotiation Tips for Business Negotiators

These advanced negotiation strategies can bring about peaceful conflict resolution

By PON Staffon / Conflict Resolution

Upset by a delay in the delivery of one of your products, a longtime buyer threatens to turn to the media unless you meet his extreme demands. Not only is the relationship in jeopardy, but your company’s reputation seems to be as well. What should you do? Turn to some tried and true hostage negotiation strategies.

Before you dismiss such life-and-death situations as irrelevant to your professional career, consider the lessons that hostage negotiators have derived from their experiences: crisis negotiation techniques they believe can help us settle less violent, but still vexing, negotiation crises.


In our FREE special report from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School – The New Conflict Management: Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies to Avoid Litigation – renowned negotiation experts uncover unconventional approaches to conflict management that can turn adversaries into partners.


The same factors that influence your professional and personal negotiations−high stakes, heightened emotions, multiple parties, no time to prepare and outside interference−are the same that characterize hostage negotiations. Negotiation Briefings newsletter has described five hostage negotiation techniques to help diffuse your situation:

  • Gain control of the situation by insisting on one-on-one talks.
  • Explore the feelings underlying the other side’s demands.
  • Allow heated emotions to defuse through the passage of time.
  • Collaborate on solving the other party’s short-term problems.
  • Help your counterpart save face when you come out ahead.

With any luck, you’ll never be required to negotiate for 50 hours straight, as some hostage negotiators have done. But you can learn from their patience and perseverance. Dealmakers and disputants are likely to feel their anger and frustrations subside over time. For this reason, working slowly through a heated situation is usually a better idea than trying to wrap up the matter quickly.

Do you rely on any of these advanced negotiation strategies at the bargaining table? Leave a comment.


In our FREE special report from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School – The New Conflict Management: Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies to Avoid Litigation – renowned negotiation experts uncover unconventional approaches to conflict management that can turn adversaries into partners.


Related Articles:

How to DEAL with Threats – Here ifour-stepstep process for dealing with threats from your counterpart at the negotiation table. While all negotiators will face difficult people in their careers, few have honed their ability to deal with uncooperative counterparts and may risk having their negotiations derailed if they respond to threats and belligerence ineffectively. Learn how threats impact the negotiation process and what integrative negotiators can do to head off the threat, neutralize it, and get negotiations back on track.

Think Like a Hostage Negotiator – Crisis negotiations, unlike many negotiation scenarios you will face, are high-pressure, intense situations sometimes involving life or death. As different as these scenarios may sound from a commercial or sales negotiation situation, there are many negotiation skills and negotiation tactics that hostage negotiators use that have real applicability for negotiators of all backgrounds.
Negotiation Skills: Threat Response at the Bargaining Table – Responding to threats in an effective manner is an essential skill for crisis negotiators but also has use for business negotiators and diplomats as well. Learn negotiating skills and negotiation tactics for dealing with threats at the negotiation table in an effective manner.
Police Negotiation Techniques and Negotiation Skills from the New York City Police Department Hostage Negotiations Team – Few teams of hostage negotiators have more experience in the field than the NYPD. In this article, we explore the negotiation strategies and negotiating tactics employed by the New York City Hostage Negotiations Unit, a part of the New York City Police Department.
With No Good BATNA, Police Negotiators Accept Texts – Text messaging and communication through electronic devices changes the dynamics of negotiation quite fundamentally. In this article we explore how police forces around the United States are embracing new technologies in order to talk with their counterparts in crisis negotiations.
Top 10 Business Negotiations of 2013 – Here is a list of the Program on Negotiation’s top ten business negotiations for 2013. From sales negotiations to international negotiations, these are the top negotiation case studies, news, and negotiation research for the year 2012.


In our FREE special report from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School – The New Conflict Management: Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies to Avoid Litigation – renowned negotiation experts uncover unconventional approaches to conflict management that can turn adversaries into partners.


Originally published in 2009.