Crisis Negotiation Skills: The Hostage Negotiator’s Drill

Negotiating skills for team building, drawn from crisis negotiations and hostage negotiation scenarios

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Crisis Negotiation Skills: The Hostage Negotiator's Drill

Among the crisis negotiation skills hostage negotiators stress is the importance of discussing the “drill”—goals, ground rules, and operating principles—with their team before beginning talks with a hostage taker.

Such negotiation teams are likely to commit to working together as slowly as needed to resolve a standoff. This type of agreement can serve to head off sudden actions from team members.

In our article, Team Building: The Importance of Staying on Message, we discuss preparations teams undertake when preparing for critical negotiations, such as appointing a negotiation leader, allocating negotiating roles and responsibilities, and developing negotiation strategies and negotiation techniques to be employed at the bargaining table. Such preparations also should stress the importance of the negotiation team to “stay on message” in negotiation scenarios.


Discover how to improve your dispute resolution skills in this free report, Dispute Resolution, Working Together Toward Conflict Resolution on the Job and at Home, from Harvard Law School.


It also helps the group present a united front if outsiders, such as police chiefs and politicians, grow impatient and try to speed up the process. In other words, negotiating teams should make sure individuals do not contradict group consensus during talks at the bargaining table. One negotiation example from real life that is cited in “Team Building: The Importance of Staying on Message” is US President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign’s efforts to keep his media team “on message” during the contest with Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

When organizing your own team negotiations, be sure to take a moment to discuss ground rules and common objectives. Such conversations will save time in the long run by promoting team unity and efficiency. In our article, Hostage Negotiation Tips for Business Negotiators, we outline some of the negotiating skills and negotiation tactics crisis negotiation teams can use during and before negotiations. Also, in Police Negotiation Techniques and Negotiation Skills from the New York City Police Department Hostage Negotiations Team, the negotiating skills and negotiation techniques used by the New York City Police Hostage Negotiations unit is discussed in light of integrative negotiations strategies.


Discover how to improve your dispute resolution skills in this free report, Dispute Resolution, Working Together Toward Conflict Resolution on the Job and at Home, from Harvard Law School.


Related Dispute Resolution Article:  Successful Negotiation Examples: Repairing Relationships and Dispute Resolution Using Negotiation Skills – Mending fences with a loved one or resolving a business dispute with a client are just two of the negotiation scenarios many bargainers will find themselves facing in both their careers and in their personal lives. How can negotiating skills and negotiation tactics help people resolve disputes, manage conflict, and repair relationships? Integrative negotiation strategies emphasize a win-win negotiation approach to bargaining with a counterpart, and it is this very mindset that a person needs when attempting to reconcile differences and repair relationships. Here are some successful negotiation examples using dispute resolution techniques for repairing interpersonal relationships drawn from negotiation case studies as well as some negotiating skills and negotiation techniques that bargainers can apply to a variety of negotiation scenarios from commercial negotiations and salary negotiations to interpersonal negotiations with family and friends.

Examples of Negotiation in Business: Negotiators, Find the Right Partner Before Signing Negotiated Agreements – Examples of negotiation in business – a partnership too good to be true? How do you know your counterpart is the right fit for your business needs? Sometimes even the most well-bargained agreements fall flat in implementation due to differences in personality between negotiators. What factors should impact a negotiator’s decision to embark upon negotiations in the first place and how then should a negotiator proceed with her counterpart? Finding the perfect agreement and the perfect counterpart with whom to build a bargaining relationship is impossible but the two can be reconciled prior to bargaining if a negotiator understands exactly what she needs out of both a negotiated agreement and a potential business partner.

Originally published in 2009.

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