Crisis negotiations usually involve high stakes, heightened emotions, and multiple parties and teams.
In crisis negotiations that are fraught with mistrust and disputed facts, it can sometimes be difficult to see how a satisfactory agreement will ever be possible. However, good leaders can carve out a space in which to lay the foundation for mutual points of agreement, strengthening the relationships necessary for ensuring lasting success. Success often depends on small gestures, but they can pay off well in the long term.
It’s important, as well, to recall that several features endemic to crisis negotiations can make dealmaking particularly challenging to those involved:
1. Exhaustion. As a crisis negotiator, you may feel you aren’t doing your job if you don’t work around the clock. But foregoing sleep is likely to exacerbate an already dire situation.
2. Time pressure. Time pressures, such as a financial or environmental disaster that is worsening by the day, are also likely to take a toll on crisis negotiators. It’s understandable that negotiators will want to resolve a crisis as quickly as possible. But in their haste, they may actually exacerbate the situation.
3. Stress. The stress inherent in typical crisis negotiations tends to exacerbate conflict between parties, as each looks for reasons to deflect the other party for what has gone wrong.
Of course, the best way to solve a crisis is to keep it from escalating in the first place. 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.
In their negotiation training, police and professional hostage negotiators are taught skills that will help them defuse tense situations over the course of long phone calls, such as engaging in active listening, determining the person’s emotions from his or her inflection, and trust building.
In this free special report negotiation experts offers advice on how to turn crisis situations into collaborative negotiations. Throughout the report, you will discover how to apply the lessons of professional hostage negotiators, avoid disasters through careful planning, diffuse tensions with angry members of the public, and break through impasse with open communication.
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 … Read
For several years, Facebook has been working with social scientists to bring traditional methods of dispute resolution to cyberspace. The site has begun to offer users tools to resolve disputes with one another over offensive or upsetting posts, including insults and photos.
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
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.
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. The U.S. Treasury Department stepped in to run a crisis negotiation. In exchange for about … Read
Challenged by pandemic-era uncertainty, mounting political divides, and other obstacles, negotiators had difficulty coming together in 2021. But our list of 10 Notable Negotiations of 2021 includes a few bargaining highs amid the many lows.
When parties can trade on their preferences across different issues, they reduce the need to haggle over price and percentages. But are there ways to avoid conflict in other types of negotiation?
To find ways to avoid conflict, especially deep-seated conflicts, and reach agreement with adversaries, former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright advises close observation … Read
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
When businesses and industries are hit by an unforeseen disaster, they often need to quickly launch crisis negotiations and wrap them up as soon as possible. But time pressure can stifle essential elements of sound dealmaking, including rational thinking, perspective taking, and collaboration, while also promoting dysfunctional competition. Recent negotiations within industries facing crisis offer … Read
For two days in late May 2012, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi met with a judge in the U.S. District Court of Northern California in an attempt to reach a settlement in a high-profile U.S. patent case, a sobering example of negotiation in business.
Business negotiators sometimes face the difficult question of whether to negotiate with someone they believe to be immoral, untrustworthy, or otherwise undesirable as a negotiating partner. In his book Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight (Simon & Schuster, 2011), Program on Negotiation chair Robert Mnookin offers negotiation advice on the complex … Read
Excerpted from the article “Will Your Negotiation Make It to the Finish Line?” in the December 2020 issue of Negotiation Briefings, the Program on Negotiation’s monthly newsletter of advice for professional negotiators.
When it comes to closing the deal in negotiations, agreements sometimes fall apart for good reason. If one or more parties realize they could … Read
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
Since the start of the global economic recession in 2008, few issues have proven as explosive as the Greek debt crisis. The Greek government’s commitment to repay billions of dollars in loans has been a source of contention with creditors ever since a sizable bailout was issued in 2010.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s indirect approach to diplomatic negotiations with the People’s Republic of China over political dissdent Chen Guangcheng demonstrates the power of adaptability at the bargaining table, especially when dealing with a counterpart from a different culture or who may speak a different language.
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
What do FBI hostage negotiation techniques and business dealmaking have in common? Not a lot, we might assume. In workplace talks, lives are rarely at stake, and tensions seldom escalate into violence. Yet dig a bit deeper, and similarities emerge: just as in a crisis negotiation, business talks can be highly charged, unpredictable, and emotional.
In … Read
During a crisis negotiation, all that may seem to matter is reaching a deal as quickly as possible. The desire to head off a disaster may lead crisis negotiators to forego the usual comforts of life, such as sleep, in their single-minded pursuit of their goal.
No one wants to engage in crisis negotiations. When parties need to hurriedly work out a solution to a shared problem, time is short, tempers are frayed, and the disaster is looming. Feeling they’ve exhausted good-faith bargaining, parties in crisis negotiations may believe they face an impossible choice between caving in to the other side’s … Read
The skills required for honing an effective participative leadership style have a great deal in common with those used by good negotiators. Following the May 24, 2015 municipal elections in Spain, all of those skills are being put to the test. The elections delivered a stunning rebuke to the incumbent conservative Popular Party of Mariano … Read
Starting construction on an 800-mile rail network in the world’s 8th largest economy without the funds in place to finish the job may seem crazy, but in California Governor Jerry Brown’s case it was a calculated gamble by a seasoned leader intent on winning a long-term negotiation.
The most difficult peace negotiations in recent decades—in Ireland, the Middle East, the former Yugoslavia, and Sri Lanka—were plagued by a common enemy: violent disruptions by spoilers opposed to the peace process. In each of these cases, extremists stalled negotiations by creating security crises that divided public opinion and drove negotiators apart.
Learn how and when to engage in appropriate cultural traditions when negotiating with counterparts from a different culture. In this article we offer negotiation tips for overcoming cultural barriers in negotiation and present additional articles drawn from negotiation research that may be of benefit to negotiators who need to improve their international negotiation skills.
The Washington Post’s “On Leadership” column by Jenna McGregor asked renowned negotiation experts on how the government shutdown in Washington, DC could be ended at the bargaining table.
Among the experts interviewed were Robert Mnookin, Chair of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School (PON) and author of Bargaining With The Devil: When To Negotiate, … Read
On December 28, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a ban on adoptions of Russian children by American citizens. The ban was part of a broader law tailored to retaliate against the United States for passing a recent law intended to punish Russian human rights violators, the New York Times reports. Yet it may … Read
What would you do if someone threatened you? Strike back? Run away? Beg for mercy? Try to negotiate?
Last April, The New York Times in effect held a gun to the heads of Boston Globe employees – twice. The confrontation, say experts at the Harvard Program on Negotiation, offers valuable lessons in handling high-risk, high-stakes situations.
Background: … Read