Learn how to negotiate like a diplomat, think on your feet like an improv performer, and master job offer negotiation like a professional athlete when you download a copy of our FREE special report, Negotiation Skills: Negotiation Strategies and Negotiation Techniques to Help You Become a Better Negotiator, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.


hostage negotiator

What is a Hostage Negotiator?

The success rate for a hostage negotiator is up to 94%. Here’s what business negotiators can learn from their techniques. 

 Former police psychologist and hostage negotiator George A. Kohlrieser, says the key to negotiation success is to build a relationship by creating an emotional connection. When someone feels you are honestly interested in them, they will be much more willing to connect and bond. Out of that bond, negotiation works.

That sounds simple enough, yet few negotiators can imagine scenarios more stressful than the kinds of crisis negotiations a police department hostage negotiator may undertake. But police negotiation techniques employed in high-stakes, high-pressure crisis negotiation situations, are critical for any negotiator faced with high-tension conflicts in business or diplomatic negotiations.

In his book, Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator (Random House, 2010), Gary Noesner, the retired head of the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Unit, shares three of his core principles that you and your colleagues can effectively adapt to your own talks.

  1. When you’re trying to gain access to a party who seems to want nothing from you (a situation salespeople often face), you would be wise to build trust through active listening and rapport building with the goal of gaining influence.
  2. Integrate cooperative and competitive strategies throughout the entire negotiation, demonstrating both your goodwill and your resolve.
  3. In business negotiations, deadlines can be useful tools. But when talks are heated, pausing for a break or scheduling a session for another day can give parties time to cool down.

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 with this in this free special report, Business Crisis Management: Crisis Communication Examples and How to Use Police Negotiation Techniquesfrom the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Get advice from negotiation experts on how to turn crisis situations into collaborative negotiations. 

The following items are tagged hostage negotiator:

How to Negotiate Under Pressure

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

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 

Business Negotiations: How to Improve Your Reputation at the Bargaining Table

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

In multi-issue business negotiations, research suggests that the advantage goes to negotiators with a reputation for collaboration rather than competition. In a series of studies by Catherine H. Tinsley and Kathleen O’Connor, participants were told they would be negotiating with someone who had either a tough reputation, a cooperative reputation, or an unknown reputation. Although … Read More 

Dear Negotiation Coach: What Hostage Negotiations Can Teach Any Negotiator

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

Business negotiations often fail; meanwhile, hostage negotiations have an incredibly high success rate—up to 94%. We spoke with former police psychologist and hostage negotiator George A. Kohlrieser, the Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at IMD Business School in Switzerland and the author of Hostage at the Table: How Leaders Can Overcome Conflict, Influence Others, … Read More 

Police Negotiation Techniques from the NYPD Crisis Negotiations Team

Posted by & filed under Crisis Negotiations.

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 More 

The Book of Real-World Negotiations: Successful Strategies from Government, Business, and Daily Life

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Training.

From a life-and-death hostage situation to the Philippines peace process, Joshua Weiss gives us an insider look at the world’s most high-stakes deals to learn what works—and what doesn’t—in negotiation. Most negotiations fail because the negotiators involved lack the confidence, strategic knowledge, and the basic techniques required to reach the most optimal deals possible. The result? … Read More 

Business Contract Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

When negotiating a business contract, parties are often so focused on reaching agreement that they don’t think enough about how the deal will unfold after the ink has dried. This type of short-term thinking leads to real problems down the road. The following three business negotiation tips can help you adopt a long-term perspective the … Read More 

Hostage Negotiation Techniques for Business Negotiators

Posted by & filed under Crisis Negotiations.

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 More 

What is Dispute Resolution in Law: The Ins and Outs of Arbitration

Posted by & filed under Dispute Resolution.

A “one-shot” form of dispute resolution, arbitration is usually faster and cheaper than litigation. In addition, rather than being assigned a judge, parties are able to select their arbitrator. What is dispute resolution in law and how do alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods like arbitration operate inside and outside a courtroom? Here are some examples of … Read More 

Negotiating in the heat of the moment

Posted by & filed under 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