Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast.
This episode features another excerpt from Mike Sjostedt’s recent conversation with George Kohlrieser, who, has worked as a hostage negotiator in the past. Here, he talks about some of what he learned from that experience.
George Kohlrieser- Hostage negotiation is a very special form of negotiation that involves a kind of container, but it shows many, many skills that could be used in any negotiation. For example, the need for bonding. You can not effectively engage in a hostage negotiation without some bonding, and people are shocked to hear that the hostage negotiator must authentically show some kind of caring in their needs, their wants or their interests.
The second thing is being able to ask questions. Use questions to know their motivations. Three, being able to give to the motivation, as quickly as you can. We teach to analyze the motivation within two minutes if at all possible, if possible, sooner, because the motivation is going to be around what they have lost. They’re trying to repair something that they lost. They’re trying to get back something they lost. And behavioral economics teaches us that loss is more powerful in motivating the majority of people than the benefit.
The other thing is learn to ask them what they want, really get to know what they want, and know the circumstances around that person, so that small talk becomes a part of it and then when to know about the core talk, so in negotiation being able to ask questions, understand motivation, being able to know when to make the right concession at the right time. The wrong concession is not OK to do because it gets you into trouble later. And know when you can offer something, and that the idea of offering, Michael, is very important because a long reciprocity is activated by how concessions are rewarded. So when a hostage taker responds to one of my questions, that is a concession. If they argue back, it’s not a concession, so being able to give a verbal or non-verbal reward to that concession teaches them how to cooperate with you. And unless it’s police, a homicide with the police where they have actually decided to kill themselves with the police as long as they’re alive, there is hope. As long as there is a connection you can discuss or find some way to find hope in the future.
Negotiators must be optimistic. I have never seen a negative negotiator work in private negotiations or business negotiation or in hostage negotiations. If we have a really negative negotiator out they go! Same way in business. Negotiators have to be able to create a positive environment, a container of secure base and the negotiators as we said in the first question has to become a secure base over time. I don’t know anybody who gives up their weapons where they don’t eventually have some form of trust for that hostage negotiator, or in business, the best thing is when you shake hands and you know you can trust that person.
Many negotiators think that the best is manipulate, trick, lie, do all kinds of things to get the best deal. I don’t think so. I think about authenticity is still the best way to go, especially when you want to build long term relationships.