Being persuasive is part of your job. Whether you’re trying to persuade your client on what they plan on doing is a really bad idea or trying to persuade another party that your client’s offer to settle is very fair and reasonable, you’re in the persuasion business. There are many things you can do to be more persuasive so others can appreciate the wisdom of your approach. Blogger Eric Barker has some suggestions after spending time with some New York Police Department (NYPD) police officers training to be hostage negotiators. Here are two of them.
Know The Other Person’s Hooks and Hot Buttons
The focus of hostage negotiation is empathy not bargaining to reach a deal. It’s about building a connection with the other person to develop trust and a desire to work with you. When negotiating people give the most concessions to people they like.
How you handle hooks (something the person enjoys and talks about) and hot buttons (things that make them angry, upset or depressed) can help build or destroy rapport. By staying away from squabbling over demands you may be better able to deal with the other party’s emotions to create a more positive mood.
To discover the hooks and hot buttons, ask questions and actively listen. NYPD negotiators are trained to spend 80% of their time listening and 20% of the time talking which helps build a relationship and obtain information.
Active listening skills help create positive relationships by showing an understanding of what the other person is experiencing and how they feel about it. This way the negotiator can show empathy and a sincere desire to better understand what the individual is experiencing. Listening is a way to show respect to the other person and that you’re trying to understand them. This can set the stage to influence the other person’s behavior.
The NYPD takes the approach that the more information they have about a subject the more power they have. Giving attention to what makes someone happy and avoiding what makes them angry is key to getting them on your side.
Focus On The Future
When training to deal with suicidal individuals, the NYPD negotiators are trained to try to get them to move their focus away from the past and present and to the future. If someone is considering killing themselves they’re probably talking about the past, what went wrong in their lives, mistakes they made and how that’s impacted the present.
Getting them to think about the future and employing hooks that may make them feel better can result in them safely changing their minds and resolving their problems. Many people in this situation didn’t anticipate police getting involved and a good negotiator provides a plan to resolve the situation safely for everyone.
In your negotiations come up with a plan to resolve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction. Don’t focus on the past and present, right and wrong, who did what to whom. Focus on the future, provide a way to fix the situation, have a rational discussion of what can be done so both parties can put this behind them and move on with their lives. You’re negotiating to help your client (and the other party) to have a better future by enabling them to resolve a serious issue that’s negatively impacted their past and present.
You may not be a police officer negotiating with a person pointing a gun at a hostage, but you are negotiating with people at a time when they’re making important decisions that impact their future. Some of the same approaches could be useful.