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How to get what you want: top tips from a former Scotland Yard hostage negotiator

Richard Mullender has spent years operating in hostage situations  ranging from domestic violence to international terrorism. For him, negotiation is a science that can be applied as readily in the business world as with the Taliban. Here were some of his top tips for our FDs.

  1. Never negotiate unless you have to
  2. Never negotiate with yourself
  3. Never accept their first offer
  4. Never make the first offer unless you have to
  5. Know the limits of your tradables and never break them
  6. Never give free gifts
  7. Never cur your negotiation into small pieces
  8. Avoid the quick deal
  9. Remember your limitations
  10. Never reveal your bottom line

Richard also shared insights from his own experiences. Hostage teams always operate in fours, he explained. The number one is the only person who ever speaks. “In the business world everyone seems to talk,” he admonished. “It’s a big mistake.”

Instead, for Richard, the emphasis is always on listening. Listening, not for facts, which is easy, but for emotions. “We listen for emotions, motivators, values, beliefs and currency, all so we can influence the person to do, or not do, what we want,” he explained. “And all while sounding like we are holding a normal conversation.”

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