This Communication Tactic Will Transform How You Do Business


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Monday, February 12, 2018

An FBI hostage negotiator has come up with a tactic for business communication based on his law enforcement experience that could change the way you talk to people.

Article 3 Minutes
This Communication Tactic Will Transform How You D

Anyone involved in business will know how important communication can be. From negotiating a good deal to keeping your staff happy, the gift of communication is a skill you should always be developing.

To help you out, there are plenty of communications tactics that you can integrate into your negotiation strategies. However, one of them is surprisingly simple, and comes straight from an FBI-trained hostage negotiator; someone who definitely knows how to achieve his desired outcome.

The tactic

Kevin Taylor - the former head of Greater Manchester Police's hostage negotiation unit - laid out what element made him a successful negotiator. He summed it up as;

Thinking about what matters to the other person as opposed to approaching a situation from your own agenda.


Taylor believes the same rule applies in business, and urges leaders in every sector to use it to be flexible and achieve their desired outcomes.


When you're running a business, it can be all too easy to get caught up in the idea of molding it to your own vision. However, this only works as long as you're a sole trader. As soon as you start incorporating staff into the mix, you will find that the ability to think from their point of view is crucial.

Jayson Boyers, president and CEO of Cleary University, argues that;

To develop an effective workforce, we must be willing to compromise and meet people where they are.


Once you start seeing things from other people's point of view, you can meet them in the middle and achieve an outcome you're both happy with.

An example would be members of staff looking for a payrise. It's tempting to just say no, but by talking to them and trying to see things from their side, you might realise that there's another option. Maybe they're actually looking for recognition of their progress, and a new job title would do just as well. This way, you can make them happy whilst also creating opportunities for your company.


Of course, when it comes to negotiating a good deal, you have to think about yourself. However, there is still a place for this tactic. Once again, understanding how your counterpart is thinking and what they are hoping to get will lead to much better outcomes than simply trying to impose your agenda.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Charalambos Vlachoutsicos reported a time when empathetic negotiation saved his company. Essentially, a supplier changed the terms of their agreement and left his business in a bad position. In a meeting, he got to the bottom of why they had taken this action, and was able to work out something mutually beneficial.

The word 'mutually' is crucial. You are never going to get a good deal by just thinking about what you want, as there will be no incentive for anyone to go along with it. Instead, try to understand what they want. This will lead you to a solution that is good for both of you.

Christopher Voss, an ex-FBI negotiator, also shares his secret:

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