Five Lessons from Drug Dealers and Hostage Negotiators

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There’s so much you can learn from people who are able to create positive outcomes daily from tense situations. Here are four business skills I’ve gleaned from studying the ways of hostage negotiators, and one from the drug dealers who live down the hall.

Negotiations…are weird

I was never a good negotiator until I realized:

  • People get all weird when they have to negotiate. They try to act like lawyers and overlook the basic characteristics of being human.
  • Most people go into negotiations underprepared. Most of the time, there’s not enough thought put into what the other side is likely to say, what they want, what questions they are going to ask, and what your responses should be.
  • There are “magic phrases” the coaches tell you to use. But the most valuable thing you can say is, ironically, nothing. It’s all too common for people to overcommunicate and mess up a deal going their way.

There are people much more intelligent than me about this. I’m going to discuss four things I’ve learned from studying the FBI SWAT team and hostage negotiators (and one from the drug dealer three doors down the hall).