As a crisis negotiator, it is important to quickly engage with those who you are talking with, particularly if they are threatening to take a life. There are some simple techniques that I once used to secure a peaceful end to what seemed like an impassable situation. You can use these when holding a difficult conversation, negotiating in a challenging situation, or simply want to make an impression;
What Have You got That They Need? - There is a reason the other party is talking with you, you have something that they need or want. Work out what it is that you have and they need, and how much you are prepared to give up for providing it. Then double it! If they need it and want it, they can pay for it. Never undersell yourself.
Control Your Body and Your Voice - When we are nervous, we speak louder, faster, and longer. During intense/difficult conversations, over 55% of communication is visual, 35% is HOW we say something, the remainder is the actual words. Holding a pen in the hand that you write with will control your uncontrolled facial micro-expressions and also help to reduce your volume.
Two ears, and one mouth - Encourage the other person to talk twice as much as you do. By doing this you are making it about them, allowing them to tell you everything about what they want, allowing them to vent, and making them feel as though they are in control. Of course, you are the one controlling the conversation by doing this.
Communication Today is HOT - Honesty is the best policy, if you get caught lying you have lost all credibility. Be Open to new ideas and suggestions, listen to what they have to say. Get To the point, no longer do we need to go through extended niceties, get on with it and show them that you are willing to go to the heart of the matter.
Don't Be Afraid - Show confidence with your head up and hold a strong body position. Have a bottom line and stick to it. Provide a reality check if they are suggesting something that is ridiculous or is below your bottom line. Take a time out if you need to regroup, this will show that you are in charge and won't be bullied.
Nice Guys Don't Always Finish Last - Humility, honesty, and humour, three H's that are traits others respond to positively. Recognise and acknowledge the other persons skills, be truthful in what you promise, and a joke at your own expense relaxes the other person.
You can negotiate what seems like the non-negotiable, all it takes is a few simple guidelines, being open-minded to suggestions, and compromise. It is the later point that causes us the most challenges in difficult negotiations. Compromise. You don't have to win, let that stuff go, you just have to find an agreed way forward.