The recent hostage crisis for Captain Richard Phillips simply shows the importance of negotiations in every aspect of life.  As you may recall, Captain Richard Phillips committed an act of utter bravery when he negotiated with the Somali pirates to release his crew.  He negotiated his life for theirs.  Thankfully, Captain Phillips was eventually able to escape successfully with the assistance of the Navy SEALS.  But Captain Phillips’ story as well as the attempts to negotiate his release clearly reveal that everybody needs to develop skills to properly negotiate.  We can actually take skills that are normally taught only to hostage negotiators and apply those skills to every day situations. 


Hostage negotiators often follow simple rules of engagement in any hostage situation. 

1.                  Establish Open Lines of Communication

Hostage negotiators understand that the first step in resolving a conflict is to open lines of communication.  This is done so that the parties can have a means of identifying needs, demands, and ways in which to resolve the crisis.  The same principle applies in negotiation.  It is important to establish rapport early in the relationship.  By establishing rapport, you can start to develop trust in the process, and in you. 

2.                  Identify the leaders

Before the real demands can be known, the hostage teams must know who to negotiate with.  Similarly, before any meaningful negotiations can take place, it is important to find out who the persons are with authority. 

      3.  Restore Calmness to the situation

Hostage negotiators recognize that while a perpetrator’s emotions run high, they will likely remain irrational in their decision making.  As such, they immediately try to restore calmness to the situation.   This principle is equally true in negotiations or mediation. When a person is emotional about an issue he or she will not be able to make proper demands, make real needs known, or perhaps not know the bottom line. A sophisticated negotiator must recognize that addressing emotions in the negotiation process is often the most important step to resolution.  By using active listening skills such as asking open ended questions, and letting the other person speak without interruption, you allow the party to vent emotions and to calm down. 

4.                  Gather Information about the Dispute

Once the heightened state of emotionality has been minimized, hostage teams attempt to identify the specific needs of the parties involved.  This process is also applicable in mediation.  Unlike in the prior stage, during this process, specific targeted questions can be asked of the parties as to their needs, and what would help to eliminate the problem.  By identifying a person’s needs and problems, the astute negotiator will now be given the opportunity to find potential solutions and what things are simply not negotiable.

To get all 7 hostage negotiation secrets that can be used in any negotiation, contact Steve Mehta and ask for him to email you his article Hostage Negotiation Secrets In Your Everyday Life.