Resolution in Communication: 5 steps to effective negotation resolution

I recently attended a police hostage negotiation workshop that shed light on the extreme circumstances that could require effective negotiation. Two representatives from Hampshire Police gave a talk on their experiences with negotiating in dangerous situations with vulnervable people. The main ‘take-away’ from the workshop was the skill to listen.

A 5 step process was given by the representatives to help understand the key factors that make up effective negotiation.

5 step processThe first step is ‘Emotional Intelligence’, which means understanding the circumstances of the situation you are trying to negotiate.
The second step is ‘Intitial contact’. It is important to use warm welcoming open lines to introduce yourself.
The third step is to build raport with the person through ‘Empathy’.
Fourthly, ‘Trust’ needs to be gained through continuation of the third step.
And finally, the fifth step is to effectively ‘persuade to solve the problem’. Through all the steps listening should be the number one skill used.

This five step process contrasts Saner’s key factors of negotiation (2000), which takes a more aggressive approach:
Coercion: using force, or the threat of force to wrestle concessions from an opponent.
Opening strong: starting out with a position that is higher than what you realistically estimate you can achieve.
Salami tactics: prolonging a negotiation to a painstakingly slow pace, only giving a very small concession to the other side when it can no longer be avoided in order to placate the other side for a little while longer.

Do you think these steps are useful?

What other factors are important for resolving conflict through negotiation?

Negotiation in practice:

Heineken set up a challenge where guys had to convince their girlfriends to purchase stadium seats using the power of negotiation. The result is humorous and show how difficult negotiation can be at times. Have a look and find out if they managed to or not:

What do you think of the video?

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8 thoughts on “Resolution in Communication: 5 steps to effective negotation resolution

  1. mandy powell says:

    M6 thoughts are if you possess the emotional intelligence you will be able to listen and apply a variety of methods. I would imagine no two incidents are the same and the personalities involved are often complicated. This would require s negotiator to pull on all their resources using both the stick and the carrot as necessary. Guidance on negotiation is undoubtedly good but things are rarely that black and white

    • HLCPR says:

      Thank you for your comment, Mandy.
      You raise some interesting points about the uncertainty of negotiation and I definitely agree that things are rarely black and white. In terms of trying to manage this I believe a process is the best way to approach it. I also agree that a negotiator needs to use all of their resources in order for it to be effective. Thank you

  2. Michaela says:

    Hi Helen. I would think both approaches contain relevant tactics to be employed whilst negotiating, however I agree that the primary skill has to be the ability to listen at the outset to assess which steps/ actions to take next. The key to a good negotiator would be the ability to draw on all those methods to apply them to any given situation. It is good to have theoretical guidance on negotiation but the ultimate test is putting that into practice and adapting it to the situation as required. At the end of the day it all depends how susceptible the person is to negotiation, This, I think, would be the first stage that would come with the ability to listen and gauge that individual’s willingness to be negotiated with.

    • HLCPR says:

      Thank you for your comment, Michaela.
      Listening is perhaps a fundamental skill of any communication tactics and definitely takes on an important role within negotiation. I agree with your point that the key to a good negotiator is to use all of the methods and apply them to the given situation. As you say, both examples given demonstrate effective tactics for resolution with negotiation.
      Thank you

  3. Nick says:

    Hi Helen,….The two examples of negotiation you talk about are polar opposites in my view. Outcomes are crucial but quite different between the business world and Criminal world. The Police version has two desired outcomes 1. The safe release of the hostage 2.Dealing with the offender. The Listening / sympathetic approach is either successful to the point where there is a peaceful ending OR the Police are able to eliminate /remove the offender. In this case the negotiations are likely to be with an violent possibly unstable opponent therefore random and unpredictable…..I don’t think Dr Saner’s approach would work as he ( if I understand him) comes from a standpoint of over power and therefore overcome. That might work in the commercial sector but it would be a big gamble if lives are at stake.
    Personally I would like to see negotiations result where both parties feel like they have achieved a satisfactory result and that requires listening to and possibly compromise from both sides. The key is being flexible and adapting, sticking rigidly to a model will likely fail

    On the video I note only one guy was successful. If the prize were Moto GP tickets our house would be full of red seats…actually Probably not!!!!

    • HLCPR says:

      Thank you for your comment, Nick.
      You raise some important points about how negotiation strategies don’t necessarily work for all situations. It is interesting that you think a different approach from Saners would be best suited for criminal negotiations and I agree that this model is perhaps more focused on commercial situations.

      I also agree that effective negotiation comes with compromise from both sides and that it can only be seen as effective if there are elements of satisfactory results for both sides.

      The video is interesting because, as you say, only one guy was shown to be successful, which highlights the difficulties that negotiation comes with in terms of persuasive communication.

  4. CommunicationCity says:

    HLCPR,
    I found this post via Twitter and I was intrigued by the information gathered from the Police Hostage Negotiation Squad. It seems that a generic process can be used effectively when approaching negotiation, however, I agree with a number of people who have previously commented on this post who suggest different tactics should be used for different situations. With the Police it will get to a stage where listening and understanding isn’t getting the job done and other, more forceful, tactics may have to be employed.
    I enjoyed the video that you have presented and even though this is a light-hearted way of demonstrating negotiation it really does show the true difficulties that can arise. I would have thought that more of the guys would have tried harder considering it was for personal gain. But maybe that’s just me.
    Good read.

    • HLCPR says:

      Hi, Communication City, thank you for commenting.
      It seems that the common view on the process of negotiation is that it is highly dependant on the situation and I agree that more ‘forceful’ tactics might have to be considered in order to resolve conflict.
      I also thought that more effort would have been put into negotiating in the video but again, this just shows how difficult it can be, especially if the opponent shuts you down like some of the girls did.
      Thank you

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