Source: oligarh2,

How hostage negotiation and project management are interrelated

Everything is negotiable. Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another thing. – Carrie Fisher


hat exactly is the relation between a “hostage negotiator” and a project manager? To put it simply, as long as both of them excel at their jobs, they can drive explicit behaviors from the people they meet and work with on a daily basis. The main job of a hostage negotiator is to persuade and influence a criminal’s behavior. If you think the whole process involves intimidation, you’re wrong. The negotiator cannot afford to make sudden moves because that will scare off the criminal. It’s incredible how high the stakes are at that moment! If you’re still wondering what’s the connection between project management and hostage negotiation in the business environment these guidelines might shed some light.
Source: Company Funds,

Source: Company Funds,

Project managers have plans they want their employees to abide by

To certify that everything goes according to that plan, managers often use strategies based on threats and demands. Surprisingly, they work most of the time. Many leaders are at the mercy of their employees, and team managers often get lured into a sense of self-satisfaction; in general, their team members are thriving to get their positions but they also understand the manager’s hierarchic position.

A thorough understanding of the Behavior Change Stairway Model

Developed by the FBI for actual hostage negotiations, this model can be adapted and applied in the business environment as well. When a project manager depends on his employees, and he can’t make them to obey, he becomes a hostage. We often assume that a tough attitude is everything we need to make ourselves respected. Well, it’s not quite true. When employees get sick and tired of being screamed at, they fight back. That’s bad news for the project manager because he loses authority and can’t control his team members anymore.

Source: mdennes,

Source: mdennes,

The Behavior Change Stairway Model helps you prevent this sort of situations from materializing. It is based on steps that persuade the negotiator to think like a criminal and compel its members to behave in a certain way. Here are the steps:
➢ Active listening – this first step must not be confused with regular listening. Active listening is meant to shape a conversation and make it bring out as much valuable information as possible. As a project manager, you must appear engaged and involved in conversations if you want to be in command; otherwise, you’ll fall into the trap and become a hostage. Simply put, your team members will take advantage of your weaknesses – you just can’t allow that to happen.
➢ Empathy – project managers should have an empathic attitude toward employees. As a negotiator, you gather information that’s particularly emotional about the state of mind of the criminal (in this case, team members). A connection is thus created between bosses and employees.

➢ Rapport – when trying to build rapport with criminals (team members), the dynamic changes. Rather than allowing them to do all the talking, you (team manager) have the chance to relate to your criminal. Create a deeper bond, engage in a conversation and make him let his guard down. This will soothe the whole negotiation process. Although the approach is methodical and slow, the end result will create mutual ground between the project manager (hostage) and team member (criminal).

Hostage negotiations are not impossible to overcome

It can be tough for leaders and company owners to deal with hostage negotiations. Difficult employees can be difficult to control, and often times the situation can become impossible to deal with. In this case, your employees become “criminals” because they’re in charge. As a leader, you can’t allow that to happen and you’ve got one way of making things better – by negotiating.
How do you negotiate with people who don’t want to negotiate? First of all, you shouldn’t see the process as a win/lose endeavor. Active listening matters the most; when employees feel appreciated by their bosses, they’re willing to let their guard down and talk about mutual agreements. Relate to their issues, talk about finding solutions and show that you actually care for what they have to say.
Project managers are held hostage when employees (criminals) are not respecting them and are not doing their jobs. This can change, provided that you’re willing to make sacrifices and take one for the team – compromise without having to reveal all your cards and you might just succeed.


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