How to get people to do it your way: 6 secrets of the FBI negotiator


A former hostage release specialist explains how to pull anyone to his side.

Mark Goulston has played many role-playing games over the past two years. He portrayed a suicidal policeman holding a pistol at his neck and threatening to pull the trigger. The training was attended by FBI agents and police officers whose task was to dissuade him from suicide.

“At the end of the game, I usually pulled the trigger and then explained what I had to ask or say to make me step back from my plan,” explains Goulston, a former FBI agent and hostage release specialist. Today, Goulston, a business consultant and bestselling author of “I Can Hear You Through. Effective Negotiation Technique ”uses in its trainings for executives of large corporations such as GE, IBM and Goldman Sachs the experience that they gained while working at the FBI.

Goulston shared several tips with Business Insider on how to get people — customers, colleagues, employees, or even bosses — to do what you need.

1. They must speak
After you ask for something – or subtly hinted that you would like to – stop and let the person say whatever they want. “As soon as he starts talking, he will discover for himself the urgency of what you ask him to do,” Goulston explains. The man himself will decide that it is necessary to do what they ask him, without your persuasion. If only you are speaking, people will simply stop paying attention to your words or perceive it as if they were given instructions and they will not want to do what you want.

2. Pay attention to adjectives and adverbs in the interlocutor’s speech
“An adjective is a way to decorate a noun, and an adverb is a way to decorate a verb. And both of these parts of speech characterize the emotional background of your interlocutor, ”explains Goulston. After the other person has spoken – even if he asked you a question – pause and instead of the answer respond like this: “Hmm …” (This will give a signal that you heard it and think over what was said.) And then say something about the adjective or adverbs used by the interlocutor.

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This will help you understand what is really meaningful to him, and will encourage the person to pay more attention to the negotiations, which means that he will have more interest in helping you.

For example, if someone talking to you uses the adjective “wonderful” in relation to some solution and then asks you a question, try to respond like this: “I can answer your question, but first tell me about this wonderful option.” This will make the person open to you at a deeper level than when you simply answer the asked question. “The more your interlocutor opens up to you, the more carefully he will listen to what you say,” says Goulston.

3. Encourage “fill in the blanks”
“When you ask someone a question, you immediately start unconscious memories of how his parents, teachers or coaches once put a person in a difficult position, and thereby put yourself in opposition to the person you are talking to,” says Goulston. Then the man reflexively steps back.

To avoid this, insert your questions or ask them to “fill in the blanks,” Goulston advises. For example, when you ask the question “What will you do about situation X?”, You kind of hint: “It would be better for you to know the answer, otherwise …” This provokes a confrontation. Better ask in a different tone – “I want to know”: “And do you plan to take an action on this …?”

With this approach, you involve the person in the sentence you made, and do not ask a question that pushes the interlocutor to think that you are against him.

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4. Look for positive memories.
Believe it or not, almost every time you ask a person to do something, you start unconscious memories. “And the trick is to run the positive, not the negative,” Goulston advises.

If a person associates your request with something positive, he will be more inclined to fulfill it. Once Goulston asked one of his client why she preferred it to a woman coach. She replied: “You are like an elder brother who protects me, smart, cheerful and slightly disrespectful – and when you point out something that is worth changing in my life, instead of arguing, I listen to you and go contact, because I feel love and warmth in your words. ”

5. Do not pull the blanket over you.
A good way to make people do what you need is to make them feel meaningful. People are divided into two categories, says Goulston: some, sympathetic, develop the words of the interlocutor and add something to them, while others drag the blanket over themselves and either seize the initiative to talk about themselves or try to put themselves above the interlocutor. “Well, it looks like you went to Florida pretty well. And here we went to Fiji. ”

The former make the interlocutor feel that his words are important, while the latter leaves the impression that they only listen in order to speak, or even to belittle the person.

For example, a sympathetic person will say: “What a cool idea! Clever and creative. We can even move on and make X if that, in your opinion, works. ” And the one who pulls the blanket over himself will answer: “You have a good idea, but I actually already told my boss my option, and he liked him, so it’s probably best to do as I suggested.”

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6. Focus on the future
People do not like criticism. They begin to defend themselves when you look at those situations in which they failed, Goulston says. So if you want a person to act differently in the future, do not dwell on the past. Say better: “I want to say that in the future I will be very grateful if you could do this or that, it will be very useful for the whole team.”

“Let the interlocutor understand that you will appreciate his efforts, explain why this is important to you. This allows people to feel that they are making a meaningful contribution to a common cause, ”explains Goulston.

When you try to convince people, most often they feel that you are trying to put pressure on them, says Goulston. If you focus on what they would like to hear, they will be much better at perceiving your thoughts.

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