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LinkedIn Live Negotiate like an FBI Agent

Ten take-aways from this session:

  1. Be able to get out of your comfort zone
  2. Have the ability to adjust accordingly
  3. Set your own needs and feelings aside
  4. Moderate your feelings and expectations
  5. Sit back and listen with no expectations
  6. Behind the scenes is the hardest work of all
  7. Get an insight into the person you’re talking to
  8. Use effective pauses
  9. Think back on what you’ve said
  10. Mental health is part of the debrief

***The following transcript has been automatically generated and is presented here unchecked***


LinkedIn Live Negotiate like an FBI Agent

Thu, 8/18 8:59PM • 59:59


negotiator, hostage negotiation, conversation, negotiation, hostage negotiator, listening, question, people, active listening skills, respond, perspective, person, situation, subject, hostage taker, empathy, talk, happening, ethics, develop


Nadine Powrie


Nadine Powrie  00:03

So we are live Hello, and welcome to my LinkedIn live. And thank you for being here today, I have a special guest. And we’re going to be talking about negotiation and everything to do about conflict. If there is no conflict, there is no negotiation and difficult conversation and conflict is actually part of what a leader has to deal with in their career. So I’m Nadine Powrie. And I’m your host for today. And today, I have the great pleasure of being joined by Charles Crosby, who is a hostage negotiator. Good afternoon, child. I think it may be good morning for you.



Yes, it is. Good morning. Thank you. Hey, good afternoon to you. Thank you for having me on. I appreciate it.


Nadine Powrie  00:51

You’re very welcome. So Charles, for those who don’t know you, do you want to? Would you like to introduce yourself?



Absolutely. My name is Charles Crosby. I am a law enforcement professional in the southeast United States in the state of Florida. I work for a municipal agency that’s just under 1000 sworn officers. I am also a I have been a crisis negotiator for 14 years and 12 years as a trainer in the crisis negotiation field. I’ve been trained and I’m a certified instructor for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I’ve been trained by Police Scotland, I’ve got a lot of presentation experience and communicating and a variety of different topics related to hostage negotiation. I also am a small business operator, and a teach about communication and leadership techniques and use a lot of the hostage negotiation information as a basis for like you said conflict resolution. So


Nadine Powrie  01:50

and you’re also doing a PhD at the moment. I am



I am currently a PhD student working on a my degree in organizational leadership. So yes,


Nadine Powrie  02:02

you have you have a festival. Children, you have children.



I do I have two children. I have 11 year old girl and a 10 year old boy and they’re there. They keep me very, very busy.


Nadine Powrie  02:14

I’m sure I’m sure. And it’s interesting, actually. Because we might get to talk about negotiating with children for what we know. We don’t know. I think it’s important to say to our and share with our audience, actually we’ve never met, shall we? When I wanted to start doing and focusing my LinkedIn live negotiations, I drew a list of people on LinkedIn, I would like to invite. And you were on that list. And I have to say you responded almost immediately to my invitation and said, Yeah, okay, I’m, I’m up for it. And I’ll be there. And then, and thank you so much for, for being here today. And thank you, because I know we’re gonna have a great conversation. So they say in negotiation, don’t sugarcoat anything, just, you know, start with the point. And I want to ask you that first question. What are the essential skills that you need to have for negotiation?



You know, and I knew you were going to ask that that question first. And so I did take some time to think about it. There are a lot of skills that come in handy when you’re when you’re dealing with negotiation. So I kind of made a quick mental list of about five of them. And the first one honestly has to be patience. As far as hostage negotiation goes, in law enforcement in general, we like to get things done very quickly. In fact, the public likes us to get things resolved very quickly. But from the hostage negotiation perspective, we have to take a more patient approach. So patience is a critical value of for hostage negotiators. The ability to empathize and I’m sure we’ll talk about that in greater degree throughout this this conversation. But the ability to be empathetic and to recognize what empathy is in the first place, is another essential feature for any hostage negotiator, agility, being able to adjust on the fly, when the things you thought were happening are going to happen or not happening. When progress suddenly turns to chaos. The ability to take everything in stride and adjust accordingly is absolutely necessary. Humility. Without a doubt, there’s there isn’t a an effective negotiator. I don’t think in the world that isn’t able to set their own needs and feelings aside for the good of the conversation and for the good of progress and Probably the last thing I’d say we creativity, like I said, there’s a, there’s a whole there’s a, there’s a plethora of of qualities that we would like to see and many of them are so situationally appropriate. But it generally speaking, creativity is probably another one were being able to get outside of our own comfort zones our own the things that we’re familiar with, and to explore new situations to work toward a peaceful resolution is another critical value for hostages negotiators,


Nadine Powrie  05:35

you mentioned empathy. How easy is it to have empathy when sometimes you’re in a hostage negotiation? And you yourself, okay, if you’re struggling to have this empathy, but you know that it’s a skill you need to have to be successful at the negotiation?



Yes. So I think empathy is easiest, when the people that we are communicating with share our some of our experiences, our worldviews, our viewpoints, or our ultimate goals. In hostage negotiation, that’s not always the case. So it can be very difficult to moderate the, the feelings and expectations that we have, and to really just sit back, I think Brene, Brown calls it being vulnerable, right? To sit back and to listen with no expectation, just be able to kind of, to view the world. Through not it’s not just through the eyes of someone else, or through their experiences, but to actually believe, even if temporarily that their experiences are valid or correct. From the way that they see them.


Nadine Powrie  06:57

So So tell me, tell me about and share with us, you you know, the behind the scene of a hostage negotiation, right. From the beginning, you are the negotiator, what’s going through your mind.



To be blunt, the first thing that’s going through my mind is I hope I don’t mess this up. I think that one of the things that we utilize as a as a as a critical supportive network is hostage negotiation is done as part of a team, we have a team of people that work together to, to work towards that resolution. And while we have one negotiator on the phone, you have other people listening to that conversation, trying to hear what you’re not hearing, because as you know, we focus, and we tend to get very narrowly focused on conversations. And in doing so we miss a lot of the bigger picture. So what goes on behind the scenes is probably the hardest work of all. It’s the research and gathering that gives us insight into the person that we’re talking to, or the worldview and perspective that they bring into the conversation. It’s the coaching that goes on for the negotiator that says, you know, you’re doing a good job, the here are some other things that we could talk about. Here, here’s something he said that we might want to go back and revisit or she said that we might want to go back and revisit. So behind the scenes is actually there’s a lot of work going on. And then it’s the negotiators job to to pretend that isn’t happening and to keep calm in the conversation.


Nadine Powrie  08:42

So in a in a negotiator negotiation, there is a beginning, middle and an end. Okay, that’s kind of the cycle. So what would what does a good beginning looks like and feel like when you are having that conversation?



I think, probably with very rare exceptions, the most of our conversations begin with an introductory statement followed by a lot of verbal abuse directed at or toward the negotiator or the situation. And it’s in that that crisis intervention part of the conversation, where we have a responsibility really to try to connect and be empathetic with the individual because if you’re not here, if you as the negotiator are not hearing what is being said and the problems that are being voiced, then getting to a resolution is far more difficult. So that’s that’s the beginning of that conversation. The middle four, four and a hostage negotiator will kind of look like a typical exchange, it’s not always agreement. But it’s a sharing of ideas where each party is, is not only permitted but encouraged to to communicate viewpoints and the the kind of the differences in those viewpoints. We work towards getting hashed out. And then the end of that conversation looks more like a perspective. Because I think in hostage negotiation, we have a bit of a different environment than the business negotiation in that one party is generally captive, for lack of a better term, right. And so that the end of that conversation really has to be a push for behavioral change from that person. Right, we, we always talk about from a hostage negotiation perspective, it’s important to contain the subject that to contain the situation. Well, in that containment, it’s the negotiators job then do to persuade the subject to influence the subject so that they decide that a peaceful resolution is in their best interest.


Nadine Powrie  11:12

So how do you? How do you juggle the fact that you aren’t listening to somebody? So the host stage is talking to you, and you’ve got your team and your team is listening to the conversation. So in one ear, you’ve got the one conversation going in another and you’ve got another conversation with your team that demands energy, double focus? How do you manage that?



It is, that’s one of the things that we work very hard in training to streamline that process. When you’re on the phone, your focus has to be the person on the phone, you can’t disrupt that that conversation. Because when you do you lose any rapport, any any sort of relationship that you might have developed. In that conversation, we talked about this beforehand, where you, you weren’t me at a time as questions come in, you’re going to look off the screen. And it’s, we talked about that. And it’s the same thing. When critical information has to be passed, it’s not a conversation in the background, or it shouldn’t be right that the the negotiators environment should be as quiet as possible. And you’ll have one person sitting next to you who is communicating with you usually in some sort of written format, where they say, just kind of key points, these are the things that you know, you might want to consider, you could consider you, we need you to bring up the the command staff would like for you to address this issue, whatever the case is. So you’ll get those usually in the form of a note passed over to the negotiator. And it’s the negotiators job to to kind of regulate that information, distribution into the conversation, it doesn’t make a whole lot of conversational sense. And it doesn’t make a whole lot of personal sense, to bluntly interrupt the flow of a conversation so that you can then pick up a note and ask a question that was completely unrelated to what you were previously talking about. So the negotiators primary focus is on the subject on the phone. And when opportunities arise, they do try to take a look at what’s being passed. But the environment itself should be very quiet. And there should only be communication coming from one person to the negotiator.


Nadine Powrie  13:45

So you are busy, obviously, you know, listening to what’s being said on in the conversation, you’re also reading some notes. And you’re also having to think about questions, right? And it’s very hard. I mean, when we are listening as leaders, we are listening, and it’s very easy to listen to respond, right, straightaway, Shawn is telling me that I don’t even I’m not going to even listen to what he’s saying. In the second part, I’m just going to prepare what I’m going to say to Shawn, but how, how can you manage to think about, okay, I’m actively listening, and I am not thinking about what I’m going to say next. How do you manage that?



So you’re correct in the assessment, that listening to respond with with the intent to respond is a problem. And I think everybody does that. Because when we have a conversation, there are moments in that conversation that inspire us, that that that that connect with our feelings on a topic and we want to share those feelings. It’s an instinctual response. I loved your conversation last week with Matthew and you met active listening. If you’ll do me a favor just you voiced a little bit of hesitation towards the term active listening. Can you explain that for me?


Nadine Powrie  15:11

Yeah, because for me, maybe it’s because I am French. And maybe it’s because the two words together for me are a little bit of an issue. Because when you put to words like active listening, it seems to imply that there could be the possibility that it’s not active. So there is a different form of listing that is not active. And that’s kind of the problem, but it’s Mom mean, and anybody else, because I’m just a singer. And I’m thinking, but when I’m listening, I am actively listening, I don’t need a word before the listening to tell me that it’s active. And that was my problem with Matthew, last week, when we were we were discussing that for me, listening means that you are actively you, you are hearing and you are processing, you know, what people are telling you. I am not thinking about, Oh, what is my next questions right now, I you know, because there is a point where you’re not listening at all, you’re just thinking you’re just processing the word next. So I, while I totally accept that some people may not be listening to others, I was just saying that I don’t really see the point of putting that word active listening, because it makes it more complicated because people go, oh, so what’s the difference between active listening and listening? And it’s just because we’ve put that word in front that now everybody’s saying, Oh, you’ve got to really do active listening and in. And I’m like, Well, I don’t really think that that word should be the end, I just, you know, to listen is to listen, and to listen, for me is perhaps implicitly, too active, is about active listening. So that was just my point last week.



Well, and I loved it when you brought it up, because I think there’s a distinction that is important. And I agree with you the idea of active listening, if you are listening effectively, if you’re listening effectively, then you are participating in that conversation. And you’re you’re providing feedback, the communication loop, in its most simplified form, you have your sender, who sends the message to the receiver, who then provides feedback to this to the sender to make sure the message is understood, right. In that most simplified form, the listening part has a feedback element. I think where we get the importance of the term active listening is when we try to teach that to others to improve their listening skills. When you try to train others to be better listeners, you you’re you’re taking what is a skill that is dependent on others, right, you can listen, that has nothing to do with me, if I’m listening to somebody that has very little to do with me and has everything to do with what that person is saying. But when you’re trying to tell somebody else how to listen, that has everything to do with me, if you’re going to train me how to listen, I, you’re going to tell me what I need to be doing. And I think that’s where we get a disconnect in the in the phrase active listening. Active is about what I do listening is about what they’re doing. And it is a little disruptive. So from a training standpoint, active listening makes sense. I’m going to teach you how to be a better listener. From a listeners perspective. It doesn’t and that’s why I offered participative listening is the actual process of still accepting and participating in so it’s still about the person who’s doing the speaking.


Nadine Powrie  18:51

Yeah, I think I prefer participative as a word actually. Because it gives you a choice to participate and to respond. You know, you don’t have to it’s not because somebody’s telling you something that you don’t have to respond actually silence can be very powerful. Because not everybody functions by you say something shall and I’m going to say something back, although we are alive. So I tend to be careful about how I would use silence otherwise, you know, some people may think what’s what’s happening to Nadine, she’s not responding to Cha, and she’s live, you know, but I think sometime taking time out to process to think is how, you know, some people aren’t doing it and there is no right or wrong. It’s what’s best for people for them to process what’s being said to them. So participating and participative is kind of an invitation to step in as though as as an when there is you know, you choose when you respond and I really I like that.



Well, thanks. Oh boy, am I gonna get a knock on my door? No. Yes, it works, it works very well. And for the reasons that you said is that there are times in a conversation where there is silence. But that silence needs to be developed. One of the the active listening skills from a teaching standpoint that the FBI uses to train negotiators is the use of an effective pause, not just a pause, but an effective one. And it’s really hard to communicate what that means. But I think you just did a wonderful job in expressing that yet sometimes in a conversation, the speaker needs an opportunity to think back on what they’ve said, on that message and whether or not it is the message that they intended to say. And it’s on the role of the listener to recognize that and allow the space for the speaker to develop that a little bit more.


Nadine Powrie  21:00

So what when you speak as a hostage negotiator? Is there an effective way of speaking?



Well, the answer is yes. But not the way that I think you’re asking the question, the way I understand the question is, is there a, a, a specific modality or tonality that you you would want to use? And my response would be, yes, the one that is genuine for you. There’s no negotiator that can be effective, trying to be an actor, and put on a show at the same time as trying to be a thinker, and navigate a difficult conversation. So however, we communicate whatever that tone of voice is, whatever the pace of voices, there are moments where we would adjust that. But generally speaking, I would rather have a negotiator who doesn’t have to think about how they’re saying things or the way they’re saying things and can focus on the content of the conversation.


Nadine Powrie  22:13

But I mean, I’m not a hostage negotiator by profession. So maybe I’m gonna say something completely wrong. But in my mind, I have it that if a hostage negotiator talks too much, that could antagonize the listener, you know, the person who is taking a hostage.



So you’re absolutely right. That’s it. And there’s some great work by Dr. Paul Taylor in Lancaster University in the UK, who does talk a lot about he specifically focuses on police negotiations and hostage negotiations. And in any measures, conversations, he’s he’s listened to hundreds, if not 1000s, of negotiations over time. And what he’s found is that over the course of a conversation, when things become tense, effective negotiators reduce how much they’re speaking. And then when things are calm, the negotiator speaks more. And a lot of that is instinct. And a lot of that has to do with the basic structure of the way we train hostage negotiators. You mentioned in one of your posts this week, that behavioral change stairway model, and that is something that was developed by the FBI and around the turn of the century. And it kind of is the fundamental model if we need one for hostage negotiators. And it’s used not just in the US, it’s used in the UK, the modified a little bit, I have one of my least Scotland, little models here. And they they throw a let me they go home. But they throw in an extra step here, kind of in the middle, we would combine these two here. So we get a five step model. The first down here is your active listening skills. So there’s a the FBI teaches eight basic active listening skills. And then there’s empathy is the next step. So you’re expressing empathy, you’re trying to understand where the person is coming from that report and from police gotten when we have the report and trust this, but it’s essentially the same from our perspective in the US that report development means you have an opportunity to have an exchange of ideas. And then we get to the influence stage, which is the fourth stage that’s you as the negotiator are actively being sought for your advice on how to resolve the situation and it’s your job to offer options. And then finally, the behavioral change step which is where the subject decides that they want to modify their behavior. And if you look at this model and compare it to what Taylor found in his studies, when when conflict occurs in a conversation, we move down the stairwell back to active listening back to Addressing empathy, when conflict is reduced in the conversation, we move up the stairwell, trying to work towards that influence and ultimately encouraging behavioral change. So we work our way up and down the stairwell throughout the conversation. It’s a matter of the negotiator being able to read the subject and the way that that subject is communicating.


Nadine Powrie  25:22

We, we have somebody, Stephen, who is asking us questions. So Stephanie, saying fascinating conversation, I’d love to hear shells perspective on how much the negotiator owns the conversation, and how much they work to a predefined structure, and how much of the negotiation is reactive and organic? And he says, Oh, I think you’ve just answered it.



Yes, yes, we don’t. We read the conversation. And we have to react to it. Why that’s why, from the beginning, one of the critical skills for any negotiators is agility, right, you have to be able to react to the subject, you’re listening, you’re you’re listening, and you’re listening for a purpose, you’re listening for those key things that will help you understand what big picture will result in a peaceful resolution. So the role of the negotiator is reactive for the majority of the conversation, I liken it to a lot of times where you’re climbing a cliff, and it takes the majority of the way up, you know, to try to finally get to that influence stage where you have the opportunity to offer suggestions, but that behavioral change stairway when you get to the top, and they decided behavioral change, it’s often like the edge of a cliff, like the conversation is done, I’m coming out and you’re like, Whoa, we we need to slow this down. I need a little bit of a slope to get back down out of this conversation. So yes, we, Stephen, thank you for the question. It’s, it’s wonderful. We adjust on the fly. But really, the majority of what we’re doing is in trying to encourage the other person to talk about how they would resolve the situation peacefully.


Nadine Powrie  27:15

So how do you? How do we talk about bonding of connection? Okay, in a negotiation. So how do you successfully create that?



I think that’s a that’s a very difficult question. It’s a very important question. It’s a very difficult question. The way we train is that by utilizing those active listening skills, and expressing empathy, that the connection will build itself. And, as as I think anybody who is involved in any sort of relationship can understand, connections can develop very quickly, or they can develop over time. Now, time is a fantastic asset. For hostage negotiators. There are statistics both in the US and in Europe that say that the longer hostage situations go on, the more likely they are to resolve peacefully. In fact, the two most violent, most frequent opportunities for violence in any sort of crisis situation are at the outset, when the negotiators become involved, and then potentially at the resolution, where we may not have, we may not have the collateral in the conversation, to get to a peaceful resolution. But outside of that, when conversation is occurring, violence is highly unlikely to occur based on the statistics for conversations. So how do we get to connection, it really is about focusing on trying to see the subjects perspective, and and give it validity. For like I said earlier, if you can temporarily set aside your worldview, your perspective, the things that you expect to accomplish in this negotiation, and just listen to what caused the situation to happen in the first place. How this individual sees the world from their perspective, where they feel like they are being neglected or ignored, or their status is being challenged. And then trying to make sure that we address those needs in the conversation to build some of that connection.


Nadine Powrie  29:44

So so how do you manage your own emotion as a hostage negotiator?



So that’s I that’s not just a new hostage negotiator challenge, right? There’s a there’s a whole field of emotional intelligence that talks about as a critical skill or critical skills, being aware of your own emotions, what what inspires them, what draws them out, when you sense threat, what situations are likely to bring that to you, and then managing the the instinctual response to those emotions. So that you can effectively connect and communicate with other people and develop those relationships. As a hostage negotiator. There you will. From an outsider looking in, you can be seen in many cases as absolutely despicable. You’re, you’re talking to a child molester. And you’re telling them that you absolutely can understand how they put they’ve been put into this situation, by the way that they were brought up. And it’s not really their fault, or you’re talking to an extremist who’s caused violence, and you’re saying, I agree with you wholeheartedly that society is stacked against you, right. And these things are not things that we would say perhaps in a normal conversation. But in in a conversation like a hostage negotiation, you have a bigger picture. And that bigger picture is that we want to resolve this peacefully that we want to preserve human life. And with those two loftier goals, you reference William Yuri’s book Getting the right that, that sitting on the balcony approach those loftier goals, they help you to minimize some of the more offensive material, because focusing on how offensive it may be, how emotion evoking it may be, is detrimental to getting to the next step in the conversation.


Nadine Powrie  31:56

I was reading a book where it says that the greatest negotiators are those who know themselves very well. So the being very self aware of what can trigger you as a hostage negotiator, you know, the positive, but also the negative? What do you think of that?



I think that getting to know yourself, and specifically the things that you hold to be in violet is a critical critical skill for negotiators. If you don’t know what’s going to, to push your buttons to cause you to react instead of respond, then you’re then there may be position positions or moments in a negotiation, where your effectiveness as a negotiator will be highly reduced. So yes, I think getting to know yourself, and what your what you instinctively and emotionally respond to is a critical part of becoming an effective negotiator.


Nadine Powrie  33:14

And what about your values? And the ethics? I think I’ve put that in one of the posts on LinkedIn. You know, you mentioned talking to a child molester, and here you are, you’re the father of two children, right? That doesn’t it? Doesn’t it? When you are doing the negotiation? Doesn’t that place at the back of your mind? And you know, your values, your ethics? How are those playing for against you when you are having that conversation?



So I would say that the ethics question when you when you put that up as something we were going to talk about, that was probably the hardest thing for me to really think about in terms of what we do as hostage negotiators, because the people that we most frequently talk to, are people who have done one of two things. They’ve either violated their own ethical code, or their ethical code is substantially different from that of the negotiator. So I think ethics is, you know, we talked about in business ethics can be defined in terms of the corporation’s value, right? It can, it can slightly differ from one corporation to the next. And we have to do that, because the objectives of the corporation are different. In law enforcement and hostage negotiation, that’s not really often the case. We have a defined set of ethical principles usually codified into law that you are expected to enforce and you have an entire not only an organization, but you have an entire viewing public that expects you to enforce those ethical responsibilities. But from a negotiators perspective, it’s really more beneficial for us to to disassociate during the conversation from our own ethical perspective, so that we can really understand how the ethics of the individual that we’re talking to have gotten them into this position, because it’s those that it’s that set of ethical principle principles, it’s the subject set of ethical principles that are going to help us get to them changing their minds, right, we have to be able to point out where their behaviors are not consistent with their beliefs, not where their behaviors are not consistent with our beliefs. A lot of that has to do, there’s some great work I mentioned Jay van Babel, and one of my posts, Pascal Muhlenberg, they do this fantastic study of what it means to be part of an in group and an out group. And if you look at the neuroscience behind that, that in group, when when you see people within your group succeed, you the pleasure centers of your brain activate, it’s a good thing. And so what we tend to get is we get the support net for work from police that say, Yes, enforce our values, because it looks like a win. It’s a moral victory for everybody. But in the same studies, what we see is, when we see people from an outgroup, lose, we also get that pleasure center of our brain activating, which further reinforces the Yeah, take it to the ticket to the hostage taker, let’s, let’s end this, they’re going to lose. And when we create that dichotomy, that that competition, the opportunity for any sort of resolution, or are meeting in the middle, or it doesn’t even have to be meeting in the middle, it’s, it can be agreeing to disagree, but any sort of agreement, when we create two separate categories, we sabotage the opportunity to really get to a peaceful resolution.


Nadine Powrie  37:08

How do you prepare to going into a hostage negotiation? So you’re at home, and you’re called to go to a hostage negotiation? So yeah, so at that point, so you get a call? What goes through that line? What’s the mindset? What’s the process that you are immediately putting yourself in.



So when you get when you get called in from home, a lot of times will will pick up the negotiation from position on the road, I work overnight on night shift. And if they were to call for a negotiator on a night shift, and I were on duty, then I would respond in that capacity. But when you get called in from home, the situation is a little different. Usually it’s it’s a, it’s an unexpected call, your mind is on something else. And you drop everything you turn, and you’re you. As you’re getting dressed, you’re also putting on that negotiator, persona, that negotiator mindset, you’re you’re adjusting to, there’s a there’s a job that’s going to be done. And I’m going to have to remember all of my training and employ that very soon. The problem is, is usually when you get the call, you don’t have a whole lot of information about what you’re going to. In an ideal situation, what you get is you arrive with your team on a scene, the person who’s going to be on the phone is notified. And you get a basic summary of what has happened up to that point that caused you to be called out, you might get some personal information on the subject if it’s available, and your team will go to work trying to figure out more about that subject. And then you go with the understanding that you have. And the objective is to get in contact with this subject as soon as possible. As soon as practicable is probably better, better way of phrasing it. Getting on the phone with no information can can be very difficult to do. So we would prefer to try to have at least a basic background before we do that. But we get set up and we’ll make that phone call. You have your coach sitting next to you. And as as awkward as the process frequently is we call them we try to start off by listening, right? I’m forcing you to talk. I’m going to try to find a way to inspire you to talk and I’m going to try to listen to you because I don’t understand what’s going on. And I’d like to understand it better.


Nadine Powrie  39:40

So is it I mean you talked about the fact that you mainly receiving calls during work so you’re driving as opposed to you’re at home. It’s so so easy it easier in your mindset because you are at work to receive a call for a hostage negotiation. Is it easier then being at home, and it’s, you know, not planned, and you have to prepare mentally, it’s a bit like, when you do sport, you know, high competitive sports and you it’s, it’s the mental kind of training. So is it easier when you’re at work or when you’re called from, from home?



I think there’s, there’s, there’s benefits to both. I think when you’re at work that you tend to have a little bit more access to information about what is provoking the situation in the first place. And so you have a little bit better background, you understand how things have unfolded, because you have the officers there who initially responded, and you can kind of talk to them about what went on, or you can read the notes in the call of, of how the sequence of events leading up to the negotiator call have have kind of developed this situation into a need for hostage negotiation. But that can that can work against you as well. Again, we talked about the the immersion into a culture that expects you to, to deal with the bad guy, and let the good guys weigh in and the bad guy lose. And when you’re on the street already in uniform, you are, for all intents and purposes, you’re you’ve already placed yourself on the good guy side. Right. And you’re we we respond in a certain way. So I think that it works both for and against you to be on duty coming from home, you don’t have that background information, which might be helpful. But you also don’t have the automatic, you know, there’s a it’s, I’ll refer to the sunk cost fallacy. Because when you’re on duty, there’s a lot of work that’s already been done. And you don’t want to see that. That ground being given back. But when you come in from home, you haven’t given that that degree. So you can kind of see with a fresh set of eyes, you haven’t given that degree of commitment, and it gives you an opportunity to start over again.


Nadine Powrie  42:17

You mentioned earlier on managing difficult conversations, what would be your advice to manage difficult conversations.



So to manage difficult conversations, it really is first and foremost about managing your own expectations, and your own instinctual responses to things I think we automatically develop a view of in our heads of what this what the outcome should look like. And that’s fine. But that view in our heads doesn’t include the whole other party in the conversation, right 50% of this conversation hasn’t hasn’t had an opportunity to provide feedback to paint that picture. So it’s really just a half of a picture. And in order to get through that we have to remember that. While while that outcome is possible, there’s a lot of additional information we need to add in before we can bring it together to say so then the next part of managing that conversation is is really digging in really digging in and trying to understand what their picture looks like. Right? What what are they going to contribute to this? And how does that all mesh together? And what does the new picture look like? Right? How do we how do we see? How did we combine the two perspectives to create a realistic plan for getting to a peaceful resolution. And in some cases, unfortunately, in the work that we do, it doesn’t get there will work all the way we will continue to work, we will continue to work but in some cases those pictures just don’t mesh. But we’re going to continue to try and find a big enough perspective to see both and to see both together.


Nadine Powrie  44:23

You mentioned digging in in terms of questioning how do you know how to ask the right questions at the right moment.



If your questions are genuine, if they’re they’re not contrived, they’re not pre planned. And your questions really speak to the the visceral instinctual motivations of the subject than it’s the right question and it’s the right time to ask. That’s that’s really He kind of the the, the key to it, I think when when we try to focus on what, what the gotcha question is What What’s the magic thing that we can say, to get this person to change their mind that’s focusing on us. And we can’t You can’t make somebody change their mind, you can influence them to want to change their own mind. But you can’t make someone change their mind. And the more we overtly try to do that the more individuals dig in to their own perspective, I think that’s been proven in social science research, infinite times. So yeah, from a hostage negotiation perspective, and managing the conversation, and really just trying to dig in, it’s about making sure we’re staying we’re staying in touch with their frame of mind, and what motivates them so that we can point those those motivating factors towards our resolution.


Nadine Powrie  45:59

I want to ask you a question about intuition. You know, we talk about intuitive leadership. And we’ve, I mean, I hope, at some point, we have to trust our intuition. How much of your intuition are you using when you are leading hostage negotiation?



So intuition is a is something we can avoid. Right? The way that the human brain is set up is that we process all information coming in first, in that instinctual brain, everything goes through that amygdala sensor. Do we sense a threat, whether it’s physical or verbal? Everything goes there first, and then goes to the basal ganglia so that we can figure out are we going to do something about this? Or are we not all of that happens before we get to the cognitive processing center of the brain. So saying not to respond instinctually is is probably not a realistic goal for negotiators. But what we try to do through extensive training and through extensive practice, is we try to teach people to communicate so that their instincts are to moderate those threat responses or recognize them when they happen, and subdue the automatic threat responses. And give a little bit of thought to what does this mean in the context of the bigger conversation, as a leader for a crisis negotiation team, when you’re listening to a negotiator on the phone, those are the things that you’re listening for, you’re listening to make sure that they’re in control of their emotions, that not that the emotions aren’t there, the emotions have to be there, the person on the other end of the phone expects a human being. And human beings come with emotions, and sometimes battling your own instincts. Visibly, visibly in the conversation can be a connecting factor, right? It shows that there’s an effort to understand which can really help to build rapport. But as a as a, as a leader of a team. This is what I’m looking for our mind negotiators working to understand emotion from the other in other individuals perspective, and are they working through that individual’s emotions to try to restore that individual’s cognitive thinking?


Nadine Powrie  48:21

We talked about the cycle of negotiation. So there is a beginning a middle and an end. What do you do at the end of a hostage negotiation?



So the first thing is thank you, right. We’ve done a lot of hard work, you credit them for all the hard work that’s been done as a you know, I think that we get back to the expectations of your, your law enforcement profession, in your in group. But as far as law enforcement goes, that’s another one of those cases, or it can come across as very distasteful and maybe, to some seem unethical. But the fact of the matter is that a lot of hard work has been done. And so you want to make sure that the person is appreciated for the work that has been done to get to the peaceful resolution. After that, at that point in the conversation, a large part of the emotion has has been dissipated. And so you can really focus on simple instrumental goals and those instrumental goals will have something to do with how are we going to get you and anybody else who’s in there with you out safely. And so we start working on plans and we involve the individual in the plan making process because when you when you contribute to making that plan, when you have a vested interest in seeing it succeed, then we’re more likely to get compliance isn’t the right word, but we’re more likely to get the process done without support ises.


Nadine Powrie  50:02

And then once the negotiation is the hostage negotiation is over, then as a hostage negotiator, what do you do?



Well, debriefing is extraordinarily important, we would love to talk to the hostage negotiator. And so I’m sorry, to the hostage taker. But sometimes that having that conversation immediately afterward is not as productive as it might be having it hours or days later, because we still have that the blur of everything that happened in this high stress environment, without the time to actually take perspective. So we would love to debrief the subject, find out where in the conversation we were effective, and why, where in the conversation, we could have been more effective, and why. And then we’re in the conversation, we fell flat, and why. And then as a team will do the same sort of debrief, because there’s not a negotiation team that thinks about a conversation exactly the same way. If you have 10 members on a team, and the negotiator says one thing, nine of the other nine members will all say, Oh, I would have said this, and what they would have said, probably a little bit different. So we’ll debrief as a team, we’ll do that right away, because we want to make sure that those thoughts from the team members of hey, we could have approached these things, that those come while they’re fresh. And then that debrief will be split into two different sessions. There’s the the cognitive processing part of what tech techniques and tactics did we use to get through this situation? And then there’s the emotional part, which is, hey, we just had a conversation with somebody whose ethics are completely or or the situation is, is something that is, in contrast to what we believe should have happened to our ethical perspective on how the world works. Are you okay with that? Right, what what type of toll, if any, is it taking on you as a negotiator. And you can have veteran negotiators who have done things over and over and over again, who are less affected, but then go into a situation that’s completely unfamiliar, and it can absolutely knock them off balance. So that that mental health aspect for negotiators is also a critical part of that debrief. So we’ll have that emotional debrief, we’ll have a cognitive debrief for the team. And then hopefully, we’ll get the opportunity to talk to any hostage taker later on down the road hostages, people who are trapped inside victims, if we can talk to them on scene we will. The interesting thing about talking to victims is it’s very, it can be very difficult, especially when you get to a point in the negotiation, a hostage negotiation, where you’re trading the life of a victim or hostage for a cigarette. Right. And you’re you’re placing a value on someone that is so obscure, and, and insulting, that it’s a lot of times hard to explain that. So we’ll want to debrief with our hostages in the same way, we want to make sure that they’re okay, we’ll want to get their perspective on what they saw and what they thought should have been done differently, because everybody does have a contribution to make. So that the next time we roll out, we can do it in a better way.


Nadine Powrie  53:39

Yeah, I was going to ask you actually, you know, there shall Crosby who is, you know, here today, how can shall becomes an even better effective hostage negotiator. So you get the feedback from people and I get that, but is there anything else that you do as well in terms of, you know, your habits, reflective habits, you know, that you do personally without, you know, not without your team, but with yourself?



Yes. So in I made the note I, when I was thinking about this, you talked about, you know, what are you the question you asked is, is knowledge power in negotiations. And for me, I think that the role that knowledge plays, is it expands the options that you have. And so what do I do to better prepare myself for the next conversation? Is I’m an avid reader and, and I’ll delve into the psychology of human behavior. I’ll delve into the neuroscience of the way that the brain works and, and why we tend to respond to things the way that we do that those are those basic human elements, the things that we can rely upon or count upon. I’ll look at moral psychology and and ethics and behavior, behavioral economics and what is most efficient, we look at the systems. So I’ll kind of work through my base of knowledge and try to explain it from that perspective. I’ll use my active listening skills on my family members and friends, until they say, Hey, wait, you’re doing that thing. And when they say, Hey, wait, you’re doing that thing, I’ll stop the timer and say next time, I’m going to try to go a minute longer, right. So the more effective you are at utilizing those active listening skills, those those training reminders, those participative listening tools and techniques, as part of a normal conversation, where they’re not recognized as an actual implement in the negotiation process, then the more effective you can be as a negotiator. And I will I do like to sit down, we go to trainings around the world, I like to sit down around the country, and listen to how other people view, listen to their story of a negotiation, and how they view their successes and failures. And from being able to put yourself in that seat and see what they’re at least hear what they were seeing, then you have an option that others don’t have, right if they’re not aware that that when we talked to a hostage taker here in Orlando, a few years back, he made reference to another negotiation that took place in Boston. And at that time, I did not know anything about the negotiation process. And it wasn’t until after that, that I sat through a presentation on that, that second negotiation and realize, if I had been more informed on on that situation that this hostage taker was referencing, then we could have talked for quite some time, and worked on that rapport building process just about that other negotiation. So I think that expanding your knowledge base gives you options. But the bottom line is that every negotiation is different. Because the person on the other end of the phone or the other end of the conversation, they bring their own worldview. And if as a negotiator, our goal is to get into that person’s state of mind and perspective, and really try to figure out how a picture would resolve itself in their minds that ends in the resolution that we would like,


Nadine Powrie  57:33

wow, we’ve been speaking for about 57 minutes. I mean, I could speak with you all day, but you don’t have all day. Charles, I want to ask you one final question, which is a which is very personal to you, but what legacy would you like to have with what you’re doing currently in your, in your work?



In all honesty, I would love to see these communication techniques that we implement to develop better, more reliable conversations and to treat people like human beings. I would like to see those spread and mass. It doesn’t have to be police hostage negotiation techniques, but these basic communication techniques, not just saying, hey, we need to be more empathetic, but actually teaching people to what that means, and how to be more empathetic, I would love to see education expanded to include the way that the brain works, so that people have a better understanding of what’s happening inside them, when they when they have an emotional response. And then how we can deal with that and having more time, just in general in society, for us to recognize and respond to the things that drive us and drive others to do what we do.


Nadine Powrie  59:07

Beautiful. That’s, that’s great. So Shawn, if people want to get in touch with you, how did they go about that?



So my email address is communication synergy with a C, C y and communication Cy That’s the easiest way.


Nadine Powrie  59:25

Brilliant. Okay. Well, shall it’s been an absolute pleasure to speak with you. I’ve learned so much. And I’m going to go I’m going to go away and I’m going to reflect on everything you’ve said. But thank you so much for being generous and giving us your time and for being here and for saying so much and for responding to the questions that I’ve been asked him really, really grateful. So thank you very much.



Thank you, Nadine for having me.


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