Alternative ideas you can use to start conversation or to add interest to speeches or presentations


Crime and Punishment Letters

Need more quotes? Extracts from books on Crime

Teach Children That Crime Doesn't Pay

Gary Slutkin may be right that there is too much emphasis on punishment as a means of reducing violence (17 May, p 28).

But in the most notable of the Bobo doll experiments he mentions, children were more likely to imitate an adult whose behaviour was rewarded. If the children saw that the adult who had been violent towards the doll was scolded and punished, they were dissuaded from similar behaviour. So it is important for young people to see that, as the saying goes, "crime doesn't pay".

Getting Rid of the Bodies

Erwin Vermeij discusses criminal attempts to dissolve bodies in acid (5 November 2014, p 44).

It's worth noting that Santiago Meza Lopez, also known as "El Pozolero" (the soup maker), is believed to have disposed of 300 bodies for Mexican drug cartels by placing them in barrels and adding a strong solution of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda, or lye). After two days he poured out the "soup" and then disposed of the teeth.

A biologist would have used trypsin in a sodium tetraborate (borax) solution. It leaves the bones and ligaments intact, making for a nice mount. I have "kitchen tested" this with great success.

AMA on hostage negotiation

Hi Reddit! I’m Chris Voss, the founder and CEO of The Black Swan Group, a consulting firm that provides training and advises Fortune 500 companies through complex negotiations. Rooted in hostage negotiation, my methodology centers around “Black Swans” small pieces of information that have a huge effect on an outcome.

Everything we’ve previously been taught about negotiation is wrong: you are not rational; there is no such thing as ‘fair’; compromise is the worst thing you can do; the real art of negotiation lies in mastering the intricacies of No, not Yes. These surprising ideas—which radically diverge from conventional negotiating strategy—weren’t cooked up in a classroom, but are the field-tested rules FBI agents use to talk criminals and hostage-takers around the world into (or out of) just about any imaginable scenario.

How are kidnapping negotiation skills relevant to business negotiations?

Yep! Everybody wonders that! 2 things:
1st - kidnappers are really just businessmen. I know that sounds cold-hearted to us, but to them it's only business. The key to any negotiation is being able to see it from their point of view so you can win in their world. Once you can do that with a kidnapper you can do it with anyone!
2nd - everyone, even kidnappers, make up their mind based on what they care about most - this makes decision making an emotional process. EQ is the key to negotiations whether with kidnappers or your boss. Hostage negotiation skills are just advanced EQ.

Actually, I believe in integrity as a currency, if you will. There are always going to be deal points that are taken on blind faith, or trust that you're telling the truth or not leading people into illegal behavior. I can't be held responsible for the lack of integrity of the people I deal with when they are away from me, but I can take responsibility for my deals and dealings. When you conduct business that way, more business comes to you in the long run. Honesty and integrity are actually mercenary traits. You make more money because of it.

How much does your voice, tone, and diction change when you are negotiating as opposed to just normally talking?

Thanks for asking this. "Smile" when you speak and people want to work with you more. It actually makes both of you smarter as well because our minds work up to 31% better when we are in a good frame of mind. On rare occasions, when I really have to make an important point, I use the "late-night FM DJ" voice. Downward inflecting, calm tone. Great for making important points!

"up to 31% better" ... And the bullshit stat of the day goes to...

Actually 72.3% of all statistics are wrong. 19 times out of 20.

Totally inappropriate of me but just had this mental picture of a room full of agents extremely stressed out and the negotiator smiling on the phone completely calm like he's just ordering a pizza.
I really admire the kind of self control you have to be able to not only resist under that kind of stress since all that weight falls on your shoulders but be able to control the situation itself.

It's kind of crazy, but as soon as you focus on the process and just let the outcome come to you it gets much easier.

What's the best way to negotiate Salary for a new job?

Salary pays your bills but terms build your career.
Salary is the price term in a job negotiation and price is only 1 term. What you really want is terms that guarantee you visibility with the top levels of the firm, a reasonably high but not ridiculous wage so they like having you around and want to pay you more in a year when you've been successful. You also want terms where you get good guidance on how to be successful and from the right people. Ask "How can I be guaranteed to be involved in projects critical to the strategic future of the company?"
Be extremely likable and respectfully persistent on what you need to be successful on the non-salary terms. The side-effect is that they will compensate you more in other areas when they can't give elsewhere. One of my students got a higher salary because she was so darn pleasant and persistent on wanting extra vacation.
ALL terms have to be negotiated within the context of making you a ridiculously successful employee, otherwise why should they pay you? How would you approach the renegotiation of a set contract? A year or so ago I started my first job and agreed to a certain set of terms for the first two years (set salary, with pre-set raises), now I feel I'm more of a contribution to the company than what I get paid for (I'm getting paid for a junior positions when I'm already taking up some fairly advanced tasks and get responsibilities).

What you're telling me is you're doing a great job for the company! Well done! You are setting yourself up for future success and the next round of negotiations. i think Chapter 4 & Chapter 6 in my book will help a lot. What you'll be focusing on is "How am I supposed to stay here if I don't get treated in a way that makes me want to stay?" This will be a great way to frame the next discussion. Also a label: "I'm sorry but it seems like you're willing to lose me." These are both great ways to focus your counterparts (employers) on realities without backing them into a corner. These things should alway be said with a deferential tone of voice. There is great power in deference.

Document the things you do that are above and beyond what would normally be expected for your role/title. When you do end up asking for a raise bring that with you to support your case. You know what you do but they don't always keep track of it all as much as you would expect.

In a negotiation, how do you decide or figure out how little you can give to someone to still get what you want back?

Great question! Ask lots of "How?" and "What?" questions. Stuff like "What's the biggest challenge you face?" "How does that help you?" "What happens if this fails?" These do 2 things: Identify the real problems and also show that you really want to work with them. The better partner you are - the more they will want to give you.

When you say that kidnappers are basically businessmen, what about the nuts? How do you approach negotiating with someone mentally unstable?

Great question! EVERYONE has patterns. We just look for the patterns. "Craziness" is sort of in the eye of the beholder. You might be from New York City and think I'm crazy because I love the weather in California! You might think I'm crazy because I eat grass-fed beef! So it really depends on the degree and point of view.

Is there a different way to handle negotiations with a clinically narcissistic person who is severely controlling and abusive, has absolutely no empathy and is very adept at deflecting responsibility? The biggest problem I think is that this person places his value on "winning" and prolonging the drama, whereas my focus is on the young person at the centre of the negotiations including minimal fuss and muss. To him the youngster is expendable as long as he "wins". Everybody has patterns. It sounds to me like the person you're dealing with is completely predictable, you just don't happen to like what you know is coming. That means you are falling into their pattern. Just become as passive-aggressive as they are!

Can you help me negotiate terms for a ruined relationship?

One of my philosophies is "No-deal is better than a bad deal". The sooner we decide that the future holds better deals with better partners, the sooner we move onto a more profitable life. Getting yourself to cut your losses and move on is one of the hardest lessons to teach yourself.

(Another Redditor)
I'm no negotiator, but I'll speak to this a bit. (All just my opinions, take it for what it's worth.)
Relationships are built and die on a relatively linear spectrum that I describe as "communication <-> trust <-> intimacy <-> sex." There may be more, it's not a law, but this model has helped me and others for a very long time. You communicate with a stranger to potentially build trust. Enough communication and trust and you have a friend or confidant. You trust them long enough without fail and continue to communicate and you build intimacy. Enough communication, trust, and intimacy and you have a best friend. Enough intimacy, trust, and communication and you can find yourself at sex - the ultimate communication of trust and intimacy.

Now, if your relationship has failed, it likely failed (like most do) at the first stage - communication. At some point the trust was lost (or was never there) and the rest fell away necessarily. You say you have a failed relationship and you "can't just throw it away," but I would seriously consider whether or not you had the relationship you thought you did in the first place. If you didn't, you aren't throwing anything away, you're waking from a dream and it's time to splash some water on your face and enjoy reality as best you can. If you did however, and you want to try to rebuild the relationship, the only way to do that is start at the beginning. Communicate. Build trust. Find intimacy.

It'll be hard, because broken trust is irreparable. You'll have to accept that you'll never fully trust them again, and they'll have to accept that as well. It makes communication much harder and of course intimacy will suffer as well. It can be done, but you should again seriously consider whether or not this is really what you want and whether or not it's realistic with the partner you have in mind. A partner you do not know or trust and who in many ways will be more challenging to be with than a stranger. I wish you the best of luck.

What made you decide to get into kidnapping negotiations, and what made you leave to do business negotiation?

i was on SWAT with the FBI and was having trouble with a recurring knew injury. While the knee was still good I decided to switch to hostage negotiations, because leaving SWAT comes sooner rather than later, pretty much like any high intensity sport.
i was lucky enough to get onto the negotiating team even though I had no background or training because I was willing to spend time volunteering on a suicide hotline - the absolute best place in the world to learn tactical listening and to really bring your emotional intelligence to a very high level.
I got into hostage negotiation was because I was willing to just show up all the time whenever needed I ended up negotiating in a bank robbery with hostage - which is actually a really rare event. Though they happen in the movies all the time, they actually happen in real life about once every 20 years in the whole country.
From there I had a chance to go overseas to work kidnappings. i had a lot of terrorism experience from my New York days and I was good at it. i worked really hard at it and came to understand it an just another form of business. A horrific business, but a business none the less. Seeing it that way i started working with and learning from the people at Harvard. Once there, we all kind of agreed that we were all doing the same things, just under different circumstances.

Is there a backfire effect when people realize you're coming from an aggressive, uncompromising position? i tend to care more about making people lose than winning personally when i realize they're not playing by the same rules as me.

Never be so sure of what you want that you wouldn't take something better. If you're aggressive and uncompromising then you're leaving money on the table. LOTS of it. More each and every day as word of what dealing with you is like gets around. It sounds like you like the feeling of making people feel beaten more than you like the idea of long-term wealth?

I know that personally my voice and diction can often convey a somewhat hostile tone. While what I'm saying may be a request or a correction, it can come off fairly caustic. This has caused me a few issues in being a supervisor and a hangar manager. What are some methods you propose to rid myself of this?

Impatience and directness are often misinterpreted as hostility. It's often a symptom of someone who has a "time is money" approach. The crazy thing, is that if you slow down and take the time to smile and get people to feel good about the actual interaction itself, things almost always end up going more quickly. It's counter-intuitive and it works.

What pointers do you have for business negotiations where communication is filtered thru several people? Like buying a house. I can't use things like intonation, tone, etc when the message has to go thru 2 realtors before it gets to the decision maker.

A relentless focus on "How?" and "What?" questions here works really well also as it tends to get all the others involved in the communication chain working together to solve them. Combine the "How?" with "when" and you get some really powerful stuff. "How am I supposed to pay this much for this house when I don't know if it will pass inspection?" Put your objections in this form and it will get passed through the intervening parities to solve.

A great way to say "no" is "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I just can't do that." Another great way to say "no" is "How am I supposed to do that?" These need to be said with a respectful, maybe even apologetic tone of voice. You want to be both collaborative and be able to set limits at the same time.

Trying to get what you want by cornering or dominating the other side is a recipe for them not following through because they want ot cause you problems because they resent the deal.

My approach is trying to make the best deal possible, yes for myself but also so the other side wants to continue to do business with me. The definition of a high value trade is for both side to get a lot of value they couldn't otherwise get. So, yeah, I'd love to deal with someone who really wants to make me better off.

When you are in a position where you need what they have to offer more than they need you, and based on that they lowball you. Say its money, or a contract you really need. How do you negotiate from that? You can't say "Hey man, my kids needs this" or appeal to their sympathy. I noticed many have a sadistic side which makes them not want to give it you even more. How do you deal with that?

if they're talking to you, you have leverage. Leverage is in the eye of the beholder. Who has leverage in a kidnapping? The kidnapper or the victim's family? The family. The kidnapper has something the family loves, but the family has something the kidnapper lusts for: money. Understand their lust, learn how to let out "no" a little at a time and remember the secret to gaining the upper hand in a negotiation is giving the other side the illusion of control.

If you appeal to sympathy, you are telling your counterpart you've willingly given up all your leverage. Once you show them you're not willing to walk away, you've taken yourself hostage.

Are negotiations done face to face different from those over a phone? How much does body language influence negotiations? Are there words that are more influential than others in day to day situation e.g. email or meetings?

There's a rule called 7:38:55 and some people love to argue about it's validity. Those who like it (like me) think the words should count for 7% or your interpretation of what they really mean, the tone of voice 38% and the body language for 55%.

This tends to mean that in-person there is a lot more meaning to interpret to truly get where someone is coming from. And each time you filter out part of the means on communication (by phone you lose visual) and my text and email you lose tone of voice.

That tends to explain one of the reasons email often goes bad quickly.

i think all 3 means are essential and if you only try to communicate through one you're in trouble. Your emails should be short and concise and designed to take small steps in support of your phone conversations and your meetings.

It's not necessarily the words per se but your approach (positive) and how you end each interaction, whether in person or otherwise. People don't remember things how they went, they remember the most intense moment and how it ENDED. Broadway theater has known this forever with the saying: "Give them a big finish and they'll forgive you for anything." It's why even surly waiters know to come up to you with the check and smile and say "Thank you for coming in."

I make it a point to end all my emails on a positive note and work hard to end my personal interactions the same way. I'd also say this is NOT the sandwich approach Positive-Negative-Positive, as i will likely get the negative out of the way first. How you end is what 1st comes into people's mind the next time you call or write.

If the other side is totally trying to dominate and get their plan in action. Do you just accept that you will not get anything positive and let them have their way?

Dominating negotiators are kind of easy when you use deference with them. They're so control oriented they have no idea that the secret to gaining the upper hand in a negotiation is giving the other side the illusion of control. They are incredibly susceptible to a deferential approach. There is great power in deference.

Ask them lots of "How?" and "What?" questions. "What is that designed to accomplish?" "What's the biggest challenge we face?" "How will that work?" "How will we know we're off track?" "How will we fix it when we are?"

These types of questions are why people describe the art of negotiation as letting the other side have your way.