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A former hostage negotiator explains the 4 words you need to use to negotiate with someone in business

Source | Yahoo Finance : By Lara O’Reilly

Richard Mullender knows a bit about getting his way.

Mullender spent 30 years in the UK police force and then went on to spend five years as a hostage negotiator, working in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

He has the power of persuasion to talk someone out of jumping off a bridge or to prevent an armed kidnapper from killing the person they are holding captive.

Now he runs his own training company, teaching companies about the power of listening.

Mullender gave a crash course in “life-or-death listening” at Advertising Week Europe in London on Monday and revealed the four most important words you need to use if you want to negotiate with someone.

Those words are: “I feel as if …”

Mullender explained that the best barristers at London’s central criminal court, the Old Bailey, weren’t the ones that asked endless questions. It was the ones that didn’t.

“Don’t change the conversation. It’s the dumbest thing you can do. The secret is in the rambling. It’s the rambling I’m interested in,” Mullender said.

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(Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/flickr)
Get “I feel as if …” into your office vocabulary.

Sometimes, in conversation, people ask questions to let the other person “off the hook” and to stop them from rambling. But as soon as people ask questions, they are changing the subject, rather than attempting to interpret how they feel. And it’s when people give their opinions that you begin to work them out.

So rather than asking a direct question like: “Why are you doing that?” when attempting to interpret what someone is saying, you should say: “I feel as if … ”

Saying something like “I feel as if something I said upset you,” or “I get the impression this is the problem,” allows you to interpret their true emotion without offending them, Mullender said.

He added: “It allows you to guess what you think the other person means. If you get it right, they expand on it. If you get it wrong, they correct you and expand on it.”

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