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How to Be a Better Business Negotiator, According to This Former FBI Hostage Negotiator When you've had to bargain with high-risk fugitives and former cartel members, you learn a thing or two about how to talk to people.

By Jason Feifer

Key Takeaways

  • Listen for unstated narratives, it's the key to "unlocking" others
  • Meet people where they are and try to connect their world with yours
  • Understand that every word they say is a clue

Chip Massey does not sound like an FBI hostage negotiator.

He is warm. Friendly. Easy with a laugh. The exact opposite of the grizzled, crime-fighting stereotype. And that, he says, is an asset — because when you negotiate anything, even in business, your first goal must be to build rapport.

"It's all about, 'How can I get the information that I need from somebody who might be reticent to do so?'" he says. "So the bonding and rapport thing is huge, and that's really what we maximized on in hostage negotiations. It was all about active listening."

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