How To Become a Hostage Negotiator

You have probably seen a number of action movies wherein they incorporate the role of a hostage negotiator. The main idea behind being a good hostage negotiator is that you can talk your way out of any crisis situation. Many would view this as an extremely stressful job, one that requires patience, keen conversation skills and the ability to listen for what exactly it is that a hostage taker wants, in order to get him to surrender or at least let the hostages go.

  • You must have a background in law enforcement and crisis situations before even attempting to become a hostage negotiator. You will be able to draw on these trainings and experiences when the time comes to work on your hostage negotiation. 
  • Hostage negotiators are always out in the field, responding to crises and crimes on a regular basis. As a hostage negotiator, you must have the ability to appear on a hostage scene, assess the situation quickly in your head, and take stock of the pertinent facts about the hostage taker and your immediate surroundings. You must be able to think objectively and quickly, not resorting to snap judgments when people's lives are on the line.
  • You must also understand that, as a hostage negotiator, you speak as the voice for the hostages. You will literally be asked to put your life on the line for these people, because you will be reasoning with the hostage-taker and bargaining for the hostages' release. The situation is very traumatic for all involved, and you must go into the situation aiming for the ideal outcome for the hostages, without resorting to violence. 
  • In order to keep the situation contained, learn to prolong the situation, and prolong the negotiations. The longer you can keep the hostage taker talking, the more time the hostages have to stay alive, and you are also buying time for other teams such as SWAT and Bomb Tactics to devise and execute a plan of action and rescue. You can stall for time by getting into specifics about the hostage-taker's demands. If he wants money, how much? In what denominations? In marked or unmarked bills? Ask yes or no questions that can help buy you time without him realizing it.
  • Be sure that you have no detectable hostility in your voice. Remember that you are dealing with a scared, furious hostage-taker. Approaching him on his own terms will only aggravate the situation. Always appear approachable and friendly. But learn to reason with him. Stay firm in your principles; make sure that he understands there are alternatives. You can also try to disarm the hostage taker by trying to be friends. Try to relate to what he is going through. Talk about plain subjects like his hobbies, and work on that. Try to earn his trust through simple conversation. 

Ask about the hostages constantly. If anyone is hurt, reason with the hostage taker and ask if you can bring in medical supplies for the wounded. Their safety is your primary concern; everything else falls second to the hostages' safety.


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