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Blog Post

The Psychology of Persuasion: How to Sell Like an FBI Hostage Negotiator

The art of persuasion is a valuable skill in any field, whether you’re selling a product, negotiating a deal, or convincing someone to see your point of view. One group that excels in the realm of persuasion is the FBI hostage negotiators. These highly trained professionals are masters at convincing people to surrender, and their techniques can be applied to any situation where persuasion is needed.

Understanding the Psychology of Persuasion

To be an effective persuader, it’s important to understand the psychology behind why people say “yes.” According to Robert Cialdini, author of “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” there are six principles of persuasion:

  • Reciprocity: People are more likely to comply with a request if they feel like they owe you something in return.
  • Scarcity: People want things that are rare or in short supply.
  • Authority: People are more likely to follow the lead of someone they perceive as an expert or authority figure.
  • Consistency: People like to act in ways that are consistent with their previous actions and beliefs.
  • Liking: People are more likely to comply with a request from someone they like or admire.
  • Social proof: People are more likely to comply with a request if they see others doing the same thing.

Applying FBI Negotiator Techniques

  • One technique that FBI negotiators use is to establish rapport with the person they are trying to persuade. This involves building a connection with the person and showing empathy for their situation. By establishing trust, the negotiator can then move on to persuading the person to take a desired action.
  • Another technique is to use active listening skills. This involves paying close attention to what the other person is saying and reflecting back what you hear. This helps the person feel heard and understood, which can make them more receptive to your message.
  • FBI negotiators also use the “yes ladder” technique, where they start by asking the person simple questions that are easy to say “yes” to. This gets the person into a “yes” frame of mind and makes them more likely to say “yes” to more difficult requests later on.
  • Finally, FBI negotiators use the “acknowledge and pivot” technique. This involves acknowledging the person’s objections or concerns and then pivoting to a new topic or angle that addresses those concerns. By showing that you understand the person’s point of view, you can build trust and credibility, making them more likely to be persuaded.


In conclusion, the psychology of persuasion is a powerful tool that can be used to sell, negotiate, and persuade in any situation. By understanding the principles of persuasion and using techniques similar to those used by FBI hostage negotiators, you can become a more effective persuader and achieve your desired outcomes. Remember to establish rapport, use active listening skills, employ the “yes ladder” technique, and acknowledge and pivot to build trust and credibility with the person you are trying to persuade.

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