Image Alt

Author: Derek Gaunt

  unicorn.jpg Sebastian had spent most of the late morning into the early afternoon, one day in July, being exposed to the Black Swan method of labels and mirrors. Having already read “Never Split the Difference,” he was anxious to see and hear the practical application of the skills. Turns out, Sebastian was a quick study. As soon as the class concluded, he was chomping at the bit to see if the skills would bear fruit. That afternoon, he scheduled a phone call to negotiate the acquisition of a domain name. The seller anchored high with a five figure number. Rather than balk and counter, Sebastian used labels and mirrors to discover that it was most important to the seller for the domain to be used for a purpose in which he believed. Unbeknownst to the seller, this was Sebastian’s plan all along. Sebastian’s use of labels and mirrors uncovered other Black Swans as well:

Puzzle head brain concept as a human face profile made from crumpled white paper with a jigsaw piece cut out on a rustic old wood background as a mental health symbol..jpegAt the Black Swan Group, our instructors have been spreading the gospel of empathy and the techniques used to demonstrate it for years. We have trained thousands of people all over the globe on how to apply techniques developed in the world of hostage negotiations to business and other personal interactions. Of those thousands, as an instructor, I wonder at times how many don’t get it? 

Happy handsome young man with beard talking on mobile phone standing over chalkboard background with blank speech bubble.jpegA “like” is an expression of value appreciation or desire that the Black Swan Group refers to as a positive. A “dislike” is a lack of appreciation, aversion or reluctance, to or for something. It is what we refer to as a negative. The positive or negative emotion that the counterpart attaches to a term or a dynamic is a clue as to the valuation they have put on it. The recognition, articulation, and exchange of values are what negotiation is all about.

Close-up of male hiker looking through binoculars in forest.jpegIn September 2016, I attended a meeting where I was the lone hostage negotiator in a room full of SWAT guys. The meeting is held quarterly for SWAT guys by SWAT guys. I was an interloper in hostile territory. The purpose for my attendance was to request a piece of their pie. The SWAT group had a training operations cache of about $78,000.00. Since they had spent none of the money on several years, I was requesting about $9,000 annually for the training of negotiators.


Angry business man screaming at employee in the office.jpegHow you handle difficult conversations or manipulative tactics can be a deal maker or deal breaker.  You will face demanding, unclear, frustrating, and manipulative personalities at some point during your negotiations endeavors. You most likely have already.  These 4 specific tactics are used to intimidate you and derail the discussion. A good negotiator is prepared to navigate these personality traits and break down these barriers to effective communications. This article identifies barrier tactics and how to defuse their effects.

negotiation, bargainingTwo weeks ago, I attended the SaaStr 2017 conference in San Francisco.  It was a collection of Software- As-A-Service start-up CEOs, CFOs, COOs as well as marketing and sales geniuses.  They meet once a year to network, listen to speakers and view/sell the latest products.  These attendees, by my limited observations were all 30 to early 40-somethings; all wicked smart and extremely successful.  I was clearly one of the dumbest guys in the room.