A conversation with FBI Hostage Negotiator Gary Noesner

“Life is gray. It’s not black and white. It’s possible to admit that the FBI made mistakes and at the same time recognize the ultimate responsibility of Koresh to have led his people out peacefully, as we encouraged him to do every single day.” -Gary Noesner

Gary Noesner, author of the book Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator, retired from the FBI in 2003 following a 30-year career. During this career, Gary was named the first chief of the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit. As a negotiator, he was personally involved in numerous high-profile crises, cases, and seizures, including the Branch Davidians in Waco, recently dramatized by the Netflix series.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Gary about the gray nature of life, what distinguishes wants vs needs, and the game-changing power of making adjustments at halftime. Listen in to find out how Gary’s discomfort with conflict in his youth led to his career as a hostage negotiator for the FBI.

Show Highlights

[7:29] The fatal mistake of assuming that high rank equals expertise
[14:07] The realization that life is gray
[19:00] Saving the most lives possible
[22:29] Making adjustments at half-time
[26:40] Distinguishing between wants and needs

Gary on LinkedIn
Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator

About the Guest

Gary Noesner, author of the book Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator, retired from the FBI in 2003 following a 30-year career. During this career, Gary was named the first chief of the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit. As a negotiator, he was personally involved in numerous high-profile crises, cases, and seizures, including the Branch Davidians in Waco, recently dramatized by the Netflix series.

About Voltage Control

Voltage Control is a facilitation agency that helps teams work better together with custom-designed meetings and workshops, both in-person and virtual. Our master facilitators offer trusted guidance and custom coaching to companies who want to transform ineffective meetings, reignite stalled projects, and cut through assumptions. Based in Austin, Voltage Control designs and leads public and private workshops that range from small meetings to large conference-style gatherings. 

Subscribe to Podcast

Engage Control The Room

Voltage Control on the Web
Contact Voltage Control

Podcast Sponsored by MURAL

Full Transcript

Intro: Welcome to the Control the Room Podcast, a series devoted to the exploration of meeting culture and uncovering cures for the common meeting. Some meetings have tight control, and others are loose. To control the room means achieving outcomes while striking a balance between imposing and removing structure, asserting and distributing power, leaning in and leaning out, all in the service of having a truly magical meeting.

Douglas: Today I’m with Gary Noesner. Gary retired from the FBI in 2003 following a 30-year career, during which he was named the first chief of the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit. As a negotiator, he was personally involved in numerous high-profile crises, cases, and seizures, including the Branch Davidians in Waco, recently dramatized by the Netflix series. He’s also author of the book Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator

Welcome to the show, Gary.

Gary: Thanks. It’s a pleasure to be with you.

Douglas: So, Gary, I’m always fascinated to hear how people got their start, especially in the world of facilitation. And I’m sure negotiators are no different. While there’s certainly a course at Quantico, there’s not readily degree programs, like, “Oh, I’m going to go become a negotiator or become a facilitator.” It’s a quite circuitous path a lot of people take. And I’m curious. All the way back to the Lakeland High School, you know, talking about some of those early situations you found yourself in, at what point did you really start to realize that you had this gift of kind of working with people?

Gary: Well, I think as an early age, I was always uncomfortable around conflict and always sort of stepped up to the plate to de-escalate confrontations and arguments, whether it’s between friends or others. It just seemed like a natural and appropriate thing to do for me. So when I got into the FBI, after wanting to do that since I was young, I had no sense that anything about negotiation existed because it didn’t when I joined. But when I first got in the early part of my career, the FBI had sort of taken on this hostage-negotiation concept that had been started by NYPD. And there’s something about it that really attracted me, and I thought it fit my personality and skill set. So I got the early training, and it was an auxiliary function for me for many, many years. And eventually I became a full-time negotiator and chief of the Crisis Negotiation Unit for the last 10 years of my career. But it was very challenging, and, yeah, there’s a lot of similarities with mediation, facilitation. It’s all about building relationships and influencing people in a positive way. 

Douglas: And it must have been kind of—it’s like coming full circle as you were one of the first to take the course, and then you ended up taking the program over. What did that feel like when you remember it? Like, what was that like?

Gary: Well, in those days, when I first got involved, the FBI, perhaps more so than today, played a pretty significant role in training police departments. Police departments didn’t have a lot of money for training back then, so part of the FBI’s mission was to provide it at no charge. And one of the areas, of course, was negotiation. It eventually became the thing we taught more than anything else, except for maybe firearms. And it gave me an opportunity to really interface with a lot of police officers in ways that I might not have had a chance otherwise. And that was a really valuable piece of my learning as an agent, as a human being. And, you know, I certainly got as much from those officers as I gave. It became apparent to me very quickly that the skills and the approaches we were teaching had a real impact. It wasn’t theoretical. It allowed officers to exercise some specific skills to prevent violence and come home alive to their families. So immediately I recognized it as rewarding and meaningful and certainly something I always enjoyed.

Douglas: Something that really caught my eye—and I kind of can parallel it back to even the theme of the show, which is control, and how much control do we lean into, and how much do we back away from? And I really struck a chord with this notion of maintaining balance. And you were talking about managing yourself and the people around you. And in fact, I think there is a quote that really caught my eye, which was, if you cannot control your own emotions, how can you expect to influence those of others?

Gary: That’s literally the first line that comes out of my mouth when I teach negotiations, because it’s so true. I mean, if you want to influence others and yet you yourself are emotionally charged or dealing not in a logical, thoughtful, empathic way, then you’re probably not going to be as successful as you would otherwise. So self-control is terribly important. And you tend to see people that perform at the highest levels in certainly law-enforcement negotiations are typically people who have a lot of self-control. 

And one of the chapters in my book, Stalling for Time, I start each chapter with a quote. And a quote I always like, it’s a partial quote from Rudyard Kipling about if you can keep your head about you when all else are losing theirs. 

And I think that says a lot to me about the kind of person that makes a good negotiator and what is required. It’s somebody that can think clearly in the midst of a situation where others might be so overcome with various forms of reaction that they’re not optimally performing. You know, it’s kind of like—I always do the comparison of a trauma surgeon. You know, when mass casualties are brought into an emergency room, the trauma surgeon, it’s not that they’re not human and don’t see the damage that some people have suffered or perhaps been deceased, but they focus immediately on what has to be done, which is to save as many lives and determine which ones need their most immediate care. So they put those emotions aside so that they can function at an optimal level or highest level they can. And I think negotiations is very akin to that.

Douglas: Yeah. It reminds me of the, never confusing getting even with what you want.

Gary: Yeah. And it’s a good phrase we used to use for our commanders because even law enforcement, somebody can be a fairly high rank and have a lot of different experiences in an agency. It doesn’t mean that they’ve had a lot of experience managing with these kinds of crises. 

And law-enforcement officers are human beings, and when a perpetrator, particularly one that is maybe not a model citizen or somebody that may not have any attributes that we would find commendable, when they refuse to do what we want and they don’t cooperate and they back out of promises, they engage in any number of problematic behaviors, you really got to maintain your self-control because if you respond and react to that, you may get even with them, but are you really accomplishing what your goal is, which is to get your way? And “to get our way” in the context of negotiation means we get people to peacefully surrender, to comply, to do what we think is not only in our best interest, but in their best interest. We don’t want anybody to get hurt. So I found a lot of my career time was helping on-scene commanders and decision makers, chiefs of police, sheriffs, understand that concept. 

There’s always an assumption that people of a high rank know how to do everything. And of course, that’s a fatal mistake you can make, because they don’t necessarily understand, especially—someone might be a great internist as a doctor, but can they perform brain surgery? Probably not. So, you know, just because you have the MD in front of your name doesn’t mean you can do everything there is that could possibly come before you. So we have to know our limitations, and we have to understand that there are people who have more expertise that we probably would be wise to listen to.

Douglas: Yeah. It reminds me of your points in the book around just the crises within the crises and these other negotiations that have to happen. So you’re managing quite a lot at the same time.

Gary: Yeah. I mean, and of course, I know we’ll be talking about Waco shortly, but I got asked this on a recent interview, and I never really thought about it from that complexity point of view that while out there, I had three very distinct roles. I had to manage the negotiation team, maybe 15 or 20 people, and ensure that it was functioning properly and proceeding in a strategic way, the way I wanted it to. And at the same time, I had to convey what we wanted to the bosses and convince them to support the strategic approach we were taking, and that could often be a challenge. And then, last but not least, is dealing with David Koresh and all the unique issues and problems that he brought to the table. So, you know, you find yourself sometimes being the ringleader in a three-ring circus, you know, and trying to keep everybody functioning in the right way so we can achieve the outcome we want.

Douglas: Yeah. And speaking of Waco, let’s talk about that for a moment. I was really curious to hear your thoughts on how well it portrayed the negotiation process, because from a storyline perspective, when I compare your book to the show, there’s definitely some sensationalism on the Branch Davidian side. My depiction was that it demonstrated the conflict with the kind of more forceful approach and also just the kind of slow, intentional approach ya’ll were taking. But I’m just kind of curious as far as, like, anything about the negotiation process that you felt was maybe skewed in the presentation.

Gary: It’s a big question, and there’s a lot of variables. Obviously, they bought my book to show the FBI side of the story and what perspective we had from outside looking in. And then they bought David Thibodeau’s book—he was a surviving Branch Davidian—to get the perspective of someone inside looking out. And I liked that approach, to look at it from both angles. But specifically addressing the negotiation part, they got a lot of parts of the negotiation very right. What was the Hollywood dramatization part is they had my character doing all these things on his own, when in reality I’m leading the team, and there’s eight, nine negotiators per shift. It’s quite a complex and many-moving-part operation. So obviously, Hollywood doesn’t want to pay those additional actors and introduce their characters and get the audience to know them. It’s a whole different level of challenge, that they wanted to showcase Michael Shannon, who was one of the two main stars of the TV show who played me. 

Douglas: I got to say, if I’m ever played by anyone, I would say Michael Shannon wouldn’t be a bad—that’s not a bad deal to get.

Gary: I had seen Michael Shannon in Boardwalk Empire, that TV show. 

Douglas: Mm-hmm.

Gary: I was very impressed with him in that show, and I didn’t even know his name, to be honest with you. And they came out and said, “This Michael Shannon’s been hired to play you.” And I looked him up right away. I said, “Oh, it’s that guy.” Well, he is just an incredible actor and human being. And, you know, during my time on the set, we had an opportunity to become quite friendly and had basically drinks and dinner every night while I was out there. And what an incredible actor. And he certainly was not trying to imitate me, but he captured the tenor of my philosophy, which goes back to your earlier question. I think those issues that came up, including the conflict between the tactical side of the FBI that wanted to take a different approach, I think that’s very accurately reflected. Again, not so much in the exact form, but certainly in terms of substance. And he had it down very, very well and, I think, did an incredible job.

And let me add another thing, Douglas. You know, what I found is I felt that part of the reason I wrote my book was to educate current and future FBI leaders. And one of the things they need to be educated on is to understand not only the mistakes that the FBI made there, but the good things we did. And there were far more of those than not. But if someone doesn’t write that down and record it, those things fall through the cracks and they’re forgotten, and sometimes mistakes are repeated, and good behaviors are not appreciated or replicated. So I wanted to write it for that reason. And I also feel that in the FBI, we serve the American people. If we do something wrong, we should step up to the plate, admit what we did, demonstrate that we are making changes and corrections, and I think we owe it to the American people that we serve to do those things. So for all those reasons, I wrote that book and stand by the portrayal of the FBI overall. 

What I’m not quite as happy about is I think the portrayal on the other side of David Koresh came up a bit short for me because in reality, David Koresh was a far more dark and sinister, manipulative guy than was portrayed. The other great actor there—there were several of them—but Taylor Kitsch, who played Koresh, was just phenomenal. And he’s such a nice guy in real life that I think that came through. And the producer, directors wanted to show the charismatic side of Koresh, what allowed him to attract followers and gain their total allegiance. And they did that, but I just don’t think they showed sufficiently. They showed some dark things from him but not enough to my satisfaction. And I talked to them about that and tried to change that. But what you find out is when you sell your book to Hollywood or somebody else, you have some influence, but you don’t have control.

Douglas: Yep. I think that echoes my read on it as well. It’s a little sensationalized on the, like, kind of making people want to have a little more sympathy than maybe you would have if you were watching it go down from the sidelines.

Gary: You know, you’re into facilitation, and I think the biggest takeaway for facilitators, if you want to use Waco as sort of an example, is the realization that life is gray. It’s not black and white. It’s possible to admit that the FBI made mistakes and at the same time recognize the ultimate responsibility of Koresh to have led his people out peacefully, as we encouraged him to do every single day. So you don’t have to say, “Oh, these guys were all good, and these guys were all bad. The big old bad government came in and just wanted to kill people.” I mean, it’s actually intellectually lazy to take on those extreme views and not very realistic. There were good people in there who were practicing their faith, and there were highly dedicated FBI agents who wanted nothing but everybody to come out alive. So to make those general derogatory statements, I think, is just showing you haven’t done your research, and you haven’t read about what really happened, and you don’t understand.

Douglas: Coming back to your goals for the book around really cementing the positive impact so they’re not lost, it also jumped out to me when you were talking about these post-incident reviews and applying these lessons learned, it was interesting because it seemed like the popularity of the techniques within the FBI began to grow as you started to celebrate some of these wins. But the irony of it all was, maybe one of the ones that I was the most tickled by and I thought that you guys did such an amazing move was the steaks and gravy and cakes for the prisoners. So they’re all having a Thanksgiving coma while the tactical thing went in, and clearly, not much credit was given after the fact for that.

Gary: Yeah. You know, it’s funny. A lot of people in law enforcement are really not well versed on what negotiators do and why we do it. It’s sort of a soft science, and you know there’s more to taking action than here’s a bad guy. We’re going to do this to suppress them, arrest them, whatever we have to do. And, you know, when you do negotiate people out, which we do, in the 90 percentile, people say, “Well, it must not have been so hard. That guy must not have been that dangerous anyway.” And they sort of make some excuses for it. Of course, I always want to say, “Well, you try doing it when somebody’s life is on the line.” But it’s a hard thing to define. 

But just as in facilitation, we’re building relationships, and people expect in these situations law enforcement to show up and be very confrontational, very demanding, very dictatorial. You will do this and you better do that, or we’re going to do x, y, z. And instead they get somebody like me show up and say, “Hey, David. This is Gary. What’s going on in there? I’m here to help. I don’t want to see anybody get hurt.” It’s something they don’t expect, and it gives us an opportunity to listen to them and to better understand what their motivation is, what their feelings are, how they interpret what has happened. It allows us slowly and steadily to lower the tension, to de-conflict and de-confrontate. And it allows us to begin eventually to have some influence over their behavior. And, you know, you typically will get to a point where a guy like David Koresh, which you didn’t hear, he said, “You know, I just don’t know what I can do. I don’t know what to get out of, how to get out of what I got into.” And you say, “Well, you know, here’s some ideas for you, and here’s something you might want to think about. And come out to jail and tell the world your side of the story. It needs to be heard.” You know, those are things we did, and with some effect, we got 35 people out during the first half when I was there, including 21 children. That’s a fact that many people forget. And it was not an easy task, and I’m very proud of it. I’m no less disappointed that we didn’t get more out or everybody out. But you got to recognize that human emotion is a really challenging thing. And when there’s been loss of life, like it was at Waco before we even arrived as the FBI, I mean, we were already in a deep ditch, and we got to dig out of that. It’s pretty tough.

Douglas: You know, as you were speaking, it reminded me of some notes I wrote down around there’s a lot of similarities between facilitation and negotiation, but there’s some clear differences as well. We’re not dealing with—life and death is usually not at stake. And the fundamental contradiction that you mentioned, which I thought was really fascinating, we don’t really struggle with that so much, right? Like, we’re all about building trust, but we never, ever have to bend the truth, or we never have to potentially send them into harm’s way. And when I think about that story, was it in West Virginia, where Cheryl’s husband, her and her child. And there was a lot of interesting dynamics there from the perspective of opening up options and demonstrating a future when you know that that future may not exist. So I’m kind of curious how that unfolds, just as you’re kind of regulating your emotions.

Gary: Well, it’s a tough case. And, you know, my book is about the importance of negotiation and how it is a tool that law enforcement should even use more, and then I start off the first chapter of my book with a situation where we have to use deadly force to resolve it. But it was a very dramatic case. It showed how even in those cases where the behaviors, the actions of the perpetrator are so extreme that our chance of getting them to comply and resolve it peacefully are pretty slim and, thereby, someone else is going to die. So then the negotiator has to segue into a role that allows you to become more supportive of the only option we have left, and that’s using force. 

In Sperryville, I talked him into coming out to a helicopter, where a marksman ended his life. In the Talladega prison, that you alluded to earlier, we knew hostages were going to die, so we gave in and gave them a very sumptuous meal for the first time in eight days to sort of, excuse the expression, fatten them up and to lure them into a sense of victory and empowerment. And they took the bait and gorged on the food and basically went into sweet slumber that allowed the Hostage Rescue team to make a really terrific, well-executed entry and save everybody’s lives. 

So there are times where negotiators have to recognize reality, that while we will be successful most of the time, there’s nothing in what we do that guarantees success and certainly not 100 percent of the time. So we have to be adaptable and flexible. And the bottom line is, how do we save the most lives possible?

Douglas: Yes. That was the thing that was going through my mind in both of those scenarios because Sperryville, you saved a woman and her child; and then the prison example, I mean, how much more carnage would have happened if they would have been bracing for it?

Gary: That’s right. I mean, if we had continued to deny them food until they released the hostages, I mean, I think we stood a good chance of having them kill one of the hostages to try to force us to do what they wanted, and that’s one less human being alive today to survive that. So we have to take all that into consideration. And you make the best decisions you can, and you have to weigh all the facts. That’s why we function—in Waco, I get a lot of credit operating by myself, but in reality, we’re leveraging a team of very skilled and talented negotiators that bring a lot to the table from their training and their personal experience. We said, “What do you think? What are your ideas? Did you hear something I didn’t hear?” And we really use that to full advantage to try to come up with the best approach that we think will achieve what we want in this particular incident.

Douglas: That brings to mind something else I wanted to bring up, which was the comment of you write good notes. And it really resonated with me because I often love to facilitate with a co-facilitator, and I find that when, especially when we’re exploring really tough issues that, like, a team is really struggling, like, they can’t seem to get past some personal issues, or they’re just stuck on some things, when you’re there working directly, it’s sometimes hard to see the big picture because you’re in the content, you’re in the moment. But if you’re on the sideline kind of just observing, you can see interesting things. So I was just wondering, is that similar in the negotiation world? When you’re observing and writing these notes, do you find that you see things you wouldn’t have seen if you were just on the phone, in the moment with them, like, watching every word, that kind of thing?

Gary: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s akin, Douglas, if you want to do a comparison, you think of a college or a professional football game. You ever notice how sometimes—not all the time—the second half is dramatically different from the first half? I mean, dramatically different? And you say, “Boy, what happened? That must’ve been a hell of a speech that the coach gave.” Well, what it really was is the coaches up in the booth, they’re studying what happened. They’re making adjustments at halftime. It’s coaching. It’s not being personally involved in playing that position out on the field, but watching it and seeing where changes or improvements can be made to get the outcome we wanted. 

So negotiations is no different. If I’m the negotiation coordinator, or the coach, it allows me to listen to the interplay between the primary negotiator on the phone and the perpetrator, and then either in between calls or through passing a short, cryptic note, help nudge them to something I’ve seen that I think they may not have fully appreciated. 

The quote you’re talking about is in Waco. This mother was very angry that her son was by himself. He had been released in the Child Protective Services, and we sent a video in of all the children. And she was very angry at us for his forlorn status. And, you know, rather than just trying to defend ourselves, I passed a note to John Dolan, our primary negotiator at the time, and he read it, and he smiled. And it just said, “You know, Kathy, what little Brian needs now is a hug from his mommy.” And you could almost hear the arrow strike her heart. And, I mean, it was the one phrase that kind of brought it home to her that she was the missing piece. It wasn’t us that was causing trauma to her child. It was the fact that she sent him out, and she stayed in to fight for Koresh, that it was her maternal responsibility to do this. And I think that shot hit home, and she came out the next day, and she was the first, essentially the first, adult that came out. And that was a very meaningful goal that we’d achieved.

Douglas: It really struck home for me when I read that because sometimes people aren’t even necessarily self-aware or why they’re upset. And if they’re lashing out to you, and you can—it’s almost like judo, which is redirect their energy, kind of become more aware of where the center is.

Gary: Yeah. You know, when you look at negotiations broadly—I’m not talking specifically Waco here—really, very few of them are actually hostage-taking events, where someone’s being held to force somebody else to do something. Probably 90 percent of what police do around the country are dealing with highly emotionally charged situations. Often the jilted lovers, romantic situation gone bad; somebody holding an employer who fired them; an argument with a neighbor. There are people who are expressing anger, rage, and frustration who don’t even have a clear goal of what they’re trying to achieve. In other words, they’ve gotten themselves into something they have no idea how to get out of. And that’s the role that the negotiator could play to try to understand those emotions and those drivers of their behavior, and to try to deal with those and diffuse those. That’s what makes us successful. It’s an approach that people don’t expect from law enforcement. We certainly got that from the mental-health counseling community. And it’s very effective in getting people to, for the first time, hear themselves what is driving them, and they may not appreciate, you know?

Douglas: Yeah. It reminds me of another note that I had taken around you had talked about the role of the negotiator was to help people express their fears, so allowing them to open up. And it was interesting because as I read it, it was definitely similar to things that we’re trying to do in the workplace, because often people have these unstated fears. It’s just they’re not vulnerable enough to say it out loud because they’re worried someone’s going to judge them or maybe they haven’t even figured it out yet. And so simply stating what might be clear to you but not to them and allowing them to acknowledge it or even just to say yes, I thought that was pretty interesting. 

Gary: You know, we used to talk about helping people understand the difference between wants and needs. So somebody involved in one of these situations may say, I want this and I want that, but it’s our job to find out what they really need. Do they really need their job back? Or is it the loss of respect and the embarrassment of having to go home and tell your wife you haven’t got a job anymore? I mean, you know, we don’t always get that right. But that’s kind of our goal, you know? And when we’re communicating with them, and we say, “It sounds like you’re really embarrassed by what happened,” and if he hasn’t articulated that and that, in fact, is what he feels, then we’ve just really scored some big points because he said, “Yes, that’s exactly right. I’m embarrassed by having been fired.” Well, that’s important for us to know if we’re going to deal with how he’s viewing what happened to him.

Douglas: So, I had this—it was one of the last kind of sentences in your book. And I wrote it down because I thought it was pretty spot on. So I’m just going to read it, and then I’d love to just hear your thoughts today on this. But, “The happiest and most successful people are the ones that can remain calm in difficult times and put aside emotions like pride and anger that stop them from finding common ground. We need to be good listeners and understand the problems and needs of the other side.”

Gary: Yeah. I guess it’s never been more true than it is today in our very acrimonious political climate. And I’ll bring up some recent events: the protests around the country. When people go out on the street and they carry signs and they’re yelling and singing songs, whatever they’re doing, what they’re basically saying is, “We want somebody to hear us.”

Douglas: Mm-hmm.

Gary: And if instead of finding ways to creatively listen to them, we simply attack them, we’re probably not going to be successful. I suspect if you had 100 people in a room and 50 were pro-life and 50 were pro-choice, you could even have great meaningful discussion all night long, and at the end of the evening, you’d probably still have 50-50. But that’s okay as long as we’ve avoided name calling and shouts and threats and violence and so forth. That’s the major goal. It’s a slow, steady process to try to create an atmosphere where we can listen to others and appreciate their point of view, even if it’s different. And I just hate to see that today, particularly in our political environment, we seem to be going in the wrong direction.

Douglas: Yeah. I think that there’s a real beauty—I had underscored the statement you made at the end of one of the early chapters, which was, “Listening is the cheapest concession we can make.”

Gary: Yeah. It is. It costs you nothing. And, you know, you can acknowledge someone’s point of view, “Let me make sure I understand. You’re angry at your boss because he fired you. You don’t think he appreciated your work, and you felt as though he mistreated you,” and so forth and so on. I’m not saying to him, “Yes, I think you should kill your boss.” I’m saying to him, “I understand how you feel about what happened.” I mean, that’s a powerful thing. If you think about it, the whole evolution of communication between human beings, and we’re social animals, we want other people to understand what we’re saying and how we feel about it. And if you do that as a facilitator, as a negotiator, you’re going to be successful.

Douglas: Gary, it’s been so great having you on the show today, and fun chatting and hearing about just the riveting life and career you’ve had in negotiation. Would you like to leave the listeners with any final words?

Gary: Well, I would suggest that people really work on listening. Listening is such an important tool. So when you go out, not so much these days with COVID, but when you have an opportunity to have a social interaction, pick out somebody you don’t know very well or somebody that’s a little quiet over in the corner or whatever, and go and talk to them and find out about their life and ask good questions. “Can you tell me more about that? That sounds very interesting. I’d like to hear about that hobby that you have or that trip that you took.” And you’ll find that people are far more interesting than you might have realized, that people have done and seen things that you had no idea, and you will learn a lot. And they, in turn, will appreciate the fact that you have taken the time and demonstrated the interest in learning more about them. It is a very, very powerful tool. 

And you know, what we all want to achieve is cooperation with other human beings, and we get that through being likable, plain old likable. Just be a person that strives to be likable and to automatically not think the worst of others and blame others, but seek to understand. Even the business guru Stephen Covey says, first seek to understand, then to be understood. So I’m not sure if that helps, but I would urge people to really make an effort at that. 

Douglas: Well, thanks again for being on the show. It’s been great. 

Gary: My pleasure.

Outro: Thanks for joining me for another episode of Control the Room. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive updates when new episodes are released. If you want more, head over to our blog, where I post weekly articles and resources about working better together, voltagecontrol.com.