Table of Contents

negotiate and win: proven strategies from the nypd's top hostage negotiator
Negotiate and Win: Proven Strategies from the NYPD's Top Hostage Negotiator
by Dominick J. Misino and Jim DeFelice  ISBN:0071428038
McGraw-Hill © 2004

In this text, a former NYPD hostage negotiator combines proven advice with riveting real-life stories to cover every vital aspect of a successful negotiation.

Table of Contents
Negotiate and Win—Proven Strategies from the NYPD’s Top Hostage Negotiator
Introduction - Talk to Me
Chapter 1 - Fifty Ninja Warriors at Your Back
Chapter 2 - Position Is Everything
Chapter 3 - Don’t Give The Bad Guy A Gun
Chapter 4 - Contain, Negotiate, Close
Chapter 5 - Your Ears Are Your Most Important Tool
Chapter 6 - The First Yes
Chapter 7 - Is He A Psycho, Or Just A Maniac?
Chapter 8 - The Two Ds: Demands And Deadlines
Chapter 9 - Sometimes It Only Takes Three Cigarettes
Chapter 10 - The Five-Minute Car Deal And More Real-Life Adventures
Chapter 11 - Don’t Get Taken

Every day, you participate in negotiations. Whether you’re working out a deal with a client, asking for a raise, discussing a weekly allowance with your child, or planning a weekend with your spouse, your life is filled with this intricate process. In Negotiate and Win, former NYPD hostage negotiator Dominick Misino breaks down the art of the deal, and gives you the tactics and strategies to win when it counts. Combining advice with riveting real-life stories—like the time he talked a potential suicide down from the Whiteston Bridge—this straightforward, step-by-step guide covers every aspect of successful negotiation.

Learn how to:

  • Set reasonable goals beforehand
  • Develop a positive attitude and speak with confidence
  • Navigate the two Ds—demands and deadlines
  • Listen carefully and learn what your opponent really wants
  • Defend yourself from sneaky tricks
  • Keep your cool when it counts

With Negotiate and Win, you will improve your deal-making skills and apply Misino’s hard-won experience to your everyday negotiations. From doing your pre-negotiation prep work to the final handshake, this no-nonsense guide gives you the knowledge and the skills you need to close any deal in a way that’s satisfying to you.

About the Author

Dominick J. Misino is the former Primary Negotiator for the New York City Police Department. An internationally recognized expert on business negotiation, he has been featured in the Harvard Business Review and on CNN and “Good Morning America,” among other nationally televised programs.

Negotiate and Win—Proven Strategies from the NYPD’s Top Hostage Negotiator

Dominick J. Misino
with Jim DeFelice


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Copyright © 2004 by Dominick J. Misino and Jim DeFelice. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. Except as permitted under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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ISBN 0-07-142803-8

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About the Author

Dominick J. Misino is the former primary negotiator for the New York City Police Department. In 1993 he negotiated a nonviolent end to the dramatic hijacking of Lufthansa Flight 592. An internationally recognized expert on business negotiation, he has been featured in the Harvard Business Review and on CNN and Good Morning America, among other nationally televised programs. He can be reached through his Web site at

Introduction: Talk to Me


Any way you look at it, life is a negotiation. You go through a normal day, you’re making twenty, thirty negotiations. Your wife wants you home for dinner, the boss wants you closing the big sale, the guy at the deli just bumped the price of coffee a quarter.

Sometimes the terms are pretty clear and the transaction is cut and dried: You’re going to have to dig for that extra two bits or invest in a new Mr. Coffee. And most times the stakes aren’t dire—though I, for one, wouldn’t cross up my wife more than once a month, and even then I make sure I have the body armor on when I walk in the door. But whether your life is on the line or not, your success and happiness at any particular moment depends a great deal on your ability as a negotiator.

Now let me let you in on a little secret: You’re already a pretty good negotiator. Hell, you’re a born negotiator.

Seriously. See, in my opinion, everybody—everybody—can and does negotiate all the time. But for various reasons some of us fall into bad habits and traps and make a botch of it, at least some of the time.

Hey, I know. Happens to me all the time, and I do this stuff for a living.

In 1993, I found myself in the control tower at Kennedy Airport in New York City, speaking to a young man who called himself Jack. He was holding a pistol at the head of the pilot of Lufthansa Flight 592, an Airbus 310 with ninety-four passengers and ten crew members aboard flying toward New York. I was handed a note by an FBI agent that stated the hijacker had a list of demands that started with freeing every political prisoner in Bosnia. For all I know, he wanted to give Manhattan back to the Indians as well.

First thing I did was ball up his list of demands and toss them in the wastepaper basket. Then I asked him a simple question that somehow touched a nerve, and I had to listen to him harangue me for ten minutes.

About the only bright side to that was knowing that all the time he was screaming at me, he wasn’t shooting anybody.

The question was: “What’s your name?”

Talk about being sensitive. I mean really, you hijack a plane and want to land at the busiest airport in the world in drive time, you think you’re going to be anonymous?

Tough start, but we got through it. A couple of million times while I was on the radio with him, things got touchy, but we did our dance—him at thirty thousand feet and me sitting there knowing that a hundred-plus lives were counting on my skills as a mouth warrior. And even though sometimes I think it might not be a horrible idea to give Manhattan back to whoever will take it, we did it without giving in to any of Jack’s supposedly non-negotiable demands.

Hell, he even surrendered to me on the tarmac. Which would have been one of those warm and toasty memory moments except that it was so damn cold out there and he was carrying a backpack big enough to hold one very big bomb.

Some people you deal with want to blow your head off. Others are out to blow their own heads off—and take you out with them. But other people—with luck, most of the people you deal with—just want a good deal for themselves. They aren’t interested in seeing you in pieces on the floor when they’re done. That would only be a bonus.

In this book, we’ll talk about all of those people, the good, the bad, the whacks. The techniques for dealing with them are basically the same; it’s the tactics and expectations that shift a bit. The thing that doesn’t change—that shouldn’t change—is you. Any tactic, any stance or approach that you feel uncomfortable with, well, put it aside. Life is too short for you to feel uncomfortable looking yourself in the mirror at night. Besides, one of the most important parts of negotiating is feeling comfortable with yourself and your position. It comes through to the person you’re negotiating with real quick. If you’re not relaxed—if you’re not confident and cool and comfortable—you won’t pull it off.

And listen, being yourself works. Sometimes you just have to let it all hang out. Sometimes you have to just say, look, go ahead and jump if that’s what you want to do.

That worked for me one night up on the Throgs Neck, which if you’ve ever been to New York, you know is a monster bridge. Of course, it worked because by then I had a good enough rapport with the guy that I knew he wasn’t going to jump.

That, and my ninjas were positioned to grab him if he did.

Other times, all you have to do is take a step back.

One night while I was on duty with the NYPD hostage negotiation unit, we got a desperate call to head for the Whitestone Bridge. A jumper had climbed all the way up one of the towers. I won’t bore you with my adventures getting there and my trek up the 250-foot ladder—I HATE bridge ladders, truly, and this night did not change my mind. But let me just say for now that I arrived on the scene somewhat miraculously, and even more incredibly, in one piece. Turned out I knew the would-be jumper—she was in the police department. So we’re up there, got to be maybe 10 degrees below zero when you figure in the wind chill. We talk for a while and the subject doesn’t want to come down, at least not the slow way.

Worse—she’s nervous, real, real nervous. Which makes me nervous too. She’s standing maybe three inches from the edge of the platform on the pier. Very easy to slip, especially if your knees are doing little fits.

So finally, I realize the reason she’s nervous is probably not the height but the fact that my emergency services guys are within six or seven feet of her. They’re close—but not quite close enough to grab her.

So what did I do?

I decided to be myself. I put it all on the line. “I’m nervous,” I told her. Honest, no way I wasn’t. Then I asked if she’d move back from the edge if we all moved back. Three feet for three feet.

No, she said.

I had everyone move back anyway. Then I told her that since we were all farther away, she had no reason to be close to the edge.

She thought about it. And thought about it. I waited. Finally, she took a step back from the edge. It wasn’t an immense step, but it was definitely and absolutely in the right direction. And it was probably the hardest step for her to take. By giving a little, I gained a lot.

You don’t have to play macho power games to succeed at negotiation. In fact, a lot of time those games are just a face-saving way of giving up. Hell, we can always storm the building. I used to be a sniper; I know how good the ninjas are.

But what’s going to happen? Always, always, always, something you didn’t predict. Oh, once in a while that’s a good thing—heck, there might be a winning lottery ticket on the pavement in front of you, you never know. But a lot of times when negotiation fails, someone’s going to get hurt. In my line of work, usually that someone is somebody I care about—a hostage, a ninja, even myself.