Do you want to see the difference between a good and a bad negotiator?

We say that a picture is worth a thousand words. How much is worth a 2 minute video clip?

We say that a picture is worth a thousand words.  How much is worth a 2 minute video clip?  This short extract from the movie “The Negotiator” with Samuel L. Jackson will show you the difference between the behavior of an expert negotiator and someone who does not know what he is doing.

Pay close attention to the use of emotions, the importance of people surrounding the negotiators, and the impact of being well prepared.  Let me know what you think and I will post the interpretation of every 7 days.



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Game Theory, a practical example

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita talks about the 4 points to predict people’s behaviors.

I came across this video on Ted a couple of days ago.  The presenter, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita’s, explains in a very simple way what is Game theory and why it is applicable to even the most complex negotiation situations.  Although I do not want to want to discuss political topics on this blog (as I have no credibility in that area), I think that you will enjoy this video if you are interested in predicting what people might do.

If you do not have enough time to watch the entire video, jump to 8 minutes.  Bruce talks about the 4 points to understand how to predict people’s behaviors:

1/ Who has a stake in the decision?

2/ What do they say they want?

3/ How focused are they on one issue compared to the other issues?

4/ How much persuasive influence could they exert?

Do you see how this could work in some of your complex situations? Do you believe this is impossible?  Post a comment to get the discussion started!

Recruiters ask job applicants to give their facebook password

This is a high stake situation. How to prevail and still get the job?

1. What is this negotiation about?

What is the situation background? Some recruiters in the U.S.A are asking job applicants to hand over their Facebook ID and password. Recruiters are looking to get more information about candidate social life. Facebook Chief Privacy Officer says that “We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s the right thing to do” BUT do you have a choice when you really want THAT job?

Who is engaged in the negotiation?

Not that I try to dramatize the situation, but you could become one of the protagonist next time you look for a new job. Companies that receive more applications than they can process and have little respect for social privacy might ask you to reveal your password after the first interview.

What are they negotiating about?

The negotiation is about more than a password. The negotiation is about how private should be your social life in the recruiting process.

2. What are the strategies used?

What is your objective? For you, it is about more than just keeping nosy recruiters out of your first spring break photo album for example. It could be about keeping information such as your religion, children, marital status to you and your friends.
What would you do if the negotiation fail? You would have to apply to a new job and hope that they do not ask for your Facebook password this time.
What is the recruiter objective? Have access to your online social life to gather information
What would the recruiter do if they do not get your password? Depending on how important it is for the recruiter, they might still accept to hire you or look for another candidate suited for the job and who let them have a sneak peek in their social life

3. ‘The negotiation room’ interpretation:

Who has more power?

You have more power. It is not because the recruiter initiates the request and has the authority or hiring or not hiring you that he has the upper hand. Recruiting is an expensive process for all companies. If you are the right candidate, there are few chances that a company in its right mind would turn you down, only because you have not given away your password.
Why do you want to keep your social information private? The reasons are numerous and I do not even think that it matters. It could be because you have something to hide (nobody is perfect after all), it could be because your profile is not a fair representation of yourself, or simply because you have the right to a private life (DSK seems to have done a good job at the IMF despite his behavioral condition.) All in all, it is not because you want to keep your private life private that you have some thing to hide.
How far would you go? You have several options: You could ‘friend’ them and give them access top partial information, log in yourself and let them watch your profile over your shoulder or grant them full access by sharing log in and password.
Why does recruiters want to know more about your social life? For recruiters it is about getting information on you to ensure that you are the right person to recruit. They want more insight into your behavior personal life. They are not as much looking to know everything about you, but rather checking for red flags that would make you bad fit or a potential liability for the business.
How far would recruiters go? Let’s be clear, a 2011 study shows that 91% of recruiters will check candidates social network profile. So expect to be at least Google searched and remember to double your social media privacy settings (they change all the time). Let’s also be clear that recruiters can not force you to hand over your credentials. Although there are no law about it yet, we should all be aware that recruiters can not ask for information such as religion, age, sexual orientation (just to name a few), and typically this type of information can be found on someone’s profile.


I see this password situation not only as a negotiation but also as the beginning of a relationship, and in a relationship trust between people is essential to success. Therefore, if I was asked my facebook password, I would explain that perceive it as a lack of trust, and hint that might have concerns about entering this relationship if this is the case. Instead I would offer to spend more time to answer any (legal) questions that they might still have about myself and my activities and maybe offer access to my LinkedIn profile.

The FBI vs. Anonymous’ influential hacker

1. What is this negotiation about?

What is the situation background?

An influential computer hacker agreed to become a government informant. it is kind of like what happened to Leonardo DiCaprio in “Catch me if you can” but for computer hacking.  The hacker was facing up to 124 years in prison for 12 hacking and conspiracy charges. The key question for this blog post is: “What could have been the hacker’s best outcome?”

Who is engaged in the negotiation?

There are 2 main actors in this negotiation:  The FBI agents in charge of the case and the hacker, Hector Xavier Monsegur.  These 2 are the one directly involved, but there are also another 2 actors that can influence the outcome of this negotiation:  The hierarchy of the FBI and also the free hackers will influence the decision of the agents and Hector.

What are they negotiating about?

Most probably the FBI did not inform Hector that in was in the middle of the most important negotiation of his life.  They probably told him: “You are guilty of 12 very serious criminal charges and face spending the rest of your live behind bars with criminals that are not there because of their computing skills”  I may be exaggerating a bit, but at the end of the day, Hector probably thought that he had only 2 options: going to jail or collaborating.I see the situation more as 1) how much and 2) what type of collaboration Hector needed to provide the FBI to reduce the impact of the criminal charges he is accused of.  This is a give and take situation rather than a take it or leave it situation.

2. What are the strategies used?

What are the FBI objectives?

Reduce cybercrime by decreasing the number of hackers and building their in-house capability.

What would the FBI do if the negotiation fails?

+ Prosecute Hector+ Potentially send an influential hacker to jail- Lose very needed skills to fight cybercrime

What are Hector’s objectives?

Avoid/reduce jail time Potentially get revenge on other hackers or prove that they are better.

What would Hector do if the negotiation fails?

 +/- Go to trial.  Only the outcome of the trial will tell if this is a good or bad thing.

3. ‘The negotiation room’ interpretation:

Who has more power?

Hard to say…  You could think that the FBI is calling the shots, they can apparently put their terms to Hector.  But Hector has something very rare and sought after to offer: He is one of the best hackers in the world and has active connections with the most influential hacking groups (remember, this is the key objective of the FBI to reduce cybercrime).  So I won’t chicken on my first post: Power advantage to “Hector the hacker”

Why does the FBI have this objective?

Reducing cybercrime is an important objective highlighted by Robert Mueller the FBI Director. The number of hacking case is doubling every 2 years.

How far would the FBI go?

The FBI has protocols for everything they do.  So, there are chances that the FBI agents can not deviate much if they negotiate with Hector.However, Hector is not your average criminal, you can not arrest another Hector in a few weeks.  And we all know the proverb “to exceptional situations, exceptional solutions”.  The FBI could probably go beyond protocol if the situation was escalated.

Why does Hector have this objective?

– I have never been to jail, but based the series “OZ” it seems clear why everybody should stay away from it.- It could be surprising to some but you should never underestimate what people would do because of their ego.  He could try to demonstrate his skills or get revenge on ex-friends.

How far would the Hector go?

Well, we have the answer on this point.  He would not go very far and was ready to collaborate to limit his trouble (he has been collaborating for 1 year with the FBI and they just revealed his real name).


Hector probably did not realize that he was in a more powerful situation than the FBI painted to him.  How could he? This was not a fair fight, nor should it be!  The FBI agents are experts in this type of situation, they have done it several times have been trained.  Hector on the other side is a 28 year old who spends nights partying and has been building his computing skills since age 16.  How often would he have to negotiate in high pressure situation? If something was not to his liking he would just use his computer and change it! Although we do not exactly know the detail of Hectors’ arrangement with the FBI, the fact that they consider putting him under the “witness protection program” shows that he is a high value asset.  The fact also that he is working day and night to put his ex-friends behind bars hint that he did not negotiate himself a sweet deal.