What has a 35% increase in waistcoat sales, Brexit and hostage negotiation got in common? Answer – everything.

By Phil Williams, Senior training consultant, CEDR

Hostage negotiators have long recognised the power of ‘role modelling’ as desired behaviours to influence some of the most challenging of opponents to save life; such is the phenomena of ‘social proof’ as described by Cialdini in his work on influence and persuasion.

‘Social proof’ broadly, is our tendency as a species to look to others in how to behave, speak, think and yes, dress. It’s called fashion and when a new style becomes fashionable this is because of the tsunami effect of people being influenced by others as to what to wear.

An even better example of social proof is perhaps in what we are witnessing in the wider behaviour of a young England team. Both on and off the pitch, the team are fast becoming national heroes not only for their sporting skill but also for their sporting conduct. Why? Because they are emulating the behaviours of their leader, Gareth Southgate and the manner and style in which he conducts himself.

Measured, calm, articulate, balanced, but in the moments that count, displays of great energy and enthusiasm. Both visually and in behaviour, always the consummate professional. This is a glimpse of the ‘Jedi’ powers of influence that great leaders and negotiators understand and harness. In one world they can turn the most hardened of hostage takers, in another, they appear to be turning the fortunes of English football.

As a counterpoint - with the news of David Davis’ and others resignation today, we may wonder what influences are now at play …

To understand more about how to improve your negotiation skills or those of your employees, please call Philip on 020 7536 6072 or email him at pwilliams@cedr.com to discuss your needs.

Philip Williams is a former Director of Hostage Negotiation for the Met Police and one of our lead negotiation trainers. He brings his experience of negotiation in global crises to the world of business and works with leaders globally to help them advance their skills and capability.