Tom is the father of the FBI’s hostage negotiation program and the author of two books on hostage negotiation (both of which belong in every hostage negotiator’s library): Hostage/Crisis Negotiations: Lessons Learned from the Bad, the Mad, and the Sad and Psychological Aspects of Crisis Negotiation. I knew Tom’s perspective would be valuable. Tom is one of the truly good guys. Though he has a reputation as an incorrigible flirt, the reality is that he just loves people. He is also an institutional asset to the entire field of crisis/hostage negotiation and I am fortunate that he talks to me at all. When we talk about seeing farther because we have stood on the shoulders of giants, Tom is one of those giants. All of us who have ever been hostage negotiators have been boosted by Tom.
I think one of the critical attributes to becoming a better negotiator is a trait called “Open-ness”. (Please note I said “one”.) This trait can be measured by a psychological instrument called the NEO Five Factor Inventory. I don’t think this trait is exclusive to either men or women and I don’t have any data as to whether either gender has a greater tendency towards it.
I do think that the nature of your circumstances can cause this to be brought out in you. I think that the nature of the challenges women face in the business world are sufficiently different then what men face as to cause women to be required to be generally more open to finding new paths to success. I think that’s the nature of the challenge faced by any minority group.
I also think that since success by definition is an abnormality, this challenge of finding new paths to success is something we all face if we hunger to excel.