Kevin Bell

Tactical Flattery

There’s a tactic we use in police negotiations where we open the conversation with flattery.

But this tactic isn’t just for life or death scenarios, this can be used in every single conversation that we have with suspects, witnesses, victims, whoever.

Let me run through a situation for you. I was in the works of obtaining an arrest warrant for a suspect in a crime I was investigating. This process required me to go to the courts with my paperwork and find the on call judge to approve the warrant and push it along. If the judge doesn’t approve it or wants it to edited, there’s possibility that by the time it finally gets signed, the suspect could be in the wind.

I entered the court room and waited my turn to speak to the judge. I was standing there watching the preceding before me and read the name plate of the judge. And then it hit me. I had never met her in person, but this judge was the name on HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of arrest warrants that had been issued and I had arrested people for. At that very moment, I knew what needed to happen.

I approached the stand when it was my turn and walked up with excitement. You could tell that it had been a long day and I was coming in at the tail end asking her for a favor. I could see that frustration written all over her face.

“Ma’am, I just first want to introduce myself and say that It is such an honor to meet you…” I continue…

“I can’t even begin to tell you how many arrest warrants I have served from you… seriously, I have always wanted to meet you in person. It’s an honor”

  And just like that, she smiled.

  It was something so simple, so doable. Those words cost me nothing, but the ROI was beyond anything else that I could’ve done.

People in a position like hers did not get there by happenstance. She worked HARD to be in that role. But more often than not, her work isn’t recognized. As with most of us involved in the criminal justice system. And when I recognized it, that was music to her ears.

It’s not always going to be a judge, a witness, suspect, victim… it might be your boss, your professor, maybe your spouse.

Open with flattery, put them at ease, recognize them, make them feel appreciated…

“flies and honey” metaphor.

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