Movies can inspire, arouse passion, and motivate audiences to achieve their dreams. An entertaining film can allow you to disconnect and have a good time. Movie scenes can also apply as education and training material.
Several film excerpts stand out as fantastic displays of negotiation skills and conflict management. Some negotiation lessons from famous movie scenes include:
Taken (2008) – Taught us not to compromise on key issues
With on-site negotiation training, you can learn to make concessions on issues that don’t hold much value for you. However, remain steadfast in seeking what you hold dear. Consider the most famous quote in the first of the three Taken movies.
Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson): “I don’t know who you are, I don’t know what you want. If you’re looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have any money. But what I do have, are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that will be the end of it. I will not look for you. I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
Bryan Mills opens with a strong offer, which negotiators can term as a compelling value proposition. Throughout the movie, he relentlessly follows through on his promise without compromise. Taken offers an excellent example of drawing the line between what’s negotiable and what’s not.
Kapringen 2012 (aka A Hijacking 2012) – Different situations, different strategies
The Danish movie Kapringen 2012 (English title A Hijacking) is chock full of negotiation scenes. In one of the opening scenes, the shipping company’s CEO engages in a boardroom business deal with Japanese businesspeople. The CEO bargains down from $21M to $14.5M, saving his company at least $6.5M. Shortly after, the CEO has to change strategy and negotiate with Somali pirates for the release of hostages.
How did the CEO achieve the steep $14.5M deal? In the boardroom discussions, the Japanese have already rolled down to $19M, but the CEO makes a counteroffer of $10M. The CEO starts to walk away, and the Japanese make a counteroffer of $17M. In the end, the deal closes at $14.5M. Lesson: Be prepared to walk away.
In the hostage negotiations, the Somali pirates demand $15M. The CEO leads proceedings, assisted by an external specialist who has experience in hostage negotiations. The CEO opens with a counteroffer of $250K. Eventually, after lots of back and forth spanning about four months, the pirates agree to $3.3M.
Throughout the movie, it’s clear the negotiators adopt different strategies for each situation. The specialist advises against showing emotion. He also recommends not negotiating against themselves nor raising their counteroffers by too much. The trained specialist regularly advises patience and restraint.
Hunter Killer 2018 – Shows us coalition building
American submarine Captain Joe Glass supports an elite Navy SEALs team in the rescue of the kidnapped Russian president. The captain and his crew rescue an attacking Russian submarine crew in the arctic.
The US captain isolates the Russian captain from the Russian crew. What follows is a series of negotiations ending up with the cooperation of the Russian captain.
The US captain begins by explaining to the Russian captain that working together makes neither a traitor to their respective countries. The US captain explains that collaboration works towards a common interest. “We are not enemies. We are brothers.” In negotiation training, the lessons you can draw from the two captains include:
- Establish a connection first and foremost.
- Highlight common interests and shared benefits (in the movie, the point was to rescue the Russian president, foil a coup d’etat, and avoid WWIII).
- Let the other side know your risks and what you’re willing to take for the partnership to succeed. (The US captain was risking a mutiny and a court-martial.)
- Make the deal more significant than the personalities. (“It’s not about your side or my side. This is about our future.”)
In the end, the two captains jointly lead their teams to victory. They work together against the reservations of the crew from both sides. A key lesson is to work towards a win-win solution rather than a winner-takes-all scenario.
Negotiation Lessons from the Movies
A review of popular movies can offer insights into the prevailing culture and myths. The film industry dramatizes how people approach and respond to conflict and negotiations. Viewing and studying films can prove useful in training, negotiation games, and making preparations for deal-making.
The few movies highlighted in this post offer examples of how we can use various negotiation techniques and strategies. Next time you’re at a movie theatre or streaming Netflix at home, consider what lessons you can learn about negotiation that could be beneficial in your life. Have you ever applied any of the negotiation tactics of your favorite movie heroes?