Ep. 71: Gary Noesner - Hostage Negotiations, and Why Listening is More Important Than You Realise


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How often do you get to listen to an hour’s worth of wisdom from the from the FBI’s former chief hostage negotiator? Well, today we get that chance. Meet Gary Noesner, who led the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Unit until his retirement in 2003. Gary is now a consultant, speaker and author of the book Stalling for Time, part of which forms the basis of a new miniseries on the Paramount Network called “Waco”. Yes, Gary was involved in negotiations with Branch Davidians in the lead up to the 1993 Waco Siege, and his efforts saved lives in the process.

Gary talks about that, but this is an episode about so much more. We have a wide-ranging conversation about crisis management, negotiation, the importance of listening, and tons more. I am highly appreciative of Gary coming on to the show and in spite of cold and sore throat, Gary provided an enormous amount of insight into:

  • The different types of hostage negotiations that can happen, including those involving ideology like the Waco siege;
  • The importance of relationships and creating connections in negotiations;
  • Why listening is a fundamental skill in hostage situations;
  • Speaking truth to power;
  • Dealing with nuance and finding common ground;
  • How these skills can be applied to all types of situations;
  • Much more!

Show notes:

Gary’s website;

Gary on LinkedIn;

Gary’s book, Stalling for Time;

Waco on the Paramount Network;

The 1993 Waco Siege;

Michael Shannon;

Steven Covey;

The book, Nonsense, the Power of Not Knowing by Jamie Holmes;



Cats in the Cradle, by Harry Chapin;

If, by Rudyard Kipling;

“My Way” sung by Frank Sinatra;

Behavioural Change Stairway model


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