Negotiation Tips from an FBI Hostage Negotiator

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People from all walks of like negotiate on a daily basis. Whether it is with a project sponsor, an organization post interview, or with a 2 year old who wants “the other one” at dinner time, everyone can benefit from improving their negotiation skills.

Every meeting, every discussion, every team effort involves a negotiation. It is a critical skill to working better and more productively with other people.

Below are 2 videos from Chris Voss, FBI negotiator, about negotiating.

3 Tips on Negotiations | Chris Voss | 7 min.
An FBI Negotiator’s Secret to Winning Any Exchange | Chris Voss | 34 min.

Never Split the Difference

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Extreme Ownership

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Regardless of Industry, it is important to maintain Accountability and Responsibility for our decisions and actions with honesty and clear communication.

Establishing and maintaining trust with leaders, colleagues, and reports requires honesty, transparency (as appropriate) and taking ownership of our accountabilities and responsibilities.

Below is a great presentation on ownership and provides learning which can be applied to any role in any organization.

Extreme Ownership | Jocko Willink | 14 min.

Best Practices & Guidelines for Scheduling Meetings

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Using Technology to facilitate meetings in a geographically dispersed and complex environment solves many challenges.

Establishing common practices, guidelines, and maintaining an awareness of technological limitations will provide a more productive experience.

Below are some guidelines with best practices and limitations specifically around:

  1. Scheduling a Single or Series of Meetings (using Microsoft Outlook)
  2. Virtual Meetings (using Microsoft Teams)
  3. Maintaining a Series (recurring) of Meetings (using Microsoft Outlook)
  4. Making Changes to Meetings as an Attendee (using Microsoft Outlook)

Scheduling a Single or Series of Meetings

  • Provide an agenda and the expected outcome of the meeting: Agendas and expected outcomes will provide participants context to the discussion and enough information to prepare in advance to use the meeting time productively and effectively.
  • Use the Scheduling Assistant to identify an appropriate time and location for the meeting: The scheduling agent will identify availability to ensure desired attendees are able to attend.
  • Schedule recurring meetings with an end date: Distribution lists, attendees, agendas change over time, making updates to a never-ending series eliminates historical records of meetings in the calendars of all attendees. Microsoft recommends recurring meetings not be scheduled for more than a period of 6 months.
  • Avoid creating recurring meetings with a lot of variance: If a regularly scheduled meeting is expected to have a lot of change (attendee list, agenda, time, location, etc) avoid complexity and schedule multiple single instances of the meeting.
  • Send Links, not attachments to meetings when you can share via OneDrive for Business, Teams, and SharePoint: Sending attachments means updating invitations and sending multiple copies, it means a static document that is not intended to be updated. Inserting a Link to a meeting invite allows for a single source of truth and less management for your meeting. Try using OneNote to document specific agendas and capture of information over a series of meetings.

Virtual Meetings (using Microsoft Teams)

  • Create MS Teams meetings directly via Outlook or Teams, do not copy and paste meeting links into invitations: Copying and pasting links from different meetings creates uncertainty and security concerns. Meeting titles may be incorrect, attendees will not know who has access to the meeting call or chat.
  • Do not add guests to a series of meetings, create a replacement: Once a person is invited to a MS Teams call, they are able to participate in all future meetings and see previous chat. If inviting a single participate on one occasion to a team meeting, cancel that months meeting and create a new one with the guest.


Maintaining a Series (recurring) of Meetings

  • Do not cancel recurring meetings when no longer necessary, set an end date: Cancelling a reoccurring meeting will remove the meetings from the calendars of all participants and they will no longer be able to review the details. Rather than cancel or delete, the organizer can update the meeting to provide an end date.
  • Do not make changes to the day and time of a recurring meeting, set an end date, and create a new series: Changes will remove historical information from all attendees calendars. Rather than edit a series, the organizer can update the meeting to provide an end date and schedule a new series of meetings if necessary.
  • Always “send updates to all attendees” after changes are made: Ensure all attendees always stay informed on any changes.
  • Use the Outlook application or Web version as often as possible to make changes to meetings: Mobile applications can have undesired effects when makes changes. Calendars for Outlook on IOS and Android should be primarily used for review and information rather than scheduling or changing meetings.

Making Changes to Meetings as an Attendee

  • Request the meeting organizer add additional attendees: Do not forward meeting invitations to additional participants as updates will not necessarily be provided to the unofficial participants should the organizer make changes.
  • Do not edit a meeting event to include notes: Create a separate meeting in your calendar to ensure your notes are not overwritten or lost.


Format Time Layout for Microsoft Flow

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Microsoft Flow works great for automating communications, primarily providing the ability to standardize messaging and reduce human error or quality issues.

 I leverage my Office 365 skills that are used in an enterprise environment and apply them to my self-proprietorship hobby. I use Microsoft Flow to communicate with my clients (e.g. to confirm payment received) to make things easier for me and provide them with good communication with information specific to them.

One challenge some may experience is the dynamic content for DATE.TIME is not presented to the email receiver in an easy to read format. 

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An out of the box method without using any code use a Convert Time Zone Action and specify the layout (date.time format).

The outgoing email then needs to be updated to replace the current DATE.TIME (in this case the Ceremony Date) to the Convert Time Zone value.

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The end result is an easy to Date.TIME value.


Leading Virtual Teams

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Technology drives innovation and provides new capabilities to organizations and their people. Working from home is gaining more popularity with organizations, yet we aren’t always managing the people impacts. By understanding the impacts of virtual teams, we can change our behaviour and plan for success. 

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PowerPoint Files Too Large and Slow to Edit

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We all love using professional high resolution images for our PowerPoint decks – even when this is not required. It is not uncommon for a visual PowerPoint deck to be put together by business users to become 50 MB and slow to edit online.

Whenever we have a large file that is difficult to work with, we can modify the resolution of one or all images in a pptx file.


  1. Click on the picture which should be compressed
  2. Click on the Format tab in the Office ribbon (if not selected)
  3. Click on Compress Image and select options
    • if all images should be compressed, uncheck “Apply only to this picture”
    • if the presentation images won’t be moved around, check “Delete cropped areas of pictures”
    • Set the resolution as appropriate – my recommendation is to use either Print or Web
  4. Click OK

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Significant! My example of a single slide went from approximately 3 MB to 314 KB, specifically the new file is 11% of the original in web format.

Compressing images to a reasonable setting based on the intended use of the deck will allow for a better experience when building, sharing, and presenting the deck.

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