Negotiate like the FBI

Specifically, negotiate like you’re the FBI and the person you’re dealing with is currently holding hostages. They have your attention. You have theirs. You both have guns.

Eric Barker of Barking Up the Wrong Tree has taken the FBI’s Behaviour Change Stairway – a diagram of their standard approach – and applied it to the freelance life like so:

The Behavioral Change Stairway Model was developed by the FBI’s hostage negotiation unit, and it shows the 5 steps to getting someone else to see your point of view and change what they’re doing. It’s not something that only works with barricaded criminals wielding assault rifles — it applies to most any form of disagreement.

Six hostage negotiation techniques that will get you what you want – Barking Up the Wrong Tree

You’re wondering how he can say there are five steps when his article claims there are six. You are right. The five he lists there are FBI-based ones and the six are similar but extrapolated steps that make this fit the kind of situations we are hopefully more likely to encounter.

He’s boiled down the FBI’s distillation into these five or six steps but probably the first one is the key thing to focus on:

1. Ask open-ended questions
You don’t want yes/no answers, you want them to open up.

A good open-ended question would be “Sounds like a tough deal. Tell me how it all happened.” It is non-judgmental, shows interest, and is likely to lead to more information about the man’s situation. A poor response would be “Do you have a gun? What kind? How many bullets do you have?” because it forces the man into one-word answers, gives the impression that the negotiator is more interested in the gun than the man, and communicates a sense of urgency that will build rather than defuse tension.

But then you’ve got five more steps before they put the gun down and/or you get what you want. It’s quite a fascinating read, especially if you’ve seen eleventy-billion cop shows with exactly this kind of scenario.

Read the whole feature.

Having a Bad Day? Read this for free

As part of the Birmingham Independent Book Fair this weekend, I gave away a free PDF of what's proved to be the most popular section of my book, The Blank Screen. It's called Bad Days and it is meant for those times when you are seriously under water: there is fast advice to get you out of it now and then there is a lot more to help you avoid the situation in the future.

I want you to have a copy too so please feel free: here is the entire and uncut Bad Days chapter from The Blank Screen.

I think it will help you. I hope you also like it and if you do, have a look at the complete book: The Blank Screen on Amazon UK and on Amazon US.

Free online storage, small catch

For the next couple of weeks, you can get 50Gb of online storage space for free by downloading the new iPhone and iPad app Box.

That's the small catch: it's 50Gb alright and you don't have to pay for that, but it's another place to have more storage. I've got 9Gb of space on Dropbox that I pummel, I've got 15Gb of iCloud space that I strain, I've apparently got some more on LogMeIn's Does Evernote space count too? I would like more of it and I would certainly use it to the hilt if I did, but I'm spread everywhere.

I might have a Skydrive too. Never looked.

Box is nearer Dropbox and Skydrive than it is iCloud and if you've just nodded then you may well be in the market for what the company calls “the best content viewing and collaboration experience available today for your iOS device”.

Box is free and you can download the iOS app here.

OmniOutliner 4 released today

The short take on this is that if you bought OmniOutliner 3 from the Omni Group's site any time since January 6, 2011, wait.

Wait for an email that is reportedly heading your way with details of how exactly you can get the new OmniOutliner 4 for free. Free. Nothing. De nada.

Similarly, if you bought version 3 of this extremely good outlining application from the Mac App Store in that time, you'll also get it for free and you also have to wait a bit. The app has yet to work its way through the Apple approval system but when it goes live, it's yours.

But otherwise, go to the Omni Group site now with a credit card. If you've ever bought a previous version of OmniOutliner, you'll find you don't have to spend a huge amount to get the new one. And if you never have, wait a second: watch the introductory video about the new version.

And then whip out the card or tap whatever dangerously handy keystroke you have to make 1Password enter your CC details into online store forms.

Full price is $49.99, paid upgrades start at $24.99 and if you're eligible for a free upgrade, you'll never guess how much it will cost you.

I can't say I have a on/off love affair with outliners, it's a bit more of a tepid relationship that that. But I used to loathe them, I still get edgy, but OmniOutliner just got me through so many different and difficult projects that I am a fan.

Ten months 0% finance offer at Apple

Apparently only available in some parts of Europe – I just checked, the UK is one of the parts – this is a nice deal from Apple. I bought my office iMac through a similar deal last year and it was handy to keep my capital and only pay out a portion each month.

Mind you, it was also nice when the months ended and I could call the iMac my own. Just about the day my ten-months interest-free payment ended, though, Apple brought out a new iMac. It's as if they knew. The cunning rascals.

There are terms and conditions on this deal and you should eye them up carefully. See for details.

But the key points begin with the fact that you can only get the deal on hardware (seemingly you might include some software through the store's attempts to upsell you). Next, it's 0% financing for ten months and this is separate from Apple's longer-term financing deals. I don't know anything about those. But they don't get any of this 0% lark.

Last and maybe a killer point: you have to spend over aproximately £450. But then this is the Apple Store, you can do it. The iPad Air that I raved about here the other day starts from £399 but I would (and did) spend more by getting one with greater capacity. The new iPad mini with Retina display starts at £319 but bung in more capacity or a Smart Cover and you're away