Richard Mullender

London detective and hostage negotiator

Several years ago, our founder, Richard Mullender, was working as a London detective and hostage negotiator. Word of his interviewing skills spread and he was asked to become Lead Trainer at Scotland Yard’s National Hostage Negotiation and Crisis Unit.

Falling short

Every day Richard taught experienced police officers to handle the toughest negotiations. But one day, as he watched his people negotiate, he realised they were falling short. Either they were lacking, or the training was. He decided it was the latter.

London city landscape

Scotland Yard needed to change

So Richard left theory to the backroom boys and introduced an intensely practical approach to teaching life or death listening. By drawing on his experience of negotiating with the Taliban, dealing with extortion threats overseas and diffusing domestic sieges, Richard radically overhauled protocol at Scotland Yard.

Turn information into intelligence

Instead of training rookie hostage negotiators to listen purely for facts and emotions, he delved deeper. He taught them to identify motivators, values and levers. Right down to specific key words that are the most powerful indicators of states of mind. By turning information into intelligence, Richard’s team of negotiators learnt to understand the people they were talking to in a very short space of time. A life-saving skill when negotiating with hostage takers or potential suicides.

FBI and UN logos

United Nations and the FBI

Richard’s eminently practical approach impacted on the global scene too. Hugely influential bodies from the United Nations to the Federal Bureau of Investigation invited him to share insights with them.

Richard Mullender

Richard established Mullenders

When Richard established his own training company, sharing elite level listening skills with the business world, international success quickly followed.

During this time the seeds of The Listening Institute were sown as the corporate world saw the immediate value of

  1. Understanding the drivers behind clients and colleagues’ attitudes and behaviour.
  2. Using elite listening skills to uncover their true agendas.
  3. Using those unique insights to influence outcomes.
The listening institute logo

An institute for listening

As the demand for his listening skills grew, Richard assembled his own crack hostage negotiator cell, made up of the most talented British government agents. The team set about creating a curriculum for a teaching organisation with one simple mission: To teach the business world to listen like hostage negotiators so they can strike better deals.

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A colourful life

Battle. Sieges. Extortion. In Richard’s world, you learned quickly, or you paid a heavy price. Richard took those lessons with him on the entrepreneurial trail that led to The Listening Institute. See for yourself.


  • Military service

    • Came under fire in Northern Ireland.
    • Guarded Rudolf Hess in Berlin’s Spandau Prison.
  • Private sector

    • Brief stints in the civil service and manufacturing sectors
  • Metropolitan Police

    • Spent a decade as a London detective investigating serious crimes.
    • Appointed Lead Trainer at the National Hostage Negotiation and Crisis Unit at Scotland Yard.
    • Advised the FBI, the UN, The Indian Secret Services, The Scorpions in Mandela’s South Africa and The World Food Programme
    • Joined talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, resulting in the release of three UN workers.
    • Contributed to the intelligence that informed the rescue of Norman Kember in Iraq.
  • Mullenders

    • Set up his own training company teaching life or death listening skills to the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.
    • Fulfilled speaking and training engagements worldwide, helping organisations from Cambridge University to KPMG, and from UBS to PwC, to achieve ambitious outcomes.
    • Advised senior media, business and political figures on negotiation strategy at the highest level.
  • The Listening Institute

    • Established the Listening Institute in response to spiralling demand for elite listening skills training.
    • Joined by former police-trained UK hostage negotiator colleagues to form a crack training cell.
    • Created a curriculum based on accumulated learnings to date, road tested by cross-sector industry leaders worldwide.