Steven York is the 130th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers – and probably the most fascinating.

Steve spent 19 years in the NSW Police Force, including a decade in the hostage negotiation unit (which he commanded for three years).

Good negotiators are good listeners and communicators, Steve explained. You need to understand the criminal’s motivation so you can build rapport. Generally, you speak soothingly rather than forcefully, and you ask questions rather than make statements. If the criminal, deep down, wants a peaceful resolution, that can help you deescalate the situation. 

There were times Steve persuaded the subject to come out by promising to buy them a drink. He would always follow through in case the subject became a ‘repeat customer’. Steve was involved, as part of the negotiation team, in eight separate high-risk situations with one man.

Steve left the police force in 1996. He’s now the executive director of financial crime and anti-corruption & bribery at Commonwealth Bank.

Steve is close to releasing a book about his years in hostage negotiation, which will be part memoir and part guide. I can’t wait to read it.