The Knowledge Project – The Art of Letting People Have Their Way: Negotiating Secrets with Chris Voss

Listen Here

  • Chris is the former FBI lead national kidnapping negotiator 
  • He is the author of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As Though Your Life Depended On It
  • As a kid, Chris knew he wanted to be in law enforcement
  • He was originally a police officer before he started working for the FBI
  • “How hard could it be?”
    • After hearing about the hostage negotiating position within the FBI, Chris thought this to himself
    • It’s his family motto
“Real good negotiation is real good emotional intelligence”
  • Before becoming a hostage negotiator, Chris worked as a call operator on a suicide hotline in order to better learn how to talk with people in distress
    • “Your success rate is higher once you forget about failing and focus on learning”
What surprised Chris the most about how negotiation works?
  • If you let the other side go first, it saves time
    • It’s free information
  • We tend to thing the most direct route is telling what we want first
  • If your ego is weak, don’t let the other side go first. If it’s strong and you have a good position, let them go first.
How does Chris step outside of his ego?
  • “Genuine curiosity is a hack for emotional control”
  • If you talk out loud, you are able to calm yourself down
    • Talk in a in a ‘late night FM DJ voice’
  • Calming – like the late night FM DJ
  • Assertive – direct and honest, “here’s what I want, give it to me”
  • Smile Voice – when you talk while smiling, people can tell, you can break down barriers by smiling
“Negotiation is the art of letting the other side have your way”
  • “How am I supposed to do that” – a great way to say no to something you don’t want
  • Get them talking until the other side says something that works well for both of you
    • The real issue with any deal is implementation not agreement
    • That’s why you want it to be the other side’s idea, because the implementation will go much easier if it’s their idea
Bad Recommendations for Negotiating
  • Go First and Anchor high
    • Anchoring high means starting with something more than you would walk away with, like asking for a salary of $110k for a job when you would take $90k
    • When you start off by giving an exact amount, it might be less than the employer was going to offer anyway
Negotiation One-Sheet
  • Take a completely truthful version of what the facts and circumstances are that brought you to the table
  • Consider fears the other side might have about you – maybe they see you as a bully?
    • Fear gets in the way of deals more than benefits make deals
  • Think about why they wouldn’t do business with you – that’s a deal breaker you need to eliminate
    • Articulate it and bring any issue up to dissolve them
    • If it’s lurking in the back of the other person’s mind, it’s a distraction
  • Then think about the reasons why they would take the deal with you
Calibrated Questions
  • Instead of say “What are the next steps here?” say “It seems like you might have some next steps in mind” – it’s easier to gather information
    • You eliminate the system 2 thinking by doing this and get the raw system 1 thoughts
    • Check out the book Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow for more on system 1 and system 2 thinking
  • The fear of loss is the biggest driver of human behavior
    • Look for the loss, and factor it into your thinking
Money in a Negotiation
  • Employers should pay employees at the high end of their expectations
    • If you pay someone lower than they hope for, they tend to be too anxious during their employmet and they wont do a good job
    • If you pay them more than they expected, they will take it for granted and wont be appreciative
    • Overpaying is as much a problem as underpaying
Run to Trouble
  • Work on your company’s biggest problems
    • You won’t make it any worse
    • If you succeed, you become known as a troubleshooter who really helped the company
    • This puts you in a position to get paid more, and if not, its a great resume point
Chris’s Book – Never Split the Difference
  • Has been leading the business category on Amazon since it came out
  • An example of bringing the elephant out into the room
    • When giving a talk, Chris might start by saying “Why would you listen to a hostage negotiator like me?”
    • People might then answer his questions by saying “You might know something we don’t”
      • This gets the other side/audience to say it so Chris doesn’t have to
The Most Dangerous Negotiation, is the One You Don’t Know You’re In
  • Anytime the word “yes” is in the air, you’re negotiating
  • If the phrase “I want” is in your brain, you’re in a negoiation
  • “Never be mean to someone who could hurt you by doing nothing”
  • The better your relationships, the more the other side wants to help you
There Can Be Great Power in Deference
  • People love when someone doesn’t have to be deferential but is
    • If someone perceives themself to be superior to you, they love it because they think they’re entitled to it
    • If you’re on a peer level, and you treat the other person with deference, the other person appreciates the respect
    • If you’re subordinate, and are deferential, they see you as being a very generous person
Other Key Tactics
  • Using “Labels” – Like the above
    • Instead of saying “What are the next steps here?” say “It seems like you might have some next steps in mind” – it’s easier to gather information, it opens up the floodgates
    • If your kid asks for the car – say “It seems like you don’t think you have to earn the car”
  • Getting people to say no
    • Instead of “Would you like to try this option? say “Are you against this option?”
  • Mirror
    • Repeat the last 1-3 words someone said
  • When your decision making is at its peak, your mental endurance increases, and your overall performance is that much better
  • As soon as fear drops away we can think better and make better decisions
  • People meditate to be able to maintain flow state better
  • Substitute predict for trust. When you can predict what someone can do, you can trust them.
Chris’ Advice to His Younger Self
  • Be a little nicer in how you say things
What’s the smallest habit Chris has that makes a big difference?
  • Letting the other side articulate what’s really burning on their mind, the other person will be highly appreciative and you’ll save a lot of time
  • “People find being listened to very satisfying
Knowledge Project : ,
Notes By MMiller

More Notes on these topics

Top Insights and Tactics From

31 Best Podcasts of All Time

FREE when you join over 35,000 subscribers to the
Podcast Notes newsletter

No Thanks