YAPClassic: Chris Voss on Advanced Negotiation, The Secret to Gaining Influence and Winning Negotiations

YAPClassic: Chris Voss on Advanced Negotiation, The Secret to Gaining Influence and Winning Negotiations

YAPClassic: Chris Voss on Advanced Negotiation, The Secret to Gaining Influence and Winning Negotiations

Prior to 2008, Chris Voss was the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI and the FBI’s hostage negotiation representative for the National Security Council’s Hostage Working Group. Now, he’s using his wisdom to teach business leaders how to negotiate and land deals. In this episode of YAPClassic, Chris will explain several advanced negotiation techniques, like how to conduct an accusation audit and what words we want to hear when negotiating. He will also break down how we can use tactical empathy to diffuse negativity in tense situations.

Chris Voss is a former FBI Hostage Negotiator. He is the founder and principal of The Black Swan Group, a consulting firm that provides training and advises Fortune 500 companies through complex negotiations. Voss has taught for many business schools and has used his many years of experience in international crises and high-stakes negotiations to help people become better negotiators in their everyday lives.


In this episode, Hala and Chris will discuss:

– Why you shouldn’t match other people’s energy

– The unknown benefits of positivity in a negotiation

– Why you need to do a gratitude exercise in the morning

– How to diffuse negativity in a negotiation

– The differences between empathy, sympathy, and agreement

– “That’s right” vs. “you’re right”

– The problem with sympathy

– Why you want to hear the word ‘no’ during a negotiation

– How to conduct an accusations audit

– The 7-38-55 body language rule

– And other topics…


Chris Voss is a Former FBI Hostage Negotiator and the CEO of The Black Swan Group Ltd. Before becoming the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator, Christopher served as the lead Crisis Negotiator for the New York City division of the FBI. During Chris’s 24-year tenure with the Bureau, he was trained in the art of negotiation by not only the FBI, but also Scotland Yard and Harvard Law School. He is also a recipient of the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement and the FBI Agents Association Award for Distinguished and Exemplary Service.


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[00:00:00] Hala Taha: 

[00:00:12] Hala Taha: Young Amp Profiters! Negotiation is part of everyday life. Whether you're asking your boss for a raise, seeking investors, or just trying to get your spouse to do the dishes, we are all constantly negotiating in life. And today's episode is going to teach you the ins and outs of a successful negotiation.

[00:00:29] Hala Taha: That's right, we're dusting off my third interview with Chris Voss, the world's top negotiation expert. Prior to 2008, Chris was the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI and now he's using his wisdom to teach business leaders how to negotiate effectively and land deals. Chris Voss has been on Yap a whopping five times.

[00:00:50] Hala Taha: He's been on the show more than any other guest because he always brings the value. In today's episode, Chris will explain several advanced negotiation techniques, like how to conduct an accusation audit, and we'll learn what words we want to hear when negotiating. He'll also break down how we can use tactical empathy to diffuse negativity in tense situations.

[00:01:09] Hala Taha: Without further delay, here's my interview with the legendary Chris Voss.


[00:01:16] Hala Taha: Hi, Chris. Welcome to Young and Profiting Podcast. Super excited to have you here today. 

[00:01:22] Chris Voss: I'm flattered to be on. It's my 

[00:01:24] Hala Taha: pleasure. 

[00:01:25] Hala Taha: So let's start off with Energy.

[00:01:27] Hala Taha: it's really important just understanding the energy of the room, understanding the energy of your opponent. What should we look for in terms of the energy of the people that we're trying to negotiate with? And then how do we use that information to be better at negotiation?

[00:01:42] Chris Voss: So if you, if you stop and think and perceive and sort of add it up, if they've got energy, The energy is really going to be a dead giveaway as to what they have in mind. You know, uh, are they distracted? Are they focused on you? Is there a good vibe? If they're distracted, they're not looking to make a deal.

[00:02:01] Chris Voss: Or something's in the way. There are other pressures. They're probably not going to make the deal. if they have an aggressive energy towards you, which a lot of people might misinterpret as being bad, the good news is they're looking to make a deal. So, um, aggression is a good thing, uh, from a counterpart.

[00:02:19] Chris Voss: In that it signals their intent to deal with you. the flip side of that is, I don't believe in matching people's energy. Because that makes you the second mover. And when I was teaching negotiation, to illustrate this point, you know, I used to, we used to play tic tac toe.

[00:02:39] Chris Voss: And I'd say, What's wrong with tic tac toe? Do you want to be first or do you want to be second? If you go first, and you know what you're doing, you can't lose. You can only win or tie. If you go second, and that's what's wrong with being a second mover, the best you could do is tie. That's why you want to go first in tic tac toe, because you want to win.

[00:03:01] Chris Voss: And interestingly enough, chess is the same way. That's why there's an advantage to be white, because white moves first. So, what does this have to do with energy? Your energy should always probably be positive. You've got a good natural positive energy. You know, there's some, there's some mechanisms.

[00:03:17] Chris Voss: There's a new book out that I'm reading. It's not that new, it's new to me. Anti Fragile by, uh, Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Who also wrote The Black Swan, Taleb talks about being anti fragile, which means you don't just survive from negative events. You grow.

[00:03:35] Chris Voss: It makes you smarter. And he says curiosity is an anti fragile mindset. It's an energy. It's a demeanor. It's a way of being. Like if you're curious, you're going to have positive energy. If you're genuinely curious, you're going to bring out the best in both the other side and yourself. So that's why I say don't match their energy.

[00:03:57] Chris Voss: You know, be positive, be genuinely curious. 

[00:04:01] Hala Taha: So, like, no matter what energy they are, come positive, come curious. Now, what's the best frame of mind that you want your opponent to be? Like, do you want, if they come in positive, is that always a good thing, or could that also be something we should be weary of?

[00:04:17] Chris Voss: You're 31 percent smarter in a positive frame of mind. It helps you that your counterpart is positive also. So, many of the negotiation strategies are designed to at least get them out of a negative mindset. Because no one collaborates well in a negative mindset. Negative mindset is a downward spiral. So yeah, I'm going to want my, I'm going to want my counterpart to be positive.

[00:04:40] Chris Voss: Uh, in their interactions with me. It's going to make them want to have a long term prosperous relationship. 

[00:04:46] Chris Voss: 

[00:04:47] Hala Taha: I totally agree. So you mentioned that you want to make sure that you, you're positive, you kind of diffuse the negativity. So let's talk about tactical empathy. And let's talk about the reason why people need you to kind of diffuse the negative energy and what that does to the conversation, and also why people love to be.

[00:05:08] Hala Taha: Autonomous. Like, why is that important? Having autonomy? Uh, talk to us about that. 

[00:05:12] Chris Voss: we're naturally in a negative mindset. Survival mode, you know, or default wiring, if you will, is on the negative side. It's what kept the cavemen alive. You know, the optimistic caveman got eaten by the bear every time. The negative, pessimistic caveman was like, I'm getting out of here.

[00:05:31] Chris Voss: So that's a wiring that we're born with. You know, you wake up in the morning. You're in a naturally somewhat negative mode because it was necessary for survival. That's why it's really smart to have a gratitude exercise when you first get out of bed in the morning. It's like mental hygiene. My counterpart, they're going to be negative, I know that.

[00:05:52] Chris Voss: I'm going to throw some stuff out right off the bat to diffuse it. Not to make them positive, but to diffuse the negative. There's a real big difference. And then I'm going to sprinkle it in periodically. Like, if I'm getting ready to ask you something, by definition, your caveman brain is going to say, Ah, that's greedy.

[00:06:14] Chris Voss: Uh, they're asking for too much. I, I know that. I know that's how you're wired as a human being. You can't help it. So the diffusing mechanism is, I'm going to say, it's going to seem greedy. And that not only diffuses but inoculates it. Somebody asked me what it costs to hire my company or to hire me as a consultant.

[00:06:38] Chris Voss: I'm going to say more than you've ever spent in your life. More than you have. Because, first of all, my prices are high. And secondly, I don't want you to get caught off guard by the number. So, that's because of your natural negative wiring. So I'm going to let that sink in. And then you're going to decide whether or not you want to hear the number.

[00:07:02] Chris Voss: Getting to your second point, which is autonomy. I need to preserve your autonomy. I need you to choose whether or not you want to hear the number. I don't need to sell you on it. I will need you to choose it. That preserves your time. Then when you're ready, I've diffused the negative. I preserve your autonomy.

[00:07:21] Chris Voss: You can go. All right. How much is it? And then the other thing I know that the number you imagine is going to be higher than the number that I throw out. So my number is actually going to seem like a relief. 

[00:07:35] Hala Taha: That's really smart. So let's dig deeper on tactical empathy, because people get confused empathy with sympathy and even agreement.

[00:07:44] Hala Taha: So talk to us about the difference between those 

[00:07:46] Chris Voss: three. Yeah. So let's, let's talk about, uh, the mercenaries definition of empathy or the hostage negotiators, which is why I recently started collaborating with Harvard way back when, because as a hostage negotiator, if I use empathy, it can't be sympathy. I mean, how could I use sympathy with Al Qaeda?

[00:08:03] Chris Voss: How are they, how are they going to believe I'm sympathetic to their cause? They're not. Or, you know, a Marxist, uh, guerrilla faction in Columbia, South America someplace. They're not going to think I'm sympathetic. But how do I use empathy? Just Demonstrating. That I understand where they're coming from.


[00:08:21] Chris Voss: Empathy is not agreement. Empathy is not even liking the other side. It's just stating what their opinion is. 

[00:08:28] Hala Taha: If I could just explain this to my listeners, make sure they fully understand it, you're using tactical empathy to basically dismantle the elephant in the room, diffuse the negativity, and make it so that everything's just out on the table and they feel, do they, it makes them feel more comfortable?

[00:08:46] Hala Taha: Like, what does it actually do to them? 

[00:08:48] Chris Voss: Yeah, and I love your phrase, dismantle the elephant in the room, versus denying that it's there, or pretending that you love the elephant. I love elephants. No, you don't like elephants. It's right there, though. So, it makes people feel validated. To feel understood is sort of this almost magical transformation that happens in people.

[00:09:13] Chris Voss: And, and here's why it seems magical. Uh, when we were first working on the book, Tal Ra as a co author said, I think when you demonstrate empathy, it creates an epiphany in the other person, a realization like a. It's what people say, they say that's right when you've demonstrated empathy.

[00:09:33] Chris Voss: That's right. That's how I feel. So, you know, I'm into neuroscience these days. I looked up epiphany on the web and it said when you experience an epiphany among the neurochemicals that are triggered internally are oxytocin and oxytocin is a bonding drug. So when someone feels understood by me, I know they bond with me.

[00:09:58] Chris Voss: And if I'm looking to make a deal. and have a long term relationship, I want you to bond with me because you're going to then, now you're going to collaborate. So that's, it's a really indirect route to save a lot of time. 

[00:10:12] Hala Taha: And I can imagine it makes them feel safe and, and feel like it's okay to tell you information, which in a negotiation, it's all about getting as much information as possible.

[00:10:22] Chris Voss: Exactly. That's right. Look what 

[00:10:24] Hala Taha: you did. Yeah. And since you brought up that's right, we're going to have to break that down for our listeners. So tell us about these magical words, that's right, and why you're right is actually not what you want to hear. And that's right, is once you hear those words, you know that you're on the right track.

[00:10:41] Hala Taha: Yeah, 

[00:10:41] Chris Voss: that's right. It's what people say when they feel completely understood or completely represented by the other side. And, you know, this, this, the empathy moment, the oxytocin moment. is insane. As an example, it's why common ground is for grade C level negotiators. Tactical empathy, the that's right moments, that's for A plus people.

[00:11:06] Chris Voss: And I'll give you an example regardless of what you think of Donald Trump, whether you're supportive of him or against him. You're either perplexed or proud of the fact that his followers follow him come what may. Like he said early on in his presidency, I could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and my supporters would still be behind me.

[00:11:30] Chris Voss: Now, what happened that created this bond with them? Was it common ground? Well, when Trump first ran for president, you know, all the pundits said he'll never get elected because he's a New Yorker, he's a billionaire, But the New Yorker and billionaire stuff means he has no common ground with the Republican base, and they will never embrace him.

[00:11:54] Chris Voss: Well, clearly they embraced him. Despite sharing no common ground as people would normally define it. So what is it? When he stood up and started talking about the stuff that he believed in, at some point in time, people listening to him said, that's right. That's what I believe in. You know, Trump would be up there and say, you know, I.

[00:12:14] Chris Voss: I hate, I hate the media. And all the Republicans that hate the media would go like, That's right, the media is an evil thing. You know, he says lamestream media and vast majority of the Republican base believe that the media is, is biased. So he was saying things and people were saying, That's right, creating a bond to be envied.

[00:12:35] Chris Voss: If you love Donald Trump, you want to emulate what he did. If you hate Donald Trump, you're mad at what he did because it's such a huge bond. And me and my team, you know, we think, you know, if Donald Trump doesn't tell you what oxytocin will do for you in terms of building relationships, then you are not paying attention.

[00:12:56] Hala Taha: It's so interesting. It's so true. It's like whether you love him or you hate him, he's got some amazing persuasive skills. So let's talk about, since we're on this topic, you're right versus that's right.

[00:13:07] Chris Voss: Yeah, thanks for bringing that back up again, because a lot of people won't think that your right is the same as that's right, and it's not, I mean, everybody's guilty of this, everybody listening to your podcast, I know all of you listeners out there, sometime in the last week, somebody that you love, or somebody that you have to keep the relationship with, He's been hammering you about something you don't want to do and you can't get him to stop and you look him in the eye And you go, you're right and they shut up and they stop bothering you.

[00:13:40] Chris Voss: You're right is a really polite way To get somebody that either you love or you have to keep a relationship with to leave you alone To get him to stop talking. 


[00:13:54] Chris Voss: There's no shortage of wives who have realized that if they look at their husband when he's giving her a hard time about something, and if she looks at him and says, You're right.

[00:14:07] Chris Voss: He will stop bothering you. And that's how effective it is. So people, people use it. But the flip side of it is, everybody does it and nobody thinks that it's being done to them. Like, I got news for you. It's being done to you. And that's why you gotta, you gotta know the difference. And it's huge. The implication, if I could share a short story.

[00:14:31] Chris Voss: Buddy of mine, Tim Larkin, runs a, uh, uh, uh, self defense company out of Vegas. Good guy. The name of his book is When Violence Is The Answer. Like, he doesn't advocate it, but he's like, there are moments in your life that the only thing that's going to save you is violence. And so if that's true, you've got to know how to do it.

[00:14:50] Chris Voss: He's in a Black Belt Hall of Fame. He's a sweetheart of a guy. Very low key dude. I meet him, he says, you saved me so much money. I'm like, cool. How, how, how did it happen? He had this whole team together in his company, he's laying out strategy, he thinks he's putting everybody on the right track, you know, he's got it going on, he's explaining, and one of his senior executives looks at him and says, Tim, you're right, and he just, it stops him dead in his tracks, and he says, holy cow, I am so far off base with my guys.

[00:15:23] Chris Voss: That they're politely asking me to shut up. So, he, you know, he didn't get offended, he, he's a smart dude. He took it for what it was worth, he stopped the meeting. He went and talked to each one of his guys. And figured out what all the problems were, and aligned everybody on the mission. And he said, if, if I had never read Never Split the Difference, I'd have thought it was a great meeting.

[00:15:46] Chris Voss: I'd, I'd have never realized that one of my guys... was suddenly telling me, like, Tim, we can't take it anymore, you're on the wrong track. I'd have thought, you're right, was a great response. He says, you saved me so much money, and I got my team back together, understanding that that was a sign that I was off track 

[00:16:04] Hala Taha: with them.


[00:16:05] Chris Voss: The sucky part is that you, I've learned this before and then you forget about it because it's so natural and I feel like I've already learned this before, but I hope that it sticks to everybody tuning in this time that when somebody says, you're right, it means that, hey, they, they don't want to hear what you're saying anymore.

[00:16:19] Hala Taha: They want you to shut up. They're not taking your advice. They don't agree with you. But for that's right. I guess the one question that I have is, is that really the only phrase? that we need to look for? Or are there variations of that's right? 

[00:16:34] Chris Voss: You know, you can, you can get variations of it in a team, a Black Swan team.

[00:16:38] Chris Voss: We've been trying to decide, is it like one star that's right? Is it five star? You know, you're going to hear that's it exactly. You're going to hear you got it. You're going to hear various versions of it. You know, you might hear that's right. Really, if, if you, when they say it, what you're really going for is, um, if you could tell when they say it, they felt a sense of relief or, you know, they felt a new idea come to them.

[00:17:08] Chris Voss: Now, any versions of it are good. Those are all good, but you know, you may need an accumulation. You may be leaving something out. You may not quite have hit it exactly with them. Any version of it is a good version as long as it's not your right. You're on the right track, you're 

[00:17:24] Hala Taha: communicating. It's going back to that energy thing that we were just talking about.

[00:17:28] Hala Taha: It's the energy that we're looking for. So if they're like, Oh yeah, you're right, you're right. And they're kind of just moving the conversation along rather than like, you feel like they're resonating with what you're saying. 

[00:17:39] Chris Voss: Yes. Yeah. Good point. And I like the way you put that. I like your focus on energy.

[00:17:43] Chris Voss: That makes a big 

[00:17:43] Hala Taha: difference. 

[00:17:52] Hala Taha: Okay. So I want to get into some real examples of this tactical empathy, and I'm going to say a phrase about way somebody's feeling in a situation, and then I'd love for you to say the sympathetic way that somebody could respond to that, and then the tactical empathy way that someone can respond to that.

[00:18:11] Hala Taha: Okay. This is like a game show. Do I win a prize? Yes. This is like a negotiation game show with Chris Voss and Halataha. Okay. So let's say your opponent thinks you're an arrogant jerk based on your past hot headed interactions. How do you defuse that elephant in the room? In a sympathetic way, which is the wrong way, and then in an empathetic way, which is the right way.

[00:18:35] Chris Voss: A sympathetic way would probably be like, you know, I understand, um, my dad was an arrogant, hot headed jerk, and it was, uh, it was really hard for me to deal with him too. You know, that would be like trying to share the experience. I understand is what people often say when they're trying to be sympathetic, but they want to give you an example of their own experience and how they dealt with it.

[00:19:01] Chris Voss: The unspoken part of it is, I'm saying like, look, I got over it, so it's time for you to get over it too. Which is, you're trying to help people get over stuff. So, you know, you think on the suicide hotline way back when he said, if somebody is in quicksand, you don't help them by getting into the quicksand with them.

[00:19:23] Chris Voss: And that's kind of what sympathy is. So tee me up again and I'll give you the tactical 

[00:19:30] Hala Taha: empathy. Your opponent thinks you are an arrogant jerk based on past hotheaded interactions. 

[00:19:37] Chris Voss: You know, you probably feel like I'm an arrogant jerk. You probably feel like I don't listen to you, that I fly off the handle.

[00:19:45] Chris Voss: You probably scare to say anything to me at all because you never know when I'm going to blow up and it's painful for you. 

[00:19:53] Hala Taha: So then they feel like, Oh, he, he understands me. It just makes them, I guess, feel more calm that that's acknowledged. 

[00:19:59] Chris Voss: Yeah. It starts to diffuse it. It makes me look honest, genuine.

[00:20:05] Chris Voss: Unafraid of my shortcomings. You know, you're not going to solve a problem unless you're aware of the problem. If I, if I at least articulate it, at least I'm aware. You know, I'm not, I'm not giving you a sympathetic response, which is like, kind of like, you know, everybody deals with hotheaded people. It's just part of life.

[00:20:23] Chris Voss: That doesn't show any awareness that maybe my approach might be counterproductive. So if I say, look, you know, I probably seem like a hot headed jerk. If I begin to demonstrate at least some awareness of it, you're, you have an encouragement. I'm, I am never going to fix a problem that I won't even admit is a problem.

[00:20:46] Chris Voss: You know, first step, right? You know, the 12 step programs globally, whatever 12 step thing you're dealing with, the first step is recognition of the problem. At least recognition of the dynamic. Maybe I don't even want to say it's a problem. At least I recognize the dynamic. That's tremendously reassuring to the other side.

[00:21:07] Chris Voss: And it doesn't imply that they're wrong. in not reacting or they're off base or they're, you know, any, any of the negative things that simple recognition has a tendency to keep from ever getting on the table. 

[00:21:21] Hala Taha: Okay. One more. Let's say you're doing a group project and two colleagues don't get along with each other and they're refusing to work together.

[00:21:30] Hala Taha: How would you diffuse that with tactical empathy? 

[00:21:34] Chris Voss: So your answer might be like, look, you guys clearly see things differently. You guys are clearly rubbing each other the wrong way. What are we trying to accomplish here? I did two things with that, you know, I, I threw out some understanding that wasn't pointing a finger at either person or not.

[00:21:56] Chris Voss: I don't need them to feel the group is pointing a finger at them and I don't need a group to think that I'm pointing a finger. I'm just calling out the dynamic, you know, I'm looking to dismantle the elephant in the room. So to follow on what question, which is a calibrated question, your, your questions, if you ask them at all, probably ought to start with what or how, because you're asking the question to create an effect.

[00:22:25] Chris Voss: And then to get people to think. And you also got to throw in. Correct tone of voice because I could say what are we trying to accomplish here? Which is accusatory, you know, my voice is saying like Why don't you two idiots see the damage you're creating? But instead I go What are we what are we trying to accomplish here?

[00:22:47] Chris Voss: You know, it's curious It's trying to get people without feeling accused to take a look at their original reason for being in the room, original reason for being part of the group, and give them the opportunity to decide whether or not they want to stick to that original reason, which is again that autonomy thing that you were talking about earlier, which people will die to preserve their autonomy.

[00:23:12] Chris Voss: People will walk away, people will tank deals, there's all sorts of things that To other people that they do that. It's clearly damaging to them short term and long term Just to preserve their autonomy 

[00:23:28] Hala Taha: and that's specifically to preserve the ability to say no, right? So why is that so powerful? Why do people?

[00:23:35] Hala Taha: Like to have the choice to say no, what's the psychology behind that again? 

[00:23:39] Chris Voss: I believe it's an autonomy issue You know, one of the books that inspired me early on when I first started realizing that a hostage negotiation applied to business, was a book called Start With No, written back in 2002 by a guy named Jim Camp.

[00:23:56] Chris Voss: And he was a salesman. He had backgrounds in both the military and in sports, coaching. But he was working as a salesman. And... He called it the right to veto and his approach on start with no was in a sales process. He would say, look, I want you to know that you can say no to the no to me at any time, any moment in time.

[00:24:19] Chris Voss: It's okay to say no, I will go away. I'm not trying to get you to say yes without you understanding that you could say no at any moment. Call it the right to veto and just preserving that right. Suddenly he made more sales. Suddenly he made more deals. He made more agreements. He made more than anybody else did.

[00:24:39] Chris Voss: And he's, and that's where, you know, Jim said people will die to preserve their autonomy. So this autonomy thing and a right to say no, the feeling that it's okay to say no, goes an awful long way in making people feel that you're not trying to 

[00:24:54] Hala Taha: bamboozle them.

[00:24:56] Hala Taha: Yeah. So for me, one of the least intuitive things about everything that you teach is the fact that we're not trying to get people to say yes. We're trying to get people to say no because of this. thing we just talked about that people love to have the choice to say no, and it makes them feel in control, right?

[00:25:13] Hala Taha: So, talk to us about how we can ask questions in a way where people would start with no and then agree with us and get to the yes, but they always start with saying no and then get to the yes. So how do we ask questions like that? Yeah, well, 

[00:25:28] Chris Voss: most of them, it's simple, but it's hard because it's so against our wiring.


[00:25:32] Chris Voss: Like, I never say, have you got a few minutes to talk? I say, it's now bad time to talk. I never say, do you agree? I say, do you disagree? I never say, is this something that would work for you? I say, is this a ridiculous idea? Are you against? I mean, the transformation from yes to no is actually really simple once it doesn't scare the hell out of you.


[00:25:57] Chris Voss: But so many people the first time out are so afraid, because you're taught that yes is success. Which, if you believe that, it makes no, by definition, failure. People are horrified of the word. Once you can, once you can cross that bridge, the rest of it is so easy. 

[00:26:20] Hala Taha: Why do you think people... We'll tend to agree with you more and you'll get what you want when they actually say no first.

[00:26:27] Chris Voss: Well, people are conditioned from the age of two that when they say no, it makes them feel safe and protected. It's what an adult says to a child when a child does something wrong. No. So what does a child learn from that? Saying no is what adults do. adults jobs to say no. I, you know, I once, and even, like, there was a, a guy who was a lieutenant on NYPD.

[00:26:55] Chris Voss: He once told me, uh, a lieutenant's job was to say no. And he didn't even care what the question was. He felt like he was doing his job when he said no. So, it makes no sense, but people condition themselves over and over and over. Like Pavlov's dog from the famous psychological experiment. When I say no, I feel safe and in control.

[00:27:18] Chris Voss: So... Get somebody to say no because what the real issue is, you need to know what comes after the word, either yes or no. If people, if you, if I get you to say yes, you're going to be reluctant to say anything else because you're going to feel like you're digging yourself into a hole. If I say, which is, do you agree?


[00:27:38] Chris Voss: You might want to say, yes, but here are the problems. If I say, do you disagree, you're going to be like, no, but I can't agree unless you fix these following problems. And I'm like, now I've got a path forward. The really what I need to know is I need you thinking, laying out problems for me. And when you're feeling safe and secure, you can do that.

[00:28:00] Hala Taha: Yeah, it's really interesting. I feel like an easy way to test this out is even in your email, because it might be hard to do it in person because it's hard to think of those things on the spot. But next time you're writing an email, instead of asking a question to get them to say yes, try to ask them a question that will get them to say no and just use that as practice.

[00:28:18] Hala Taha: Is there any other ways that we can practice this? Because I feel like this one gem is so powerful if people just learned how to use it. 

[00:28:25] Chris Voss: Well, you know, and, and to get used to it and just change from have you got a few minutes to talk to is now a bad time to talk, like in all your conversations. It's small stakes practice for high stakes results.

[00:28:38] Chris Voss: So in a little bitty, little bitty conversations, we're trying to get asked on a regular basis. Just practice, get to know instead and gain a feel and watch to see over and over again the different kind of reaction. 

[00:28:51] Hala Taha: It's so interesting. I love this topic. So let's talk about the illusion of control. How else can we give our opponent the illusion of control?

[00:29:01] Hala Taha: What are some other tactics? Yeah, 

[00:29:03] Chris Voss: well, the what and how questions, you know, in a black swan method, we, we call calibrated questions. People love to be asked what to do. People love to be asked how to do something. You give them the illusion of control when you ask those questions, and negotiation's not about control.

[00:29:22] Chris Voss: To guide someone, what in crisis intervention they call guided discovery. That's not control. It's giving the other side a lot of latitude, but you kind of frame things with a what or how question, and the other side doesn't feel framed. They feel, they were just asked what to do or how to do it. I mean they feel in control.

[00:29:45] Chris Voss: So it's given the other side the illusion of control. It's usually through a what or a how question. Could you 

[00:29:50] Hala Taha: give us an example? 

[00:29:52] Chris Voss: Well, you know, the, the famous how am I supposed to do that as a way to say no. The other side doesn't feel attacked. What it really is, is if you can't do something because the implementation is really difficult, you say how am I supposed to do that?

[00:30:10] Chris Voss: Or you might say it three times, how am I supposed to do that? Or you might say it a third time, how am I supposed to do that? Each one of those questions makes the other side think about the complexity of the prop, but they don't know that you made them think about it. They feel in control. They feel like you, you're asking for help.

[00:30:35] Chris Voss: And you know, that's kind of the, that's the way you get it started. 

[00:30:46] Hala Taha: One more question on this like general topic. 

[00:30:49] Hala Taha: Accusations audits. 

[00:30:51] Hala Taha: Talk to us about that. How do we use them? What's your methodology there? 

[00:30:55] Chris Voss: This whole, uh, accusations audit is doing an audit, if you will. Of all the negative things, the other side might think about you, not what you think about them, but what they might think about you.

[00:31:09] Chris Voss: And it's really starts with, you know, what's all the stuff that you're worried that you need to deny? Like, I don't want you to think I'm greedy. I don't want you to think I'm not listening. I don't want you to think I'm disrespectful. Uh, if you're in sales, every salesperson knows that there are enough, not your fault, but there are enough slimy salespeople out there.

[00:31:30] Chris Voss: That sales has got a negative 

[00:31:34] Chris Voss: connotation to the word, you know, the car salesman, used car salesman, everybody in sales understands that. So you might want to say, I don't want you to think I'm just another salesman, slick salesman. Whatever you might want to deny, you simply take the denial out and list that stuff out.

[00:31:54] Chris Voss: And put it at, as you may think, you probably think, is even stronger. I'm sure you probably think that since I'm in sales, I'm another fast talking, hustling salesperson who doesn't care about you. Who just wants to push you into a deal. I'm sure you, I'm sure this is going to sound disrespectful. I'm sure this is going to sound like I don't understand.

[00:32:15] Chris Voss: You're probably going to think this makes me look greedy. Empathy, again. On the other side, might see things, but just listing stuff out in advance and using it to either dismantle the elephant in the room. Or to keep the elephant from getting built in the first place. That's the thing that most people are most afraid of.

[00:32:37] Chris Voss: Is they think you're going to speak a negativity into existence by calling it out. You know, what's that stupid movie Candyman? You say Candyman five times, boom, the, you know, the bag, the boogeyman is there. What really happens is it creates this inoculating effect. So much so that if you don't have a negative thought in your head, but I know You're going to react negatively to what I'm going to say, I will say, this is going to sound harsh, and then I'll let you, I'll watch you to watch you brace yourself, and you're going to give me some sort of a physical signal, if not verbal, to go ahead.

[00:33:21] Chris Voss: this is actually now we realize is grounded in neuroscience, because an emotional pain and a physical pain is almost exactly the same thing. And neuroscience has found. that if I warn you pain is coming, there's going to be a window that you need to brace yourself. Like if I, if I have to find a doctor and I'm going to put a, give you a needle, I'm going to say, this is going to hurt.

[00:33:51] Chris Voss: Somewhere between three and 20 seconds is probably the window. And I need to watch you. And you're going to go like. All right, give it to me and bang, whatever that is. So if I say effectively, it's going to sound harsh, which is what I have to say is going to hurt. I'll let you brace yourself and you will appreciate the warning and it will hurt less every time.

[00:34:19] Chris Voss: Every 

[00:34:20] Hala Taha: And it's very similar to what you just said about the pricing when you say, Hey, like it's, you're going to think it's high. Okay. Tell me what the price is. And then, like you said, they think they're expecting something way worse because you've warned them. And so, like you said, it probably relaxes them.

[00:34:35] Hala Taha: And then they accept it more because they were expecting something way worse. Their imagination probably took them elsewhere. Exactly. So let's talk about body language. You have a course on masterclass, which is. Super popular and congratulations on that. And in that course, you touch on the 73855 rule when it comes to body language.

[00:34:58] Hala Taha: Could you talk to us about this because we haven't talked about it yet on any of our podcasts together. All right. Well, basically, 

[00:35:04] Chris Voss: if you add those numbers up, you get a hundred and a 38 stands for tone of voice and a 55 stands for body language, which is kind of. 93 percent of your communication is not the words.

[00:35:21] Chris Voss: And, uh, there's a lot of people that, you know, they want to argue whether those numbers are accurate. They get crazy over it. And the, really the most important issues to, regardless of how strong you think those numbers are.

[00:35:37] Chris Voss: Tone of voice and body language is a lot more important than the words. I can say to you, wow, that was a smart remark. That's an insult. But if I were to say to you, wow, that was a smart remark as a compliment, I didn't change a word. If that doesn't illustrate to you the difference in tone of voice, I don't change a single word.

[00:36:08] Chris Voss: And the meaning changes 180 degrees. So what about body language? 

[00:36:14] Chris Voss: Our director of business development is a young lady named Davy Johnson. And she's just naturally an encouraging person. And she's, she's told me, we were talking about this the other day. She knows if she's talking to somebody she tilts her head to the side and puts her eyebrows up like she's really interested.

[00:36:36] Chris Voss: Like she's shocked at what people will share with her. And she'll just go, really? And they will start laying out stuff to her 

[00:36:47] Chris Voss: of the struggles that they're dealing with. And how much our help as a business could be for them. 

[00:36:53] Chris Voss: And she's almost astonished. She didn't even have to ask a question. She just goes, Really?

[00:36:59] Chris Voss: body language can be so encouraging if you let it be. Or conversely, it'll shut people down if you don't watch it. So it can be an enormously encouraging and enormously powerful thing to use in conjunction with your intent. I said there were two things about the 738 55. 

[00:37:19] Chris Voss: The real issue is when body language and tone of voice do not match up with the words.

[00:37:25] Chris Voss: That's when you know you got a problem. It doesn't matter what the ratio is. It's when those things are not lining up, then you realize that what they're saying and what they're feeling are two different things. And then you dig into it. 

[00:37:40] Hala Taha: could you give us an example of, 

[00:37:42] Hala Taha: when people's, what they say doesn't match their body language?

[00:37:45] Hala Taha: If I'm trying to 

[00:37:46] Chris Voss: get an agreement from you and you go, okay, a lot of people would say, Oh, they said, okay, we're good. But the way I said it, there's a lot of stuff crossing my mind. There's a lot of things that I'm worried about. If I go, okay. You think that deal's going through without a hitch. You are in for a rude surprise.

[00:38:16] Chris Voss: How do you deal with that? You just say something as simple as what we call a label and go like, I heard you say okay, but it seemed like a lot of things crossed your mind when you did. That's what, what gets them, it makes them feel safe. Sharing the things that went through their mind. So let's, that, that, that would be an example of how their words would not match up with their tongue.

[00:38:46] Hala Taha: And labeling basically just acknowledges what they're feeling and you try to get the information out of them. So you're basically just telling them what you perceive to be their, their feelings, how they're, how they're feeling. 

[00:38:59] Chris Voss: Yeah, exactly. And, um, really since the first time that we talked, we use labels a lot more than.

[00:39:08] Chris Voss: Uh, questions to get information out of people now, you know, instead of saying, like, what's on your mind today, I might say, seems like there's stuff on your mind today. Now, the 2nd way is most likely to get a lot more really good information out of you than the 1st way or what's stopping you guys from going through with this deal would switch to seems like there's something stopping you guys from going through with this deal.

[00:39:38] Chris Voss: That second one, that label, is going to get a lot more information. 

[00:39:43] Hala Taha: Do you understand why just that small shift would, would change the way somebody reacts to it? Like what, what's the reasoning behind 

[00:39:50] Chris Voss: that? I think principally, um, Danny Kahneman, who wrote the book, Thinking Fast and Slow, talked about slow in depth thinking and fast reactionary thinking.

[00:40:03] Chris Voss: And a what question? will trigger you into slow in depth thinking, which means you're going to think a lot about the question, which means the answer is going to be guarded and filtered. And depending upon how much mental energy you have, you may just stop thinking about it because it's too much work. So questions cause those sorts of reactions.

[00:40:32] Chris Voss: We're seeing on a regular basis, if I just go, seems like for whatever reason, I know it will trigger your unvarnished thoughts to come out much more readily. So much so that we had a client say, labels unlock the floodgates of truth talk because people got so much more candid and just. They don't think about what they're saying.

[00:40:57] Chris Voss: They just start sharing it. 

[00:41:00] Hala Taha: And then wouldn't you say that, so I guess I'm putting two strategies together. If you say, seems like, and then you tell a lie so that they correct you, isn't that something powerful? Like people love to correct other people. So if you say like, seems like you came here not wanting to make a deal.

[00:41:19] Hala Taha: When you know they came here wanting to make a deal or something like that, and then they'll be like, Oh no, no. Is that a good strategy to use? 

[00:41:26] Chris Voss: Yeah, well, uh, clearly you've been doing your homework. You know, people love to correct. So, sporadically, you know, we teach people to say stuff wrong on purpose, to get corrected.

[00:41:41] Chris Voss: Because a correction is, feels so good. It's almost addicting. It's ridiculous how good people feel when they correct. A secondary consequence of that, it plays in your benefit also. Like the quote is attributed to Maya Angelou, people don't remember what you said, they remember how you made them feel. Well, if you get really closely guarded information from them, you don't want them to regret telling you.

[00:42:08] Chris Voss: So if they corrected you when they gave you that closely guarded information, they remember how they feel when they said it, they felt great in the moment. And they're not going to regret sharing really intimate details with you because it felt so good while they were doing 

[00:42:24] Hala Taha: it. Do you have an example of when you got somebody to correct themselves and how it helped you in a negotiation or just any sort of example to really drill this home with everybody tuning in?

[00:42:35] Chris Voss: You know, um, one of the students when we were teaching at Georgetown was in the midst of a real estate deal and the building was too good to be true. Like a cash cow, historic district. Uh, which meant it was, it was a, it was a cash machine, and it couldn't be knocked down, and a historic district meant competing buildings couldn't be built.

[00:42:57] Chris Voss: So it was a really unique building, and he couldn't understand why the building was up for sale, and he said it seems like the owner just doesn't believe in a fundamental future of the market. And the agent immediately shot back, now he's underwater on several other buildings. Now that was closely held information that no agent should ever share, but it was a correction.

[00:43:24] Chris Voss: And this guy didn't even know he was saying it wrong on purpose. He was just trying to figure it out. And so what's the possible, why would a guy sell a cash cow? Like, is it, is it haunted? You know, what is going on here? And so he just said, it seems like he doesn't believe in a future fundamentals of the market.

[00:43:42] Chris Voss: And the agent shot back immediately information that he should not have shared because it was a correction. It's just, you know, another, another. They're, they're law, two companies are at impasse and the one company that we're coaching, they think they have a rough idea of who the problem is on the other side of the table, but it's, they could only narrow it down to one or two possible people.

[00:44:08] Chris Voss: So let's call them Tom and Bob. So at the table, they go, seems like Tom and Bob are against this deal. The counterpart said, no, it isn't Tom. It's Bob. Immediately threw his colleague under the bus. But since it was a correction, he did it without thinking about it and didn't regret sharing the information because he was correcting the other side.

[00:44:29] Hala Taha: 

[00:44:30] Hala Taha: Okay, Chris, this was an amazing conversation. I do want to be respectful of your time. The last question I ask all my guests on Young and Profiting podcast is what is your secret to profiting in life? 

[00:44:41] Chris Voss: probably two things. 

[00:44:43] Chris Voss: Yeah. It's a journey. Look, it's just a journey.

[00:44:45] Chris Voss: Take, take your eyes off the destination and focus on a journey. And then whatever you're into, there's got to be something that's larger than you. I was watching a documentary yesterday on David Geffen. And David Geffen's a billionaire. But what I really, and I didn't know anything about the guy, other than he's a rich Hollywood guy.

[00:45:08] Chris Voss: And my take was that he was really dedicated to the musicians and the artists that he served. And what he was dedicated to was the creation of their art. And it was bigger than him. And it's sustaining. And I saw another documentary on Clive Davis. Conversely, Clive Davis dedicated to the music. Like he wanted to create his bigger thing, was he wanted phenomenal music.

[00:45:38] Chris Voss: And so if there's something you're dedicated to, that you're pursuing, that's bigger than you, it's gonna, life is gonna be enormously rich. And there are other riches besides money. Now money's, money's a means, money's jet fuel. And the other thing about Geffen, the Geffen documentary was, he said, Dave, you got a billion dollars.

[00:46:01] Chris Voss: Are you happy? And he was like, wow. Now doing my thing is what makes me happy. So, you know, that's how you become profitable. And as a, as a last note, I, you know, I'd like to give people an opportunity to follow up with me if possible. But I'm really glad you asked that question because there are larger things.

[00:46:21] Chris Voss: Once you're into something larger than you, then life is going to be enormously profitable. Of 

[00:46:28] Hala Taha: course. And where can our listeners go to learn more about you and everything that you do? 

[00:46:32] Chris Voss: Yeah, you know, the easiest thing to do, the smartest thing, uh, is to subscribe to our newsletter. It's called The Edge.

[00:46:40] Chris Voss: Comes out on Tuesday mornings. Simplest way to subscribe, sign up. Text to sign up function. The number you text to is 33777. That's 7. The message you send is black swan method. Three words, not case sensitive. Spaces between the words. The newsletter is a gateway to... Everything we do, it's free, but better than that, it's comp, it's actionable and it's concise and then it's the gateway.

[00:47:12] Chris Voss: It really is. We get so many things that we can do to help you raise the level of your game and also look at life differently. Life's a lot more enjoyable. When negotiation is no longer combative, but it's collaborative. 

[00:47:26] Hala Taha: 

[00:47:26] Chris Voss: 

[00:47:26] Hala Taha: Awesome. So I'll put that number to text in the show notes, guys, so that you don't need to write it down. Just head over to the show notes so you guys can grab that number to text and what to text. Chris, thank you so much.

[00:47:37] Hala Taha: It was such a pleasure to have you on. 

[00:47:38] Chris Voss: Thank you. Thank you. I love talking with you. You're upbeat. You're fun to talk 


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