Chris Voss (@fbinegotiator) is a former FBI hostage negotiator and author of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It. He joins the show to discuss how we can be more effective negotiators by using hostage negotiation techniques. [Note: This is a previously broadcast episode from the vault that we felt deserved a fresh pass through your earholes!]
What We Discuss with Chris Voss:
- The principles behind negotiation and emotional persuasion.
- Three types of negotiators you’ll encounter — The Analyst, The Assertive, and The Accommodator — and how to size them up.
- How to influence the way people size you up.
- Defusing negative emotions.
- Generating rapport in difficult situations.
- And much more…
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Negotiating for anything — whether it’s a raise or a flea market antique — can be a terrifying prospect for a lot of people. But if the idea of haggling for something with financial consequences makes your palms sweat, imagine negotiating for your life. Chris Voss, former FBI kidnapping and hostage negotiator and author of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It, knows what it’s like. He joins us here to tell us how we can be more effective negotiators using hostage negotiation techniques.
Listen to this episode in its entirety to hear how Chris used open-ended questions to successfully track a hostage through the jungles of Ecuador, what Chris learned about logic from Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, how to size up the person on the other side of the table as one of three types of negotiators — and how to influence the way they size you up, why you should never lie to anybody you’re not going to kill (figuratively or literally), why the most powerful negotiators always use plural pronouns, how being playful makes you a smarter negotiator, ways to apply Jedi mind tricks and Matrix moments, and lots more. Listen, learn, and enjoy! [Note: This is a previously broadcast episode from the vault that we felt deserved a fresh pass through your earholes!]
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Resources from This Episode:
- Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz | Amazon
- The Black Swan Group Ltd.
- Chris Voss | Twitter
- Getting to Yes: How To Negotiate Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher | Amazon
- Guide: Three Negotiator Types | The Black Swan Group
- Chris Voss | Negotiate as If Your Life Depended on It | Jordan Harbinger
678: Chris Voss | Hostage Negotiation Tactics for Everyday Life
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[00:00:14] Chris Voss: You know, as a hostage negotiator, I always had a phrase, you know, "Don't lie to anybody you're not going to kill." And they asked me about that at Harvard Law School. They thought that was really funny because I realized that as an FBI hostage negotiator, that's what I actually meant, but they worked very hard at the Harvard Law School when I taught negotiation there. Getting people to understand that lying and deception is a bad idea. It's a bad long-term strategy. You're going to pay for it. So I don't believe in trying to be something you're not. I do believe in respecting where the other person's coming from. And I don't see that as being exactly the same thing.
[00:00:49] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with scientists, entrepreneurs, spies, and psychologists, even the occasional former cult member, investigative journalist, or gold smuggler. And each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better thinker.
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[00:01:38] Today, one from the vault, recorded a few years back. We're talking with my friend, Chris Voss. He's a former FBI hostage and kidnapped negotiator. We're, of course, talking about kidnapping and hostage negotiation here on the show, complete with stories to illustrate his points, but also plenty of overlap with business negotiation, emotional persuasion, the three types of negotiators that you'll encounter, and how to size them up. And on the opposite side of things, how to influence how other people size you up. Not only that but how to diffuse negative emotions, generate rapport in difficult situations and more. So needless to say, really fascinating episode of the show. I hope you all enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
[00:02:16] Here we go with Chris Voss.
[00:02:21] Chris, tell us what you do in one sentence.
[00:02:24] Chris Voss: I advise people how to be more effective negotiators using hostage negotiation techniques.
[00:02:29] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So you're a former kidnapping negotiator with the FBI. Or do you still do that?
[00:02:33] Chris Voss: No, I don't really do that anymore. I left the FBI in 2007. An occasional random call on a kidnapping, but my involvement never last, very long.
[00:02:42] Jordan Harbinger: How did you get interested in negotiation, especially hostage negotiation and kidnapping?
[00:02:48] Chris Voss: Well, I was a SWAT guy and I had a recurrent knee injury and I decided before I totally blew my knee out doing SWAT stuff, I'll do something else on crisis response. And, you know, I naively thought negotiators, they talk, I can talk, I can do that. I just wanted to stay involved in a game of crisis response. And that's how I got into hostage negotiations.
[00:03:08] Jordan Harbinger: It's kind of funny. It's like, "Well, my knee hurts. So maybe I'll talk people down from killing hostages." It seems like there's a jump there that maybe we're not getting a full grip on that.
[00:03:17] Chris Voss: Yeah. You know, I don't know entirely what it was — talking to people. I was always fascinated with it. As a cop, police officer can walk into a situation with his words changed everything. Even walk in and say things while other cops are standing around trying to get things done and not being able to affect it. You know, I always loved doing that. I always loved having an impact with words that just totally change the situation immediately. So I think I was always inclined towards that.
[00:03:43] And I was into SWAT. I was slated to go to the SWAT team when I was a police officer. I get the FBI job just before that happened. I enjoyed SWAT. It's exciting, a SWAT sounds. I didn't realize the reality of it at the time was the SWAT guys stand around and wait for the negotiators to do their job. So, you know, the other thing about being a hostage negotiator is you go to the scene and you work and the SWAT guys watch. You know, SWAT guy may be in one shoot-out in his entire career and I worked 150 kidnappings in my entire career. So it got much more involved, but the jump probably was I was looking for something to supplement what I was doing while I was investigating terrorism full-time. If you can imagine that you're looking for something to moonlight while you're investigating terrorists.
[00:04:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I can't imagine what you would end up doing that would be as exciting. Well, maybe you don't want something exciting. Maybe you want something very unexciting when your day job is negotiating with terrorists and crazy people who are holding people in banks and things like that.
[00:04:40] When I was in law school, we did some negotiation exercises. And when I became an attorney, we did some actual negotiating and you get a little nervous beforehand, you know, that little fight or flight, you get that like, "Okay, it's game time now." Do you get that when you're negotiating kidnapping and things like that, or does that go away after a while?
[00:04:57] Chris Voss: Well, I got it in a good way on kidnappings. And then I got to the point of kidnappings that I just, I had it cold. I knew that at any given kidnapping, there's only four or five ways I could possibly go. I got a strategy for every single one of them. And I couldn't wait to get into it because, you know, it was very satisfying helping people and actually making a difference in the darkest moments of their lives. So I was into it in a good way.
[00:05:20] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it seems like you're kind of the lifeline for a lot of these families and just anybody for the whole state or for the whole country, depending on who you're representing at that time.
[00:05:30] And in the book, Never Split the Difference, you've got a lot of different techniques that you use. And it's funny because in the beginning, you're talking with, I guess, these Harvard negotiation faculty members that are thinking, "What's this cop doing here? We've studied this. What are you going to teach us?" Tell us about that experience.
[00:05:47] Chris Voss: When I was a hostage negotiator for the FBI, the business card was a great entree. I mean, all I had to do was hand somebody my business card. It would politely look at it. And then suddenly, the look that would come across their face when they realized what they were reading, it was pretty easy to get places and get into the conversations. And that's how I got into the Harvard guys. I got my boss to pay for some executive training up there, just three days of training. I was really more interested in going up there and handing him my business card. I waited until Bob Mnookin came by, the head of the program. And, you know, I kind of stopped him and said, "Hey, you know—" like introduce myself and handed him the card and waited for it to work its magic, which it did.
[00:06:24] And we started to talk and he walked me around and those guys were always kind of interested. They're like, "You know, so if I was a kidnapper, what would you say?" I said, "Well, you know, I'm just going to ask you open-ended questions." Now I realized that that answer kind of rolls people to sleep because I had learned some really just devastatingly show-stopping, open-ended questions. I know the one that I'd been using for a while that stopped every terrorist and every kidnapper in their tracks on a planet. So I realized that this is a little bit of a lure when I say open-ended questions. It sounds boring. And he kind of went, "Really? That's what you're going to ask me, open-ended questions." "I mean, yeah. You know, it's pretty simple. It's not that much so that I ask you some open-ended questions," and he couldn't wait to try me out. And he's a good guy. I just knew I was going to catch him off guard because you know, the ultimate way to say no in the entire world is just kind of kindly and calmly with the late-night FM DJ voice, just to say, "How am I supposed to do that?"
[00:07:21] And so he said, "You know, so Chris, we got your son. We need a million dollars. We'll kill him in the morning if you don't give us the money." And I said, "How am I supposed to do?" And he just — it was great. He just, he kind of blanked, he didn't know how to react. You know, we were off to the races. So that was the beginning of a great relationship with a lot of really smart people up there that I really enjoy.
[00:07:41] Jordan Harbinger: And open-ended questions are interesting because essentially these are queries that by the time they can have a wide range of answers. They're the opposite of closed-ended questions, which are things that can be answered with yes or no, right?
[00:07:53] Chris Voss: Yeah. A real short answer is, you know, the how questions are the killer question. What I've learned in hostage negotiation and getting the same leverage in a business deal, there's great power in deference and from a deferential approach, it's ridiculous how assertive you can get away with. The other side is never going to see it coming. It's a real stealth weapon and especially a well-phrased open-ended question — what I do with that is I shift the burden of the entire situation over onto whoever I'm talking to. And not only do they not feel what I've just weighed them down with. You know, they feel empowered because people love to be asked how. They think it gives them an opportunity to show how smart they are. And it's amazing what it does. And so to say it's an open-ended question that can be answered with more than a yes or no is really the sort of under-described the power of the dynamic.
[00:08:45] Jordan Harbinger: And I like the how question, especially in the book, as you describe it because it's the magic sword of open-ended questions. You're right. Just saying something that can be answered, can't be answered with yes or no, is an under description. The open-ended question, especially the, "How do I get the money? How do I do this?" you tell stories in the book about — I want to say this one was in the Philippines, maybe Nicaragua, Ecuador, El Salvador, but there was a story in which this guy who was an American had gone down there you'd grew up there. He decided to be a tour guide. He got kidnapped. And the negotiator who was in the city ended up having to move back to the jungle where the hostage was, which is how you tracked him because you kept using these open-ended questions. Can you tell that story? You're going to do a better job than me.
[00:09:29] Chris Voss: Yeah, sure. I mean, the first case we really tried, we made the shift from the classic proof of life question, which is seen in Man on Fire and every other movie, which is basically your basic security question, you know, "What's the name of Chris's first dog?" Or, you know, "What was the high school you went to?" That just doesn't get you that far. And so I finally decided that we were just going to make a shift and we're going to go to, "How do we know so-and-so is alive?" We've got this kidnapping in Ecuador, Jose Escobar, Pepe Escobar. He is a friend of mine to this day and he's a phenomenal human being. And we decided to make the shift.
[00:10:02] And I'm checking with all my guys in my inner circle. And I said, "We're going to change abruptly here in what we're doing." And the guys I worked with in the crisis negotiation unit at the time — I mean, at that time I was very lucky. We were the brain trust of literally the collection of the best hostage negotiators on the planet. So if I bounce stuff off them and they said that I was on the right track, I knew that I was. We decided to shift this into this case in Ecuador with like no warning to anybody. I sent my negotiators down there. I said, "This is what we're going to do. This is the strategy." And they're a little rattled by it because it's new, but I said, "Look, do what I tell you to do." And they were good with that because I knew them for a long time, but the Ecuadorian, the gala down in Ecuador, I mean, they didn't like it at all.
[00:10:41] And we went through this and we didn't find out until after the fact until I debriefed Pepe at his home in upstate New York. I said, "Hey, you know, we kept asking this question." He says, "You know, that was really crazy," because their negotiator who was supposed to stay in town until they had the deal cut, he kept coming back out to the jungle and saying, "You know, these guys were asking me this question. I don't know how to deal with it." This is what I'm telling them, "Am I okay?" And it just caused an entire series of meetings of the kidnappers to get behind one strategy that they never would have had, ever. And that's when I realized that the how question causes a unification on the other side.
[00:11:22] You just got to be persistent with it and stick with it and not get rattled. And that's what deference does and they're going to get concerned and they're all going to get together and unify the team on the other side. That was the first time in any kidnapping that we'd ever worked ever, where we had caused that much-coordinated effort that we wanted to have caused on the other side. It lined up with our goals. And that's when I knew that the how question was just monstrously powerful.
[00:11:50] Jordan Harbinger: How do we use this in everyday life? For example, most of us are not going to be negotiating with terrorists, crazy kidnappers, how do we work these types of things with normal people?
[00:11:59] Chris Voss: Yeah, that's a great question. And I had come to learn in kidnappings that there's always a team on the other side and I've come to learn in business negotiations, there's always a team on the other side. We were competing for some training with a multinational communications carrier recently. Because we're trying to get better at negotiation, we found out from them that fully 50 percent of their deals that get killed, get killed internally. In every business deal, there's always a team on the other side, and there are always people away from the table on the other side that are looking to lay back and snipe your deals. They want to kill those deals because they're not involved in the negotiations. They're mad that they've got no influence on the guys at the table. So the first chance they get, they're going to kill that deal when it comes back to the company.
[00:12:45] Now, the only way to beat that dynamic is exactly the way we beat the terrorists, asking the how question. And some of it might even be proof of life for your deal. How do we know the rest of your company is on board with you? How do we know that this fits into your company's internal goals? How do the people will kind of implement this deal? How do they see this deal? Innocently asking these questions, your negotiator, just like our guy, just like our kidnapper in Ecuador, he's going to answer those questions or she's going to answer them, but just like our guy in Ecuador, they're going to be concerned if they have to answer them four or five times that they might be climbing out on a limb all by themselves.
[00:13:26] And they're going to go back to their team and they're going to ask the same question. "This is what I'm being asked. You know, am I on the right track here? Are we unified?" Proof of life from your deal in a business is every bit as important as proof of life of a hostage in a kidnapping. It's a different commodity.
[00:13:43] Jordan Harbinger: Negotiation needs to be this rational logical kind of getting to yes type of structure. And it looks like early in the book you're taking feeling into account. And you noticed over time, especially with events like Waco, Texas, and things like that, the Branch Davidian take down, "Trying to negotiate without knowing how to take feelings into account," you said, "is like trying to make an omelet without knowing how to crack an egg." So why this transition to emotions and to emotional persuasion, I guess, in negotiation?
[00:14:12] Chris Voss: Well, you know, that's a great point. You said negotiation used to be the logical rationale, getting BS—
[00:14:18] Jordan Harbinger: Like bargaining, right? This rational bargaining. "I give you this, you give me that. Thanks. Okay, that's fair by—" that kind of thing.
[00:14:24] Chris Voss: And did we ever live in that world? I don't know that we ever did. Now, we tried to. I've read, Getting to Yes. I bought Getting to Yes. It's still one of the selling negotiation books on the planet. I'd never had anybody say to me, "Wow. I read Getting to Yes and immediately began to apply principles that made a difference in my deal." You know, getting to yes is like trying to learn the English language by reading the dictionary. It's technically nothing flawed about it. You will go, "Well, how do I use this? You know, what am I going to do with this?" When we're human beings ever logical and rational.
[00:14:57] There's this funny skit that somebody found for me on Star Trek, because I was telling them that, you know, there's this line that's boxes. You know, logic is a butterfly flying in the breeze. I mean, it just doesn't exist. We wish it did. But the reality that we've come to show now, that they're actually putting wires in people's brains, on brain science and scanning your brains. They're showing that every single decision is made based on what we care about, which by definition, as much as we hate it. And some people just tear their hair out of this. Every decision is an emotion-based decision and the people that are tearing their hair out of it are actually proving the point. Those are want to argue with most are the ones that are most passionate/emotional about their decisions. And even my hostage negotiators I'd have read Getting to Yes, and they go, "Wow, this makes a lot of sense. Why can't I do it?" It sucks.
[00:15:50] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Why doesn't it work? Yeah. I guess if emotionally driven incidents like hostage-takings were normal, you got to focus on that. You can't focus on the rational actors in a business. And then we start to see the non-rational actors in businesses. Like you mentioned earlier, that guy who didn't have influence over the deal, who says, "Huh, this is somehow in a front to my ego. So I'm going to squash this even though it's a good deal for us." And it looks like what you discovered is that the emotional element is important regardless of whether or not you're negotiating in business or you're negotiating with terrorists or kidnappers. It's just, that's always the underlying language. Is that of emotion, is that correct?
[00:16:30] Chris Voss: Yeah. The underlying language is always out of emotion. You know, the selfishness of "what's in it for me," you know, not necessarily, "what's in it for the company and what's in it for me" at the moment because I gave a talk last night where somebody pointed out like you don't know if the guy you're talking to across the table, his wife was screaming at him early this morning because he's not advancing fast. So he feels extra pressure to pay for that car that she wants. Or, you know, the boss yelled at him, the company is doing fantastic, but he hasn't closed the deal in a month and he's falling behind on his quotes.
[00:17:03] You know, you just don't know what sort of pressure the guy on the other side of the table is under no matter how unified they may look on the surface. So there's always an emotional element. A friend of mine, an international bank, phenomenal guy, one of the most intelligent, really smart people, emotionally intelligent, smart people I've ever met in my life. And his international banking role, his bank takes over in Korea. He's as American as it gets. He comes across as an American, no matter what.
[00:17:33] So people are worried. "What's an American going to do with our company?" His first slide to the employees in his PowerPoint presentation. He had the title translated from English into Korean, and it said, "What's in it for me?" And as soon as he showed that to all these Koreans, they broke into applause. It doesn't matter who we are or where we're at. You know, the emotional aspects of "what's in it for me" is a driving influence in all our decision-making.
[00:17:57] Jordan Harbinger: So we see negotiation as communication with results or applied people smarts. How do you size someone up and get a feel for what their emotional biases might be on their side?
[00:18:08] Chris Voss: Yeah. Sizing people up, it's a great thing to do. It's a great challenge. And it's where the delay to save time comes into because we're all under time pressure in business and we want to get the deal done quickly, which is going to cause people to size people up too fast. The other person's tone of voice is going to give you a lot of clues right off the bat. The guy who naturally speaks with almost what we call a late-night FM DJ voice probably sounds a little bit more like the assassin's voice. I mean, this is a highly analytical guy. These guys come off, their tone of voice is being very cold and distant, I mean, very distant.
[00:18:43] And they actually have no idea that coming off of that distant, but these are really analytical people, which means you ask this guy or gal a question, they're not going to want to give you an answer to it sort of completely through, and that's going to take at least 48 hours. So the tone of voice is that initial clue. No one other than an analytical person is going to talk in that kind of voice consistently. Although many of the analysts come to learn that a friendly voice makes for better deals. They're going to learn to act very friendly.
[00:19:12] Jordan Harbinger: That's an analytical type of person. So they have that type of voice. They might lay on a layer of friendliness, but are there multiple types of negotiators that we're going to encounter?
[00:19:22] Chris Voss: We believe there's three types and we've got the data to back it up. One of those types is the analyst. The second type is the assertive who's very direct. Donald Trump — assertive, shocking. Then there's the person we refer to as the accommodator who's friend-oriented, very relationship-oriented.
[00:19:38] And really these three types of the breakdown of the caveman type, you know, because it's coming from a mental level. Some people refer to it as the caveman brain or the reptile brain, and a caveman, walking down the jungle path, way back when he encountered something alive, he had one of three thoughts — can I kill it and eat it? Is it going to kill me? Can I make it with it? You know, those are the three basic instinctive responses — do I make friends with it? Does it kill me? Do I kill it? If it's going to kill me, do I have to get away from it? So those are the three types. That's in any instance where all our thinking starts is in the amygdala. And then it goes into a rational brain and we come up with reasons that back up our gut instincts. And yeah, those are the three types. The world splits pretty evenly into thirds.
[00:20:23] I mean, I've taught Chinese development bank personnel, and I've taught Colombians and I've taught Nigerians and I've taught Iraqis. And I sit back and I look at them and the group always splits pretty evenly into thirds. So the bad news for us as human beings in that is, is that two out of three people we encounter are going to be different than we are. So you got to adjust for that.
[00:20:44] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Chris Voss. We'll be right back.
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[00:23:43] Now back to Chris Voss.
[00:23:47] Once we figured out that there are these three types, what do we look for in each of these three types of people? And then how do we negotiate with each of these three different types?
[00:23:54] Chris Voss: Great. Great question. Perfect. So the first thing is it's going to come up most of it an impasse and it's going to evidence itself. Principally, the first thing it's going to be in the view of the use of time. An analyst is always going to think, "This is going to take longer than anybody imagined." So they tend to be very, very patient because they expect it to take a long time. The assertive is, "Time is money. I need to get this done now." And they're in a big hurry. I actually have kind of a secret joke about assertives is they like to say, "You know, why take the time to get it done right when we can do it wrong now." That's their view of an assertive. And then the accommodator feels, you know, "As long as you and I are enjoying each other's company, it's a great use of our time. And it doesn't matter if we get anything done because the relationship is much more important."
[00:24:38] So what we do with that is the first thing is just be willing to take a step back first and a step back, usually it only takes three seconds. There's interesting data that actually indicates that a moment if you will, is three-second long. And in three seconds, you can get a good feel for the type. And then if you just adjust a little bit to resonate with them and of the nine negotiation skills that we like, because we pulled the types consistently across the board, all three types, like what we refer to as labels. They tend to be drawn toward them. They want to interact and they want to be more productive. And a label is just — it seems like something about this is bothered, or it seems like you're concerned about this. Or even if I know you don't like me, I'll say, "It seems like I've been overly harsh." It's going to draw the other side much more quickly into the conversation, into a productive conversation. And then that kind of have their guard up and you can move much more quickly.
[00:25:34] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So we draw people out. The label makes sense, right? It's almost like if you're living with your wife or your girlfriend and she's being really quiet or she's shutting doors to the refrigerator, just that much harder instead of ignoring it and hoping it goes away. Most of us guys notice, say, "It seems like you're angry about something," and just get it done, get it out. Don't let it boil over the next 72 hours, because that's going to be a lot worse, right? I'm not just saying women are like that. I mean, everybody I know has that myself included where, when people say something like, "It seems like you're frustrated with this." I feel instantly better because it's then okay to discuss that. It's not a taboo topic. I feel like the steam valve is just releasing a lot of the pressure. And I can imagine pressure builds up a ton in not only negotiation but especially in kidnapping or hostage negotiation or high stakes with millions and millions of dollars or with the company in which you have equity, those types of high-stakes negotiations, that pressure must build up really, really fast.
[00:26:31] Chris Voss: Yeah, you're right. It's a great relief valve. It's different from venting. I actually don't like venting, but you do have to relieve the pressure. You know there's an old saying, "Unexpressed feelings never die." And whether it's business or hostage negotiation, people harbor feelings, I mean, people harbor feelings in business interactions and they hold on to them and they will wait forever to pay somebody back and they will never let it go until they get a chance to pay somebody back. And that's why leaving negative feelings in a business deal are just absolute killers, because if they can't pay you back, they're going to trash your reputation.
[00:27:07] Jordan Harbinger: We know how to size other people up. We know what to look for with the aggressive, the accommodator, and the analytical. Is there any advantage to influencing how other people size us up? Do other people do this consciously or subconsciously? And is there any advantage to maybe pretending to be one type while really being another? Or is this a purely cooperative negotiation?
[00:27:28] Chris Voss: Well, you know, I don't think you want to change a default type because there are advantages to a default type. As you get better at negotiation, you began to see what other types are good at, and you want to add those skills. You know, there's the old saying, "What got you here, won't get you there." We try to counsel people that there are elements of the analysts that are really good and you want to know what's good. And you want to know what the companion skills are from the accommodator that you want to add to your skill set. And the assertive, you know, you need to be assertive with what you need. Otherwise, if you don't get what you need out of a deal, you're not going to perform. The deal is going to fall apart. So you have to be able to assert on your behalf, just not in the blunt aggressive way that, you know, we ascribe, unfortunately, or fortunately to Donald Trump. And I got no problem with being assertive. I just want to be nicer about it. And then your deal stick, people want to cooperate.
[00:28:20] So it's about adding the positives of the other skill sets. You know, I don't like deception and negotiation. I don't like lying. You know, as a hostage negotiator, I always had a phrase, "Don't lie to anybody you're not going to kill." And they asked me about that at Harvard Law School, they thought that was really funny because they realized that as an FBI hostage negotiator, that's what I actually meant. But they worked very hard at the Harvard Law School when I talked to negotiation there. Getting people to understand that lying, deception is a bad idea. It's a bad long-term strategy. You're going to pay for it. So I don't believe in trying to be something you're not. I do believe in respecting where the other person's coming from and I don't see that as being exactly the same thing.
[00:29:00] Jordan Harbinger: No, I definitely see the difference there. And just to be clear, the reason that we never lie to somebody that we're not going to kill is, precisely, because that person will never trust us moving forward. We've permanently damaged the relationship, but if you're going to kill them and they're dead, it doesn't really matter what their opinion is of you and whether or not they trust you, right?
[00:29:17] Chris Voss: And that's true, but I would always put the follow on after that. But even if you kill them, people they know we're going to find out about it and you're going to pay for it anyway. Deception is a bad idea.
[00:29:28] I met a panel at a conference at Harvard several years ago, and you know, some of the professors, "All right. So let's give you a hypothetical. If a terrorist that has a nuclear bomb and you know that if you lied to them that you could probably get the nuclear bomb diffused, and you're going to save the whole city, will you lie to him?" And my answer was, "No, because number one, he's probably a better liar than I am anyway. And lying to him is a trap that he's trying to lure me into." So it's probably just a test. And secondarily, there's a really good chance he's going to find out before I get that bomb diffused and it's going to go off anyway. So lying is just bad. You can't paint a scenario to me where I'm going to like lying.
[00:30:05] Jordan Harbinger: This makes sense, actually. So no matter what you do lying is going to burn you. Is this something that you never do? Unless it's your absolute last option and the choice is, kill the hostage-taker or lose a hostage or two. That's the only time that you actually use deception.
[00:30:21] Chris Voss: Yeah. You know, I would equate lying to dropping a nuclear bomb. No matter how righteous the reason for that is you're going to have to realize that there's going to be radioactive fallout that you have to deal with for a very long time to come. And your game better be worth that long-term radioactive fallout because it is not going away.
[00:30:39] Jordan Harbinger: Tell us about the New York bank robbery at Chase. This was an interesting story that encompassed a lot of the techniques that you use.
[00:30:47] Chris Voss: Yeah. The bank robbery with hostages at the Chase Bank and a number of cool things about that and one of them is that even though bank robberies with hostages happened in the movies all the time, it happened in the entire country, the whole country, maybe once every 20 years. So you know, the universe lined up for me to be able to negotiate a bank robbery with hostages.
[00:31:06] Jordan Harbinger: You really look forward to this stuff. This is the Super Bowl for you somehow.
[00:31:10] Chris Voss: You know, it really is. It was the Super Bowl. And if you're going to play in the pros, you want to play in the Super Bowl, right? I mean, if you decide to make that decision, you want to get in that game.
[00:31:20] Jordan Harbinger: What's interesting though for you is it's not actually the Super Bowl where you got months lining up. You're strategizing. You're working on everything. Everything's at peak˚. You wake up like any other day, you know, you didn't get enough sleep. You stayed up late watching the hockey game. You get up, you didn't have time to get coffee, and then, ta-da, Super Bowl right in your face, instantly, zero warning. That's how this stuff crops up for you.
[00:31:41] Chris Voss: Yeah, you're right. I mean, you go from zero to a hundred miles an hour in probably about 60 seconds. It was an amazing situation. And actually, the day that it happened, I was waiting to do an interview with another guy that we'd been waiting for to be interviewed for quite a while. And Charlie Beaudoin, a phenomenal hostage negotiator I work with in New York, comes up to my desk. He says, "Man, there's a bank robbery with hostages in Brooklyn. Let's go." I didn't hesitate. We jumped in his car and went.
[00:32:07] You know, we expect a guy to be rattled, trapped in a bank, you know, surrounded by the seventh largest standing army in the world, which is NYPD. And this guy gets on the phone and he is as calm and rational as you could possibly be. And he did something and it taught me a great lesson, it was actually a great trait of very powerful business negotiators worldwide. I think Adam Grant probably wrote a piece about this recently that I read that said, "You know, the most powerful negotiators in business will always use plural pronouns because they're trying to hide their influence on their side."
[00:32:43] And if you're talking to somebody on the other side of the table, who's in love with a singular pronoun, the I, me, my, "This is what I want. This is how I want to do it," that guy has no influence on his side of the table. It's kind of like, you know, going into one of the top bars in your entire city. And the bartender says, "Well, this is what I have behind the bar." And he just got the job that day. It's not his bar. He's just trying to show that he's in charge.
[00:33:07] Jordan Harbinger: So people that use we are more in charge? Why does this, conversely, play out for us?
[00:33:12] Chris Voss: The more influence somebody has with their team, the more they will use plural pronouns. The more they will say "we, they, them" because they know they have influence and they don't want to be cornered at the table. And they're the masters at deferring to the guy, not in the room. And they've learned the hard way that if they accept the amount of decision-making and responsibility that they have and influence everybody in business wants to get past the blockers to the decision-making. And decision-makers know this. So if they come to the table, they have to hide. And the best way they can do that is say, "You know, I got to run this by other people. We got all these other people on my side of the table." And the more that guy or gal lays it off to people all behind him, the more important that person is.
[00:33:58] Jordan Harbinger: So this is what this person was doing on the phone. And when you listened to a hostage-taker on the phone, what are you listening for specifically, besides the pronouns?
[00:34:07] Chris Voss: You know, we start at first, we're listening for emotions because I'm expecting a guy who's rattled. You know, he doesn't want to get his head blown off by a sniper. No way that this guy had planned on getting stuck inside this bank was .50-caliber rifles pointed at him. So he should be concerned for his life. And the moment he shows any sort of emotional concern, that's a thread that I'm going to glom onto and I'm going to pull it out.
[00:34:30] And we get on the phone with this guy and he says, "Well, you know, there are all these other people with me and I don't know what they're going to do. These other guys they're so much more dangerous than I am. And here comes one of them right now. Let me put you on hold because they're going to over hear what I'm saying." I mean, this guy was a master of deferring and deflecting, and we found out after the fact that he had lined up the whole bank robbery and manipulated everybody. And actually, some of the people that were involved in a bank robbery thought that they just went out to rob a cash machine that day. They didn't even know they were going to go in the back and try and get in the vault. He was a master manipulator and he did that by a number of things by making himself look deferential and not in charge. And he was really great at maneuvering people like that. And initially threw us off at the beginning.
[00:35:19] Jordan Harbinger: So you got a bank robber in there who brought a bunch of accomplices with them who didn't even know that they were going to be taking hostages that day. They thought they were doing, basically, some really ghetto kind of Grand Theft larceny, where they were going to grab a cash machine and jackhammer the thing, open it, or crowbar the thing, open it or throw it in a truck and that was it. And then they end up in a bank with, like you said, the seventh largest standing army in the world surrounding them.
[00:35:42] Now, you're on the phone with this guy. You've got multiple people on the phone and you're listening for different types of emotions. Why are there so many people on the phone talking and what else are you listening for?
[00:35:53] Chris Voss: There's so much in a communication. Actually, one person can't hear everything by themselves, let alone, if they have to talk also. I mean, I've been a business negotiation for my colleagues when we went on a break and I was doing most of the talking and they said, "Wow, you know, the other side brought up this point. I can't believe you didn't say this." I've looked at him and said, "I have no memory that I'm saying that," because I was busy thinking about what I was going to say next. And when you're thinking about what you're going to say, you don't hear what the other side is saying. So you miss a lot when you're by yourself, which is why now we always negotiate important deals with wingmen if you will.
[00:36:29] And typically I prefer having somebody else on my side, on my team, in a business deal, doing the talking so that I can do the listening and I can do the assessment. And it's the same way in a hostage negotiation. We've got up to seven people listening to everything that's being said on the other side because you can break down the use of personal pronouns. You can break down adjectives of choice. You can break down the tip of the iceberg or any adjectives. You know, what really matters to them, what they're most emotional about, depending upon the specific adjectives that they use. You can break down whether or not they're using profanity, whether or not they're using cliches. You can break down how long they speak to you, how long your conversation is, and how long they go for a break.
[00:37:12] I mean, there's so many different ways you can break down communication. If you've got somebody watching body language, I see there's more information coming off their body language than is coming off from the words that they say, and you want to see how the body language lines up with the words.
[00:37:27] Jordan Harbinger: And we do that a lot at congruence — does the body match what they're saying? Does this make sense? And it makes sense that you've got multiple computers, multiple brains on each of these calls, looking for specific things, because not only can one person miss something, but also we're all subject to cognitive bias, right? We can get things wrong.
[00:37:46] Chris Voss: One other trick that we've learned in our negotiations, which is why we like to have multiple people on both sides of the table because while the speaker on the other side of the table is going to be guarded in his body language when he's talking, the people with him are not. And so they think you're focused on the speaker. When the speaker says something that they don't like, or they don't agree with, or that they think is wrong, since they don't think they're being watched, they will almost flip around in their seats because they think nobody's watching.
[00:38:18] So another reason for negotiating teams is to have your wingmen watching their wingmen because their wingmen are going to be the most unguarded in the physical reactions.
[00:38:27] Jordan Harbinger: That's interesting. So we're watching for incongruence, not only between what the person says and what their body says but incongruence between what that person says and what their body says and what the other people's bodies say. That's like a different level of body language observation.
[00:38:42] You mentioned before as well, the adjectives, listening to the adjectives, and what those tell us. What do you learn from adjectives or profanity or cliches? That's interesting.
[00:38:51] Chris Voss: Well, because everybody, you know, we call it, "what's their religion." I mean, everybody has stuff that they believe in that's larger than them, that they're dedicated to, that they'll sacrifice themselves for. Now, some people it's their company. I mean, I've got one of my MBA students who's getting ready to go to work for one of the big three consulting firms. I mean, he walks around with one of their pins on the lapel of his jacket. I mean, he bleeds their color and he believes so much in their mission that he sees it as being larger for them. So when you see someone being driven by what is larger than they are, and their adjectives are going to give that away, or their cliches, you then understand how you can change some of your adjectives so that they resonate with you.
[00:39:31] As an example, I had one potential client that was a born-again Christian, and he was always using these phrases. And he was talking to me about, on this one particular deal, how misunderstood he felt by his advisors. He was trying to tell me how important he thought this deal was to his company. And he didn't want to bungle this responsibility because he felt that it was an enormous responsibility to the greater good of his company. And at one point in time, I said, "You know, this is really a stewardship for you, is it?" Now, this is just an observation on my part. I'm not trying to pretend I'm what he is. I'm just using a term that he resonated with. I'm not trying to say, "You know, I believe in stewardship too." I didn't do any of that nonsense. I just used it in the same sort of description to recognize how he felt. And when I said to him, "This is really a stewardship for you, isn't it?" He went, "You are the only one that understands me," and I got the contract immediately.
[00:40:25] So I didn't try to pretend I was something that I wasn't, but I did recognize it. I appreciated his point of view with respect, not trying to make him think that I was adopting it. And the resonance for that and the trust-building is immediate.
[00:40:41] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Chris Voss. We'll be right back.
[00:40:46] This episode is sponsored in part by Starbucks. The new Starbucks Baya Energy drink is crafted from caffeine naturally found in coffee fruit. It includes vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. So it's a great beverage to bring to a summer barbecue or to a golf game or on the beach or even gardening in the backyard. Starbucks Baya Energy drink comes in three delicious, fruity flavors, mango guava, raspberry lime, and my personal favorite, pineapple passion fruit, which I drink with a little umbrella. And I stick my pinkie out when I do. It's a perfect pick-me-up when you're out and about on a summer day. Pack a Starbucks Baya Energy drink when you take your kids to the park. You drink it, not the kids. The kids probably got enough energy as it is. Each 12-ounce 90-calorie can contains 160 milligrams of caffeine. It'll give you a refreshing fruit-flavored boost of feel-good energy in a way only Starbucks can deliver.
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[00:42:25] Now for the rest of my conversation with Chris Voss.
[00:42:30] One of the things that you mentioned that you do a lot in these negotiations is that you slow things down. Going fast, being a very common mistake that people make when they're negotiating, especially in these high-stakes kidnapping and hostage situations. Rapport builds over time. We've talked about that here on the show and keeping things calm, building rapport over time, making it seem like time is moving faster than it is. And you also tie this in with, like you said the FM DJ voice, the playfulness, or the assertive voice and things like that. To what extent are you using your own speech and body language or your accent or your vocabulary and your tone? You mentioned using adjectives or using similar maybe memes to build rapport, but are you trying to be more similar in every case? Or is there a situation in which you would disassociate yourself from the other person?
[00:43:19] Chris Voss: Well, yeah, first of all, slowing it down sounds crazy when we're all under time pressure, right? When we like to use your phrase, this is going to be a delay that saves time. You know, we find out that by slowing it down, you spend less time overall in a negotiation. And it's hard to see that until you start keeping track of how many conversations it takes to get something done. And you want to go from 12 conversations to three. And so your total time in the negotiation will be less. Each conversation will be longer, but your total invested time is less. So that's why you want to slow things down because it actually saves time.
[00:43:51] Now you only want to be similar to the other person. You know, that's very narrowly limited. If the other person is rattled, you don't want to be rattled. If the other person is excited and high pitched, you know? Well, so the theory that, "Well, I need to be excited and high pitched also. So he thinks I'm like him." That's really bad advice. The only similarity that works or where do you want to take people is you want to take people into a good mood because there's scientific data that shows that our brains woke up to 31 percent more effectively when we're in a positive frame of mind. That's no small advance.
[00:44:24] I like to be playful in a negotiation because it makes me smarter. And when I'm playful and I'm smarter, then that automatically sort of infused in the other person's brain. They get smarter, they're in a better mood which means they're going to be better at thinking of ideas that benefit me. The missionary and mercenary combined at the same time. I want a better deal. I want you to be smarter. Because if you think you made a smart deal, you're going to implement it. And that's where the real money is made on implementation, not in agreement. And if you're happy with the deal, you're going to implement it and you're going to implement it in a very smart way.
[00:44:59] So if you're in a good mood, that's really the only time I'm going to mirror your mood because it's good for both of us. But if you're excited, if you rattled, I'm not mirroring that at all, because that's bad for both of us. And I don't want to go there. I want us to go where we're both going to be productive. So that's sort of the only time I got similarity works for us.
[00:45:19] Jordan Harbinger: You've got some pretty cool tactics that you use in the book. And I want to get through some of these before we run tight on time here. One of them is using mirroring and an inquisitive voice to reword or to have other people reword whatever they said. An example you gave was this old boss has this employee and he doesn't trust digital. You know, he's kind of this old crusty guy and he wants one of the employees, one of his team members to spend two weeks making two copies of every document. And she used one of your techniques, this technique in particular. Can you give this technique and teach us how to use this? I think this is really easy to implement and probably very useful for most of us.
[00:45:54] Chris Voss: Yeah. Mirroring is a great technique. And it's repeating the last one to three words of what someone has just said. Or if you're a real show-off, you can pick one to three words that are the essential component in the middle of what they said, but you know, you can almost always repeat the last one to three words. And this sounds stupid, and sometimes we refer to it as a Jedi mind trick, and it is ridiculously effective. We talked about the three types before and mirroring is one of the very few skills that work very well with all three types.
[00:46:24] And what it actually does is it opens up people's brains, whether in the midst of explaining stuff. And if you ever tried to open somebody's thinking up while they're explaining you realize that it's just darn near impossible because they're so focused on what they're explaining. And this tool actually opens up their thinking while they're in pretty much a non-thinking and non-listening mode and that begins to create opportunities for you to influence them or to get them to reword and explain what they're saying so that they can kind of hear it.
[00:46:54] Also, you know, the assertive is kind of like the American overseas. When we say something and the other side doesn't get it, and they say, "What do you mean by that?" Well, we just repeat it with the exact same words only louder.
[00:47:04] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:47:05] Chris Voss: Our words are so perfect that how could you possibly be so stupid as to not understand what I just said because my word selection is perfect and it's obvious. Unfortunately, my default type happens to be assertive, which is something I had to get out of. You know, I've got employees that mirror me because if I say something they don't understand and they asked me a classic open-ended question, "What do you mean by that?"
[00:47:28] You know, I'll repeat the same thing back to them, only louder, because I can't believe that they don't understand. And they'll mirror me and I'll reword it. It'll open up my thinking while I'm in the midst of explaining and being mystified at how they cannot understand my explanation. So the mirroring is just it tell people to try it. We can't believe how effective it is. And then once they start doing it, they love it.
[00:47:50] I've got one client who will mirror, in every negotiation, will always mirror the other side's position. And it immediately tells them how firm that position is, whether or not it's one of those soft throwaway, puffing sort of positions in how they reword it. And it gives them a great pulse, a great way to map the terrain of what it is they want, what they really want just by mirroring. And they have no idea that he's doing it to them. He does it to them all the time. It's enormously powerful.
[00:48:20] Jordan Harbinger: So to give a little example here, one of the things this old crusty curmudgeon of a boss, he said is, "Make two copies of all the documents," and your client said, "All the documents? And he said, "Yeah, make two copies of all the documents." And then this sort of enormity of what he was asking set in because he had to reword what he was saying. He had to think about it again because of that inquisitive tone. And then he finished, "Well, maybe just digital copies," which is a 10-second task instead of a 10-day task. And the examples you've given in the book, there's tons of them, but it's just over and over just repeating essentially the last bit of what they said. I at first thought, "Oh, this is going to get so irritating. People are going to spot this. It's going to be so transparent." And later in the book, you give an example of how your son spotted someone using this on you for an hour straight and you didn't even notice.
[00:49:09] Chris Voss: Yeah. Yeah. Unfortunately, I suffer from mirroring all the time. And in that instance, I mean, my son finally, he just yelled at me, "I can't take it anymore. He's been mirroring you for the last hour and he's always been doing it." He said he was going to do it before we sat down and you didn't even know. And I was kind of embarrassed, but it was true. And there was another instance where I was teaching someone to mirror and I said, "Yeah, you know when you're mirroring someone, you listen to what they say. And if nothing else repeat the last three words." And the person I was teaching it to said, "The last three words?" And I said, "Well, yeah, you just repeat the last three words and they're going to go on and they're going to say more." And he goes, "So did I just do it to you?"
[00:49:48] Jordan Harbinger: That's perfect. One of the other things that you do is acknowledge negatives and diffuse them. And the phrase you use is, "Look, I'm an a-h*le here." Because naming the negatives or labeling as you call it, takes the sting out. And you kind of bring up these negatives first and going after that negativity brings us to a place of empathy, which is super important when we're talking about hostage negotiation or any negotiation.
[00:50:12] Chris Voss: Yeah. You know, and I got to tell you those of us that have got used to doing this with the accusations order as we call it. I mean, we love doing this insurance. It's absurdly powerful and it's so counterintuitive. Nobody else does it. And it moves us ahead so quickly and so much faster. We just get a kick out of it. And anytime I sense, there's a negative or there's going to be a negative, you know, I pull actively, label it and make it go away before whatever happens. We sometimes refer to this as a matrix moment. I know I got a choice of one or two futures and I can label the negative in advance. I can say, "This is going to sound harsh," then I could say whatever I have to say and your reaction after we will be like, "Nah, that wasn't bad. I don't know why did you say it was going to sound harsh?"
[00:50:58] Or instead of using the preemptive negative label, I'll say what I'm going to say, and then it will bother you. And I can tell the difference in your tone of voice, that it bothers you until you get a chance to let it out later on. It's going to keep bothering you, which then we talked about things faster. And that means that ultimately when it comes out, it's going to be worse.
[00:51:17] Labeling the negatives in the advance is just ridiculous. And I think I first started doing it to get myself out of trouble when I just didn't have time to argue with people and we needed to move on. I just found it was so effective and I tried it out at different times. And you know, like you said if somebody's managing you and say, "Look, I've been an a-h*le the entire time." They'll say — every single time they come back with, "Well, it wasn't that bad," or, "All right. So, you convinced me," and it's ridiculous how over-labeling a negative, how that moves you forward very quickly.
[00:51:51] Jordan Harbinger: One thing that I use a lot that I noticed in the book, and I love this technique and I didn't even necessarily realize it was a technique until we started fleshing it out in the book, coming in on the back of an argument is a great place for a negotiator. The other side is always desperate for this empathetic connection.
[00:52:07] I use this, I feel like at airports all the time, whenever anybody's complaining about something and I'm next in line, the first kind of gut reaction is, "Oh man, this guy's making her so mad. She's going to be so annoyed." But if you come in there and you label it, right? You come in on the back of that argument and you label it, it's really easy to get somebody to open up to you right away. It's you just form a team almost instantly.
[00:52:30] Chris Voss: Yeah. That was a great case. Great instance. And my student that did that, I mean, he was so set up by the people in front of him. It's almost like having somebody warm the audience for you in a reverse way, right? I was stunned at how far he got it. You know, he ends up getting booked onto a flight and getting an upgrade before the seats were officially open, just because the airline attended knew they were going to be open. And he established such a connection with her by labeling, and like you said, coming in on the back of an argument. It was huge. Again, it's almost unfair.
[00:52:59] Jordan Harbinger: Essentially, the person in front of him in this line for the flight was so upset, really leaning into the flight attendant, really leaning into the person at the gate. He thought, "I'm screwed now because she's super, super upset." So the first thing he did was say, "Wow, it seems like they were pretty upset." And she said, "Yeah, you know, I hate doing this to people, but yeah, these flights are full," and he kept expressing empathy. And then, of course, a little bit of mirroring, and boom, he ends up on the next flight by getting an upgrade, which she didn't process for the other guy who was being kind of a jerk. So I find that just being able to put yourself in this juxtaposed position of, "Oh, I'm the cool laid back guy who understands your plate." You're so much more likely to get good service or to have your problem solved because that person is now on your team versus yelling at them, "Why can't you do this? Oh, you guys need to get your sh*t together." That never really works. And it's a really tactical way of saying you attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, right?
[00:53:55] Chris Voss: Sometimes we will say, "Well, how do I do that? And so how you do that?" And I got to tell you, I think that's what makes our book great. And it's just not my book, but Tahl Raz contributed significantly to it. This is how you do this stuff. You know, a couple of labels, a couple of mirrors, you know, those ridiculously simple little things. You sit back, you use a nice, nurturing deferential tone of voice, and you let this stuff work, it's magic. And he gets a seat on a flight that isn't even technically vacant yet, just because the woman working behind the counter, who's gonna make those seats open. And that was one of the craziest things that I ever saw. I just love it.
[00:54:32] Jordan Harbinger: Never Split the Difference, there's a lot more on bargaining negotiation, some more tactical things, things to do and not to do, including your concept of the black swan, why you should be careful with the words fair, things to really look out for it. And of course, peppered here and there with Philippine kidnapping and different hostage situations that illustrate the points that you're making in business as well as in the field.
[00:54:54] So, Chris, is there anything that I haven't asked you?
[00:54:57] Chris Voss: You know, there's a phrase, "Never be mean to someone who can hurt you by doing nothing." And everybody understands the universal truth of that. Nearly everybody that you interact with on any level, doesn't matter what the interaction is, they could hurt you by doing nothing. What's also true is the flip side is there's almost no instance when you're interacting with someone where they couldn't help you by doing something if they just liked you enough to do it. You know, if you just mirrored her, labeled like that woman with airline did.
[00:55:25] And I was talking to someone the other day that said, "Yeah, you know, we cut all these licensing deals for music with Sony Corporation. And, you know, they got these people that rotate in and out, and there's no negotiation because we just send them an email and we contact them and they checked. And so there's no negotiation here. It's all moving forward and there's no negotiation." And I remember thinking like, "You know, I guarantee you, everybody that you interact with has a choice of whether or not to put your request on the top of the stack or the bottom of the stack." And if you treat them as if they're clerks, they can't do you any good and they're not going to be there tomorrow. There's a pretty good chance that they're going to take your request and put it at the bottom of the stack and delay you by two weeks. And the person that came on the phone after them, who mirrored and labeled with them and used a different tone of voice, they took the request and they put that on the top of the stack and they got service in 24 hours. And if time is money, then you have just cost yourself lots of money by not taking a few more moments in that conversation and mirroring and labeling and seeing if you can gain an edge.
[00:56:30] So in my view, there's never a single conversation where you can't gain an edge and save yourself a lot of time, just with the application of a couple of these ideas.
[00:56:40] Jordan Harbinger: Chris, thank you so much, much appreciated. We'll link to the book, Never Split the Difference in the show notes as well. Thanks so much, Chris.
[00:56:47] Chris Voss: Thanks for having me on.
[00:56:50] Jordan Harbinger: You're about to hear a preview of The Jordan Harbinger Show with a go-to person to help negotiate a hostage situation in Syria when no other intelligence agency would help.
[00:57:00] Daniel Levin: When you have a hostage negotiation, especially in the war zone, the hardest thing to do is to actually figure out who the hostage-takers are and the rumors are off the chart. Proof of life is getting that authentication that you're talking with the people who actually have the person. And you want to know, of course, if the person is still alive. You ask them for some question or some nickname, something that no one would be able to know, and if they can't come back with an answer, you walk away.
[00:57:23] The person I had to flag down and find who held this westerner hostage was probably the biggest captagon dealer in the country. And they often use the same distribution routes for the captagon as they do for human trafficking. So the same people would take little girls from villages and send them to the Gulf, to Dubai, to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, to other places there, they fill also stomachs of the girls with drugs and use them as couriers while also shipping them as the product itself.
[00:57:51] The first thing you have to do is tell the parents to stop doing something that they want to do, and that every schmuck under the sun is telling them to do, which is to seek public support, right? To get public statements, to do Facebook campaigns, the secretary of state's saying, "Hell, we're not going to leave a stone unturned until this awful act is being brought to justice." What just happens with that is your price went up before you even started the negotiation. You do not want to drive up the perceived value of the hostage.
[00:58:20] Sometimes people are taken hostage just for the shock value of executing them. What you're going to do with the campaign that you're doing right now is going to get your child or your spouse killed. How is pissing off the people hold that person's life in their hands helping you? By the time I get involved, it's usually too late.
[00:58:38] Jordan Harbinger: To learn all about the nuances in negotiating with criminals and human traffickers, check out episode 617 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:58:47] Really interesting stuff. Chris always brings it. I love this guy's work, and I love the book, the stories of the bank robberies and the kidnappings and the hostage situations, it's just so high pressure. It's a job. I'm glad I don't have, but also so fascinating to hear about it from the inside. I especially enjoy how he ties these wild tales into sizing up the person on the other side of the table or the phone, figuring out how to talk to those people in their language and their religion. He also uses a lot of really great and insightful techniques to generate rapport as well as getting people to flesh out their own thoughts, so they come to the same conclusions as you or I. That is a useful tool. I have been using all of these tools to great effect myself over the years since learning them from Chris. I know you will certainly do the same.
[00:59:28] Links to all things, Chris Voss will be in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Please do use our website links if you buy books from any guest on the show. That does help support the show, of course. Transcripts in the show notes, videos on YouTube. Advertisers, deals, and discount codes, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who make the show possible. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or you can hit me on LinkedIn.
[00:59:52] And I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships, using systems, software, and tiny habits. A lot of the same stuff that you might appreciate from this interview is going to be tweaked for networking, not just rapport and that's all in the Six-Minute Networking course. That course is free. It's over to jordanharbinger.com/course. I'm teaching you how to dig the well before you get thirsty and build relationships before you need them. And like I said before, most of the guests you hear on the show, they subscribe and contribute to the same course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company.
[01:00:20] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's interested in negotiation or just loves a good hostage story, maybe share this episode with them. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[01:00:54] This episode is also sponsored by The Prosecutors podcast. Are you interested in a true-crime podcast with a different point of view with hosts who've seen the justice system from the inside? Then, you should check out Alice and Brett on their show, The Prosecutors. In every episode, Alice and Brett bring their unique perspective as full-time prosecutors to the most famous and debated true-crime mysteries. Whether it's JonBenet Ramsey, Maura Murray, Scott Peterson, or the Delphi murders, they dig deep to bring you details you won't hear anywhere else. The Prosecutors podcast is about more than just a story. Alice and Brett will walk you through the legal problems, lurking behind every case, breaking down the complexities of the criminal justice system with humor and a little personal touch. So if you're looking for a true-crime podcast with a different point of view, The Prosecutors is the one for you. Find it wherever you get your podcasts.
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