Chris Voss (@fbinegotiator) retired as the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI, is CEO of the Black Swan Group, and is the author of the national bestseller Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It.
What We Discuss with Chris Voss:
- How you can be a more effective negotiator for anything by using the FBI’s own field-proven hostage negotiation techniques.
- How to determine which of the three archetypes of negotiator you’re dealing with: The Analyst, The Assertive, or The Accommodator.
- Who has the real leverage in a kidnapping or hostage scenario — and how this applies to your own lower-stakes negotiations.
- What it takes to subtly convince someone to have it your way.
- The Black Swan Rule: Treating others not the way you want to be treated, but the way they want to be treated.
- And much more…
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Like networking, the thought of negotiating can give even the most socially robust among us cold sweats. The stakes can be as low as a cheaper head of cabbage at the local farmers’ market or as high as the future of your career when you’re trying to get a significant raise at your annual performance review, but negotiation for most of us never reaches a point where lives are on the line — unless you’re today’s guest.
In this episode we talk to Chris Voss, who retired as the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI, is CEO of the Black Swan Group, and is the author of the national bestseller Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It. From our conversation, you may be surprised to discover that the tactics for negotiating business deals and the safe release of hostages are startlingly similar. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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More About This Show
Chris Voss is CEO of the Black Swan Group and author of the national best-seller Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It, which was named one of the seven best books on negotiation by Geoffrey James at Inc. A 24-year veteran of the FBI, Chris retired as the lead international kidnapping negotiator.
Drawing on his experience in high-stakes negotiations, his company specializes in solving business communication problems using hostage negotiation solutions. Their negotiation methodology focuses on discovering the “black swans,” small pieces of information that have a huge effect on an outcome. Chris and his team have helped companies secure and close better deals, save money, and solve internal communication problems.
But what might surprise most is that the tactics behind negotiating your way through a business deal and negotiating with a barricaded gunman for the lives of his hostages are pretty similar — and governed more by human emotion and cognitive bias than logic.
“I can hear what negative emotions are driving you and I know how to turn them down,” says Chris. “I will listen for what those positives might be and I know how to turn those up. And as soon as I start getting a read of where you are, there’s a buffet of choices I didn’t have. I can get proactive and start to get out in front of something.
“You’re barricaded — you’re mad at your wife. Instead of saying, ‘Do you want to get out of this alive?’ or ‘Do you want to see your kids again?’ or ‘Do you want to live?’ Those are all ‘Yes’ oriented questions. If you’re really mad at your wife, I might say, ‘Do you want your wife to win?’ The answer to that is ‘No!’
“I know from my experience that when you say ‘No,’ you feel in control. It’s five times as good as a ‘Yes’ will ever be — across the board, in all circumstances.
“In a business deal, I lay a proposal in front of you. Instead of saying, ‘Will this work for you?’ I’ll say, ‘Is this ridiculous to think this might work for you?’ If there are problems with it, you [can] say ‘No, it’s not ridiculous, but here are the problems,’ If I say, ‘Will this work for you?’ You can’t say, ‘Yes, but here are the problems.’ You’re scared to say ‘Yes’ because you think you just agreed to the deal. When you’ve already said ‘No’ to something, you don’t feel the obligations that go along with it.
“I said, ‘No, it doesn’t work. Here are the problems. I never said I’d agree if I laid the problems out. If I lay the problems out and you fix them, I will agree. But since I never felt like I said that, in point of fact, if I fix all those problems, I now have a tailor-made solution that you felt in control.”
Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about why hostage negotiators don’t try to think more than three moves ahead, the number one problem smart people commonly encounter during a negotiation, why a ‘no’ reaction is five times better than a ‘yes’ during any kind of negotiation, how negotiators work in teams to overcome individual cognitive biases, the one key difference between business and hostage negotiation, and much more.
Make sure to download Chris’ free guide outlining the three negotiator archetypes here so you can better understand the needs of your opponents when negotiating with the Black Swan Rule!
THANKS, CHRIS VOSS!
If you enjoyed this session with Chris Voss, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
Click here to thank Chris Voss at Twitter!
Click here to let Jordan know about your number one takeaway from this episode!
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
- The Black Swan Group, Ltd.
- Chris Voss at Twitter
- TJHS 70: Alex Kouts | The Secrets You Don’t Know About Negotiation Part One
- An Overview of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), Kilmann Diagnostics
- The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
- The Negotiator
- Five Sales Negotiation Tactics to Use with Procurement by Ray Makela, Sales Readiness Group
- The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time by Alex Korb and Daniel J. Siegel
- Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman
- Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker
- Guide: Three Negotiator Types, The Black Swan Group
Transcript for Chris Voss | Negotiate as If Your Life Depended on It (Episode 165)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:00] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with my producer, Jason DeFilippo. Several years ago I met an FBI hostage negotiator who had revolutionized the way the FBI deals with terrorists, bank robbers, and other hostage takers who would gladly hold a gun to your head to get what they wanted. Now, Chris Voss is one of the leading experts on negotiation anywhere. Today, we'll learn the subtle art of letting someone else have our way using psychological leverage, archetypes of different negotiators and personalities, as well as something called the black “Swan Rule.” Treating others not the way we want to be treated, but the way they want to be treated. There's a reason Chris has changed the way we negotiate with both terrorists and teenagers at home or the home office, and if you liked our previous three part series on negotiation with Alex Coots, then you'll really love what Chris and I have for you on this episode of the show.
[00:00:52] If you want to know how I managed to book all these great guests and manage my relationships for years, well, it's all about systems. It's about tiny habits and consistency. I'm teaching you all that in the LevelOne Course, which is free over at jordanharbinger.com/levelone. All right, here's Chris Voss.
[00:01:10] I read the whole book of course again, which is great because there’s so much in the book. It reads like a more interesting instruction manual or textbook with actual stories, which most textbooks don't have because there's never any practical application. The things you read in a lot of textbooks, but I noticed that even after how long you've been doing the FBI thing or how long were you doing that? 20 years.
Chris Voss: [00:01:33] 24 years.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:34] 24 years. You said you still feel fear during the negotiations. What do you mean by that? Why are you still feeling fear after?
Chris Voss: [00:01:42] Well, I mean fear is an element and nobody ever gets away from it. You're wired into it. It really just matters what you're scared of. It's not that you're not scared, it's what you’re scared of. I'm scared of not doing a good job. I'm scared I miss something. It took me a long time to realize I'm actually scared of being afraid.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:58] Scared of being scared.
Chris Voss: [00:01:59] Yeah. You know like if fighting words from me are coward.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:05] Really?
Chris Voss: [00:02:05] Because the last thing I want to be as a coward or the conversely one of the worst names I ever call him, but he's a coward. Like if I say you're a coward, I probably despise you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:15] Okay. Where are you from? Europe?
Chris Voss: [00:02:18] Iowa.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:18] Iowa. Okay. Is that a thing? Because that sounds like it's like a Texas thing.
It’s sound cowboy-ish. Like he called me yetta. I’ll just kill him.
Chris Voss: [00:02:27] Marty McFly. Nobody calls me yetta.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:29] Yeah, that's kind of what I'm thinking. If somebody called me a coward, I'm like, I don't know how personally what I take that.
Chris Voss: [00:02:36] Yeah. Right. They're different. We resonate with different words. Now I don't think it's an Iowa thing. I think people get guilty that everywhere.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:42] Sure.
Chris Voss: [00:02:42] You know, it's a little bit where you born. I mean, we believe, my company that you born one of three types, fight, flight, or make friends. It's a descendant from the caveman days and people would put it in other ways. Caveman saw something, do I eat it? Does it eat me? Can I make with it? It's pretty the same thing. I happen to be from the fight tribe, so.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:03] Okay.
Chris Voss: [00:03:03] But the worlds was pretty evenly into thirds. I mean, you get into a real problem. The problem with projection bias, I am normal if you will. The something you're--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:13] Oh so thinking that other people think like us. So if we're fight, we think everybody's fight.
Chris Voss: [00:03:17] Yeah. Yeah. That you think everybody's like that. I can remember first time I got introduced to a concept I was the first one at the Harvard Law School's negotiation course in their executive class and they gave us this TKI, Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument breaks into five types. Knock two out. You live with one of the three. And I remember that sitting there thinking like every one of my hostage negotiators damn well better be in assertive because we got people's lives on a line. Projection, that's how I am. That's what it takes to do the job. As it turns out, each type has stuff they bring to the table that are necessary. No one type has the market corner. And as I looked over my hostage negotiators, I had those that were primary analysts and I had those that were primarily relationship oriented people and I was primarily assertion and what you really need is all three. So that just happens to be the trial. But I started out and you to learn the rest.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:13] So we have personality archetypes that affect our negotiation. Is that what I'm hearing?
Chris Voss: [00:04:18] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:18] Okay. And you measure that from a test or you just kind of say, this person is this one, this person is that one based on their?
Chris Voss: [00:04:24] You can get a pretty good feel early on. When you have miscommunications and mismatches and communications or barriers, impasse is almost always a type problem, a type mismatch problem, misunderstanding of a conversation. Classic example, the accommodator relationship oriented type. The worst thing they can do to you is stop working on a relationship because that's the thing they value most. If we're talking, it's awesome. If I shut up, it means I hate you or I'm furious. The meanest thing in a relationship oriented person can do is give you the silence treatment.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:02] Oh, interesting.
Chris Voss: [00:05:03] You know, and that's how they signal theory. Now the analytical type on the other hand, loves silence because they love the think. So you get an analyst and accommodator talking to each other. The analyst goes silent because they grateful for the opportunity to thank. The accommodator relationship oriented type. It's like, “Oh my God, they're upset. I better talk.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:22] Oh right. So then analysts can't think because the accommodator keeps talking.
Chris Voss: [00:05:27] Right. The analyst is just like, “I wished you’d shut up,” and the accommodator going, “I've got to talk.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:32] And if the other person is assertive or relationship oriented I should say. And then the analyst is thinking the relationship oriented person's going, “Uh-oh, they're mad at me, they're angry.” So it's kind of like the, what's that book? The Five Love Languages or something like that.
Chris Voss: [00:05:46] Something like that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:47] Have you ever heard this?
Chris Voss: [00:05:47] I've heard of it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:48] It's for relationships of course. But it sounds like these personality archetypes exist in negotiation as well.
Chris Voss: [00:05:53] Yeah, absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:54] Okay. And so do you, in the beginning of any negotiation, do you try to ascertain which type of communication style the other party has? Is that important?
Chris Voss: [00:06:03] You want to pull the information as you go in. In reality, you should be working on having a great relationship all the time. So we like to start with of the nine negotiation skills, there's two that everybody likes. And so you start out with that two, the other type, which is basically really listening, really dialing in because everybody wants to be listened to. And then if you run into problems, your first question is, I'm probably misinterpreting what they say. Problems on my end, it's kind of sort of like the real problem with crosscultural negotiations. Everybody wants to learn crosscultural negotiations.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:41] Oh, yeah.
Chris Voss: [00:06:42] Because I still want to be me, but I want to know the tiny little things I got to do to make you happy so I can still be me. Like an American, all right, so don't show the bottom of my feet to somebody from the Middle East and don't shake with my left hand and then I could do everything else wrong.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:55] Sure. Yeah.
Chris Voss: [00:06:56] We're looking for shortcuts as opposed to really adapt into the other side.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:59] Right. So we look for these kind of sound bites.
Chris Voss: [00:07:03] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:03] Go, don't cross your foot and pointed at the Saudi Prince because that'll make him mad. And then meanwhile you just ignore all of the other more nuance things.
Chris Voss: [00:07:09] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:10] The things that would actually require work to learn and practice.
Chris Voss: [00:07:14] Right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:14] Yeah. Better to just open up a fortune cookie and learn something really quick about negotiation. Yeah, that makes sense. Okay. And I know that you use this in parenting, which makes sense. You got to negotiate with kids. But what about people day to day? I mean, are you looking at personality archetypes in communication or negotiation styles with everybody that you meet kind of automatically?
Chris Voss: [00:07:35] You know, there's a difference. Do we know are you looking forward? Are you focusing on it or are you just trying to remain aware of it?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:41] Right, right. And it's a little bit more just remaining aware of it, and make some predictions about how people are going to react to different sorts of gestures. An assertive type. I'm a natural born assertive. We're not good at reciprocity because we think we're so logical that if you gave us something, it was only logical that you should have given it to me. Therefore, I don't know anything.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:07] Right, so just a little sense of entitlement, maybe.
Chris Voss: [00:08:10] Yeah, you could call it that. If I got it, I should have got it. The relationship oriented person. We want to trade stuff back and forth all the time. So if I give you something, I'm really happy. I'm like a puppy dog with a ball, throw the ball again, let's do it again. And we get really flourished when the assertive just seems to be completely oblivious there. You got to throw the ball back and the assertive is thinking like, “What's your problem?” I don't know what's the matter with you? So tiny little things like that. Again, it's when there's an impasse, communication is broken down, it's probably going to be a type mismatch.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:44] I wonder if it's been a little annoying since you've written the book dealing with family and friends where they look at every action that you have that you do and they're like, “Oh, I'm not doing that. You're doing this thing that you're doing the reciprocity thing. I'm playing that game.”
Chris Voss: [00:08:55] The hardest part is with my girlfriend.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:58] Oh yeah?
Chris Voss: [00:08:58] Just because she's heard me give a thousand interviews talking about this stuff. So she's heard me talking about it, her guard gets up a little bit and I'm like, I can -- what does that line from the movie The Negotiator? Kevin Spacey, the character he's playing on. “I can listen to you and actively listening at the same time.” It gets in the way. People get that. People do get a little defensive. The closer they are to you, the more defensive they might get.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:25] Oh man. How do you shut that down? Because I would imagine there's people, especially if you're dealing with somebody who's also really aware of negotiation skills, or you're say you're not dealing, so you're dealing with it like a terrorist in the Philippines, which you talk about in the book. If they're reading into your actions, that could kind of blow up in your face. Because even if you're not trying to do some sort of trick to them, they might perceive it that way and you have to manage that.
Chris Voss: [00:09:53] Yeah. Well, all right. So first of all, it kind of starts with where's the other side coming from? Like my son and I use negotiation techniques all the time. He's my chief operating officer. He's a chief negotiator for our company. The word we want to collaborate. So of course, we should be able to use negotiation techniques with each other. We're both come from a great place, or potential clients. If a client wants to cheat us, then I come from a good place. We're probably not going to make a deal with them. We're not trying to cheat our clients, so they don't need to have the guard up around us. We're going to over deliver. So it's really on where you're coming from. Then you're talking about a terrorist, most of them that negotiate are the classic assertive negotiator. And I got one or two moves, period. They used to intimidate people and that's it. They're demanding name, calling, assertive. The craziest thing is that I didn't realize when a book was written, but we realized since we come out, the procurement negotiator in business is almost the exact same type as the kidnapping negotiator internationally.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:05] Wait, so somebody who is somebody in Abu Sayyaf is the same as the procurement guy.
Chris Voss: [00:11:11] Pretty much.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:13] That one just has a fancier rifle and a maybe a hostage, and the other one is a terrorists.
Chris Voss: [00:11:20] Right. Procurement people in business boy, they intimidate, they call names, they do everything they can to pan the heck out of the other side.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:31] I'm imagining we're going to get some emails from procurement people that are like, “It's not true. I'm not like that. He's just dealt with bad ones.”
Chris Voss: [00:11:37] I know. Here's the funny thing. We do a lot of open enrollment training, 50 people in the room. There's always one or two procurement people there and I'll say “Anybody here from procurement?” And they'll raise their hands.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:53] Get out! Just kidding.
Chris Voss: [00:11:54] Well I'll let him stay, but I'll say, tell me I'm wrong about you guys. Tell me I'm wrong.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:57] Really?
Chris Voss: [00:11:58] And it'd be like, “No, you're not.” I mean, a lot of procurement people in supply chain. I was at a supply chain conference one time, one of the guys was talking to me off to the side and he said, when you're in procurement you got to be really careful that you're not suppliers, the biggest customer or only customer because you'll end up putting them out of business.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:20] Ah, right.
Chris Voss: [00:12:21] And I remember thinking to myself--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:23] If you're doing it wrong?
Chris Voss: [00:12:23] Did you hear what you just said? They know. They're so tough.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:27] It's not win-win at all at that point.
Chris Voss: [00:12:29] The big advantages too, and salespeople are horrified of procurement. I mean, they find out procurements on the other side and they just start to have nervous breakdowns. The only time procurement's going to be involved is when they really want you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:45] Can you explain what procurement is? So in case people don't know.
Chris Voss: [00:12:48] Procurement are the buyers, the contracts, negotiators, Raytheon calls them contracts, negotiators. Some companies call them, they're either in contracting or they're procurement. Those will be their titles. But their job is to buy on behalf of the organization.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:04] Okay.
Chris Voss: [00:13:05] Now what happens is the organization will identify a supplier they want and then procurement becomes involved. Procurement does not waste their time on suppliers they have no interest in, ever. So if procurement gets in a game with you, buckle up, let them call you names, don't get upset, calm down. They're only talking to you because they really want you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:31] And if we realize that upfront, then you wouldn't be chasing them down the fight.
Chris Voss: [00:13:37] Don’t get scared you know, I had a director of sales call me says, I want you to teach my people how to not cut the price when someone from procurement calls us with 48 hours left in a quarter. And I remember thinking to myself, if you even have to ask me that question, your structural problems are far out of my ability to change. But the reality is all I could do is say no, because the procurement guy who calls with 48 hours left in the quarter feels that's the only time the entire quarter he had leverage. 48 hours his leverage is gone.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:15] Right, so wait 48 hours. He's got no leverage.
Chris Voss: [00:14:16] Wait 48 hours. No wait 72 hours. You got them.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:20] Interesting. Yeah. I think a lot of people don't know that they have any leverage. That's also in never split the difference is that you always have leverage and I thought, “Well wait a minute, what about in a kidnap situation?” They got your ass. You don't have any leverage, but even then you have leverage.
Chris Voss: [00:14:36] It's a classic example that we love to ask people, the person with all the leverage, I got your rent, you’re the one's got the leverage. Cash is King, right? Who's got the cash? You do.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:48] You've probably don't actually want my family member screaming and whining in your basement.
Chris Voss: [00:14:54] I'm going to give them back.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:55] Yeah. You want to get rid of that person and trade them for a briefcase full of money at that point, at some point, yeah.
Chris Voss: [00:15:00] Yeah. No, but it's a buyer's market. Kidnapping in reality is a buyer’s market, but that gets back to leverage is in the eye of the beholder.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:07] That's true. I suppose because unless you're talking about you're an American and you're being held by a group overseas. Your aunt is only really valuable to you. They can't turn around and go, “Oh, well we got a better offer for your aunt from this other person.”
Chris Voss: [00:15:23] Do the industry. Yeah, exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:24] Yeah. It's like you're the only buyer for that particular product.
Chris Voss: [00:15:28] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:28] You might really want that product. You might really want your head back, but nobody else can outbid you, nobody else.
Chris Voss: [00:15:33] Exactly. Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:35] Yeah. That's interesting. I hadn't really thought about that. I thought for sure the exception too, you always have leverage was when you're talking about a kidnapping, but actually even there.
Chris Voss: [00:15:45] Yeah. You get a lot of leverage. It's sort of amazing.
Jason DeFilippo: [00:15:49] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Chris Voss. We'll be right back after this.
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[00:19:15] Don't forget, we have a worksheet for today's episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Chris Voss. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. And thanks for listening and supporting the show. To learn more about our sponsors and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals, and if you'd like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe, and now back to our show with Chris Voss.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:40] Well, and your stuff has to work because if, if your negotiation techniques don't work in the FBI for hostage situations, someone dies theoretically.
Jason DeFilippo: [00:19:50] Yeah. And let me draw a fine line because I had to learn that early on too. I learned it from my old boss Gary Nessler, but he'd always told us, and it took me awhile to figure out what it meant. We got the best chance of success. We never guaranteed anybody's success. We just guarantee them the best chances. So by def, you said it's always got to work. Best chance of success if it works 99 times out of a 100, you're in a 100 kidnappers, you're going to lose one person.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:17] Oh man. So you always have to be kind of ready for that emotionally.
Chris Voss: [00:20:21] You should be. I don't know that you're ever actually ready to let happens, but then depending upon how you prepared yourself, accepted, told yourself at least intellectually that it was a possibility, then you get through it. And what I ended up doing was I actually pointedly recruited the veteran kidnap negotiators with people that have been in a situations that somebody got killed who were the best. Because the other thing at that point in time too, is one of two things happen. If you're a kidnapping negotiator, somebody gets killed. You say, “You know what? I could do something else.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:58] Like a different.
Chris Voss: [00:20:59] let me go do something else with any FBI. I don't got an appetite for this. You know, I want to whatever it is. Maybe I want to do witness support, I don't know what, but they're going to decide, “Eh, ass ain't that much fun.” Or they're going to say, “I'm never going to let this happen again.” I'm going to double down. I'm going to get smarter. I'm going to work harder. I'm going to go back. I'm going to think about every single thing I did. And if there's one, even the tiniest thing I would change or get better at, I'm going to go back and get better at it. And those people would become the best negotiators because we're always going to propose solutions to scare people.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:34] What do you mean by that?
Chris Voss: [00:21:35] I might say, stop talking to the bad guys now.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:39] Yeah, that would freak me out. I'd be like, “I want to keep talking with them because I feel like as long as I keep talking with them, my wife's going to be okay.”
Chris Voss: [00:21:45] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:45] Sure.
Chris Voss: [00:21:46] But we may know from the profile of the situation that at this point in time, if we stopped talking, the other side is going to get worried. And in order to regain control, instead of doing something negative, they're going to do something positive because then they can regain control in a completely different mindset. So let's trick them into doing something positive because they're going to try to regain control and they'll be real specific instances where that'll be crystal clear that that's what they're going to do.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:16] Oh man. To be sitting next to you, you must have a lot of people standing next to you, especially during these kidnap situations where they're like, “You better be damn sure about this.” Because you're sitting there like, “All right, well what we're going to do is we're going to leave them alone for 24 to 48 hours and then they're probably going to put your mom on the phone.” And then that person's like, “What are you talking about?” You better be right about this.
Chris Voss: [00:22:42] Right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:42] How do you gain that person's trust? Or do they just have to trust you to do this?
Chris Voss: [00:22:46] You got to know that moment's coming.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:47] Okay.
Chris Voss: [00:22:48] If you know what's coming, you prepare in advance.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:51] So you tell them in advance, “Hey look, we really might have to ghost him for a couple of days. Just be ready for that.”
Chris Voss: [00:22:55] Well, I'm going to say, there's a really good chance we're going to do something that's going to scare the hell out of you. I don't know exactly how all of this is going. I get a team with me. This is not just me saying this. I got a team. I'm a representative of our entire body of institutional knowledge. This is not my decision. Everything I do, I bounce off a lot of people, but I will tell you in advance, we're going to ask you to do stuff that scares the heck out of you. And actually, I'll say to him, I'm going to tell you in advance, I want you to be scared. It's going to help us in a negotiation.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:27] How's that?
Chris Voss: [00:23:28] Well, what actually happens when you do that? First of all, the bad guys, if they satisfied, you're scared. They think they got the upper hand and they relax. Fear is their control mechanism. So their overriding desire is for you to be scared.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:43] Yeah, mission accomplished. If you've got some relative, most people are going to be scared.
Chris Voss: [00:23:46] Now they think they're going to get what they want and they relax. They're less worried about deadlines. They don't make so many threats, they chill out. But the other really crazy thing about the way the brain works is if you have a negative emotion and you say fear, and instead of me trying to say eliminate fear, I say that like it, it'll make it go away.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:07] Right. It dissipates, takes the edge off probably.
Chris Voss: [00:24:09] It takes the edge off tremendously because you'll be like, “What? Do you want me to be scared?”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:13] Because I'm trying not to stress it at that point.
Chris Voss: [00:24:15] As soon as you stop trying to suppress it, it's one of the keys to make it go away.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:18] Ah, okay. So this ties in a little bit with what you wrote about with cognitive. I think with cognitive bias and having to -- knowing that we all suffer from this cognitive bias, we can't just have these robotic negotiations. And part of that is there's an emotional component to negotiation. A lot of people think, “Oh, if I do this, they're going to do this. If they do this, then we're going to do that.” And that's sort of like a rational computer program negotiation. And that doesn't work because we have to take into consideration this emotional component of negotiation. How do you prepare for that? Are you looking at kind of a roadmap in your head of, “All right, the logical response would be this,” but I think that we've got this emotional component where they're freaking out because the military is looking for them in the jungle. So there's a little bit of fear or there's a little bit of urgency that they're feeling that wouldn't dictate this type of response. Are you able to predict what the other side is going to do most of the time? Or are you looking at maybe two outcomes? The logical outcome and the emotional outcome and it's going to be one or the other?
Chris Voss: [00:25:19] Well, there is no such thing as logic, first of all.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:21] At all.
Chris Voss: [00:25:22] At all period.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:23] Okay.
Chris Voss: [00:25:24] It's like beauty. It's in the eye of the beholder. It's logical to you and which logical to me, we're going to make up based on what we care about, which then sort of tastes definition of logic out if it's based on what you care about. So we start that there's emotional tension. We'll try to think about two to three moves ahead, no more than that. And we'll think on a couple, two or three different sets of outcomes, and we're never going to hit one exactly. But actually if we think on both extremes and we're prepared for extremes, it's going to land someplace in the middle and we're going to be prepared for no matter what. The reason why you don't think more than three moves ahead is, it's kind of hard to envision this, but everybody wants to think in terms of chess, negotiation’s chess.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:05] Right.
Chris Voss: [00:26:05] Well, just connect all the pieces with springs under tension, because when you make a move in chess, all the other pieces stay in exactly the same place. But if they were all connected by springs, every time you moved one, they'd all move a little bit. And by the time you'd made two or three moves, almost all the chest pieces would have reset, which meant all of your analysis is now gone because the entire board got reset, and that's what happens with emotion. So you think, I know roughly where I want to end up, it was about five different ways to there. Let's see which one we go off on first.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:46] So you're not looking at like, “Okay, we do this and then that's probably going to happen. Then we're going to do that and then that's probably going to happen. Do you have to take each move individually based on where you are right in that moment? Because if the chess pieces are all moving every time you do something, then you're dealing with a whole new scenario after each move. Does that make sense?
Chris Voss: [00:27:05] Pretty much about after each third move, like you got a pretty good idea what the next move is going to be, but you go very much farther than that. And I'll give you an example. Chase Manhattan Bank, we talk about it in the book.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:17] Yeah. The bank robbery.
Chris Voss: [00:27:19] The bank robbery. I'm a second negotiated on the phone. Hugh McGowan is the commander of the NYPD team. He puts me on the phone. He takes this guy off. He says, Europe, your next is what I want you to do. Bad guy had been hiding his name from us the whole time. We were pretty sure we knew who he was by the time I'm getting ready to get on a phone. We'd also been talking to him about letting hostages go.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:39] Is it Chris Watts?
Chris Voss: [00:27:41] A guy named Chris Watts.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:42] Okay.
Chris Voss: [00:27:43] Yeah. Hey, great. First name, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:47] Depends on your emotional perspective.
Chris Voss: [00:27:49] Yeah. But all right, so we're asking about hostages. We've got no reason to believe he'd hurt the hostages, which was bad analysis. He'd beaten all of them at that point and we didn't know.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:02] That's a bad sign, I would assume.
Chris Voss: [00:28:03] Generally it's a bad sign. So Hugh says we're going to switch up negotiators. We're not ordinary handoff of Jordan and be like, Chris is going to come on a phone. Chris had been listening the whole time. Let me introduce Chris.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:19] And you have been listening the whole time?
Chris Voss: [00:28:20] I have.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:21] Okay.
Chris Voss: [00:28:21] That's the normal handoff. And I would say, “Hi, I'm Chris. I've been sitting here with Jordan the whole time and as a matter of fact, I've been listening to everything. Here's everything I heard.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:29] Why would you switch negotiators? Sorry to interrupt you, but I'm curious why go, “Hey, Jordan was negotiating with you before he's gone now. Now it's me.” What's the point of that?
Chris Voss: [00:28:38] It could be you're doing a bad job.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:41] Yeah, that's probably why.
Chris Voss: [00:28:42] It also could be, you and the hostage taker have got such a great relationship going that the minute he comes out, the relationship's over and that's why he won't come out.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:54] Oh, interesting. So he wants to keep that going for some reason sort of psychological attachment to the negotiator?
Chris Voss: [00:29:01] Yeah, I was on another barricade and I'm listening in a hostage. The guy's barricaded and the negotiator having such a great conversation. I turned to commander and I said, “He isn’t coming out as long as he gets to talk to Jordan.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:16] We're going to be here until Christmas.
Chris Voss: [00:29:16] He love Jordan. Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:17] Yeah. He's only his only friend.
Chris Voss: [00:29:18] He’s having a great time.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:19] Jordan is his only friend. Yeah.
Chris Voss: [00:29:20] Jordan is his only friend.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:21] Oh, man.
Chris Voss: [00:29:22] So it could be a variety of reasons, you got to call it in a moment. But anyway, Hugh puts me on the phone and he says, “We're not going to do the ordinary handoff.” You’re just going to take over the phone say you're talking to me now, and we're going to do it really abruptly. All right. And then when you get a chance, you can do a couple of other things. So we do a complete abrupt shift and our bad guy is kind of like, “Oh, You want to play games with me.” And of course, this is not what he says, but he talks to me for a few moments, puts me on hold. He goes and gets a hostage with no warning. And all of a sudden I hear a woman's voice on the air. Then the phone say “I'm okay,” and I'm sorry, “Who is this? Who is this?” She says, “I am okay,” and then a phone goes dead. She goes away. Now, not in a million years. We predicted that going forward, but he's like, “You want to play games? I'll play games too.” He goes and gets a hostage. He puts her on a phone, doesn't say anything threatening. He never gets on the phone and says, “Now I want you to remind you I've got hostages.” It's all implied because he also knows the bank is surrounded with the seventh largest standing army in the world, NYPD, seventh largest standing army in the world. They've got 50 caliber machine guns. They got SWAT guys. They get bombs. He didn't want to get killed. He's smart enough to imply a threat without stating it to us because he knows if he says you got an hour, if you want to keep the hostage alive.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:53] SWAT’s going to go in.
Chris Voss: [00:30:54] Somebody is going to put a little red dot on his forehead. He's going to be gone. But we never could have predicted that move. And if we'd have had a whole game plan mapped out that we were sure was going to work, that would have all been wasted time as soon as he put the hostage on a phone because it blew the plan up to that point.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:11] To reset the chessboard.
Chris Voss: [00:31:12] Reset the chessboard.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:13] What was the point of the abrupt shift in negotiation and negotiators without doing a handoff? What was that? Why do that?
Chris Voss: [00:31:19] We were trying to show him, maybe not entirely subtle way that we were in charge and you can do that. You can do in any negotiation, you could risk something, the other side might not like, if you've been stalemated for a really long time and we'd been stalemated for five hours and is stalemate by definition is a low threat level. So it's risking a U-Turn and what happens after you turn it com becomes an S-curve and you come around someplace else and you're in a better place. So we risking a setback because we'd been stuck for so long.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:00] You mentioned that when people feel listened to, they listen to themselves more and they clarify their demands and their desires. So how would that look in practice? Is that because when I'm imagining this, I'm imagining somebody just kind of being fake nice to the hostage taker on the phone so that they feel heard or something. I guess I'm trying to imagine what this would look like in practice.
Chris Voss: [00:32:20] Well, in a bank or in a business negotiation?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:23] Well I guess the exciting version is the bank robbery, but the practical situation is the business negotiation.
Chris Voss: [00:32:29] Yeah. Well, I could say, “Look, you say you're not going to hurt a hostage, but you're not going to let anybody go.” I mean, how do those things add up? If I need you to hear what you're saying, I need to pick out a couple of things that you say that don't add up. And then I say, “How do those add up?”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:46] So you're forcing me as a hostage take in or reconcile what I've said and maybe think about what I'm doing.
Chris Voss: [00:32:51] That is exactly the point. And that works in hostage negotiation or some business negotiation. And it's actually probably more important in business to negotiations because most business people will stay stuck in a rut with a strategy is taking them nowhere and they'll say to have big goals. And so I can say to the head of sales, you want your sales people to be more productive, but you're not going to give him any more training. How do those things add up?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:21] Hmm. It reminds me of the, how am I supposed to do that technique.
Chris Voss: [00:33:25] So version of that?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:25] Is it? Okay.
Chris Voss: [00:33:26] Yeah, exactly right. You know, how is a great deferential word? One definition of confrontation is a focus comparison. So I take your actions and I take your words and I use the word hat to compare them, just to focus comparison.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:41] So that in practice would be somebody asks you for something like, give me $1 million or I'm going to shoot your Aunt. And you're saying, well, how am I supposed to do that? How am I supposed to get you the money?
Chris Voss: [00:33:52] Yeah. That's just the straight how, that's a deferential, but it shifts the entire problem back onto them, which at least wears them out.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:03] How much of negotiation especially in a hostage situation or actually business and that hostage for that matter is wearing the other party down to the point where they just want to, if it's a hostage situation, go home, take whatever the hell they can get, leave, or in business they just want to go to the bathroom or get lunch and just not be in that damn conference room anymore?
Chris Voss: [00:34:23] Well, it's wearing the other side down. If the other side isn't aggressive throat cutting, negotiator, or if they're from procurement.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:31] Sure. Yeah.
Chris Voss: [00:34:33] You know, it depends upon who's on the other side. Or if your emotions are out of control, your emotions are going to get tamped down as you get exhausted. If your emotions are out of control in negative way, it's important to draw a fine line. It's not emotions that are bad, it's negative emotions that are bad. Positive emotions actually help us perform better.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:53] How do you harness that in practice? I would imagine it's got to be pretty tough knowing there's a bank full of people and you've got to harness positive emotion. I mean, what are you doing to get yourself in a positive state?
Chris Voss: [00:35:06] Oh, well I mean it defense will on a bank. I mean, I'm going to remain optimistic over the outcome. Even with you, like you're a bank robber and I'm talking to you on a phone. Ideally you've made an escape demand. Ideally.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:22] Why is that ideal?
Chris Voss: [00:35:24] That shows that you want to live.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:25] Oh, right, right. If I make no escape demand, you're wondering if I'm just going to [indiscernible]
Chris Voss: [00:35:29] If you haven't made an escape demand there's a really good chance that you're planning on dying today. Suicide by caught. So absence of an escape demand is a really bad, bad, bad, bad, bad sign in a barricade bank robbery. If you got a guy barricaded in his house, you aren’t getting to make an escape demand because that's where he lives. But if it's a bank or something like that and there is no escape demand, you've got a real problem.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:52] Do you try to lead them to an escape demand or are you actually seeing if they'll do it because you want to get their read on their situation.
Chris Voss: [00:35:58] No, you've got to read them.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:59] Yeah.
Chris Voss: [00:35:59] You know, you really can't lead people because something in what they're saying is going to give you the out. So I just got to listen for it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:09] Okay. Right. Because if you just say, how do you plan on getting out of there? They're just going to make something up.
Chris Voss: [00:36:14] They’re going to be like, I'm going to start throwing bodies out to you until let me go.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:16] Oh man.
Chris Voss: [00:36:18] So I don't want to go there.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:19] Yeah, you don't want to accelerate that timeline by any stretch. Yikes, yeah.
Jason DeFilippo: [00:36:26] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Chris Voss. We'll be right back after this.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:30] This episode is sponsored in part by Intuit.
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:20] This episode is also sponsored by Eight Sleep. Now, I was so excited, I am so excited about this because I -- but I thought this was in the garage. I thought it had arrived and I was so excited to use it because it is the first smart mattress I've ever heard of and I cannot wait to bust this thing out and throw it on my bed and just throw my limp unconscious body on top of it. This bed is called The Pod. It's by Eight Sleep. It's a high tech bed designed specifically to help you achieve optimal sleep fitness. So if you're into sleep hacking or you just need better sleep, this is absolutely the jam. It combines dynamic temperature regulation. In other words, it doesn't just heat up, it can actually cool down and it changes the temperature throughout the night along with your sleep patterns. So it includes sleep tracking to enhance restroom recovery. It learns your sleep habits and adjust the temperature automatically, which is just bananas. So if you'd like to bed cool and your partner likes the bed warm while separate sides can have separate temperatures. It's crazy. I've never even heard of this and I cannot freaking wait for this thing, Jason, tell him where they can get it.
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[00:39:01] Thanks for listening and supporting the show. Your support of our advertisers really is what keeps us on the air and to learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. And don't forget the worksheet for today's episode. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast, and if you're listening to the show on the Overcast player, please click that little star next to the episode. It really helps us out. Now for the conclusion of our show with Chris Voss.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:28] One thing that's fascinating to me is that smart people often don't make good negotiators. That was actually really disappointing for me because I thought--
Chris Voss: [00:39:35] Because you're really smart guy.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:36] I can be naturally good at this. I'm a well-studied guy. I went to law school. I'm going to be great at negotiation. And then I read the rationale for why and I thought, “Crap! That is me. I would totally fall into these traps.” Can you outline what some of that is? Because I think a lot of people think they're really good at negotiating because they're intelligent and they can solve a lot of problems.
Chris Voss: [00:39:54] Yeah. You won't show how smart you are, and the problem with that is you might not intend it that way, but it makes me feel stupid,
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:05] As a hostage taker or as in the outer part?
Chris Voss: [00:40:09] Right, or in business. I mean, the more you show you're smarter than me, the less I want to be around you because I like being around you, and that's not good news for our long term relationship so that's a real problem. The other problem is there's an efficiency problem the worst, completely opposite of what we would think. If I want to tell you the answer, me telling you, it's very passive on your side. It's what we referred to as a didactic exchange. You're just sitting there listening passively. There's some pretty solid data out there that if I want to get a point across you in a didactic exchange where you're just listening, you're just passive, you're not engaged. I got to tell you 19 times.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:53] That's a lot.
Chris Voss: [00:40:54] It's a lot. It's the least efficient way to get a point across is to tell somebody, because you got to tell him 19 times. Now if I slow down, if I use questions to affect your thinking, if I shape your thinking so that you discover it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:10] Right, then it's my idea.
Chris Voss: [00:41:11] Two things.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:12] Okay.
Chris Voss: [00:41:12] You discover it faster and it's your idea. So I got two things going for me now. It took less time overall and you embrace it much more because you feel like you thought of it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:26] This seems like a parenting. This can come in handy at parenting, right?
Chris Voss: [00:41:29] Well, how much of parenting is just human being to human being?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:32] Yeah. I think all of it, right?
Chris Voss: [00:41:34] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:35] It's just that one human being might be a little bit more emotional or irrational. Are kids more rational than adults? I don't even know.
Chris Voss: [00:41:41] Well again, definition rationality, you can count on kids to be more optimistic and those to be more pessimistic. So who's better off?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:52] Probably the kid.
Chris Voss: [00:41:53] In a lot of ways. That'll give us off onto almost a whole different journey on cognitive learning. But kids are more present in the moment. That's why they learn faster than adults do. Adults are always worried about outcomes. They're always considering what happened in a past or he's worried about where it's going. Those two things by definition takes you out of the moment, which means you're not learning as much, you’re not figuring out the moment as fast as you could be. Kids learn languages faster than adults do. Do they have this magical power? No, they're not distracted by the past or the future of the way adults are, and they just are more focused in the moment.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:31] And probably less worried about looking stupid as well.
Chris Voss: [00:42:34] Well that's part of the world. We were the future. How am I going to look for this doesn't work out? Interesting book out there called The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:42] Oh, sure. Yeah.
Chris Voss: [00:42:42] the very first part of it. For groups, kindergartners, business school students, CEOs, and I think lawyers.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:52] Interesting set of samples.
Chris Voss: [00:42:55] Four teams. Marshmallow challenge. You get macaroni, dry macaroni, string, and a marshmallow as a team construct the highest tower. What team wins? The kindergarten.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:06] Really?
Chris Voss: [00:43:09] Second place are the CEOs. Third place are the lawyers. Last place are the business school students.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:16] That's funny. No surprise, lawyers coming in and gets behind.
Chris Voss: [00:43:20] Ain’t coming high, right? But in kindergartens because they don't care about looking stupid in front of each other, so they don't care about making mistakes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:28] So they try 400 different ways and they finally find one.
Chris Voss: [00:43:30] And they have a ball and they interact and they support each other. Nobody gets bent out of shape or nobody gets concerned or embarrassed and they win every time.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:38] And the business school students are still making spreadsheets until the clock almost runs out and then they finally throw something together and it falls over.
Chris Voss: [00:43:45] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:45] Yeah, I can imagine.
Chris Voss: [00:43:46] Yeah. And I actually took a harder look at that too because I don't think it's business school students per se. I think it's the age range.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:52] Oh.
Chris Voss: [00:43:53] Typical age range. You're talking about you mid-20s to early 30s, and it sort of my view, my experience that when people are at their -- some of their most individually competitive times.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:06] Do you find that negotiating with hostage takers, for example, do you see differences in the age group? Like hey, if someone's 19 and they take hostages, is it a different negotiation than if someone's 60 and they take her hostages or is that kind of?
Chris Voss: [00:44:21] Yeah, it would be completely different.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:22] Really?
Chris Voss: [00:44:23] Because their views the past in the future are going to be completely different, and which is going to affect your threat level.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:29] How can you tell? Aside from age, what are you looking for their assessment in the past and the future?
Chris Voss: [00:44:35] They're going to start giving it to you right away. It's remarkably that stuff in any circumstances, remarkably easy to hear, if you're actually listening.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:43] And what are you listening for?
Chris Voss: [00:44:44] First you look for pronouns, then you'll look for levels of emotion. Then there's going to be implications, indicators of the future and nearly everything that they say. They're optimistic.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:54] For the young person or the old?
Chris Voss: [00:44:56] Either person.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:56] Okay.
Chris Voss: [00:44:57] Either optimism or pessimism about where things are going or what's in the moment, or you also look for specific types of losses. Personal and professional losses of the biggest ones. Big personal losses, big professional losses, and so you're looking at people's calculation over losses and then how does that affect the vision of the future?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:19] Okay. So when you see that somebody is maybe younger or optimistic about the future, does that bode better for the negotiation itself or is it just a different set of tactics?
Chris Voss: [00:45:31] Yeah. Well if they're optimistic about the future, then you got somebody who can work with them. They’re in a mess of a coping situation, something's gone sideways for the moment. There's a pretty good chance to just try to sort of get their feedback under him emotionally, and especially if they're optimistic about the future, then they feel like they're resilient over whatever comes out of short term, they'll get over it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:54] So you're pulling all these different levers, depending on what people are giving you. Are you mostly reacting to the hostage taker or are you following through on a specific set of plans more or less that just takes different detours based on what they're giving you?
Chris Voss: [00:46:08] You try to figure out how you can get out in front of them.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:10] What does that mean?
Chris Voss: [00:46:11] Well, I need to start to assess what's driving you, what loss is there, what negative emotions there? The hostage negotiation skills or just emotional intelligence tools. I can start to hear what negative emotions are driving you and I know how to turn them down. I will listen for what those positives might be and I know how to turn those up. And as soon as I started getting a readout of where you are sort of on, there's a buffet of choices that I then have. And so now I can get proactive and start to get out in front of something, if you just need to feel back in control, you're barricaded, you're mad at your wife. Instead of saying, “Do you want to get out of this alive? Do you want to see your kids again? Do you want to live?” Those are all yes oriented questions. If you're really mad at your wife, I might say, “Do you want your wife to win?” Answer, that's no!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:03] Right.
Chris Voss: [00:47:04] I know from my experience that when you say no, you feel in control. That's why people say no.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:11] Yeah. So you might want to give them a no, so that they regained control or they feel like they’re not.
Chris Voss: [00:47:16] It's five times as good as yes will ever be.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:18] So no is even better than yes.
Chris Voss: [00:47:21] At least five times better.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:22] Really?
Chris Voss: [00:47:22] Across the board and all circumstances, all circumstances.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:25] So you're trying to get them to say no or give you get to a no, I should say.
Chris Voss: [00:47:31] Business deal. I lay a proposal in front of you. Instead of saying,”Would this work for you?” I'll say, is it ridiculous to think this might work for you?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:42] Yeah, of course I would say no. Unless it's actually ridiculous somewhere else.
Chris Voss: [00:47:45] Well, if there are problems with it, when you say no, you say no. It's not ridiculous, but here are the problems. If I say, “Would this work for you?” You can't say yes, but here are the problems. It's really hard to do that. So you're scared to say yes because you think you've just agreed to the deal.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:02] Right.
Chris Voss: [00:48:04] So that's when you're going to go, “Maybe.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:07] And then you got nothing.
Chris Voss: [00:48:07] You got nothing and you're scared to answer at all. But since when you've already said no to something, whatever you say after that, you don't feel there's obligations that go along with it. I said, no, it doesn't work here. The problems, I never said I'd agree if I lay the problems out. If I lay the problems out and you fix them, I will agree. But since I never felt like I said that in in point of fact, if I fix all those problems, I now have a tailor made solution to you that you felt in control.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:34] Right. So the no is almost like a highlighter. It's like you're seeing the invisible ink at that point.
Chris Voss: [00:48:40] Yeah. Interesting point, yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:42] I'm telling you exactly what's wrong at that point and then you can go, all right, you've mentally circling these three things. Change those and then in theory, we have a deal.
Chris Voss: [00:48:51] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:52] Yeah. Instead of just having you shoot something down or lose control by saying yes, which you're not going to do, especially if the stakes are really high.
Chris Voss: [00:49:00] Right, right, right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:00] Got it.
Chris Voss: [00:49:01] We got a lot of people that are focused on that. They lay a proposition out to somebody and they'll say, “Well, what's wrong with this?” What are the obstacles here? There's got to be obstacles. Help us identify them.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:14] So this is cooperative almost no matter what. Because you're doing a deal whether the person's kidnapped a family member or they're robbing a bank or you're sitting across from them, sharing a pot of tea at a business negotiation that's friendly, or you're parenting your kid. So these are all cooperative regardless of whether or not -- it's all a business deal seemingly.
Chris Voss: [00:49:34] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:36] I would imagine that cognitive bias comes into play, especially when emotions are really high. And you talk about this a little bit in the book, is that why you have people -- all right, let me back this up. You see these things in movies, right? Where there's a hostage negotiation and there's like the police captains on the phone and the commissioners on the phone and the mayor's on the phone and the hostage negotiators on the phone, and then some psychologist is on the phone and there's 15 other people listening on headphones. One, is that accurate? Two, what is the point of that? Are you trying to, is it sort of getting everybody's opinion? I mean, what's the point of all this?
Chris Voss: [00:50:11] All those people on the phone with the bad guy?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:13] Yeah. I feel like I see that a lot.
Chris Voss: [00:50:14] You only going to want to have one person on the phone. You're not going to want to swap out a lot of people.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:18] Oh, I just mean listening to the call.
Chris Voss: [00:50:19] Oh, well let's think for a call. If people know how to listen as a team.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:24] What does that mean?
Chris Voss: [00:50:24] Everybody got specific assignments, stuffs you're listening for. Like your only job may be to keep track of how long the conversation lasted.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:33] Why is that? Why is that important? Because the longer the conversation, it's an indicator, we're making progress because it's sort of a trust barometer or?
Chris Voss: [00:50:41] Yeah, I think that's a fair assessment, and then so then I might have somebody else. You're only listening for the negative things that they say, that sound negative or can be construed as negative. You’re only listen for the positive things they say. I mean, when somebody starts talking between the words that they say, and even more importantly the words they don't say or their tone of voice, there's more information there than one person can keep up on. Roughly, we can listen at a rate of about 400 words a minute. We speak at a rate of 140 or 160 words a minute. That's why we think we can listen to more than one conversation, just the words. But there's five times as much information in the tone of voice in there on the words. So 140 times 5--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:28] Bandwidths are already in access.
Chris Voss: [00:51:29] Is now you're already shot the bandwidth of one personal list.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:32] I see. So you've got people listening for vocal tonality, like you said, the positives and negatives. And that has to be a specific person because I'm sitting here while you're telling me that, I'm like, “I could do that all myself.” But that's exactly what people who get people killed in hostage situations think, right?
Chris Voss: [00:51:48] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:48] Yeah. Don’t hire me for that.
Chris Voss: [00:51:50] Give me seven people.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:52] Seven?
Chris Voss: [00:51:52] If you give me seven people to listen to everything, we'll all pick a different part. We'll all have very specific assignments and we will come up with an encyclopedia of information, ideas and clues in a 10 minute conversation.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:07] So these seven people, these people are all on your team?
Chris Voss: [00:52:11] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:11] Negotiating during the hostage negotiation thing and then the call ends and then what everybody goes and sits down and says, “All right, what did you hear?” I mean, how do you construct this in the moment? Because I would imagine you can't say, “All right, everybody file a report about this. This has to happen pretty quick. I would imagine these hostile negotiations time is always of the essence. So you've got these seven people that you pick for your team and are they all hostage negotiators? Are they're all trained?
Chris Voss: [00:52:37] They've all got to be trained.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:39] And do they always do the same thing? Like is there always a guy, am I always the voice tone guy? Am I always the positive guy?
Chris Voss: [00:52:44] No, it depends, everybody's capable of pretty much doing any job. Our best negotiator will not be on a phone or best negotiator will be running the team. And then because of that, like almost any one of the team members can be on the phone because whoever's on the phone has got to support a seven people and we could almost take our least trained negotiator and put them on a phone.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:07] So that's in a way that's almost like the least technically skilled part of it.
Chris Voss: [00:53:11] Probably. As long as you're coachable, you're coachable, you're taking input from people on notes and plus while you're talking, I mean you look around and maybe somebody has written something on a board and they point to that and then you say that. Like in a Chase Manhattan Bank Robbery. Again, I'm in the book, I'm on a phone, I'm talking to the guy, I'm talking to the guy. I'm working on him, really my point is to get a hostage out which is what the hostage negotiator is supposed to do. And somebody hands me a note and says, “Ask him if he wants to come out?” That was somebody that was listening as it turned out, I didn't even know at the time who was from, I found out about, I think I found out like three years later, it was my friend Jamie, Jaime Sedano, Jamie's sitting there and something in Jamie's instincts is telling him that this guy wants to come out more than anything else. He just hears it. His radar is picking it up. Our subconscious, where our radar is, is literally 20 million times faster than our conscious. And Jamie's subconscious instinct is picked it up, and he writes, asked him if he wants to come out. And I see no pop in front of my face. I don't know where it came from. Doesn't matter. So I go, “Do you want to come out?” And there’s a long silence on the other end of the line and the guy says, “I don't know how I do that?” Which is a great big giant yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:38] Yeah.
Chris Voss: [00:54:38] A great big giant please figuring out how to get me out.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:42] Yeah. I want to come out, but I don't want to get shot.
Chris Voss: [00:54:44] I don't want to get shot. I don't want to get beat up. And as it turned out, what he was really worried about, he was worried about his buddy shooting him when he went out the door, and then--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:52] Oh, his co-conspirators--
Chris Voss: [00:54:53] His co-conspirators.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:54] Will shoot him at the back whatever.
Chris Voss: [00:54:54] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:55] Wow!
Chris Voss: [00:54:55] Or as soon as he got out the door, he thought the NYPD would -- he was going to catch a beating. And he's like, I don't know how I do it. That's where we found out later on, that was what all that meant. So we continue to talk, we continue to talk. And when he says, “I don't know how I do that.” Like everybody goes like, “Holy cow. Okay, get him out of there.” Everybody focus on getting him out. I'm talking, I'm talking, I'm talking. Again probably about, I don't know, maybe half an hour later. Another note comes in my hand. I don't know where it's from. As it turns out from Jamie again, and the note says, “Tell him you meet him outside.” And I say to him, how about this, how about if I meet you at front of the bank?” And he goes, “Yeah, I'm ready to end this shit.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:38] So did you walk up to the bank door?
Chris Voss: [00:55:40] Not quite.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:41] Yeah, I wouldn't do that. I wouldn’t do that, I don’t know about this.
Chris Voss: [00:55:44] I don't go strolling up like I'm a customer. Because normally, first of all, FBI doesn't do as a general rule, we don't do face to face.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:51] Really?
Chris Voss: [00:55:52] Yeah. So we're scrambling. We decided, I got to go out. I don't have a Bulletproof vest, I don't have a ballistic comment. They’re grabbing a vest from this guy and he grabbing a helmet from this guy and I'm trying to put this stuff on and I'm scrambling to get outside and the plan, once I get outside is I'm going to stand behind one of the SWAT trucks. It's got a PA on it and I'm going to talk to him from the PA. I'm not going to walk up.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:15] How was that better than the phone?
Chris Voss: [00:56:17] Yeah. Who cares, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:18] I guess, yeah.
Chris Voss: [00:56:19] It felt better, and we don't know what he's thinking. So it actually was, it was funny. Ha-ha. Hostage story funny, ha-ha.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:28] Yeah. The people inside are like, this story is not funny.
Chris Voss: [00:56:31] But I get out there and get on a PA. I started talking to him. At this point, I still don't know this guy's name. Crazily enough, that's the way it evolved. So I said, “Hi, it's Chris. I'm out here.” So SWAT, standard operating procedure is the barricade, the exit from the outside. So bad guy suddenly doesn't run away. So SWAT has barricaded the bank from the outside, which everyone has forgotten. So I'm trying to talk this guy out the door. We don't know how many bad guys are inside. We don't know how they're going to react. We don't know whether they're going to start shooting. We don't know what the hell is going to happen. He comes to the door in chicken out.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:09] Oh God.
Chris Voss: [00:57:12] Because he rattles that door and it was like, “Ah!”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:14] He's nervous, right? I mean, Oh crap, I'm trapped in here now.
Chris Voss: [00:57:17] Yeah. And on the outside we'll go, “Now what do we do?” We forgot to unlock the door and with no plan of how to lock the door. So a SWAT commander, SWAT guys, those guys don't get rattled. Quickly, they scramble a couple of guys, ballistic shield. These two guys get behind a ballistic shield. They go up really, really, really, really slow. Again, we don't know how many bad guys are inside and we don't know what those going to happen. Are they going to see him as somebody can jump on, who knows? They just get up there real slow, they get the key, unlocked the door real slowly back away, and Bobby comes out.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:50] I'm trying to put myself in his shoes. I don't know if I'd want to leave, you'd have to -- I would have to trust you so much to be like, yeah, I'm going to stroll out of here.
Chris Voss: [00:58:00] Of course, you trust me there.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:01] Sure.
Chris Voss: [00:58:01] Of course, don’t you trust me. Now come on out.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:04] Yeah, sure, come on out. I guess also I have no choice. I'm stuck in a bank with a bunch of other criminals that I'm thinking of might shoot me too. Well, the decision, some people, you make the decision. I mean, what holds you back from your decision? Your fears? The biggest fear that was holding him back was that he was going to get seriously beaten when he came out, which did not happen, and the fear that drove him out was he'd come to the realization that every additional minute he stayed inside since he planned on coming out. Every additional minute he stayed inside was going to cost him jail time, so the clock is ticking.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:46] You told him that I was going to happen?
Chris Voss: [00:58:48] I don't need them to think that, he realized that he's come to that conclusion on his own. And also since you don't know for sure what's going to happen to the hostages that's not resolved yet. He needs to get out of there before this goes bad on inside. So he's all sorts of losses are driving them to go out the door. I don't want to be here when this goes bad. I want to minimize my jail exposure. The status quo, when the status quo costs you, that's when you leave the status quo. Whether you're in a bank, whether you're in a business deal, most people don't make deals because they're comfortable with the status quo, even if they shouldn't as a boiling frog analogy, you can turn the heat up on a frog and it'll stay. They'll get uncomfortable when they should leave. You have to be aware that the status quo is worse than the possibilities and that's when people make decisions to change the status quo.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:41] Do you highlight that for him? Like, “Hey, the longer this lasts, the worse it's going to be?” That seems like something I would hear in a movie with.
Chris Voss: [00:59:48] You highlight it but not like that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:49] Right. You don't want him to panic, right?
Chris Voss: [00:59:52] Right, right. Or you don't want to sound like you're threatening.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:54] Yeah, sure. That makes sense.
Chris Voss: [00:59:56] So you go back, you’re going to ask a hard question. I might say something like, “Look, man. How can I go to the judge in your behalf if you don't come out? That's saying the same thing, but it's using a how question again is really deferential and so you confront people with how questions because it leaves them the option of the decision and they don't feel backed into a corner.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:21] Is this how -- you mentioned before slow things down. Is that what this is as well? Slowing things down by asking questions.
Chris Voss: [01:00:27] Absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:28] And we're slowing things down because we want them to feel that sense of control and not like this is moving so fast that they don't have controls.
Chris Voss: [01:00:36] That's the first and biggest reason. The other thing too is, Danny Kahneman wrote a book called Thinking Fast and Slow. Slow thinking is in depth thinking. You're using the how or what question to trigger in depth thinking, which also is exhausting. So if it's my intention to gain the upper hand by exhausting you, that's what I'm going to do.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:58] So you're creating more cognitive load for me to come up with the reason--
Chris Voss: [01:01:03] Yeah, you have to go to law school or something.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:04] Yeah, yeah.
Chris Voss: [01:01:04] By cognitive load, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:05] Well, I read Daniel Kahneman’s book. Yeah, Thinking Fast and Slow, we’ll link to that in the show notes as well. So you're really making my brain do work.
Chris Voss: [01:01:14] Right.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:14] So that I'm eventually like, just beat up tired.
Chris Voss: [01:01:18] Yeah, you're tired, you're worn out, and you own it. Ownership is the issue.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:26] Yeah. This is really interesting because it seems like it's a really slow game of -- you're grinding these guys down a little bit, but you can't make it seem like you can't beat them up. You have to let them just drain their energy reserves on their own.
Chris Voss: [01:01:40] Yeah. And principally, again, it's draining negative energy, because you don't make good decisions in an angry state of mind. There's an old saying, “Either give a speech when your anger, it's the best speech you'll ever regret.”
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:52] Yeah. I've heard that, I think. Probably from you, but are there tricks then for getting into positive emotional states when the stakes are high? I mean, you said optimism, but do you want them in a positive emotional state as well?
Chris Voss: [01:02:05] Sequencing and context. As a general rule, in a crisis hostage situation, you don't want them to your fork, you just don't want them negative. Business, the more positive frame of mind, we're both in the better deal we're going to make and the more likely we are to want to do another deal. And that's probably the only flip side difference between business negotiation and hostage negotiation. Hostage negotiator, at least 90 percent of the time I'm using the soothing, calming voice, late-night FM DJ.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:41] The FM DJ voice.
Chris Voss: [01:02:42] To calm you down, slow you down, and maybe 10 percent, 5 percent, I might have an upbeat voice selectively. Flip those for business, 90 percent of the time I need to be upbeat. 10 percent of the time I may need to say something like “We can't do that.” Instead of no! So 10 percent for me to lay something out that I need you to think about it in a serious way, which should be a minority of the time, a small minority, I'll use this when I flip the voices.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:17] That makes sense. So you're switching between this logical brain where they have to calculate something and crunch numbers or do something in their head and keeping their emotions engaged enough where they're happy to be there with you and they feel like it's a cooperative engagement.
Chris Voss: [01:03:31] Yeah. And you're actually, you have more mental ability in a positive frame of mind. I mean the mindset of flow, which is where optimum human performance is, is highly positive.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:41] Okay. So what about when somebody asks you for something impossible, right? This is one of the top takeaways from never split the difference. The how am I supposed to do that type situation? But what happens when somebody asks you for something impossible? Business, we can come up with an example easily, but I'm thinking in hostage situations, you hear this ridiculous stuff in movies all the time where they're like, “Yeah, we need a helicopter and a private jet and you need to drive the van around.” Like you know you're not going to help these guys get into a helicopter landing on the roof of Chase Manhattan Banks, it’s not going to happen. But you can't say you're delusional, man. There's no chance of that happening. You have to do something when faced with an unreasonable request. How do you handle that?
Chris Voss: [01:04:24] How am I supposed to do that? I mean, that's the opening move.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:27] What did they just say? Land the helicopter on the roof of the damn building.
Chris Voss: [01:04:31] And I’m going to say, “But if I do that, how often are you going to let the hostages go?”
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:35] Okay. So it's always make them think, make them think, make them think.
Chris Voss: [01:04:39] Right, right. Yeah. And it's kind of crazy how it works. I finally got it flipped on me once we're doing a simulated terrorist prison takeover. We're doing some training interestingly enough, we were in Jamaica. And I'm playing a bad guy and I'm the most experienced negotiator.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:59] That must be fun.
Chris Voss: [01:05:00] Yeah, I had a great time. Plus I figure, I'm better than any of the -- my opinion, I'm better than any negotiators on the other side.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:08] Okay.
Chris Voss: [01:05:08] And I'm saying, you got to, I'm holding this people, you got to let my colleagues out of jail and the negotiator on the other side says, “How do you want us to let him go?” And then I'm up until that moment, the thought in my head that I hadn't thought it all the way through because it wouldn't be enough just to let him out of jail.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:30] Sure. Let him run around Kingstown.
Chris Voss: [01:05:32] Yeah. Well, they'd go half a mile and a wait for him and he'd pick them up again. It's not just how do I get them out of jail? How do I make sure they get away? I hadn't thought it all the way through and it never even occurred to me till they asked me that question in a simulation. And I remember saying to myself, “I didn't think this all the way through.”
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:51] So even you, who kind of maybe developed a lot of this tactic, it works.
Chris Voss: [01:05:56] Yeah. A good question makes you slow thinking, Danny Kahneman thinking. In-depth thinking, you become aware that you haven't thought it all the way through. You immediately see it falling apart. Two steps further than you've thought and it completely stops you in your tracks, completely. Which is the point of the question. Stop the other side in their tracks.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:19] So you pause. I know that the formula, this is like pause, apologize, mirror slash applies a question. So can you break down that formula a little bit? The pause is clear and then you literally say, “Sorry Jordan, but how am I supposed to do that?” Is that kind of how this is applied?
Chris Voss: [01:06:38] Yeah. Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:40] And it's that simple?
Chris Voss: [01:06:41] As stupid as it sounds, absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:43] So your girlfriend and kid must use this on you all the time.
Chris Voss: [01:06:48] You know, it's a great way of letting somebody know also, it's another way of saying you just ask the impossible to me, it forces a good, how am I supposed to do that question, forces the person being asked to take a hard look at exactly what they're asking the other person to do. Now they might not change their mind. That's not the point. The point is to get them to stop and think.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:11] Okay, because I'm thinking people right now are going, wait a minute, they're just going to tell me exactly how they expect me to do that. But that's okay.
Chris Voss: [01:07:18] Well two things. First of all, everybody imagines it.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:21] Yeah. That's how it simulates in my head.
Chris Voss: [01:07:23] That's how everybody simulates in your head. Now, slightly out of nine out of 10 times, it doesn't work out that way. And so we get a lot of people, “Wow! Well one time it doesn't.” You realize there that you success percentages, you'd be happy with those percentages if you went to Vegas. You had a gambling system, all you’re going to do is it works more than 51 percent of the time or more and pretty soon they're renaming the Casino after yo, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:49] Right, sure, yeah.
Chris Voss: [01:07:50] So again--
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:52] Or banned from the Casino, which is more likely.
Chris Voss: [01:07:55] But every now and then somebody on the other side says, because you have to, if you want the deal. That's actually a great answer because everybody's job as a negotiator is find out how far we can push you to the side without driving away from the table.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:09] Right.
Chris Voss: [01:08:09] And when somebody says if you want the deal, you'll do it. You now know that's as far as we go.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:15] What happens when people get angry? This is probably happening far less in business situations, but I would imagine hostage takers, they get pissed off. They're like, “Look man, I'm the one with the gun. I'm the one with the civilians. Stop jerking me around. I'm tired of answering your stupid questions. I'm hungry. I'm tired. It's hot in here. Quit asking me stupid stuff.”
Chris Voss: [01:08:37] Here's what should completely bake your brain. Hostage negotiations are calmer than business negotiations.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:44] Okay. How is that even possible?
Chris Voss: [01:08:47] I haven't run into a single business negotiator that doesn't have at least five stories of somebody on the other side screaming at him, slamming the door, calling them names, calling him names on a phone constantly. Everybody's got those stories.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:09:01] Geez.
Chris Voss: [01:09:01] Hostage negotiators have one too.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:09:03] Okay. Why is that the case again?
Chris Voss: [01:09:06] Again, because as soon as the other side feels listened to, why get mad? At a hostage negotiator starts listening right away. Business negotiation, we sit down, I go like, “I am not interested in what you had to say. You're going to listen to me.”
Jordan Harbinger: [01:09:20] Right. I hold all the cards. I got to win. My boss needs to see me as the smart guy in the room.
Chris Voss: [01:09:25] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:09:26] Yeah.
Chris Voss: [01:09:26] We don't do that as hostage. We calm people down real fast.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:09:29] How do you do that?
Chris Voss: [01:09:31] First is voice. I mean--
Jordan Harbinger: [01:09:33] FM DJ voice, okay.
Chris Voss: [01:09:34] FM DJ voice actually, what does that really mean? Before I finish the sentence, if you can see me or if you could hear me and if we're on a phone, you could hear me. My tone of voice has gone in and hit something in your brain called mirror neurons. Those mirror neurons have triggered an actual chemical reaction in your brain. Chemicals are being dumped into your brain and into your system that slow you down, before I've even finished the sentence, that's how that happens.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:10:04] And that works even with like psychopath, sociopath type folks that don't maybe.
Chris Voss: [01:10:10] Everybody's got mirror neurons.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:10:11] Everybody's got mirror neurons. Okay, I'm not sure on that. You're probably right, I haven't.
Chris Voss: [01:10:16] The psychopaths, the social path, that's a result of principally of conditioning. Nobody's contending that there are functional physical things missing from their brain. They're talking about something happened in their development interestingly enough, there was a syndrome. The reason why people hold babies in hospitals and in orphanages now because if children aren't held enough in the first year of their life, that's when they learn how to bond, and if you haven't been held enough in the first year in many children in orphanages or abandoned or in hospitals for extended periods of time are not picked up and held. They haven't learned how to bond.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:10:59] So they end up with developmental stuff.
Chris Voss: [01:11:02] They have issues in the rest of their life, bonding with people, so that something is absent. That happened after they were born.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:11:09] I think I vaguely remember reading about this. It's just been a while. Some of these books all blurred together after a while, especially with all the junk science.
Chris Voss: [01:11:18] So you just need read one book.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:11:18] Yeah, just one. Just Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. I'm imagining, let me guess, that's the book you recommend.
Chris Voss: [01:11:24] Oh, I interestingly, you should mention that.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:11:25] Yeah, that's my idea. I came up with that. You identifying label emotions when people are feeling them to calm them down. I read that. I thought that was a brilliant tactic. How does this work in practice is I'm screaming at you. “Stop asking me stupid freaking questions. Send in a pizza and $2 million. I'm going to start whacking some of these dumb kids I got here stuck on this bank.” What are you doing to calm me down at this point? Yes, you're listening, but what else? I mean I'm just pissed off. It's been 13 hours. I got nothing left in the tank. I'm over it.
Chris Voss: [01:11:56] I'm going to say, it sounds like you're mad at this whole situation. Sounds like you want to get out of there.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:12:01] And what does that do? The labeling? What does that do to my lizard brain?
Chris Voss: [01:12:05] The simplicity of it will obscure how effective it is. What I'm actually trying to do, if I say something to you, it sounds like, when that hits your brain, you actually ask yourself, is that the way it sounds? It triggers a thought in your brain.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:12:22] Like a logical or a rational thought?
Chris Voss: [01:12:26] Well, it triggers an identification, a labeling of it, if you will. It cause you to contemplate it sort of as an issue, decide what you're thinking. The book is The Upward Spiral. I wish I could remember the author's name. They did an actual experiment. They induce negative emotions in people by showing them pictures. Picture made him scared, made him sad, made him lonely, whatever it is. They're monitoring the neural activity. I show you a picture that makes you angry and a specific part of the brain lights up to a portion of the amygdala where the negative emotions are housed and that lights up the electrical activities going crazy, crazy, crazy. I show you the picture and I just say, “What are you feeling?” And looking at it, if you're feeling afraid, you say, “I was feeling of afraid,” and the part of the brain that was lighting up now stopped lighting up.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:13:20] So labeling the emotion, blunts it or it gets rid of it.
Chris Voss: [01:13:23] A triggering of contemplating the emotion, not denying it, not suppressing it, not pushing it, and not trying to get rid of it anyway. Just a triggering of an awareness of a negative. And every time they did that, that portion of the brain that was lighting up stop lighting up. Not some of the time, every time. So if I say it sounded like you're just tired of being here, that causes you to think about it and the part of you that was frustrated, tired, annoyed, you don't mean for it to happen, but that part of the brain stops lighten up.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:13:59] What if it's a positive emotion? Do I not want to label it then?
Chris Voss: [01:14:03] That's a stupid thing because positives, reinforce positives.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:14:06] So I want to label negative emotions to blunt them and label positive emotions to reinforce.
Chris Voss: [01:14:10] It’s like the North and South pole of a magnet, has the opposite effect. Exact same device, complete opposite effect.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:14:18] Why is that that?
Chris Voss: [01:14:20] That, I haven't, you know, well first of all, I don't know why it caused the negative part of the amygdala to shut off. I just know it did, and there's so much of the brain, they got no idea why it works they just know it's there. It's a little bit like gravity. We really have no idea how gravity works. Nobody's jumping off. You aren’t going to go jump off the Empire State Building because gravity going beat it, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:14:43] Yeah, I don't need to double check it. I'm confident.
Chris Voss: [01:14:45] I don't think it works today. I don't understand it. Therefore I'm not going to hit the ground.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:14:48] Right.
Chris Voss: [01:14:49] So it's still there, and the emotional reactions that are brain are very much like them. You know, do we completely understand them? But their effects are unmistakable. From practice, the effects of labeling positives are unmistakable. If you say, I want a car and $1 million, a car means you want to escape, you want to live. I'll say, sounds like you want to get out of this. And that'll reinforce your positive desire to live.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:15:19] Yeah. So you're not necessarily even -- it sounds like you're reading between the lines. You're not saying, “Oh, okay, let's talk about the car. Let's talk about the money. You're actually reading their intention instead of what they're actually.
Chris Voss: [01:15:30] The more you read between the lines and more powerfully effective.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:15:33] Why is that the case?
Chris Voss: [01:15:34] Well, it's triggering a recognition inside, and again, this is the gravity issue. I just know it works and we see it on a regular basis and we see it actually kind of in really funny ways.
Here's a great one with customer service people because they're battered children, right? You call customer service.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:15:51] As in everybody treats them like crap.
Chris Voss: [01:15:54] They getting screamed at all day, every day. You know, we wonder why they're in a bad mood. They're getting screamed at all day, every day. You'd be in a bad mood too. I'm on a phone with this woman and I'm not doing a great job. And she's like, give me short answers. She barely stand on a phone or her tone is really clipped and well she's got me on hold. I'm trying to fix an airline ticket with no fees.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:16:14] Sure.
Chris Voss: [01:16:14] I can just imagine her turning to her colleagues and saying, “This guy's lucky. I'm on a phone with him at all.” All right, so let's go into bizarro world. Tactical empathy, what's the other side of you not, what's your view or what's true?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:16:28] Tactical empathy is what now?
Chris Voss: [01:16:29] Tactical empathy is what we use in the book. Daniel Goleman would call it cognitive empathy. We call it tactical because since we know how the brain works, we might as well use it in a tactical fashion. So if she's saying that I'm lucky that she's talking to me at all. In her view of the world, she's being generous.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:16:49] Oh I see.
Chris Voss: [01:16:51] So she gets back on a phone with me and the first thing out of my mouth is I appreciate how generous you've been with me so far and I can feel her mood instantly change and her tone instantly change. And she says, “Give me another moment to look into that.”
Jordan Harbinger: [01:17:11] Yeah. It turns out I can solve your problem pretty easily. I just didn't want to before.
Chris Voss: [01:17:14] She didn't want to before.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:17:15] Yeah, of course. Why should I help this guy?
Chris Voss: [01:17:16] Because this guy's being a jerk.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:17:19] Right. Like everybody else.
Chris Voss: [01:17:20] But in between the lines, I know there's a positive emotion in there that if I can punch it, if I can hit that target and dial it up, it's a pretty good chance you're going to change your mind. And that's exactly what happens. She said, “Let me check.” She puts me on hold, she comes back on, all fees are waived, they get the ticket changed.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:17:39] So we reinforce people's what? Current opinion of themselves or we just try to read their mind in the moment and then tell them what to think of it?
Chris Voss: [01:17:46] Yeah, it’s all kind of going to be implied. It's current opinion of themselves depending upon which you want to reinforce. What are they telling themselves in a moment, if they're acting stingy, then their view is if you're lucky to have any of their time actually being generous. Sometimes with a little practice, you can hear around this stuff pretty fast and that's really all it takes, is just practice.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:18:11] Huh. Okay. I like that example a lot actually. So this dovetails nicely with what you call the Black Swan Rule, which is don't treat other people the way you want to be treated. Treat them the way they need to be treated.
Chris Voss: [01:18:23] Right. Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:18:25] So can you flush that out or is that kind of what we just talked about? Or is there more to it?
Chris Voss: [01:18:28] No, it's really more that, the assumption that everybody assumes their normal. When in fact, at best you're maybe normal with a third of the people out there. So you get into this thing called while I'm going to treat you the way I want to be treated. If I'm an assertive, I want answers. So give me answers. And I think I'm treating you the way I want to be treated. I like people to be direct with me. I'm going to be direct with you. Well, that's probably not true. You may not want to be spoken to that directly, that bluntly. If I'm doing a golden rule, I like to be asked. I love clarity. I crave clarity. I once had a colleague say that. I crave clarity. Eric Barker writes a fantastic blog and book of the same name, Barking Up The Wrong Tree. He says, clarity is violence. Trying to try to get clear, let's get clear about this. It often is perceived as a very violent exchange, verbal exchange. So you got to be real careful about assuming that how you're wired is how somebody else's wired, because you're going to put something on them that they just might not resonate with.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:19:39] So we try to read what they need and give them what they need instead of assuming that they need the same things as us.
Chris Voss: [01:19:45] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:19:45] Okay.
Chris Voss: [01:19:46] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:19:46] And what sort of principal factors do you look for? You look for the communication style? Whether they're assertive, cooperative, what’s the other one?
Chris Voss: [01:19:54] Five flight, make friends.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:19:56] Five flight to make friends. Okay.
Chris Voss: [01:19:57] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:19:57] Yeah.
Chris Voss: [01:19:59] Yeah, well, really to some degree everybody's going to be want to be heard out, which is everybody wants to be heard. That's why I show up in a negotiation. I want you to hear me. So if I started hearing you out. Plus it's going to give me a good read on which of the types you are. Have you thought through the detail, do you pride yourself on the details? Have you done a lot of research on me because you pride yourself on relationships? Are you really firm and what you want? Because you pride yourself on getting what you want. Those are basically the three types. So I'm going to let you start talking and I'm going to start to get real clear feel for where you are. Plus also when I see maybe some holes, if I adapt to how you are, you're going to let me show him to you. What does this not add up?
Jordan Harbinger: [001:20:49] Well, the book is loaded with very detailed negotiation examples from both hostage situations and business situations. There's a lot more than we could get to here. And I think it's probably got to be one of the most widely regarded books on negotiation even if even if you do say so yourself. So thank you very much for your time.
Chris Voss: [01:21:09] My pleasure.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:21:09] You’re great.
Chris Voss: [01:21:10] And thanks for having me here.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:21:13] So not bad. Hostage negotiator, really interesting guy. I've been a friend of his for a while. I mean he always brings it Jason.
Jason DeFilippo: [01:21:19] He totally does. And we did this one in person in my studio and I finally got to meet him in person. He just has that, like that FBI vibe, you know, he looks at you and he's just like, you can tell that he's got something behind those eyes that he's just checking you out and knowing everything you're about. It was a little unnerving, but man, he's a smart guy.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:21:36] I feel like he seems like an undercover cop type.
Jason DeFilippo: [01:21:39] Yeah. Yeah, pretty much.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:21:41] Because when you meet him, you're like, if he was like, “Yeah, I'm a criminal and I sell guns.” You'd be like, “Yeah, that checks out.” Right? Like he just looks like the type of guy who would sell you guns. Sell guns to a biker gang behind a saloon somewhere.
Jason DeFilippo: [01:21:54] Yeah, 100 percent. I can totally see that.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:21:57] So great big thank you to Chris Voss. The book title is Never Split The Difference. One of the best books on negotiation anywhere. I'll link to that in the show notes. If you want to know how I managed to book great guests like Chris Voss, checkout or LevelOne Course. It's free jordanharbinger.com/levelone. Even if you don't book guests, of course, it's about networking, relationship development. Do it now. Don't wait. You can't make up for lost time with relationships. Don't be that guy who's like, “I know I should have sent this email earlier, but.” I hate that. All it says is you knew better and you didn't do it anyway because you were too lazy, jordanharbinger.com/levelone. And speaking of relationships and building them, tell me your number one takeaway here from Chris Voss. I'm @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram.
[01:22:38] This show is produced in association with PodcastOne, and this episode was co-produced by Jason “Stockholm Syndrome” DeFilippo and Jen Harbinger. Show notes and worksheets are by Robert Fogarty. I'm your host, Jordan Harbinger. The fee for the show is you share it with friends when you find something useful, you can definitely find that in this episode. So please share the show with those you love and even those you don't. We've got a lot more in the pipe and we're very excited to bring it out. 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.
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