Jun 19th 2017 by mjh2017 • 24 Questions • 441 Points
Hi again Reddit! I’m Chris Voss, the founder and CEO of [The Black Swan Group](blackswanltd.com), a consulting firm that provides training and advises Fortune 500 companies through complex negotiations. You may remember me from last year.
Rooted in hostage negotiation, my methodology centers around “Black Swans” small pieces of information that have a huge effect on an outcome. I currently teach at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. I’ve also lectured at other schools including Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, Harvard Law School the MIT Sloan School of Management, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. I’ve been a guest on CNN and Fox News, and I’ve appeared on The Daily Show, Anderson Cooper 360, and NPR.
Before all of these fun things, I was the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI, where I tried out all kinds of new approaches in negotiation. I was involved in more than 150 international kidnapping cases in my over two decades with the FBI, and I learned that hostage negotiation is more or less a business transaction.
On May 17th of 2016, my first book “Never Split The Difference” was published, distilling the skills I've gathered over my career into usable tips that will give the reader the competitive edge in any discussion—whether in the boardroom, at the dinner table, or at the car dealership. It’s now being published in 14 languages by 15 international publishers for 20 countries around the world.
Seriously, I was blown away and really grateful for all the attention the book received. It’s become a national bestseller, was listed as one of the best business books of 2016, and has been called one of the seven best negotiation books ever written on Inc. I hit the front page of Reddit, chatted at Google, spoke on some great podcasts, had more than 1.5 million page views on Quora, and was featured in some great press.
The book's readers used its lessons not just to make more money, but to improve their relationships with others and their lives as a whole.
But my core message from the book still stands… everything we’ve previously been taught about negotiation is wrong: you are not rational; there is no such thing as ‘fair’; compromise is the worst thing you can do; the real art of negotiation lies in mastering the intricacies of No, not Yes. These surprising ideas—which radically diverge from conventional negotiating strategy—weren’t cooked up in a classroom, but are the field-tested rules FBI agents use to talk criminals and hostage-takers around the world into (or out of) just about any imaginable scenario.
Ask me about how men and women negotiate differently, how to navigate sticky family situations, negotiating as a parent, advice for recent graduates, stories from my time in the FBI, or even how to get past a bouncer into a busy club. AMA!
You can also learn more about me at www.blackswanltd.com
Did this ultimately lead to more exposure and therefore more sales? How does the book's success compare from before and after?
"Hi Chris - huge fan of your book! I am interviewing for a few different companies and was wondering if you have any good questions/advice for salary negotiation?
There was more temporary exposure for sure. I really find it an honor that he had my book on his show, and it was a great lesson and one I can talk about (even was the core message of a recent TED talk I gave: have the courage to have the courage to chase your dreams regardless of outcome). A lot of people asked me how I didn't jump off a bridge after being a laughing stock but it all depends on how you look at it. I was temporarily humiliated but then happy about it. I emailed him asking if he would have me on his show too, you know, to play pin the testicles on the lion or at least have a dance-off but he never got back to me. :-)
2 questions you've GOT to ask.1 - "What does it take to be successful here?" 2 - "How can I be guaranteed to involved in projects critical to the strategic future of the company?"
These are both "success" questions that set you up for more salary now, but even more importantly, in the future.
For #1 - You want to hear from the insiders (your interview panel) how to best get ahead. This will also recruit them as unofficial mentors as they will want to see you succeed as a result of their advice.
For #2 - The sets you apart as being a team player who want to make everyone succeed, therefore making you worth more, not just now but in the future. If you get this term it will also give you visibility at the highest levels of the company.
These both put you in a position to not only ask form more, but politely turn them down when they don't give you enough, and makes them waht to come up to your salary needs.
3 million people watching. That is a lot of publicity, and you might benefit from it. Well actually you have, as I now have the book in my Amazon basket.
Do you have any "non-hostage rescue" related negotiating advice?
Lots of great lessons for sure. Things are only as good or as bad as we think they are. :-) And I'm a huge Jimmy Falllon fan so was very pleased to see him playing with my book. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHgwS5Auq9w
Lots of them! Mostly with me negotiating myself out of a jam!
I’m about to miss a flight out of Malaysia on my way to Australia. I’m facing an immigration line to leave the country that looks every bit of 40 minutes long and my flight boards in 20 minutes. The breakdowns that have caused me to get in this position were all under my control or oversight.
I cut the line (of 40 people) to the Malaysian government bureaucrat who is taking his time and likely not impressed with the selfish concerns of an American who’s failed to get out in front of his schedule.
Me: “I am so sorry. I’m afraid I’m late. My flight boards in 20 minutes and if you don’t let me through I’m going to miss my flight.”
Him: “Why were you late?” (Unsmiling – He is also looking at the next guy in line that I have jumped in front of and clearly thinking about sending me to the back.)
Me: “It was completely my fault. I’m probably going to be the stupidest person you talk to today.” (What do you think he was thinking at that moment? FBI Empathy /Tactical empathy to the rescue.)
Him: (What is he now thinking? “That’s right.” He smiles, reaches for my passport and ticket – stamps them) “Have a nice flight.”
Later that week I’m delayed in the TSA security checkpoint at Newark Airport. They’ve snagged me because I’ve left a few ounces of water in my “Voss” water bottle in my carry-on shoulder bag. I want to keep the bottle because it’s “Voss”! (and it also has a larger opening to pour in the bizarre vitamins I take.)
The TSA guy is giving me sideways glare/glances as he’s got several bags to check & would clearly rather be doing something else. I smile. No smile in return.
He walks over to get my bag, and when he picks it up I say, “Bless me father for I have sinned.”
His expression remains unamused.
He takes 3 steps towards me to walk me to the table where he’ll open the bag and says. “How long since your last confession my son?”
“An hour. I do a lot of things wrong.”
He lets me drink the rest of the water in front of him (they’re supposed to throw it out), personally walks me back to the front of the security line (once again cutting in front of 40 people – they’re just supposed to expel you back outside the secure area) and makes sure I get on my way with only momentary delay.
This FBI empathy stuff works!
I love banana peppers on pizza! But my favorite combo is jalapenos, bacon and pineapple. Spicy, salty, and sweet.
I was very interested in your insights of him as a negotiator. I don't think he's come across well in the political field, because his normal tactics don't seem to work. Some of his successes have perhaps been him realising he has to evolve a little.
Here it is.
If you could have Jimmy Fallon include 1 statement to convince viewers that your book was truly worth reading and important, what would it be?
And for the record, I'm not saying your book isn't worth reading, I just mean that Jimmy would include a statement to put the book and its title into correct context.
What negotiating tactics can I use to convince my girlfriend that having 5 house cats is enough, and we don't need to add anymore?
Bonus points if she will still talk to me after said negotiation.
This is an excellent question, thank you for this! It was a real honor to see my book there, and I know it was all in good fun and nothing personal. But this is a good question, so how about: 'Post-show I was supposed to meet my buddy, JT for some Go-Bro dancing but I started reading this book and couldn't put it down, so I never made it.'
My friend, the most dangerous negotiation is the one you don't know you're in!
This isn't about house cats. It's about her security and how she see's the world. There are things that are driving her that she is afraid to share with you (hidden) and there are things driving her that are so far in the past she may have forgotten them (blind).
You're dig into this with labels: "It seems like what the cats give you is important to you." "It seems you had cats growing up?" "It feels to you lke there's something missing in your life?" "It feels like having the cats helps you control things in the world that are otherwise out of control."
If you can dig into what's driving her, you may be able to diffuse it, or find another way to address it.
If you are really trying to understand, she won't only be speaking to you afterward, she's likely to feel much closer to you as well.
I learned a lot of from your book and it's one of my favorites.
In sales i'm given the objection "if you're so good, why don't you do it for free?" or "If this works so well, why are you sharing it with me?"
What is the thinking behind this in order to put a label on it?
These will get them!
"Sounds like you're skeptical." "Sound like your guard is up high." "Sounds like you're thinking I'm trying to hoodwink you." "Sounds like you've trusted in the past an been let down."
These objections are both skepticism based and based on feelings of insecurity, likely as result of being betrayed in the past. They were likely conned at some point and feel very stung by it. There's an old saying that someone who's been bitten by a snake is afraid of ropes.
Recognizing fears (an aspect of emotional intelligence) and then articulating it (street smarts, aka good people skills, aka tactical empathy) is the absolute best way to not just overcome objections, but make them dissolve.
I like "Chris"!
Thanks for asking!
Chris, what percentage of people actually negotiate using rational thoughts instead of pure emotion?
You're not going to like this.
Reason is what we make up after we decide based on what we care about. You make decisions based on what you care about, which makes decision making by definition an emotional process.
Daniel Kahneman won the Noble Prize for his work on Prospect Threory with Amos Tversky pointing this out.
If you believe this is true (I do) then all negotiation is an interplay of emotion followed by rational thought.
Maybe a way to think of it might be like a water molecule. 2 parts emotion and 1 part reason, or even vice versa. Either way, without emotion there is no molecule.
No seriously...Paul. Super cool guy. Pops up in LA now & then (where I'm at now). He pulled a super-cool "negotiation" move with a friend of mine.
My buddy (who's also a musician) see's Paul jogging in a park in the Hollywood Hills. My friend tries not to be a giddy fan, but can't help it & runs after him & catches up. My buddy is almost beside himself that he actually standing there talking to Paul McCartney. He's so excited he can't hardly speak & Paul reaches over to him & puts his hands on his shoulders. Then his says "Yeah, I say that TV show too. It was cool" My buddy had mentioned a Beatles related show that had just been on.
With that touch, Paul then turned & went back to his jog. Totally cool way to give a great fan an amazing moment with complete class & then get back to his day!