Chris Voss: Founder & CEO of The Black Swan Group and Author of Never Split The Difference

Episode 354

Everything IS a negotiation and this episode with Chris Voss will confirm this. Understanding how to turn the tide in your favor before walking away from the table is key. It’s an art. And there’s nobody alive who’s better at it than Chris Voss. Chris was an expert hostage negotiator and began his work with the FBI’s crisis unit launching a 24-year career with the bureau, eventually acting as their chief international hostage and kidnapping negotiator. After retiring from the FBI in 2007, Chris turned his considerable talents for bargaining to the world of business, reasoning that if his skill set could successfully defuse international incidents, they might also be valuable for business-minded people to craft better and more beneficial situations for themselves, and their companies.This episode is filled with many stories and valuable tools that we can all use. Chris and I talk about the value of mirroring, why it’s better to be happy in a negotiation, how open ended questions are the killer ones, how the most powerful negotiators use plural pronouns, and so much more. Don’t miss this fascinating interview! On this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow.

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be, you just want to make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone, it’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show. And I’m super, super thrilled to have my next guest here. Chris Voss is the founder and CEO of The Black Swan group. But he’s also the author of an incredible, incredible book that you must, must must get your hands on. If you have not heard of it yet or haven’t read it. It’s called never split the difference. And I’m just so excited to have him here to ask him so many questions, but also just to get his expert thoughts on all things negotiation. Chris is an expert in the art of negotiation in business and in life. He is not just a teacher and an author. But he also spent 24 years 24 year tenure in the FBI, he was trained in the art of negotiation by not only the FBI, but also Scotland Yard and Harvard Law School. He has used his many years of experience in international crisis and high stakes negotiations to develop a unique program and team that applies these globally proven techniques to the business world. And now he runs a top consulting company called Black Swan, and teaches negotiation to graduate students at universities, including Harvard, Georgetown, we were just talking about USC as well. So just absolutely incredible. So many stories and lessons, we probably won’t have time to pick his brain on all of them. But definitely, you need to be listening to this podcast, because I’m sure you’re gonna get lots of lessons and tips along the way from Chris. So welcome,

Chris Voss 2:26
Barry to Kara pleasure to be

Kara Goldin 2:29
super excited. So so if you had to describe what you do today, when people call you and say, Hey, Chris, can I get? Can I get a couple minutes of your time? What what do people call you for?

Chris Voss 2:43
What usually they the friction and the deals of friction in their interactions? They want to figure out, you know, what can I say positively to be able to overcome the friction and the real key actually, which is very counterintuitive as you get farther faster by reducing the friction, as opposed to adding lubrication adding adding positivity. So they got they got some sort of a deal they’re struggling with or they they get an innate feeling that they’re leaving money on the table, or the people that we really love or people that just dedicated the learning. And they like innovative fun stuff, ambitious people. Somebody told me recently that if you’re truly ambitious, you like innovative stuff, you like to do stuff, interesting and innovative way and you like to learn. And so if they’re ambitious, they reach out to us soon as they find out of us.

Kara Goldin 3:37
So interesting. So in your early life, did you think that you would eventually become a hostage negotiator or terrorists get into terrorist negotiation?

Chris Voss 3:49
No, no, no, completely fell out of the sky. And I was in law enforcement, a police department in the FBI. I was actually on the SWAT team in the FBI. And we had asked us to do shares and I kept tearing up my right knee. And so I decided, well, you know, before him, cripple, then let me let me not tear up my knee as much let me let me do negotiations. How hard can it be like, my son and I have always liked to joke that’s the unofficial voice family motto. How hard could it be? Which is the Redneck equivalent to a rednecks. Last Words are Hey, watch this.

Kara Goldin 4:25
Very, very interesting. So did you come from a family of police officers?

Chris Voss 4:31
Now now? Not Not at all. I mean, my father served a brief stint the Marines in his younger days. My uncle was in the army in a Criminal Investigative Division but not really a family history of law enforcement. What the family history was really is entrepreneurs. Independence, Maverick. And that was very much in my blood and very much the way that I approached my career law enforcement and him hostage negotiation.

Kara Goldin 5:01
So interesting. So I’ve heard you say that talking to people always really fascinated you that you could pick up words that they were saying that kind of gave you clues as to who they were or maybe even what type of negotiator they ultimately would be, would you? Can you give me an example of where you first noticed this?

Chris Voss 5:25
Um, I think I first noticed like the power of influence through words. In my early days as a police officer. I, I you know, as typical young cop, and you come out of the academy tactically train, and you’re enthusiastic and a little driven by adrenaline, you want to lock people up. And they’re a couple of some of the detectives got rotated out of the detective unit. I ended up in a car and uniform next to the detective. And he knew how to talk to people in really interesting ways with different tones of voice in a way that wasn’t combative, and really got stuff done. And I remember thinking like, ooh, whoo. Now, this is interesting. This is more powerful and more influential than me being commanding everyone’s. So I remember just being sad, fascinated and impressed at how influential he was a bit soft spoken as a police officer. And that’s what I really really got fascinated by.

Kara Goldin 6:26
You touched on this at the beginning of the of the conversation, but how being I don’t know exactly what you call that but being sort of unemotional, I guess and and being nicer, you know, kind of helps you to be able to negotiate with somebody. So is that really what you saw?

Chris Voss 6:48
Well, yeah, you know, and you bring up sort of a really subtle point that stared everybody in the face but but isn’t blatantly obvious. And he talked about being unemotional when, when we talked about people being emotional, most of the time, we’re talking about negative emotions. If I were to say to you, you made a little emotional here, it wouldn’t be conflict. And it would be that your anger was getting in your way your frustration, anxiety concerns, usually negative emotions. Now the negative emotions actually make you dumber, and positive emotions actually make you smart. Being nice, keeps people in a positive mind for free. You know, being commanding, was a lot of police officers are taught to do is actually puts the other person that makes them feel threatened. And depending upon how they respond to threats, he could inadvertently escalate. But I you know, I never really cared all I wanted to know what was what was effective. Like, if me a shout at you, and issuing commands to you, is going to help me do my job and help save your life. I’ll do that. But if me being soft spoken with you, and using different soft inflections or upward inflections helps me have more influence with you, then I’ll do that I’m really mostly interested in what’s effective. And tone of voice ends up being ridiculously effective, which I never imagined till I saw somebody do it.

Kara Goldin 8:13
I’m gonna throw a few things out that I got through your book, but also some of the other interviews I’m so curious about. So what is the most important thing to remember when you’re negotiating with somebody who is holding somebody hostage? Whether it’s in a, I guess, is that in a business situation versus life or death situation? Are those similar?

Chris Voss 8:39
Well, yeah, I mean, Human Nature doesn’t change based on circumstances. I mean, human beings just still react to the same basic things the same basic way the circumstances changes. But how we’re wired as human beings doesn’t change. So what’s particularly effective a hostage situation is also when somebody’s life is on the line is also going to be effective when they think their livelihood is on the line. I’ve had the same basic pressures, still the same basic ways that they see things and weigh things up. Now, the avenue to the path to success in either case, is making the other side feel heard. I’m paraphrasing, repeating summarizing, because as they feel heard, the more they all talk. And negotiation has been described as the art of letting the other side have your way. Well, how do you how do you get there, you kind of talk and get them feeling invested in the interaction and you get them feeling like they like to talk because you’re actually listening. If people are listened to they love to talk, it doesn’t matter who they are. It’s just people that don’t like talking don’t like not being listened to. Uh huh. And listening is actually a really rare rare skill. Like I’m talking to a business executive, really successful guy in Utah. Just a A week and a half ago. And he says, I can sit back and watch my people negotiating with, you know, colleagues, people, personnel, and due to miscommunication, just watch them not get deals that they should be getting. And I said, Well, so is it miscommunication? Or is it poor listening? And he said, No, yeah, they’re not listening to each other. It’s bad listening. So people attribute, you know, bad communication was I just wasn’t clear enough. Or, but the fact of the matter is, they were listening. So you got to talk in a way that’s not more eloquent. But slower down, and then make sure they feel hurt. Because if there’s pretty good chance, you’re not listening, did they actually say what you think? They said, I see this in new hires in my company all the time. You know, you add a what I heard, and I listened pretty good. So now I worry about what you hear in meetings that I’m not present for. So the miscommunication, communication breakdowns is not due to poor articulation, it is due to poor listening.

Kara Goldin 11:18
And it could be on both ends.

Chris Voss 11:21
You gotta, you gotta pretty much guarantee it’s on both ends. Like even I pride myself on being a very good listener. But when I’m thinking about what I want to say, I’m not listening, and I’m thinking about what I want to say. So even then, there are moments that I missed.

Kara Goldin 11:35
So interesting. So how do you get the other side to kind of own that then? I guess, if they think like, it’s, you know, very one sided, and you’re just don’t listen, or we’ve all heard those kinds of dialogues that go on in any, you know, not just negotiation, but communication in general.

Chris Voss 11:54
Yeah, well, the more you listen to them, the more they’re going to end up listening to you. And listening is not going dead silent. Listening is I wait a minute, this is this one, I think your say, and continuing to work to make sure that you’re clear. By checking in with them on what they said, or what they implied, or what might be hidden or what their concerns are. And the more you draw them out, then reciprocity applies to elicit listening, the more you listen to them. The second step is the more they’re going to listen to you. And that’s where you really want to be in order to be heard. You got a you got to make them feel heard first.

Kara Goldin 12:41
So I loved the suggest calling out the negatives in advance statement. So which sort of, you know, rolls into what you’re talking about doing an accusations audit? Why is this one of the most powerful strategies in negotiation?

Chris Voss 12:59
Because people’s heads are really cluttered by negative thoughts, concerns, defensiveness, we’re wired to be that way. I mean, we’re wired to be pessimistic. We wake up in survival mode. Your default mechanism, the reason why human beings still exist on this planet is because survival mindset became a way of thinking in order to survive and survival mindset is largely negative, the optimistic caveman ate stuff they shouldn’t have eaten, walked up to animals they shouldn’t walk up to, you know, they climbed a mountain, they shouldn’t have climbed the optimistic caveman died and has no scent. The pessimistic caveman survived. And we are the descendants of the people that get good survival mode skills, which is negative. So you wake up in a negative frame of mind that still today, so people are wired to be negative, we got to clear their heads, and how do you clear their heads? Interestingly enough, by doing no more than calling out the elephant in the room, not denying the negative emotions of the elephant in the room, though, deny him, call him up. You know, if you’re in sales, you call that out in advance. Like, I probably seem like every other smooth talk and fast buck hustling salesman that you’ve ever run across. There are bringing that notion, and by calling it out is the best way to deactivate it not not by denying it. And we found that out. From my experience, first on the suicide hotline, and then as a hostage negotiator, like, hey, what if we did this in business negotiations? What would happen? And it accelerates, everything just accelerates to positive outcomes?

Kara Goldin 14:40
So name an example of that. I’m so curious, like, how would you how would you look at that as I mean, would you actually try and also call out what their goals are on the other end? And maybe this goes into open ended questions and that whole theory as well, but I guess Trying to figure out how your boss, if it maybe you’re, you’re a sales guy, you’re being accused of not hitting your goals, and how bad actually interferes with what he your boss is trying to achieve. Anyway, and I don’t know how you best to frame that.

Chris Voss 15:18
Yeah, no, that’s a great question like, how quickly do you go? What are the stages? How do you pull it off? Well, there’s another now that we’re on the elephant analogy, there’s another analogy that I really like, which is how to eat an elephant one bite at a time. So to get to

Kara Goldin 15:35
do that, actually, but

Chris Voss 15:38
you know, if we’re, if we’re, if we’re, if we’re acceptable to eat elephants, you know, and it’s not, you ride them, you can ride them, maybe you know, you pat them, you feed them, take good care of them, I’m definitely in favor of preserving wildlife. But then, so you call out the negatives, you got to make sure you get them all called up because they, you know, that clutter in people’s heads. So example, one of one of the clients that were coached a couple of years ago, an insurance company probably owes her family a lot of money. Her father was injured, and they didn’t settle and her mother was handling it, and just she was just drained by the entire episode, and then follow up. Now, many cases insurance claims. If you don’t follow up in a certain period of time that expires, then we’ve got to pay if you haven’t followed up in power. And as it turns out, this young lady finds out about this claim not being settled. With two weeks before the insurance company no longer has to settle two more weeks. Not only are they two weeks away from the deadline, but it’s December, it’s two weeks before Christmas. Generally speaking, getting anything done in December, anywhere in the western world is a challenge because the western world is largely criticized Christian, and if you’re not Christian, you’re out celebrating the holidays anyway. So two weeks left, all the insurance companies got to do is drag their feet for two more weeks, then don’t owe anything. So we coach her, what’s the insurance? What are the negatives? The rep from the insurance company’s gonna think? Not? Not that are fair, not that appropriate? Not they’re not sympathetic. What are they thinking? Well, they think that this family is lazy, that they procrastinate, that they’re Cavalier, that they really don’t care. And they waited this long, they must have lots of money anyway, which they don’t. But you know, why do you not get motivated on insurance claim when you got a lot of money? So what are all the ridiculous, insane schizophrenic, all the possibilities on the spectrum, not that they’re fair because empathy is has nothing to do with fairness or reality or the truth, the other side’s perspective. So we coach this woman, dare gone top coach in my company, I think they came up with a total II told me a 15 things. That negative thoughts that the insurance company represent, Representative might harp start a conversation, calling them out five at a time, then resting for a few moments between each group of five to let it sink in. And then let everything sink in, don’t move forward until they’ve acknowledged that you’ve uncovered everything. The woman settled, the previous officer was $10,000 a year earlier. They settled for $25,000.03 days before Christmas tech got far in excess of any previous offer from the insurance company got on the phone with somebody who was a decent human being and a vast majority of the people that we deal with are decent human beings. And once all the negatives were deactivated, was fully willing to work with the family and ended up paying him $25,000 When a year earlier the most had ever been offered was

Kara Goldin 19:11
so interesting. So it’s sort of counter to I think what a lot of people might think though, right, you’re, you know, you’re you don’t want to own anything that is negative about yourself. Right. And I think initially going into a negotiation you want to come in, you know, with big bravado and very strong and I think like it’s probably counter to what a lot of people think, but it’s interesting, it’s,

Chris Voss 19:37
it’s completely counter to what most people think and most people have their, you know, their fear center, their amygdala, their fear centers whispering in their ear. Like if for whatever reason, you come across somebody working some magic using this approach, and it’s very similar to self effacing humor. Like if somebody can sit down and laugh with you of what an idiot they think they look like to you you suddenly start bonding with this person. Uh huh. And, and you can’t help but be suddenly you find yourself being collaborative and cooperative. So somewhere along the line, they saw somebody do some self effacing humor, and saw transform in a moment. And this is effectively the, you know, the same theory only, you know, we’re not doing it in a humorous way, although that’s a very effective way to lay this stuff out, to laugh with people at yourself. I mean, we love people who can laugh. So. So this is, you know, we see this in other areas, and, you know, can we operationalize this in a business negotiation? Absolutely. I mean, why not take the same tools and techniques that we’ve used another great human communication charm? You know, and how do we use them maintaining our integrity, and it becomes very effective.

Kara Goldin 20:52
I love it. So we see negotiation as a way to get results, how do you size somebody up and get a feel for what their emotional biases are? Or what they’re kind of thinking about?

Chris Voss 21:08
Well, what you know, once I accept that this is a great process. And people are largely in survival mode, which is largely negative that you know, and if we’re into negotiation, there’s the guards got to come up there got to worry that they’re being taken advantage of, that I’m wasting their time that I’m going to cheat them. You know, these are my emotionally educated, emotional intelligence guesses. Going in, understand human nature, then understand the human in front of you. And I’m going to start throwing this stuff out as observations is emotionally educated guesses. And you’re going to open up with me and interact with me now, you’re most likely when I’m hitting the mark on negatives, you’re actually most likely to show no reaction at all. And that’s when no reaction from the other side is very good sign. Now, whenever I’m wrong, and this is the thing that scares people the most, if I’m wrong about a negative, it’s not going to play it that negative, you will actually correct me. So an example of that. I could say, Look, you probably think that we’re going to rip you off. And you’re more concerned with your time being wasted. You say, No, I don’t think it’ll rip me off. I do think you’re going to waste my time. Now back, you just corrected me. And I didn’t, you know, you don’t say and this is the scariest part. This is actually, I learned this way back in a hostage negotiation days. The biggest negative that we were afraid of planning was suicide. Suicide exists as an element in nearly every barricaded situation, every hostage taking, it’s a possibility. And they taught us as hostage negotiators, like if you smell it, if you sense it. If there’s anything about that, somebody’s barricaded in their house, somebody’s barricaded in a bank anywhere. If you smell it in any way, shape, or form, haul it out, ask them if they’re gonna commit suicide. And as new to the discipline, we gotten out, we can’t do that. Because they’re probably going to say, Well, I wasn’t. But now that you suggested, I think I will. I’m going up to the roof, and I’ll see you on the way down. We were horrified at that thought we thought we’d lay up the new. And they said, no, no, no. First of all, if it’s there, they’re gonna love that you called it out because you look fearless. And you’re prepared to talk about something that they think you should be afraid of that you’re prepared to talk about a candidly. So you’re, you look like a straight shooter, your authenticity is immediately appreciated by the other side. And if it’s not there, then they’ll say no, I’m that stupid. I’m not doing that. Not only am I not doing that, I’m never gonna do it. They’ll correct you. So, you know, we, that was one of the things we learned upfront hostage negotiation. I learned it so longer or take it for granted. And I forget how counterintuitive as you said, it appeal it appears to everybody else who hasn’t had the same experience.

Kara Goldin 24:09
So you say there’s three types of negotiators. And I’d love to, you know, explore that a little bit with you and then figure out how to negotiate with these three types of people.

Chris Voss 24:21
Sure, yeah. I mean, and again, this is a descent from the caveman days the only cavemen that survived or fight flight make friends that’s how you react to a threat either you fight it, you run from it, or you befriend and these are the ones that survive, you know, they hear they couldn’t make up their mind they got eaten too. So the optimistic and the indifferent and confused caveman, they all died they didn’t have any fight flight make for it assertive, is the fight. Flight is the analyst, highly analytical. They see a fighting conflict as highly inefficient, and it’s makes much more sense to avoid it entirely. lie and make friends, terminators. The value is the relationship. The value is the positivity of the interaction actually. They’re they’re very hope driven. And although they’re about 1/3 of the time, you know, deals falling apart based on being driven by hope alone. That’s why in so many businesses and business interactions, you hear the phrase hope is not a strategy. Uh huh. It’s because there are a lot of hopeful people out there that think, oh, business strategy, roughly a third of the planet. So sort of analysts Accommodator, each one has something they value more than the deal. And as soon as you understand that, they’re much easier to deal with the asserted, they value being hurt. They can settle for a different outcome. As long as they know, you heard what they had to say. And they become remarkably cooperative. Once they feel hurt, because they want to represent themselves well, which is more important than the deal. Now the deal is important. But what’s more important is that they’re hurt the analysts, they want every piece of available information, very data driven, don’t want to argue, but want the information that you have, that they might not have. So they they like to think they go silent, dead silent a lot because they’re thinking they’re analyzing, they love to give you measured responses to questions and inquiry, they just need to have enough time to think everything through very analytical love data. The Accommodator will want to hope they is going to work out want to have a pleasant relationship in the meantime, poor on details, but really long on having a pleasant interaction, which is a powerful lubricant, inducement facilitator of relationships and deals. And so you might ask yourself, which type is best, better? Well, each type has something that’s essential and inadequate. It’s essential to analyze the data, it’s inadequate to make fully make the deal. It’s essential to have a great positive relationship. And it’s inadequate hope is not a strategy, you need implementation, the analysts come up with implementation. If it’s essential, let the other side know where you want us to be assertive. Otherwise, you’re making them guess. But it’s inadequate, because to be assertive, and where you want as often blunt force Trump. So you need the accommodators. ability and Demeter about being nice. So then you begin to see how some people can make deals under certain circumstances. And the people that like to learn, they start to pick up the characteristics of the other types, because they see that it works.

Kara Goldin 28:03
So you’ve got an analytic sitting across the table from you, that is just taking in all the info, analyzing it taking his time, how do you get them out of that space?

Chris Voss 28:17
Well, first of all, you let them think, and give them you know, you get comfortable with the silence because they think and they they love that. Now this is really hard for the Accommodator, the relationship oriented person. Because in a mistake of you know what my Harvard brothers and sisters would call projection bias, a relationship oriented person, when they’re furious, they go silent. And so they might mistake, the other side’s thinking for fury. And that’s often leads to a downward spiral. Now, you want to get information out of an analyst, but you can’t get it out of them in a timely fashion by asking them a question. So how you really get an analyst talking is to say something seemingly innocuous such as seems like you’ve given us a lot of thought. That’s what we would call a label. And it hits the brain in a different way than a question does analysts hate to be questioned? They love respond to labels. So I can say what are you thinking? And the analysts would be like, Oh, my God for it. So this one, I got to think through every ramification of an AIDS. But if I were to say instead seems like something’s on your mind, they’re highly likely to start talking immediately. And so the labels are great way to get analysts to open up because they you know, they got information they want to share. They don’t want to feel interrogated, and they want to know that they’re being listened to.

Kara Goldin 29:50
I was fascinated by this topic. You said the most powerful negotiators in business will always use plural pronouns. Oh, All right. Now I’m going back. And I’m thinking of all of the negotiations I’ve been in over the years where, you know, maybe somebody was using AI or me a little too much. Do you want to expand on this a little bit what you’ve seen?

Chris Voss 30:16
Yeah, that’s another thing that’s just fascinating and counterintuitive. Like, the more influential a person is, over the whether or not the deal is made the decision maker or implemented. And the implementers are often more important than decision makers, because implementers are going to tell the decision makers whether or not it’s a good deal. But they don’t want to get quarter at the table. They know how much influence they have. So they’re gonna look I got a board of directors, you know, I got I got people I’m accountable to I got all these people on my side, they’ve got to work all this out, like, you know, I don’t even I don’t know what they’re gonna do. I had somebody who’s a real hard bargaining procurement guy telling me recently, like, yeah, like, I like to lay this out on my CEO all the time. You know, I never reject deals, I tell people look, you got to give me something, I can tell my boss, you know, my boss never gonna go for this. You know, they’re laying it off on somebody that isn’t there, they’re making themselves seem less powerful. The only person who consciously makes himself seem less powerful, is someone who’s extremely influential. They don’t want to either don’t want to be the bad guy that says now, or they just don’t want to get cornered for the Yes. So the more that they lay off, decision making implementation of people that are not there, or the more that they use plural pronouns, or allude to a team, they have little influence over. These are savvy, savvy, smart people. And they are the most influential person on the other side.

Kara Goldin 31:58
So in a hostage negotiation, I saw one example of this, but I’d love to hear you share that story. So somebody’s saying, you know, this is what we want, as compared to this is what I want. You worry more about the people that are saying we,

Chris Voss 32:15
well, I’m more aware, you know, it’s information, it’s data, it tells me a lot about this person, I actually like the plural pronoun person, because I know I’m getting a lot of good information. And I know that if you know, if I connect with this person, for I have a positive relationship of influence, the chances of this go in the direction, I want it to go really high. Because they are, in fact very influential on their side. And then if they’re not talking with me, then I’ve also it also gives me an indicators of whether or not I’m wasting my time. In a hostage negotiation, if we’re wasting our time talking, we got to look at other options. In a business negotiation, if we’re wasting our time talking in a different way, we look at other options, we go look to make a deal with somebody else. Like I want to know this early on, because it’s not a sin to not get the deal. It’s a sin to take a long time to not get the deal.

Kara Goldin 33:16
Exactly. And how do you find out who’s behind the scenes, right? We’ve all run into people who you’re negotiating with, and, you know, maybe they have a big ego, you don’t want to go around them. You know, there’s somebody in the background, you know, but you know, you don’t want to go to their boss, but you know, that there is somebody back there that is, you know, ultimately making the decisions. I mean, what’s your suggestion there?

Chris Voss 33:46
Well, yeah, there’s a lot of emphasis on decision makers. But we really try to factor into the deal killers, who the deal killers are the people that are going to use the product. They’re the deal killers. Your hand, your question is, so who’s going to use this? I mean, how do they feel about all this? What are their concerns? You ask your counterpart, these types of questions, your counterparts go have a tendency to turn around and go to them and ask them those questions. They’re going to be worried about having a rug pulled out from under them or the, you know, the limb sawed off behind them. They don’t want to get isolated on a deal that’s going to fall here or so. And asking them these kinds of questions actually helps them keep their team together. So the the users of whatever it is the implementers are critical as another category that are neither users nor implementers, but are great at killing deals and whoever you’re talking to, if they have legal counsel on their staff, I’ve heard what many companies call going into TNC going into terms and conditions. This is where their attorneys killed deals they tear This stuff apart. How do you avoid that? Start asking about it in advance. How does your legal staff feel about this? What are they concerned about? You know, a lawyer who’s consulted during the process is far less likely to kill the deal than a lawyer who isn’t brought in until after the negotiations, oh, they’re going to be miffed and annoyed that they weren’t involved. By definition, since they weren’t involved, this has to be a bad deal. They can do everything they can to kill it. The whole strategy here is just to get consultation going. On the other side, while the process is ongoing,

Kara Goldin 35:38
great advice. So I think bringing in legal counsel, if you’re going to need it early on in the process is absolutely critical. Because I’ve seen that over and over again, where deals do get killed. That’s exactly where it happens. So you’ve mentioned in other interviews, listening to the adjectives, I loved this as well. So can you talk a little bit about that? adjutants or profanity or cliches? And how does that affect a negotiation?

Chris Voss 36:07
Well, that that begins to give you a little bit more of a feeling about how the person thinks, what do they hold, dear, dear? What are their values? You know? What are their higher purpose values? How do they see themselves? The direct and honest so pretty blunt, I mean, I’m direct and honest, I’m pretty blunt. So my adjectives tend to tend to be single syllable words, as a general rule with lots of consonant so there you go, you know that that’s gonna give you a picture of who you’re dealing with. You know, is there is there a scattering of of other things, what matters more to them in higher purpose, everybody has core values. And some of those are very high, ideal values. Finding out how they feel about loyalty, finding out how they feel about family, the small talk, which gives you an indicator of what their core values are, what are their higher purposes in life, that’s going to give you a much better feel for whether or not the deal is going to go

Kara Goldin 37:05
through. And you talk about mirroring? I’ve loved that as well. Can you describe what how you see mirroring falling into this too?

Chris Voss 37:14
Yeah, the hostage negotiators a mirror, The Black Swan mirror is not the body language, mirror, not body language in any way, shape, or form. It’s just repeating the last one to three words, or what somebody has said, you know, could be one word that really not more than five. And it’s the simplest, yet almost elegant way to get somebody to continue to talk. And it helps people connect their thoughts. And it makes them feel listened to. And it makes them want to expand and explore the idea. And Mirroring is such a simple thing. That the people that really like elegance in their negotiation and simplicity, love, love mirrors, they just love mirror. Give

Kara Goldin 38:01
me an example of a mirroring.

Chris Voss 38:03
Give me an example.

Kara Goldin 38:04

Chris Voss 38:07
That was a mirror area, you gave me just simply a one word answer. But it didn’t, you know, I gave you some silence and an opportunity to see if you could expand on or simply it was just giving me a straight confirmation. And if I started mirroring you the first time or two, I mirrored you, you may or may not find it awkward. But then the other thing I did after I mirrored and we were both silence, I didn’t jump in immediately and interrupt the conversation, go run it off in another direction. You sometimes may need me to do that several times to know that when I speak, it’s not the hijack the conversation. When I speak, it’s to hear you better. And each and every time I do that, you’re going to like it more, and you’re going to open up a little bit more. Because all of your previous conditioning is really in being interrupted by somebody who’s not listening.

Kara Goldin 39:00
Interesting. So I’m curious, did you find that man men and women negotiate differently?

Chris Voss 39:07
It’s not quite as smooth, clean answer, but but I’ll take a crack at it. Emotionally intelligence based negotiation, which is more effective than any other kind to begin with a black swan method doesn’t work all the time just works more than anything else does. And it’s high EQ based. Women generally pick it up faster than men. Because they got a head start on soft skills training from a very young age. adult women realize that a female children need schooling on soft skills. Because whether or not they’re equal to or physically superior to the little boys, along about somewhere in the mid the late teens. The low boys are going to be bigger than a little girls and a little girl is going to need soft skills. And so they generally have a head start globally based on nurturing. Now at the high end, it’s gender agnostic. And men or women are both equally capable of being ridiculously good at emotional intelligence. The capacity for either is no different. Women have a tendency to pick it up faster than men do, as a general rule, simply because they’ve probably been getting schooled on it indirectly, since they were at a very young age.

Kara Goldin 40:34
So you’re, you’re in a negotiation with somebody, and you can’t meet face to face because they’re in another country. They’re, you know, you’re in a pandemic, they don’t want to meet with you. What do you suggest to people? I mean, is it get on a zoom with just do a phone call? I mean, is there any sort of negotiation tactics that you have for that kind of situation where the person doesn’t really want to see you or, you know, you want to negotiate more than they do? Or whatever it is? I’m so curious what you would say to that?

Chris Voss 41:12
Yeah, well, two things, don’t do it all via one medium, and don’t do it all at once. And tip, people have a tendency to try to pull off everything at once. Like text messages are great, as long as it’s not the only thing that you do. And you don’t put everything in the same text. And look at everything as complimentary. And people will come on a zoom with you if you’re not wasting their time. Or how do you condition that you’re not wasting their time, brief emails, brief text message, demonstrating an awareness and understanding of where the other side’s coming from, and use each one in a complementary fashion, you can be very effective and it’d be wonderful to get together in person. But as you said, based on time, circumstances, there can be any number of reasons why it’s hard to get a zoom. Like I deal with people in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai and Abu Dhabi on a regular basis. We’re on the other side of the clock. So we supplemented with brief tax briefing Mills demonstrate understanding and appreciation for them as much as possible. Develop a sense for based on a communication when we’re on the wrong track, when there’s a problem. You know, who’s gonna go dead silent when there’s a problem? Alright, so they’ve gone dead silent. There’s a problem. Now, what do I gotta guess the problem is, the other side is very appreciative of that, which I started taking emotionally intelligent, educated guesses. So use off all the mediums in a complementary fashion. And focus on letting the other side know you know where they’re coming from.

Kara Goldin 42:56
So I talked about your book never split the difference. Everyone needs to grab a copy of this, you actually have an audible version as well, which is quite good. And then the black swan group, I’d love to hear more about your group, and how people could get a hold of you and what, what types of programs are you offering?

Chris Voss 43:20
Yeah, we are. We are a one stop shopping, wherever you are for negotiation. Whether you’re a beginner, whether you’re highly advanced. So we put a lot of free stuff out there. The Black Swan website is black swan One of the first things people do in order to move themselves forward is subscribe to our weekly newsletter because it’s complimentary and it’s concise, and the fact that it’s concise is probably more viable than it being complimentary.

Kara Goldin 43:51
It’s terrific by the way, so great, yeah, it’s great

Chris Voss 43:56
and we make it usable to write digestible, usable, actionable. And I come I learned my teaching days started with teaching police officers and they are practical group. If you don’t bring usable stuff to them, they are not interested in theoretical, mystical academic stuff they want stuff they can use and all of our stuff is usable so we can coach you we can train you we can do it live we can do it in person we do it over the phone we have in person events, which you really need a good foundation of the many free things that we put out there before you come to an in person event we’re going to want you to have read the book. By probably subscribe to the newsletter. We have links on our website to the masterclass a masterclass is put out which is extremely useful, usable, digestible and beneficial. A lot of people love the masterclass and masterclass a very cheap product. I’m shocked at how low for one You get based on what you pay. It’s incredible. So wherever you are in the negotiation journey, if you like innovative stuff, if you’re ambitious as you want to get better, and you know that you need somebody to help you get better than then we’ll help you forward in your journey.

Kara Goldin 45:16
That’s terrific. Well, we’ll have it all in the show notes as well. But thank you so much, Chris. I really enjoyed this. Lots of good nuggets here for everyone to take away and obviously, go to black swan website and check out more and thank you so much, Chris. Oh, pleasure was murdered. Thanks again for listening to the Kara Goldin show. If you would, please give us a review. And feel free to share this podcast with others who would benefit and of course, feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode of our podcast. Just a reminder that it can be found on all platforms at Kara Goldin. And if you want to hear more about my journey, I hope you will have a listen. Or pick up a copy of my book on daunted which I share my journey, including founding and building hint. We are here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And thanks everyone for listening. Have a great rest of the week, and 2023 and goodbye for now. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening