Chris Voss is the author of, “Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It.” Chris is a former international hostage negotiator for the FBI. He has had an amazing career full of great experience and insights. Chris first entered the FBI in 1983 and has been involved with over 150 kidnapping cases. He started out working on a suicide hotline and quickly realized that his negotiating skills were applicable to all areas of life, not just hostage situations.
Chris starts the conversation off talking about how he begins hostage negotiations. It is about exchanging power and getting the upper hand early on in the negotiations. A lot of people want to think of negotiations as chess. Chris explains why this is not the case. You can make four moves in a row if you want. Not necessarily making one move, then a counter move by the other person. Chris goes on to explain that if you can walk out of any situation you don’t like, then you can win in any situation and you are able to have more fun with negotiating.
Next, Michael asks, “How do you go about negotiating with bat shit crazy people?” Even “bat shit crazy” has it’s patterns. Chris talks about being on Comedy Central and doing a skit on this exact situation. As long as he starts looking at patterns then things become aware to him and he can influence people’s emotions. When people don’t open themselves up to you, that is the first sign of danger. If people won’t talk, this is when you know psychologically they have shut down. 9-11 is an example of people being silent on the other side, shutting down, and leaving no room for negotiation. If you can ask someone “Have you given up on resolving this situation amicably?” Even having someone say “Yes” means they are immediately opening up a little more than they were before. Chris was always taught to go into situations knowing that people are not rational. They are driven by passion and purpose.
Chris also elaborates on “Why, How and Lying three times”. In general, “Why” questions make people feel defensive instantly. “How” questions make the other person feel powerful. People feel in charge when they are asked “How”, but it puts a lot of constraints on their answer. His last rule of negotiations is the “Lying three times” rule. If you get someone to lie three times then they most likely won’t act on that lie.
The podcast wraps up with bonus material of an interview between Michael and Chris recorded on a previous day.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
- Aversion to negotiation
- Negotiating skills
- Never pretend people are rational
- Business negotiations compared to hostage negotiations
- Lying three times
- “How” and “Why” questions
Mentions & Resources:
- Chris Voss
- “Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It”
- Daniel Kahneman
- Amos Tversky