Hi Reddit! I’m Chris Voss, the founder and CEO of The Black Swan Group, a consulting firm that provides training and advises Fortune 500 companies through complex negotiations. 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 and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. I’ve also lectured at other schools including 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. Just this week I released a book called Never Split the Difference, where I distill 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.

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

Proof: here

Thank you everyone! Thank you for taking the time to interact with me! It's been fun to be on here! Please feel free to check out the book or my website. www.blackswanltd.com. All the best!

Comments: 1048 • Responses: 68  • Date: 

molrobocop781 karma

If I wanted to negotiate a deal to force Mexico to pay for a wall separating their country from our own, how should I approach the discussion?

Chris_Voss744 karma

WIIFM. "What's in it for me?" On some level, that's the question that everyone asks themselves. How will I be better off if I make this deal, and has my counterpart not made me hate him so much that I don't care what i get I just want to punish him. Mexicans come to the US to try to secure a better future for themselves and their children. Do they come here because they have better jobs at home and they WANT to go somewhere where almost no one understands them? Give them a better future at home and we won't need a wall. They might not want US coming THERE!

aprilla2crash700 karma

Would you sell the book to me for $5 ??

Chris_Voss451 karma

How am I supposed to do that?

karateexplosion998 karma

My offer's just been lowered to $4. You're losing money, Chris. Give me an answer.

Chris_Voss552 karma

I'm sorry, you're offer is very generous. It just doesn't work for me.

Arkantoast720 karma

*Your. C'mon you're promoting a book here

ThisToastIsTasty301 karma

That's what editors are for

Chris_Voss422 karma

Examples of how to say "no"!

sr20inans2000625 karma

What's the best way to negotiate Salary for a new job? Answer this well and I'll buy your book right now.

Chris_Voss1532 karma

Salary pays your bills but terms build your career.

Salary is the price term in a job negotiation and price is only 1 term. What you really want is terms that guarantee you visibility with the top levels of the firm, a reasonably high but not ridiculous wage so they like having you around and want to pay you more in a year when you've been successful. You also want terms where you get good guidance on how to be successful and from the right people. Ask "How can I be guaranteed to be involved in projects critical to the strategic future of the company?"

Be extremely likable and respectfully persistent on what you need to be successful on the non-salary terms. The side-effect is that they will compensate you more in other areas when they can't give elsewhere. One of my students got a higher salary because she was so darn pleasant and persistent on wanting extra vacation.

ALL terms have to be negotiated within the context of making you a ridiculously successful employee, otherwise why should they pay you?

Chris_Voss2449 karma

Now buy 20 books.

J_Bendy586 karma

How much does your voice, tone, and diction change when you are negotiating as opposed to just normally talking?

Chris_Voss942 karma

Wow! Awesome! Thanks for asking this. "Smile" when you speak and people want to work with you more. It actually makes both of you smarter as well because our minds work up to 31% better when we are in a good frame of mind. On rare occasions, when I really have to make an important point, I use the "late-night FM DJ" voice. Downward inflecting, calm tone. Great for making important points!

ursoa366 karma

Totally inappropriate of me but just had this mental picture of a room full of agents extremely stressed out and the negotiator smiling on the phone completely calm like he's just ordering a pizza.
I really admire the kind of self control you have to be able to not only resist under that kind of stress since all that weight falls on your shoulders but be able to control the situation itself.

Chris_Voss400 karma

It's kind of crazy, but as soon as you focus on the process and just let the outcome come to you it gets much easier.

Breathe_New_Life216 karma

as soon as you focus on the process and just let the outcome come to you it gets much easier.

That seems to be the real trick to just about everything.

Chris_Voss294 karma

Yep! That's why I like to think of patience as a weapon.

nomadbishop577 karma

How important is Liam Neeson in reaching a satisfactory conclusion to an event?

PenguinWrangler407 karma

70% of all successful kidnapping negotiations involve Liam Neeson.

Chris_Voss306 karma

You gotta love bad-ass old guys!

Phallicmallet465 karma

I want a working helocopter with a trained pilot and a full tank... I have no leverage but am still making demands... Will you deiiver?

Chris_Voss474 karma

What would make me talk to you in the 1st place?

NeedlessCritique2493 karma

Since you're already talking to him, looks like you've lost the upper hand here, Chris.

Beginner mistake. This is one of the things covered in chapter 2 of my book about negotiating on the Internet, Never Feed The Trolls. I highly suggest you read it, or I'm going to start shooting.

Chris_Voss738 karma


Californib403 karma

Hi Chris. What are three tips for how I can avoid being kidnapped in the first place?

Chris_Voss694 karma

Great question! Be unpredictable is #1! Kidnappers want to establish your patterns 1st making you easier to catch. #2 Any time you think someone is following you - get out of there. Get off the "X". #3 - Enjoy life anyway! Life is meant to be enjoyed!

Bafflepitch651 karma

Be unpredictable is #1!

Thanks! Next time I'm late to work I'm going to explain how I need to be unpredictable.

Chris_Voss569 karma

Ahhh, here's a crazy idea...leave for work earlier! (I was always late!)

Jungletouch353 karma

How many traffic tickets have you talked yourself out of?

Chris_Voss402 karma

Quite a few!

Chris_Voss798 karma

Police officers, like all other human beings want you to see their point of view. A friend of mine got out of a ticket exactly like I told her to. She got stopped and the police officer said, "Do you know why I stopped you?" She said (as I have when i've been stopped) "Because I'm an ass-****" The look on his face was shocked and completely changed. the real reason was because she was lost and the police officer gave her directions and he let her go. Say something someone doesn't expect (against your seemingly better interest) and they will be so shocked they will listen to you and want to help you out!

aeiluindae153 karma

That's one that I've run into. Seeming like a straight-up person who admits they screwed up and demonstrates empathy gets you quite a ways, sometimes. Ideally, it's a bit more than just seeming, though.

I'm really curious about the role of ethics in your work. In your place, I could see myself simply refusing to provide advice to or negotiate for a business that behaves in ways which I find ethically questionable. Furthering their ends with knowledge of those actions seems to imply that I approve of their means and I would therefore feel somewhat culpable for further harm they did because I gave them an advantage. Similarly, are there things that you won't even try to talk people into, even if doing so would be good for you?

Chris_Voss263 karma

Good points. Actually, I believe in integrity as a currency, if you will. There are always going to be deal points that are taken on blind faith, or trust that you're telling the truth or not leading people into illegal behavior. I can't be held responsible for the lack of integrity of the people I deal with when they are away from me, but I can take responsibility for my deals and dealings. When you conduct business that way, more business comes to you in the long run. Honesty and integrity are actually mercenary traits. You make more money because of it.

Cant_Think_For_Shit223 karma

Can you tell us about one kidnapping that has really stuck out to you that you've negotiated in?

Chris_Voss315 karma

The Jeff Schilling case - we took the ransom demand from $10 million to $0 in one conversation. It's in the book and what chapter 5 is all about. The same thing used there I've used with my son to get him to change how he was playing football. Other clients and students have used it to make incredible break-throughs in all kinds of negotiations. It's a lot of fun to read and once you understand it, not hard to do.

balram_bahadur161 karma

I like his answers and appreciate the fact that he's doing an AMA. But he could tone down the promotions of his books in the answers.

He didn't tell anything about the case, only pushing us to read the book.

Sparcrypt127 karma

You could google the case, or accept that if you want his personal perspective on his most memorable case that you should buy his book.

He's given plenty of interesting answers.. but he wants to sell his book so of course "what is the most interesting/memorable X" questions specifically related to his books topic will be vague.

I mean if you ask what his favourite vegtable is and he said "what a coincidence, I cover that in my book!" then OK, fair point. Otherwise.... seems like he's being perfectly reasonable.

Chris_Voss146 karma


pres8239 karma

You know that's a fruit right?

alice-in-canada-land147 karma

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.

Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.

Chris_Voss46 karma


Chris_Voss18 karma

yeah, I forgot!

Chris_Voss59 karma

We got the terrorist to say "That's right". It's actually the same advice I was giving someone else in another answer. I like that you want to get straight answers out of me! No one wants their time wasted.

chadministrator37 karma

I like that you want to get straight answers out of me! No one wants their time wasted.

Do you go over that tactic in the book, too? lol

Chris_Voss57 karma

Hahahaha! Come on now, don't give me a hard time!

shae2k43 karma

Good on you for actually replying though and not backing down. You may be shilling your book but you're doing it well and respecting the community while you're at it.

Chris_Voss64 karma

Thank you! And I do believe in doing my best to show respect.

Cant_Think_For_Shit75 karma

I will be sure to check this book out. Thank you for the reply.

Chris_Voss70 karma

My pleasure!

Sharpam221 karma

From the time you're notified of a kidnapping to the end of it all, is there a certain 'step' or process that you consider the most vital? Is there a point in negotiations where failure is the most damaging?

Chris_Voss286 karma

Thanks for the question! Establishing a willingness to communicate and show that you're both willing to work with them, yet in a deferential manner, that you have limits is key.

thedustsettled204 karma

Does culture play a role in the varying style(s) of negotiation that one adopts in a situation? Say you're across from a Chinese negotiator vs say an European one - would your approaches be different?

Chris_Voss350 karma

LOTS of people ask that! The negotiation skills I teach are designed to appeal to us as humans beings, so they are "sub-cultural", so to speak. All of the hostage negotiation teams across the globe use these same skills because they appeal to all of us. We were all humans before we are our ethnicity. Culture is layered over that. So, yes, the same basic tactical empathy approach works with Chinese and with Europeans. We don't disrespect regional culture, we just focus on the "human" culture.

I_hate_faggotry180 karma

Did any one negotiation fail? If yes. What was the impact?

Chris_Voss321 karma

Yes. You stay in that game long enough and it happens. Darkest moment of my professional career. In a way, that's kind of selfish & self-centered of me to say because it wasn't my family member that died. i resolved to get better and that no matter what, it wouldn't happen like that ever again.

Msteven1174 karma

How are kidnapping negotiation skills relevant to business negotiations?

Chris_Voss300 karma

Yep! Everybody wonders that! 2 things: 1st - kidnappers are really just businessmen. I know that sounds cold-hearted to us, but to them it's only business. The key to any negotiation is being able to see it from their point of view so you can win in their world. Once you can do that with a kidnapper you can do it with anyone!

2nd - everyone, even kidnappers, make up their mind based on what they care about most - this makes decision making an emotional process. EQ is the key to negotiations whether with kidnappers or your boss. Hostage negotiation skills are just advanced EQ.

dontnormally89 karma



Chris_Voss236 karma

Sorry, emotional intelligence. Getting good at picking up on other people's emotions and then have they will likely drive them in one direction or another. Then getting better and better at subtly influencing how they feel. It's one of the reasons flattery works (though many of us hate that it does). Good EQ is really getting beyond flattery and taking it to the next level. It can be such powerful stuff that Adam Grant (Wharton professor and author of a book I'm a big fan of - "Originals") recently wrote a piece about the dark side of emotional intelligence.

Some people call it EQ (sort of a take-off on IQ), some EI, all the same reference.

lockd0wn152 karma

Do you ever negotiate with yourself for motivation?

Chris_Voss241 karma

i know, right?! All the time. Talk it out loud! Interestingly enough, when we hear it, even if it's our own voice, we can do a better job of making sense of it. Especially if we reinforce positive self-talk, in a good frame of mind, we boost ourselves.

Jonathan_Utah_Esq126 karma

Hi there,

How accurate is the movie Proof Of Life in portraying the industry of hostage and kidnapping negotiation? What are some little things you have to do and tell yourself that weren't in the movie that you think the general public would be surprised at?

Chris_Voss274 karma

Proof of Life was based essentially on one real-life case and the Russell Crowe character was a composite of about 4 people (one of whom was a friend of mine.) Pretty good overall except the ending. That would never happen where a private group does an armed assault in another country. Even though they were killing bad guys, it would still be murder. No matter what the reason, no government will tolerate armed private citizens killing their citizens. Otherwise not a bad film!

sullman_108 karma

In a negotiation, how do you decide or figure out how little you can give to someone to still get what you want back?

Chris_Voss165 karma

Great question! Ask lots of "How?" and "What?" questions. Stuff like "What's the biggest challenge you face?" "How does that help you?" "What happens if this fails?" These do 2 things: Identify the real problems and also show that you really want to work with them. The better partner you are - the more they will want to give you.

gmason070299 karma

At what point are you called off? Pertaining to those who refuse to communicate with you or threaten harm if you continue to attempt talks?

Chris_Voss184 karma

One of our philosophies for all negotiations (hostage, business or personal) is "The most dangerous negotiation is the one you don't know you're in." This means we communicate and influence indirectly as much as directly. We communicate with actions as well as words. If direct communications aren't the best, we communicate indirectly through media or through other people who are important to who our adversaries are trying to influence. We also work to not let our ego get in the way.

gimmethatpopsicle94 karma

What made you decide to get into kidnapping negotiations, and what made you leave to do business negotiation?

Chris_Voss238 karma

i was on SWAT with the FBI and was having trouble with a recurring knew injury. While the knee was still good I decided to switch to hostage negotiations, because leaving SWAT comes sooner rather than later, pretty much like any high intensity sport.

i was lucky enough to get onto the negotiating team even though I had no background or training because I was willing to spend time volunteering on a suicide hotline - the absolute best place in the world to learn tactical listening and to really bring your emotional intelligence to a very high level.

I got into hostage negotiation was because I was willing to just show up all the time whenever needed I ended up negotiating in a bank robbery with hostage - which is actually a really rare event. Though they happen in the movies all the time, they actually happen in real life about once every 20 years in the whole country.

From there I had a chance to go overseas to work kidnappings. i had a lot of terrorism experience from my New York days and I was good at it. i worked really hard at it and came to understand it an just another form of business. A horrific business, but a business none the less.

Seeing it that way i started working with and learning from the people at Harvard. Once there, we all kind of agreed that we were all doing the same things, just under different cirsumstances.

This has been really interesting for me and I think I've gotten to help a lot of other people in new and different ways since my time at the FBI came to an end!

utspg198091 karma

What pointers do you have for business negotiations where communication is filtered thru several people?

Like buying a house. I can't use things like intonation, tone, etc when the message has to go thru 2 realtors before it gets to the decision maker.

Chris_Voss158 karma

A relentless focus on "How?" and "What?" questions here works really well also as it tends to get all the others involved in the communication chain working together to solve them. Combine the "How?" with "when" and you get some really powerful stuff.

"How am I supposed to pay this much for this house when I don't know if it will pass inspection?" Put your objections in this form and it will get passed through the intervening parities to solve.

Jumbie4087 karma

What are your strategies for Monopoly?

Chris_Voss347 karma

Use the race car!

Jungletouch83 karma

When you say that kidnappers are basically businessmen, what about the nuts? How do you approach negotiating with someone mentally unstable?

Chris_Voss125 karma

Great question! EVERYONE has patterns. We just look for the patterns. "Craziness" is sort of in the eye of the beholder. You might be from New York City and think I'm crazy because I love the weather in California! You might think I'm crazy because I eat grass-fed beef! So it really depends on the degree and point of view.

DragonGuardian82 karma

How would you approach the renegotiation of a set contract?

A year or so ago I started my first job and agreed to a certain set of terms for the first two years (set salary, with pre-set raises), now I feel I'm more of a contribution to the company than what I get paid for (I'm getting paid for a junior positions when I'm already taking up some fairly advanced tasks and get responsibilities).

Chris_Voss184 karma

What you're telling me is you're doing a great job for the company! Well done! You are setting yourself up for future success and the next round of negotiations. i think Chapter 4 & Chapter 6 in my book will help a lot. What you'll be focusing on is "How am I supposed to stay here if I don't get treated in a way that makes me want to stay?" This will be a great way to frame the next discussion. Also a label: "I'm sorry but it seems like you're willing to lose me." These are both great ways to focus your counterparts (employers) on realities without backing them into a corner. These things should alway be said with a deferential tone of voice. There is great power in deference.

ursoa71 karma

This might be a silly one, but how long do negotiations with a criminal usually take? Did you find a pattern in time frames of when to push or when to listen, or is it just case based?

Chris_Voss135 karma

Criminals have patterns in time-frames, in what they want & when they want to move on to the next thing. Find those patterns and you gain an advantage. Most criminals want to settle a deal on Friday so they can party on Saturday night. Most wall-streeters want to settle deals in November so get their bonus in December. Similar? Only on the human nature aspect of wanting to get paid!

MamaBear448564 karma

Your timing is perfect for me because I'm soon going into battle with an incredibly difficult personality over a family matter. I just ordered your hardcover and can't wait to read it.

Is there a different way to handle negotiations with a clinically narcissistic person who is severely controlling and abusive, has absolutely no empathy and is very adept at deflecting responsibility?

The biggest problem I think is that this person places his value on "winning" and prolonigng the drama, whereas my focus is on the young person at the centre of the negotiations including minimal fuss and muss. To him the youngster is expendable as long as he "wins".

Chris_Voss126 karma

Everybody has patterns. It sounds to me like the person you're dealing with is completely predictable, you just don't happen to like what you know is coming. That means you are falling into their pattern. Just become as passive-aggressive as they are!

Unstoppable_ego63 karma

Can you help me negotiate terms for a ruined relationship?

Chris_Voss253 karma

One of my philosophies is "No-deal is better than a bad deal". The sooner we decide that the future holds better deals with better partners, the sooner we move onto a more profitable life. Getting yourself to cut your losses and move on is one of the hardest lessons to teach yourself.

sanitysepilogue52 karma

Hello good sir! I know that personally my voice and diction can often convey a somewhat hostile tone. While what I'm saying may be a request or a correction, it can come off fairly caustic. This has caused me a few issues in being a supervisor and a hangar manager. What are some methods you propose to rid myself of this?

Chris_Voss152 karma

Impatience and directness are often misinterpreted as hostility. It's often a symptom of someone who has a "time is money" approach.

The crazy thing, is that if you slow down and take the time to smile and get people to feel good about the actual interaction itself, things almost always end up going more quickly. It's counter-intuitive and it works.

two_off50 karma

What additional knowledge do students get from your University course over what's in the book?

Does the book follow the standard self-help writing style of a single paragraph with the lesson, a long story of how you learned it from your life, and a re-iteration of the lesson boiling it down into a single line?

Chris_Voss51 karma

Thanks for asking! One of my students recently sent me an email telling me they thought the book was a great advanced version of the class. In the class, we've got time to break it down a little more and also let people ask a lot of questions. The book is structured really well (thanks t my awesome co-writer Tahl Raz) so it's really easy to absorb. i wouldn't quite describe it as standard self-help style because I think the way Tahl structures things are really next-generation stuff.

SchighSchagh45 karma

You mention the import of being deferential in several other questions. Can you elaborate on that a bit, preferably with a short example?

2nd question: what would happen if you negotiated against someone as skilled as you, and using all the same tactics on you?

Chris_Voss80 karma

A great way to say "no" is "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I just can't do that." Another great way to say "no" is "How am I supposed to do that?" These need to be said with a respectful, maybe even apologetic tone of voice. You want to be both collaborative and be able to set limits at the same time.

Trying to get what you want by cornering or dominating the other side is a recipe for them not following through because they want ot cause you problems because they resent the deal.

My approach is trying to make the best deal possible, yes for myself but also so the other side wants to continue to do business with me. The definition of a high value trade is for both side to get a lot of value they couldn't otherwise get. So, yeah, I'd love to deal with someone who really wants to make me better off.

sthsthsth45 karma

This book sounds great, but as anyone who has sat in on a class with you knows, we want a book of the juicy stories. Is that in the works?

Chris_Voss58 karma

Well, I think there are some pretty good stories in the book as it is! We'll see what happens next. Right now, i really just want everyone to get better, and make their own lives better, and make better deals for themselves and their families!

Jumbie4040 karma

You mention indirect negotiations like press releases etc.

Can you give me an illustration (hypothetical or otherwise) of this at work in a kidnapping case?

I feel like I see this indirect/news approach at work all the time in corporate business such as the coverage of mergers etc when CFO's etc from firms will appear as guests on TV news shows to talk about company projects or stock price etc. Are you aware of any particularly successful single use of this indirect approach in a corporate negotiation or is it more of a cumulative effect thing?

Chris_Voss92 karma

You hit the nail on the head and I'll give you another example that's also in the book. Remember the last NFL players lock-out? The players wanted the NFL team owners to open their books and the team owners refused. Instead the team owners went public and said "We've given the players a fair offer." "Fair" is the "F" word in negotiations. What happened? Lots of people in the press stated repeating that the owners were giving a "fair" offer. It was a great tactic to completely undermine the other side by having something repeated in the media. Brilliant. Deadly.

Jumbie4034 karma

Do kidnappers ever use expert negotiators of their own? Is there a big difference when you negotiate with a novice and a veteran?

Chris_Voss58 karma

Yes they do! They're in a business and that business just happens to be kidnapping. So do the kidnapping, some do the negotiating. They organize and divide the labor just like any other business. Ever see the movie "Man on Fire"? Denzel Washington playing me again in yet another movie! (I met him when he was working on "The Siege" - he played me there too!) Sometime their negotiator isn't any good (just the every other business in the world). You just have to adjust if you want to win in their world.

NameRetrievalError34 karma

Is there a backfire effect when people realize youre coming from an aggressive, uncompromising position? i tend to care more about making people lose than winning personally when i realize theyre not playing by the same rules as me.

Chris_Voss85 karma

Never be so sure of what you want that you wouldn't take something better. If you're aggressive and uncompromising then you're leaving money on the table. LOTS of it. More each and every day as word of what dealing with you is like gets around. It sounds like you like the feeling of making people feel beaten more than you like the idea of long-term wealth?

D3PO32 karma

When you are in a position where you need what they have to offer more than they need you, and based on that they lowball you. Say its money, or a contract you really need. How do you negotiate from that? You can't say "Hey man, my kids needs this" or appeal to their sympathy. I noticed many have a sadistic side which makes them not want to give it you even more. How do you deal with that?

Chris_Voss77 karma

if they're talking to you, you have leverage. Leverage is in the eye of the beholder. Who has leverage in a kidnapping? The kidnapper or the victim's family? The family.

The kidnapper has something the family loves, but the family has something the kidnapper lusts for: money. Understand their lust, learn how to let out "no" a little at a time and remember the secret to gaining the upper hand in a negotiation is giving the other side the illusion of control.

If you appeal to sympathy, you are telling your counterpart you've willingly given up all your leverage. Once you show them you're not willing to walk away, you've taken yourself hostage.

CasualObservervation28 karma

Are you the guy who did that piece or were interviewed regarding a car purchase negotiation (I think on Edmund's?) where you got your opening price eventually?

Also, my wife seems to be a lot better negotiator than I. Can you provide suggestions as why that might be so I can stew on it for a bit?

Chris_Voss46 karma

I did an NPR interview entitled "An FBI Hostage Negotiator Buys a Car" - http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2012/12/21/167802325/episode-425-an-fbi-hostage-negotiator-buys-a-car

It's about 16 minutes long (3 people interviewed) and I come in after about 8 minutes. That's probably what you're referring to.

If your wife is doing better, then it might be her disarming them by being nice? or her simply being more persistent in some way? I'm not sure. Both of those combined are incredibly powerful.

perrinia28 karma

So what do women need to do to negotiate successfully?

Chris_Voss60 karma

I see women being more and more open to new & innovative ideas in negotiation that they are slowly changing the game for the better. It appears to me that women are less willing to "express" no indirectly and then walk away.

A good friend of mine in Ned Colletti, the former manager of the LA Dodgers. Ned took the Dodgers from last to first in his 1st season as manager. He comes in as a guest speaker for my class at USC every semester. We asked him how he negotiates for himself and he answered he always relied on his employers to pay him fairly.

I stopped him and said, "Wait a minute, that's exactly what the business world is accusing women of doing wrong." How he followed up his answer was that we would simply walk away if he didn't get paid fairly. No real argument, no counter-offer, just walk.

i don't know if that's the whole answer, but I think it has a lot of value for everyone.

perrinia49 karma

this is interesting- generally women are more invested in finding a compromise or taking the bad deal instead of taking no deal. They need the confidence to know that there is a better hypothetical offer out there than the one of the table?

Chris_Voss34 karma

I think that's part of it!

lana_white24 karma

I have a question about negotiations in a marriage. I have been trying - quite unsuccessfully - to stop my partner from using a certain language around and aimed at me. His response has always been that my behavior triggers that language. For years, that point in our conversation is the dead end. I believe that I have changed my behavior enough to stop his responses, but he doesn't agree with me. Do you have tips on how to deal with this kind of situation? And do you think your book can be helpful to me? Thank you.

Chris_Voss63 karma

You sound like you both might be stuck in a cycle of each of you wanting the other to tell you "You're right" and neither being willing to do it? A counter-intuitive approach is to summarize the other person's perspective so fully and completely that they look at you and say "That's right." You'll be stunned at the positive results of getting your counterpart to say "That's right."

iam_willpower23 karma

Are negotiations done face to face different from those over a phone? How much does body language influence negotiations? Are there words that are more influential than others in day to day situation e.g. email or meetings?

Chris_Voss59 karma

Awesome question! There's a rule called 7:38:55 and some people love to argue about it's validity. Those who like it (like me) think the words should count for 7% or your interpretation of what they really mean, the tone of voice 38% and the body language for 55%.

This tends to mean that in-person there is a lot more meaning to interpret to truly get where someone is coming from. And each time you filter out part of the means on communication (by phone you lose visual) and my text and email you lose tone of voice.

That tends to explain one of the reasons email often goes bad quickly.

i think all 3 means are essential and if you only try to communicate through one you're in trouble. Your emails should be short and concise and designed to take small steps in support of your phone conversations and your meetings.

It's not necessarily the words per se but your approach (positive) and how you end each interaction, whether in person or otherwise. People don't remember things how they went, they remember the most intense moment and how it ENDED. Broadway theater has known this forever with the saying: "Give them a big finish and they'll forgive you for anything." It's why even surly waiters know to come up to you with the check and smile and say "Thank you for coming in."

I make it a point to end all my emails on a positive note and work hard to end my personal interactions the same way.

I'd also say this is NOT the sandwich approach Positive-Negative-Positive, as i will likely get the negative out of the way first.

How you end is what 1st comes into people's mind the next time you call or write.

coffeeisking19 karma

The current political parties are never splitting the difference. It's resulted in things such as a government shutdown, congressional deadlock, and wasted taxpayer money.

Are they effectively applying your methods? If so, how can you persuade people who are following your methods to stop following them?

Chris_Voss23 karma

In my view, lately they either ONLY compromise (split the difference) or deadlock. I'm pretty impressed with Paul Ryan because things seem to be very quietly getting done around him. Of course the media doesn't pick that up as much because it's boring. There seemed to be a controversy brewing between Ryan and Trump and then you stopped hearing much about it. Sharp guy.

hugthemachines17 karma

If the other side is totally trying to dominate and get their plan in action. Do you just accept that you will not get anything positive and let them have their way?

Chris_Voss39 karma

Dominating negotiators are kind of easy when you use deference with them. They're so control oriented they have no idea that the secret to gaining the upper hand in a negotiation is giving the other side the illusion of control. They are incredibly susceptible to a deferential approach. There is great power in deference.

Ask them lots of "How?" and "What?" questions. "What is that designed to accomplish?" "What's the biggest challenge we face?" "How will that work?" "How will we know we're off track?" "How will we fix it when we are?"

These types of questions are why people describe the art of negotiation as letting the other side have your way.

[deleted]10 karma


Chris_Voss81 karma

Wow. This is tough when we are so hurt and feel so betrayed. There probably isn't anything harder than this. Nothing is harder than trying to see the other person's point of view when we feel we're the one who has been ripped apart. I'm sure I'm going to seem insensitive in almost any answer I give you. Women are often the most destructive to us and attack us the most when they feel the most hurt. It's hard to imagine that she might hurt you the most when she needs the most strength from you. Ask her questions she'll say "no" to. "Are you trying to drive me away forever?" "How am I supposed to be there for you if you don't give me time to rest and recover?" Good luck. If staying is the best thing for you and also then for you both, I hope you make it.

uberneoconcert10 karma

Anything you can say about working with personnel recovery folks? How do they play into the hostage negotiations? Are they racing against your efforts to ninja the hostages out without payment?

Chris_Voss10 karma

The personal recovery folks are AWESOME! Great mission and great people who are about doing the right thing. It was always very easy for me to work hand in glove with them.

lob12th2 karma

Thanks for sharing with us today, very interesting stuff! Will your book be available to listen to on Audible?

Chris_Voss5 karma

Yes! It is available as an audible now!

[deleted]1 karma


Chris_Voss1 karma

The Yankees to Alex Rodriguez!

daredaki-sama1 karma

What did you think about that movie, The Negotiator?

Chris_Voss1 karma

Some really good parts, some pure fiction! How could I not like a movie where one of the main good guys was named "Chris"!?

Chris_Voss1 karma

I've hung up on people. And they do call back!

daredaki-sama1 karma


And what about that scene in the beginning where he's negotiating with his wife and daughter? Does it sort of demonstrates home life to some extent?

Chris_Voss5 karma

The real underlying premise at the beginning was that they all cared about each other, and when one wins they all win. When people are on your side at the end of the day then you can give in a little because you value their happiness.

FRIDAY_1 karma

I'm 22, female, but I look way younger for my age. How do I convince the (1) bouncer to let me in, (2) bartender to give me a drink? (Legal age here is 18.)

Thanks a lot <3

SmockBottom20 karma

How about show your ID

Or was I supposed to say "buy my book"

Chris_Voss14 karma

I like both answers!