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Negotiate like your life depended on it

End discussions with a result

Negotiators in a business meeting

A brisk autumn morning, around eight thirty. Two masked bank robbers trigger an alarm as they storm into the Chase Manhattan Bank at Seventh Avenue and Carroll Street in Brooklyn. There are only two female tellers and a male security guard inside. The robbers crack the unarmed sixtyyear-old security guard across the skull with a .357, drag him to the men’s room, and lock him inside. One of the tellers gets the same pistol-whipping treatment. Then one of the robbers turns to the other teller, puts the barrel in her mouth, and pulls the trigger—click, goes the empty chamber. “Next one is real,” says the robber. “Now open the vault.”*

FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss steps in to talk to the robbers.

“The other vehicle’s not out there because you guys chased my driver away . . .” the robber blurted. “We chased your driver away?” I mirrored.

“Well, when he seen the police he cut.” “We don’t know anything about this guy; is he the one who was driving the van?” I asked.*

“Negotiation is not an act of battle; it’s a process of discovery. The goal is to uncover as much information as possible.” - Chris Voss -

3 Tips on negotiating

Rather than fearing the negotiation, make a talk out of it. A talk with a result.

Here are some tips from Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator:

1. Show the other side that you are negotiating in good faith

2. Be genuinely interested in what drives the other side.

3. Work to deactivate negative feelings

“Negotiation is nothing more than communication with results.” - Chris Voss -

It was a long, long day, but it went down in the books as a success. Nobody was hurt. The bad guys were in custody. And I emerged from the experience humbled by how much more there was to learn, but at the same time, awakened to and inspired by the elemental power of emotion, dialogue, and the FBI’s evolving toolbox of applied psychological tactics to influence and persuade just about anyone in any situation.*

*Source: Chris Voss, Never split the difference, pages 36, 51-52, 62

Dive into the thrilling FBI stories and negotiation tips of Chris Voss: "Never split the difference" (Amazon).


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