FBI’s Top Hostage Negotiator: The Art Of Negotiating To Get Whatever You Want: Chris Voss | E147 | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "FBI’s Top Hostage Negotiator: The Art Of Negotiating To Get Whatever You Want: Chris Voss | E147".
Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.
Two of the three remaining hostages were killed and they were shot by friendly fire. That was the first time that I had worked anything where people had gotten killed. Former FBI kidnapping negotiator, thus selling co-author of the founder and principal of the Black Swan Group. I'm Chris Vos. How important is it generally in negotiations to listen? Whether it's business or law enforcement. If I take the time to really hear somebody out in our first deal, then every deal after that will come to me faster. It's critical. I'm so compelled to ask you, like, what is the cost that we don't get to see if your job? You know, you get really wrapped up in your work and I think you tend to become distant in your personal life. The closer you are to someone, sometimes it's really harder for you to see things from their perspective. The truth sometimes is a knife to the heart, right? Like you go through a traumatic event. Are you traumatized by it and never recover? Or is there post-traumatic stress growth? Where you took that and decided to be better than you ever were before because you never want to let that happen again. So without further ado, I'm Stephen Bartlett and this is the Dyer of a CEO, USA edition. I hope nobody's listening, but if you are, then please keep this to yourself. Chris, you've lived a extraordinary life for many, many reasons, which I'm sure we're going to go into.
Origin And Evolution Of Negotiation Skills
Early years (01:27)
But I guess my first question is, what do I need to know about your upbringing, your early years, if I am to understand the man you are today? Yeah, I think really that my father just required that we work hard and then we figure stuff out. And my father was an entrepreneur. And no matter how old you are, I started working for him probably when I was about 11. But the downside of working for a guy that would never ask you to do anything, he wouldn't do himself. If there isn't anything that he wouldn't do himself, just 'cause it needed to be done, then you get asked to figure out some crazy stuff. A middle class entrepreneur, a little blue collar guy. And I remember I think it was about 11. He decided he wanted a new garage in a backyard and we had to get rid of the old garage. And he handed me in my 13 year old sister crowbars and said go out and tear down the old garage. He just got to figure stuff out. And so I really grew up in an environment of working really hard. He never preached us ethics, but we were very ethical, honest, hardworking, and figure stuff out, which is, if that's your attitude, there isn't that much you can't do. And that was kind of drilled into me at an early age, figured out, work hard, be honest. - So if I hit fast forward on your life from that point, and I go into your days in the SWAT team for the FBI.
Beginning of your career (03:03)
- Right. - How long were you working in the SWAT team with the FBI? - I was, technically, a member of the SWAT team for about a year, and then I was on a Pittsburgh FBI, it was on that SWAT team, and then I got transferred to New York, and I decided to try out for the FBI's equivalent of the Navy SEALs, the FBI's hostage rescue team. And so I tried out for that team, and I re-injured my knee. So I wasn't, I never technically made that team nor when I was in New York, was I on the New York SWAT team, but I had been on the SWAT team in Pittsburgh for about a year. - You've been to junior during training? - Yeah. It was originally, tore it up originally in college, and my view was, you know, the worst things that have happened to me have always led to better stuff. I would never become a hostage negotiator if I had torn up my knee. And so, you know, then when I was trying out for the hostage rescue team, then I re-injured it, and I went to a doctor to have it rebuilt for a second time, and at that point in time, I thought, well, I don't know how many times they could put Humpty Dumpty back together. So I love Christ's response, 'cause you gotta make a decision. I've been very much a decision-oriented guy. You know, President Kennedy talks about the dangers of comfortable inaction. I've always hated that. So, you know, I wanted to stay involved in Christ's response. We had hostage negotiators. My son and I like to joke that one of the Voss family models is how hard can it be? And I remember thinking, how are it gonna be? You know, they talk, talk to terrorists, I talk every day. I could talk to a terrorist. When you injured your knee and you're thinking about what to do with your life, I read that you had a chat with a lady about options, and she basically rejected you and said, "Yeah, yeah, I said, go away." Who was she? She was the head of the hostage negotiation team for FBI New York. She was on one of the terrorism squads close to mine. And I knew she was in charge of the program. And, you know, I thought, you know, the willingness to learn was adequate. And so, you know, I sought her out to express my interest and kind of presented myself like, "Tada, here I am. "I'm wonderful. "Look at me. "I'm willing to learn." And she was just like, "Go away. "Everybody wants to do this. "It sounds cool. "Everybody wants a T-shirt." She asked me about, you know, any previous experience or credentials I had. I didn't have any. One after another, I was like, "Nope, nope, "no education, no background, no experience. "Not another this, not another this, not another this." And finally, she just said, "Like, no, "you can't do it. "Stop bothering me." It was like, "Gotta be something I can do, you know? "I've always kind of been proactive. "I didn't know I was..." There's a theory that I, principle that we operate on now, which is never ask advice from somebody we wouldn't trade places with, or never take direction from somebody who hasn't been where you're going. I just thought it made sense to go to the right person and ask, which is kind of how I got in the FBI in the first place. And I said, "There's gotta be something I could do. "What is it?" She said, "You know what there is? "Go volunteer on a suicide hotline. "But until you've done that, don't bother me." And it just seemed really obvious to me, okay? This is somebody who knows, I'll do it. And that's how I got in the FBI. Really? And so I went and did it, and I went back to her, and I said, "You know, "I've been volunteering at a suicide hotline "for the last five months." And she's like, "What?" She was shocked. She says, "I tell everybody to do that. "Nobody ever does it." When I went back to her, I said, "I'm including the story in the book." She said, "You know, I told over a thousand people "over the course of my career "to volunteer on a hotline, "and only two people did it, and you were one of them." And I thought, "That's just, it's so obvious." - What was that like? That suicide hotline, five months you did that? - I actually volunteered there for a total of three years, and then I got involved in the board, in the funding, and the operation. And I taught there too, because I was so into it. It was so valuable. I went there to learn a skill, and I ended up learning a skill, and serving the community, which then was very no better secondary bonus, than to do something that benefits you, and have it benefit everybody else too. - Difficult, man. - Well, if you take the training you're willing to learn, the training was phenomenal, and I went there to learn, so I soaked it up like a sponge. - Emotionally difficult. - It can be, depending upon how vulnerable you make yourself. Now, since, and what I used to tell the volunteers there, 'cause crisis hotline, suicide hotline, the biggest problem is volunteer burnout. It is difficult emotionally. If you go there to help, and you want so much to help, and there's a lot of people that make it extremely difficult to help them, and that can be emotionally draining. Now, I went there to learn versus help, and that help was a secondary benefit, so the really difficult types, who used to call them frequent callers, they didn't suck the life out of me, they fascinated me. Like, "This is crazy, "I gotta learn how to communicate with these people." These are no different than the people that are very difficult in business negotiation, because how you do something is how you do everything. Way back when I learned this thing called a drama triangle, which was kind of three archetypes of difficult people, and we're seeing that show up exactly in business negotiations. So, human behavior is human behavior, period.
The nature of human behaviour in business negotiations (09:13)
- What is that, Triad? - Well, I learned it way back then was, there's the victim, the protector, and the persecutor, and someone who comes on a hotline, really portraying themselves as a victim, they're trying to draw you into being the protector, or to give advice. You know, "I need your advice," might be what they would literally say. And then if you're dumb enough to give advice, then they switch from being the victim to the persecutor, and they attack you for your advice. And then as soon as you back off, then they go back to being a victim again, to try to lure you into giving them advice so that they can attack your advice. And so what they told is, you know, the earmarks of watch out for somebody trying to lure you into giving advice, versus being a great sounding board, helping them discover the answer on their own. And then in 2002, much later, I run across Jim Kemp's book, "Start with No," and he talked about effectiveness and business negotiation, helping your counterpart discover the best answer, because if they discover something that's mutually beneficial versus if you offer it, if they discover it, it's their idea, and they're gonna do it. If you offer it, you're giving them advice, and they had no emotional ownership, and they're less likely to do it. So he called it, helping them discover the best deal. And back in the, on the highline days, it was just guided discovery, helping them discover the best outcome. - From those three years, volunteering at the suicide prevention line, was there anything else that you really learn about the nature of human beings that has stayed with you still to this day in business and your days as an FBI negotiator? - Yeah, well, you know, still, still, still actually going back and pulling the lessons out of it. And it's, you know, people are, their thoughts are most dominated by loss. What are they worried about losing? What's their vision of loss over the future? Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in 2002, behavioral prospect theory, economic Nobel Prize, on human behavior, which is loss looms larger than gain. Some people are putting it at a two to one ratio. Nobody ever puts it a less than two to one. Loss things twice as much as an equivalent game. I've heard people talk about it be as much as nine to one, which is why researchers are having trouble putting an exact number on it. So sometime, somewhere between two and nine times loss, we are vision of loss going to determine your behavior. And that was really, we taught on a hotline and taught on hostage negotiation look for the loss. Somebody's taken hostages, they've suffered a personal identity loss somewhere along the line, and it's probably a triggering event in the last 24 to 48 hours, but look for the loss. And then Kahneman comes across in 2002, Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Tversky had died by the time they awarded the Nobel Prize, which is why he didn't get it along with Kahneman 'cause they're not giving it after somebody's died. Saying that, no, this is just human behavior, period. Period, not just hostages, not just people in crisis. But it's a single dominating influence of all human decision making. Not the only influence, just the biggest. And so learning how to cope with that on a hotline is exactly what we're doing these days and all our interactions. - Is there a way to leverage that to your favor when you're negotiating with someone? - You can, you have to be really careful with it, which is really the whole reason to use empathy as an approach. 'Cause if you don't use empathy, then you're the hostage taker. You're trying to use leverage against them. I mean, it's such a blunt force trauma concept that if you don't do it gently with empathy versus sympathy, you know, empathy is not the same as sympathy. But you're gonna seem like a hostage taker yourself if you start out by saying like, look, man, I know you got a lot to lose if you don't make this deal. Well, that's trying to trigger loss, but I seem like a hostage taker myself if I do that. So I gotta work my way into a position where I gotta get you to realize that that's the case. - Quick one, we bring in eight people a month to watch these conversations live here in the studio when we're here in the UK and when we're in LA. If you wanna be one of those people all you've gotta do is hit subscribe. When you became a hostage negotiator, when was your first real job?
The first hostage negotiation job (14:28)
- Yeah, it was a Chase Manhattan bank robbery. - Bank robbery? - Yeah, with hostages, which although it happens all, you know, in the movies all the time, you know, Bruce Willis, Samuel Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Eddie Murphy, they're negotiating the hostages out of banks and every movie about it. In real life, it's a really rare event. Like it was a bank robbery with hostages in New York City and there hadn't been a bank robbery with hostages in New York City for over 20 years. Now, people could take on a hostage in bank robberies, but generally the bag as a gone before the police show up because they know if the police get to play surrounded, their chances of getting away are new. So they're gonna be gone, but to trap bank robbers in a bank with hostages really, really rare. And that happened about a year and a half after I got out of the negotiation training and I was still volunteering on suicide high lines. So my skills, you know, you fall to your highest level of preparation, I was ready to go when they put me on the phone 'cause I'd been, negotiations a perishable skill and I'd been working at it at my skill level was really high at the time. - Are you nervous when you get that phone call? About that bank robbery? - No, I was ready to go. I mean, I was doing it because I wanted to, I wanted to get involved. I wasn't doing it to get the T-shirt. You know, I was doing it 'cause I wanted to get involved. And as a matter of fact, like, I was never asked to go. A friend of mine had taught me and having made a mistake previously, I had learned a lesson of just show up. If something's going down, show up. I heard this advice from a government official not that long ago and he said, run to trouble. Always run to trouble. There's a whole bunch of reasons for that. Whether it's business or law enforcement. One of the nice things about running to trouble, running into, you know, figuratively, theoretically running into the burning house, you don't get criticized as much. You know, you run to trouble. If you're running into a static situation or something a bunch of people have been dealing with for a while and it's just been sitting there in deadlock. And whatever you do, people are gonna criticize you. You know, 'cause they failed and you're doing something different and they don't wanna see you succeed. But if you're running the chaos, you're running to trouble, you know, the criticism is much lower. You know, what he's dealing with it, somebody's gotta do something, decisions have to be made. It's a great strategy, run to trouble. And I had come to like that a lot. So I'm sitting at my desk in New York. My buddy Charlie walks up and says, "Is a bank robbery with hostages in Brooklyn? Let's go." I looked at a police detective colleague 'cause I had an interview scheduled that morning. I said, "Can you cover the interview?" He says, "Yeah, I got it." And we go head to the bank and we show up. And a team forms FBI and NYPD both show up 'cause it's a bank. We know the PD negotiators really well that Commander Hugh McGowan, super sharp guy, knew what he was doing. He integrated the team. First negotiator on the phone was a PD detective. He points at me and says, "You're the coach." We stood up the rest of the team around Joe, the original negotiator. Joe talks the situation into stalemate, which is not a bad thing 'cause the threat level's not coming up. And Lieutenant McGowan looks at me and he says, "Okay, you're up." And they handed me the phone. - And what was your job at that point? What was the bank robbery asking for? And what was your job at your objective? - Well, we didn't know it at the time. Like the bank robbery was actually the classic great CEO negotiator. Like the great CEO negotiator is gonna act helpless at the table 'cause he doesn't want you to force him into a commitment. Yeah, I found this out some years later when I was learning negotiation at Harvard. You know, they called a business strategy, blamed somebody who ain't in a room. So great CEO negotiator's gonna be like, "Look man, I gotta board a directors. Like I gotta be careful what I commit to here 'cause this board of directors, I do the wrong thing. These guys gotta fire me." You know, they got thrown me right out of this company. And if the guy does that, he's got all the power in the world. He don't care about his board of directors. He just doesn't wanna get back into a corner. So the bank robbery, we get on a phone with this guy, the guy who orchestrated the whole thing. And he's like, "Man, I'm scared of these guys in here. These are the guys that I'm with. Man, they're dangerous. Like I'm scared of them. They might hurt me. So I gotta be careful when I say to you, oh, here they come now. And I gotta hang up the phone." And he was making it all up. You know, initially, our initial assessment is this guy's in inadequate personality. He's scared to make a decision. Complete smokescreen on his part. So, you know, when the, in the negotiation for several hours, and we got the banks around it, and then the investigators on the outside, and this is a residential commercial area of Brooklyn, so there are cars everywhere. And they identify the owner of every vehicle on the outside and talk to them, except there's one van out there, and it belongs to this guy. And as it turns out, this guy is running a cash courier business that services this bank. And they can't find this guy. He is nowhere to be found. So they go to his address and they say, hey, do you know this guy? And will you come to the scene of the bank and listen to the voice, 'cause we're running the negotiations on speaker outside to the commanders. And the witness comes in and says, yeah, that's this guy's name happened to be Chris also. So they voice ID this guy, and he has never given us his name. This is another great technique. If we meet, and I don't give you my name, it unsettles you. You don't feel you've connected with me. And this guy would not give us his name. So, we got a voice ID on him when a lieutenant says, you're up next, he says, I want you to confront this guy about his name as quick as you can. And we're not gonna do a normal smooth hand off, you just gotta start talking. Normally, the protocol is, if you hand off from one negotiator to another, the second guy comes on, he says, look, I've been here the whole time, and I've heard everything's going on, and here's everything that I've heard, 'cause you don't need the other guy on the other side saying like, where do I start with this guy? You know, have you been here listening? Do you have any idea what's going on? It's a smooth transition, but a lieutenant has got instinct to his like, yeah, we're not gonna do this. This guy's a manipulative guy, and in a really subtle way, we're gonna start taking back control, and we're gonna start by not doing a smooth transition. So I get on the phone, I'm talking to this guy. Now, this is a cagey dude. We shift with no intro. So what does he do in order to remind us that he's got hostages, but also not raise the threat level, 'cause he's got to genuinely be concerned that the snipers are gonna put a red dot on his forehead, and the next thing is gonna happen, is he's gonna be at the early gates explaining his actions over the last 24 hours. He goes and gets a hostage and puts her on the phone. We've been here five hours. We had no confirmation of the condition of the hostages, other than him saying, I'm taking care of the girls. Everything's fine. As a matter of fact, I gotta hang up the phone 'cause they're hungry and they wanna get something deep. All kinds of smokescreens. So I'm on a phone, and I hear this female voice come on, go like, I'm okay, I'm okay. I'm like, who's this? What's your name? I'm okay. And then that's the last I heard of her. He comes back on a phone and pretends like this didn't even happen. So I'm like, all right, this is a KG dude. We're gonna go forward. I'm gonna find a way to hit him with his name but do it gently. So I start talking about his van outside, which he knows is out there. He just doesn't know that we've identified it. And I said, you know, we got a van out here and we found the owners of every van and spoken to 'em except one. And he goes, we have more than one van. Now, I got no idea what this guy is talking about. So I did what we refer to as a mirror. I just repeat the words 'cause my brain is like, "What is this guy talking about?" It's like, you have more than one van? He goes, "No, we only have one van." I go, "You only have one van?" And he goes, "Yeah, yeah." And you chase my driver away. I go, "We chase you driver away?" He says, "Yeah, when he saw the police, he cut and run." Now, this super control-free guy is now blurting stuff out as a result of my mirror, my technique that he did not mean to say. It ends up convicting his getaway driver who had gotten away and we didn't even know that was the third guy. - How did that case end? - Everybody came out. - Why did the bank Corobah concede in the end? Did he get anything he wanted? - Well, no, you know, you know, how do you negotiate when you're not gonna give 'em anything? You know, you help 'em see a different vision of the future. - It was a bad situation. - It was really boils down too. And what you really want 'em to see is a vision of the future where they live and then you're hoping the survival instinct kicks in. And when the second guy got on a phone with me, his principal concern was getting killed. - Right. - And his secondary concern was being handled roughly when he came out. Of course, he knew that they had beaten the women on the inside and that may contribute to his being handled roughly when he came out. But number one, didn't wanna get killed. And number two, my opening line was look, when you come out, you'll be treated with dignity and respect. And I said that till enough time said he decided it was gonna be true and he asked to meet me face to face on front of the bank. - Was he treating the dignity and respect when he came out? - Thousand percent. You gotta keep your promises 'cause, and you know, this was one of the things when I was teaching negotiation at Harvard, you know, my academic brothers and sisters up there were like, would you lie to get the guy out? And my answer was no. And they'd say like, yeah, but let's say, let's pretend, let's imagine that a terrorist has got a nuclear bomb in Boston and you know, there's you lie to him, he won't set the bomb off. So how do you answer that one? And my answer is well, number one, the guy's probably testing me to see if I lie. So I gotta watch out that it's not a trap. Number two, if he's not testing me, he's gonna be a better liar than I am. And he's gonna sniff it out. You can't lie to a liar, you just can't, they're too good at it. And then number three, even if I lie to him and get him out, somebody's gonna find out that I lied and I will always have the reputation of being a liar. And I can't risk my reputation.
Hostage negotiation role play (26:52)
- So if I'm a, if I've got hostages and I call you and I say, listen, I want a car, I think that's what this one on your YouTube channel, I want a car in 60 seconds outside. - Right. - What's the first thing you say to me? - You wanna try? - Yeah, let's do it. - So I'm the- - You're the bad guy. - I'm the bad guy, okay. Chris, I'm gonna blow this woman's head off if you don't give me a car in the next 60 seconds. - How am I supposed to do that? - Not my problem, you got 55 seconds. - All right, so if I wanted to do it, it's just, it's madness out here, it's chaos. I mean, this is Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus is organized compared to the nonsense that's going on out there. So even if I wanted to do it, I can't do it in that time frame. - I'm sure you're the FBI, you're the police, you can make anything happen. 50 seconds. - Sounds really like you're not gonna give me a chance. - I'm giving you a chance right now, 50 seconds, Chris. There's plenty of cars up there, go get one of the cars and pull it up outside or I'm gonna blow her head off. - Sounds like you have a reason to live. - I do have a reason to live, that's none of your business. - No, I'm not trying to find out why. I mean, my first number one thing is to make sure that you live. - So get me a car and I will drive off. Honestly, you've got 45 seconds, I don't wanna talk anymore. - If you're not gonna give me a chance, how am I supposed to do it? - I'm giving you a chance, 45 seconds, that's plenty of a chance. - Like to me even find, get all the commanders together and get them to think about this, which they're probably not gonna do anyway. I will go and talk to them. But how am I supposed to find them all, talk to them, get them to think about it in 45 seconds? - Okay, how long do you need? - All right, now first of all, I want you to understand. I don't think they're gonna do it. Well, then I'm gonna blow that head off. That would be your choice. See now, so the other thing too is, hostage negotiators are successful 93% of the time. Which is one of the things that I learned in the business, which means 7% of the time they just ain't coming out. Now, we have to do everything we could possibly do in the meantime, but our number one goal is not putting any additional people at risk. Like I get this question all the time, like if you think it's gonna save a hostage, why don't you just give him a car and save those hostages? Well, I can't put additional people at risk. And by the way, while we were doing that, I don't know anybody put a clock on us, but we went more than 45 seconds. It's true. And what were you thinking as we were going through it? There was, all the questions were provoking me and to all the questions you asked me, felt like they were dragging me away from my objective in a quite a tactical way. So I was thinking, ah, he's annoying, he's making me talk and I don't wanna talk. That's kind of what I was thinking. And then, yeah, I mean, the questions you asked were making me ponder and they were making me abandon my focus, which was to just get this car and kill this woman. Right, see, which was, I wasn't asking you that stuff to get you to answer. What I was really doing was doing exactly what you talked about, get you to ponder, get you to think. You know, what Kahneman would, has talked about in his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, pondering, he would call slow thinking, in-depth thinking, where you really think about stuff. And then you really make the decision and you really make up your mind instead of me trying to hustle you. Like, I could hustle you into something really quick, but it wouldn't be your decision. And the whole point of getting somebody to pond or something is so that when they do come to a decision, they own it. - When you said the thing about, even if I wanted to do that, like I couldn't do that in 45 seconds or whatever, I liked that sentence because obviously there was a degree of empathy there. So even if I wanted to, it wasn't, you know, shing on my parade, it wasn't attacking me too much. And you made me ponder the reality of the fact that it's not even possible. My demand is not even possible, even if you, you know, were on my side. So that was a very good question to make me ponder myself, to realize that what I'm asking for is not gonna happen. - See, there's another reason why I said it like that too. Because, you know, a lot of people, if you ask for something in a business deal that they're not gonna give you, they give you the classic American lie, I'll try. You know, and maybe it's not American lie, maybe it's a lie in English language. Like, but you know in any kind of deal if somebody looks at you and says, I'll try, you don't get a good feeling. And you get all try enough times, you know right away it ain't never happening. - Yeah. - Yeah. - So I didn't do all try. You know, I basically said, I don't think it's gonna happen. But I'll check. 'Cause I'm trying to shift us out of an adversarial into a collaborative conversation. And so then what I'm basically saying is like, I don't wanna mislead you, I don't think this can happen. I will be your advocate. - How important is that collaboration? - No relationship survives long term without collaboration. Just thinking it happened. - So you're giving me the impression that you're actually on my side to some degree and that we're collaborating to find an outcome together. - Yeah and in point of fact, see the crazy thing is hostage negotiators have repeat customers. If I get you out alive, the chances of you straightening out your life are not great. And the chances of you ending up at another hostage siege are high if you don't get killed otherwise. And you gotta have a memory of the last hostage negotiator trying to work with you versus the guy hustled you in line to you, guy or gal. So if you always look at all interactions, as if you're gonna have to pay for everything you said, eventually, which means if you lie, you're gonna pay for it. If you did everything you could to be collaborative, then your counterparts gonna remember that in the future. Like, well, I think on my way, but at least you got in line of me. - Karma, you know. - It's karma, it thousand percent is karma. I'm a big believer in karma, very much. I had a few words to say about one of my sponsors on this podcast. As the seasons have begun to change, so has my diet and right now, I'm just gonna be completely honest with you, I'm starting to think a lot about slimming down a little bit because over the last couple of, probably the last four or five months, my diet has been pretty bad and it started to show a little bit. Really over the last two months, I go to the gym about 80% of the time. So I track it with 10 of my friends in a WhatsApp group and this tracker online that we all use together. We call it fitness blockchain. And I'm currently at 81%. So 81% of the days I've done a workout in the last 150 days, right? So I'm going to the gym about six times a week. That's been a little bit impacted by the Dervastio Live tour, but I'm trying to stick to it. And so one of the things I'm doing now to reduce my calorie intake and trying to get back to being nutritionally complete and all I eat is I'm having the heel protein shake. Thank you, heel, for making a product that I actually like. The salted camel is my favorite. I've got the banana one here, which is the one my girlfriend likes, but for me, salted camel is the one. How important is it generally in negotiations to listen?
How important is listening? (35:11)
'Cause a lot of people, you know, kind of think they can overpower someone with, just talking at them. Right. Yeah. And what they're called is, they can't hold a job. You know, you, and there are a lot of people that are very visible that are doing that. And in the moment, they might look very good. But what ends up happening is, they're frequently initially extremely successful, and then their success rates drop off a cliff. And then they don't hold a job because they were awesome in their first quarter and had a continuing steady decline in their productivity till it went to zero, and they can't be tolerated anymore. But everybody sees a really loud guy or gal getting deals, or, and the other ones that make the most noise about it. So your original question is, how is important is listening? There is no negotiation methodology that doesn't list listening as an advanced skill. No matter what school has thought somebody's in, in negotiation, they all list listening as advanced. Far more difficult than simply keeping quiet. It's critical. And you will actually end up increasing the velocity of your deal cycles by listening, which a lot of people think it's really counterintuitive. But, you know, I did interview with Mark Cuban six or seven months ago, and I talked about listening. And he's like, yeah, you know, if I take the time to really hear somebody out in our first deal and pay attention to what's important with them, then every deal after that will come to me faster, having done it right up front. And it'll increase the velocity of my ability to make deals with them. 'Cause they'll trust me, they'll know that I hear them out, they know that I'm looking out for them. And consequently, you know, it doesn't take me a long time to establish trust. And we come back, we come to the table, we get right down to it. And it really increases the velocity of my ability to make deals. And a lot of people can't see that because I gotta hear mine, I gotta, you know, blah, blah, blah, I gotta find out what their point of view is, it seems highly efficient. But what it is, is incredibly efficient long term. - And then as it relates to speaking, when you're talking, when you were talking to me then in our little dummy negotiation, I noticed the tone of voice you took was very, very calm.
Different tone of voices for negotiations (37:46)
You list in the book three different voices available to negotiators. - Right. Give me a flavor of those three voices that are available to negotiators. - Well, there's three natural types and humans, five flight or make friends. And these are the, our caveman ancestors that lived either fought to save a two tiger, ran from the saber to tiger, or figured out a way to make friends with it. And the indecisive caveman get eaten by the saber to tiger, doesn't have any descendants. And we've got substantive reason to believe that that exists globally, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion. The three types, the globe splitting pretty evenly into thirds, got a lot of data on it. Backs it up. Our brothers and sisters at Harvard pretty much agree based on their experience. Wharton has pulled a lot of the same data, comes very, very close to the same. And each type has a voice. You know, and the voice of the assertive, natural born assertive, which I'm actually a natural born assertive, is more than Donald Trump's style negotiator. You know, attacking blunt, direct, you know, Ivanka Trump once described her, her dad Donald and said, you know, he's not blunt, he's just direct. Well, he's just an example, but you know, what I think is direct you feel like you got hit in the face with a break. Which is always counterproductive long term, always, always, always long term counterproductive. Inhibits your ability to make deals, people get tired of getting hit in the face with a break. So it wears them out. Then there's the very analytical type. Which was, you know, the soothing, calming voice that I was using. Trig is a neurochemical response and you would actually calms you down, neurochemically. It's an involuntary automatic response. Now you can fight it, you can fight your way back out of it, but you can't stop me from getting the calming, neurochemicals started in your head. And you know, if you're careful not to seem either cold or condescending, that tone of voice is what the great TV interviewers use, the great news anchors, because there's a lot of, there's confidence and calm simultaneously and people really like it. And then there's, you know, there's a smiling voice, a friendly voice and somebody just smiles when they speak. That triggers a different neurochemical reaction. The people that you automatically like right away, as soon as you lay eyes on them, as soon as they start speaking. You know, and there's an advantage to that. So I was using in an emotional situation, and if you're in an emotional negotiation, you know, you want to go with the soothing voice and smile, sprinkle that in, and now you kind of, you get the combination of both of them and it's collaboration. You're going to want to collaborate with me if I use that voice. - I guess it's an attempt, and as you say, to like pacify, pacify them. The other thing that I, in chapter three of your book you talk about is-- - By the way, you got a pretty good voice. - I like you. - You got, you got, you got, you're basically downward inflecting. Your voice portrays, first of all, it's very genuine, but portrays a guy who's actually really thinking about what he says, and he actually listens. - Oh, that's very concomplement, thank you. But she's still going to die. In chapter three, you talk about labeling their pain.
labelling their pain” (41:50)
I found that a really interesting concept. - Right. - Don't feel their pain labeling. I think that's probably a mistake I've been making. I actually was thinking about that in the context of like my romantic relationships. - Right. - When my girlfriend is talking at me, as a way to kind of create that bridge, how do I create that bridge by acknowledging how labeling her pain? Can you explain to me what you mean by labeling their pain? - You know, think of whatever the negative emotion that they're feeling is the elephant or a rope. - So if I'm, you know, I'm holding someone hostage and I'm crying. - Yeah. - Yeah. - I'm going to say, it sounds like you feel like you're out of control. It sounds like you feel that you're going to have to do something you really don't want to do. - And what does that do to me when you do that? - Right, so, and this is one of the few, in the Black Swan Method, that's also backed up by neuroscience. Like we know anecdotally that this stuff works. 'Cause we're proving it over and over again. We're walking the talk. We make our own deals very effectively. And the people that we coach make their deals and accelerate their deals very effectively. So, you know, so we got no shortage of our own anecdotal information. We don't really don't need the neuroscience. But there's been several neuroscience experiments. They put people in FMRI's functional magnetic resonance imaging devices where they can watch the brain light up. And they induce negative feelings in people and they watch the brain light up, typically by showing them some sort of photograph that causes them to feel a negative emotion, whether it's sadness, anger, whatever it is. And then they simply ask the people to identify or label what they're feeling as a result of what they saw. And each and every time the person labeled it, the electrical activity in that part of the brain diminished every time, not deny, but just called it out. You know, you don't deny the elephants in a room. You say there's an elephant in a room. - And that makes people feel heard or seen or felt. - All of the above. - Right. So, you know, whatever the emotional reaction to that is people feel seen, heard, felt, understood. And it's probably a combination of, you know, the emotional reaction. And the neuroscience reaction is that diminishes the negative emotions every time. Now, the degree that it diminishes the emotions changes. Like, you know, we call that a label and I might label the negative that I hear and it might have a minimal impact, a tiny little impact or it might have a huge impact. But the impact is the type of impact is the same every single time. The degree of impact changes, but the nature of the impact is always to diminish the negative emotion. - One of the things that I read as well that you're looking for in these negotiations is for them to give you a confirmation.
The power of “thats right” (44:46)
Like, if they say, that's right. - Yeah. - So you're trying to get me to not blow this lady's head off. And if you can get me to say, that's right. What is that a signal of? - That's right is what people say when they feel understood. You pull that right out of somebody. You're on your way in a direction of a great resolution, no matter what the negotiation, landlord tenant, employee, employer, you know, business deal. Pulling that's right sends you in a great direction. - So you've labeled something that I'm feeling. You said, Stephen, it feels like you're about to do something you don't want to do. And then I go, that's right. - Right. Now, so, so tall, Ra's great researcher besides great author, he speculates, he says, you know, I think somebody says that's right when they've been experienced in epiphany to some degree. That's what you say when you, what you think you've heard is completely true. You're not agreeing with a person. You're observing that what they said was true. And when he said epiphany, I'm like, "Ah, this is interesting. "Let me look up the neuroscience of epiphanies." And among the neurochemicals that you get ahead of in an epiphany is oxytocin, which is the bonding drug. So you get ahead of oxytocin based on what I've said and you have an involuntarily feeling of bonding towards me. And then, you know, the neuroscientists that I think the world of, Andrew Huberman, I heard him talking about oxytocin and he says that oxytocin tends to make people tell the truth. So if you say that's right, you're gonna feel bonded to me and you're gonna be more likely to tell me the truth. That ain't a bad position for me to be in a negotiation. - Negotiations are, you know, all over our lives.
Negotiations in romantic relationships (46:53)
So, I mean, when I was-- - Yeah. - Everywhere. - Everywhere, right? Everything, it's teams, it's business, it's podcasting, it's my girlfriend, whatever. When I was reading through the principles in your book, never split the difference, so much of it I could relate to from the context of like romantic relationships with my partner. - Yep. - You must find yourself in your own romantic relationships, deploying some of these skills and which ones of them, which one in terms of whether it's just, you know, acknowledging them, making them feel heard, what are the key skills that translate really effectively to romantic relationships? - Well, they all do because every human being wants to be understood. And in a romantic relationship, they wanna know that you understand, you know, and in many cases, like any relationship, they just need that in and of itself. Now, the additional demands of romantic relationship is they're gonna want you to understand and adjust, which in point of fact, what other relationship do they not want that from you as well? Not only show me you understand, but then walk the talk. It's the closer you are to someone, sometimes you just, it's really harder for you to see things from their perspective. Like you think you didn't do anything wrong and you know, typically male, female, but not confined to this, you thought you were fine when in fact, what they perceived was that you were clumsy and insensitive. - Are you good at negotiating in a romantic relationship? 'Cause I can ask when. - Well, a problem with dating a really smart girl is she starts out negotiating you pretty quickly. But the real issue is what's your intent behind it? Like if you're here in your romantic partner, just to get him to shut up, like the second or third time you pulled that on them, they have figured it out and you're disingenuous. But if you're hearing somebody out 'cause you want things to be better, you really want the relationship to be long-term and you want it to continue to get better, then they're happy to let you hear them out or to be, let you make them feel heard 'cause you're gonna make the adjustments in your behavior to take that into account. And you're gonna show that you care enough about how they feel, not just what happened but how they feel about what happened, which is a recipe for a great relationship romantic or not. But as should be, it's even a higher standard for a romantic relationship just how can you be involved long-term if you don't care how the other person feels. - In your negotiating days, was there an instance where it really didn't go the way you wanted it to go?
Was there an instants where it didn’t go right for you? (49:55)
- Yeah, with 93% success rate means some percent of the time it's going bad. And that just, that just the nature of the game. - Is there one that stands out for you as being? - Well, every one of them does. But then the issue is do you learn? Like that seemed Nicholas Tyler would call it post-traumatic stress growth. Like you go through a traumatic event. Are you traumatized by it? Which, and then damaged and never recover? Post-traumatic stress, injury, harm, disorder? Or is there post-traumatic stress growth? Well, you took that and decided to be better than you ever were before because you never want to let that happen again. - When I say this, what is the incident that comes to mind? - Well, the first one that people died in was the second case that I worked in a Philippines and burned them some barrel case. And early on before we could even get our arms around like a situation that was moving really fast and a Philippine military was engaged and chasing the bad guys. And a chase had been on for weeks. Guillermo Sabera was murdered by the Abu Sayyaf about 21 days into that case. They had already killed a number of Filipinos prior to that. And as they moved across a landscape and an ocean scape and island to island south of Philippines, they would kill hostages and pick up new hostages 'cause there were people in their way all the time. So that was an ugly case from the beginning to the end. In the end of it, the two of the three remaining hostages were killed in a botched rescue attempt and they were shot by friendly fire. Philippines got rangers inadvertently stumbled over the Abu Sayyaf encampment, didn't realize it was one that had hostages and it just opened fire. They recognized it as a terrace and campon, formed a skirmish line on the trees on the uphill side and just started pouring rifle fire down into the camp. And so that was the first time that I had worked anything where people had gotten killed. - Does that stay with you? - Yeah, it does, it does. And I felt sorry for myself for a long time. And it's not like I'm happy about it, but I'll never remember the moment that I got to call 530 in the morning, I was in Washington, DC, where I lived and a voice on the other end of the phone said I've got bad news, Martin is dead. And it was just a few hours after Martin, Martin had been killed and Deborah Yap, the Filipino hostage, been killed. Martin's wife, Gratia, was wounded and lived. And I'll never forget that was the worst, that to that point and since was the worst professional moment, personal moment of my professional career. And he used to say it was the worst moment of my personal career, tell I was hearing another hostage negotiator talking about a siege he was in, when an infant had died, had been killed. And I remember sitting there watching him talk about it and he's still very definitely dealing with the scars and the wounds from having been the negotiator on scene. And I remember him saying like, you know, I don't know why I keep telling, you know, given these presentations, maybe I just want people to know something bad that happened to me on a winter's day. And I was sitting there thinking, bad for you. That wasn't your blood, it wasn't your child. And I thought, you know, we're taking on too much 'cause it wasn't a member of our family, it wasn't my brother, wasn't my significant other, it wasn't my son that got killed. And that's when I tried to, that's when I realized I had to put that stuff in perspective, it wasn't doing anybody any good for me feeling sorry for myself. I couldn't, and what we, the changes we made as a result of the Burnham-Sabarro case saved lives. You know, that was our mandate, all right. So Martin Burnham is dead. What do we do with that? Do we quit or do we get better? If we get better, somebody else is gonna live. And a whole bunch of people ended up living based on strategy adjustments we made as a result of that case. It seems like a big, very significant sort of burden to carry, right? It goes back to what I said at the start, you know, it takes a certain type of person to wanna be, wanna play with those stakes. - Yeah, somebody who's naive. - Yeah, you just don't know any better. - Makes us difficult sometimes, just thinking about the traumatic things we go through, it makes us much difficult, especially in forming relationships. I struggled with that a lot, struggled in having a girlfriend, probably because my home life was so traumatic that I would always run from commitment. But when you've lived in such, and you hear the same with like soldiers and stuff, you know, when you've lived through such sort of traumatic events and high stakes, coming home to, hey babe, you're right, can be difficult, right? - Yeah, it can be. It can be difficult. You can have difficulty unwinding the other person, depending upon how you process information. Like the other person might genuinely be doing their best to be there with you to get you to talk about it. And, you know, if that isn't the best way that you process it, and yeah, one of the very difficult things about me is, I don't process stuff by talking about it. I'll talk about it afterwards, you know, but I kinda need to unplug, you know, I'll need a good night's sleep. You know, I'll need to let it run through the data banks and kind of bake on its own. I'm probably pretty good the next day. - Which is interesting, 'cause in your work, you have no time for that. - Yeah, well, you know, and maybe that's why I need it more at home, 'cause in the work, I mean, we're gonna, you know, we're going on it right now, we're dealing with it right now. - Mm. Mirroring, something you talk about as well in the book, which I find really interesting, 'cause again, something with my girlfriend, I started to explore, which was, you know, when she says something to me, when she does something, to make her again feel hurt, I guess, I just kinda repeat it back to her, right?
Mirroring technique (56:22)
Was it trying to, is it also a body language thing, or is it just, how does mirroring work? - Well, the hostage negotiator's mirror, the black swans mirror, you know, the way that we teach in business now is just all verbal. - Vocal, okay. - You know, if you start lining up physically, which is what the body language mirroring thing is, like if you, if that happens naturally, then so be it. Enough people try to do it as a manipulative tool that we're really leery of even coaching people on that at all. Like if we're talking and suddenly we both find us, and I'm actually listening, and you're listening, we both find ourselves leaning the same direction, that's cool, 'cause we're dialed in. But the body language thing is a tool of manipulation so many times that people that are just trying to exploit you, that aspect of it, we stay away from it. Now the hostage negotiator mirror, the black swan mirror, repeating just the last one to three words of what somebody said, or then taking surgically, picking a gist one to three words here and there, is ridiculously effective. - Ridiculously effective. - Yeah, you did, right, nice. And the thing that I find fascinating about it too is, like if we find somebody that's really into mirroring, now typically be somebody whose IQ and EQ both are real high. And there are a lot of people whose IQ is real high, you know, their book smarts are good, but their people's smarts aren't good. And they tend to love mirroring because it's the least amount of effort with the maximum amount of response. And they wanna guide a negotiation in a very gentle but purposeful way, well, and the other side doesn't feel guided, they feel like they're expanding and it's been real consistent. - When you think about your next phase and your projects that you're working with now and what you're trying to do, you've got the black swan group.
The Black-Swan Group Experience
Black-swan group (58:34)
I saw that online. The objective of that is to coach people into negotiation skills and stuff like that. - Yeah, worldwide, globally. - Yeah. - And what does that look like? Is it of course that people can buy, is it a webinar? What is it? - Yeah, it's all of it. - The website is blackswanltd.com. I mean, if you could just start now, we got free stuff. Like, how do you start to get better now if you're further on down the line?
The last guests question (59:03)
We coach people through all kinds of deals on a regular basis and it's a really big part of what the company does. We coach a lot of people through negotiations. - And you've got your book as well, which we've talked about a bit, which has never split the difference, which has sold more than two million copies worldwide, which is just staggering, crazy, crazy numbers. We have a closing tradition on this podcast where the previous guest leaves a question for the next guest. - Oh. - And I get to, I only get to see it when I open the book. Okay, good handwriting. So this is useful. Okay. Is there someone in your life that really needs your help, but you are still unsure on how to help them? - There's someone in my immediate family that I can continue to buy the wrong gifts for. And I've got actually a conversation scheduled for me to at least say, all right, I realize I'm getting it wrong. Help me get it right. - I think we can all relate to that in some respects. Well, I can anyway. Thank you, Chris. Thank you for your time. Thank you for writing such a great book. On a topic that is relevant to more than just FBI negotiations, as you know, it's relevant to my relationship with my partner, to my business, to everything in between. It's relevant to all the interactions I have with all humans. And that's clearly a testament to why it sold more than, it's almost 2.5 million copies or something crazy like that. But I know that I know the stats around books. I know that more than, I think my publisher told me that most books don't sell a thousand copies. So like 90 plus percent of books don't sell a thousand copies to sell 2.5 million copies worldwide is staggering, but it speaks to your experience and the way you articulated it in the book. Been an honor to speak to you. Thanks for your wisdom. And I'm going to keep brushing up my negotiation skills. Pleasure to be mine. Thanks for having me on. Thanks, Chris. I had a few words to say about one of my sponsors on this podcast. As we all know, energy independence and living a little greener has never been more important for a better future. It's a journey I've been on over the last couple of years that I've shared with you sporadically. Ever since I sold my Rangeover Sport and bought an electric bicycle. And there's a lot of people out there that listen to this podcast that are looking to make that sustainable switch in the things that run their daily life, whether it's their home, their car, their vehicles, whatever it might be. So when a good friend of mine at a company called My Energy called Jordan told me she was interested in sponsoring this podcast, I jumped at the opportunity. So for those of you that don't know, My Energy are a UK renewable energy brand whose mission is to increase the usage of green energy, helping people like you and I to save time and money when it comes to making sustainable switches in our lives. So if this resonates with you and you're the type of person that's been looking or thinking about going on your own sustainability journey, I highly recommend checking them out at My Energy dot com.