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Never Split the Difference | Chris Voss | Talks at Google

Jun 02, 2021
Hello everyone, my name is Marin chzn and welcome to these

talks

at the Google event for much of your career. Chris Voss has been at the forefront of negotiation techniques. He was a member of the New York City Joint Terrorism Task Force for 14 years and was the chief crisis negotiator. for the New York City division of the FBI before becoming the FBI's top international kidnapping negotiator. He currently teaches business negotiation in the NBA programs at the University of Southern California and Georgetown University, in addition to having taught at Harvard University and was a visiting professor at Northwestern University. is the founder and CEO of the Black Swan Group and author of the new book Never Split the Difference Negotiating as if Your Life Depends on It Talk to Google You're welcome It's an honor to welcome you here today Thank you very much I have it and I have it to tell you that With that introduction it sounds like you can't hold down a job, doesn't it?
never split the difference chris voss talks at google
To start, you and I were talking earlier and I was telling you how I read your book and it's full of incredibly practical information and great stories and I told you something that happened to me this morning just as I was getting ready for this talk that I was reviewing, you know. , all my notes and all the tickets and making sure everything was in line and I realized I had forgotten to request director chairs for us to sit in, so I sent a quick quick "oh shoot" email . I'm so sorry, I forgot. I forgot to order these chairs.
never split the difference chris voss talks at google

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never split the difference chris voss talks at google...

Is there any way we can get them? some chairs for the day and the answer was no, we are cleaning from IO, I'm sorry, but we can't deliver them to you today and one of the lessons in the book is that no, it's not the end of the conversation it's the beginning of a conversation and Before reading this book I would have said oh, okay, I came to know that must be that must be the end, but I really thought about the book and thought okay, no, no, it doesn't mean no at all. it means what is a different approach what is a different question that can be asked and then I answered well is there any way I can go pick them up somewhere?
never split the difference chris voss talks at google
You know, I understand you can't drop them off, but can I go pick them up? to which I got a response, I was actually able to organize it so that they could drop it off and it worked, it was amazing, uh yeah, that was just one of the many themes that you highlight in This book is fine, so first of all, Thanks for getting me a chair. I appreciate that now what's interesting about that story are two really important points. First of all, there is a lot more space between yes and no than most of us realize.
never split the difference chris voss talks at google
You know, sometimes we get into a kind of binary yes, no situation and don't realize how much space there really is if we just give the other side a little time to think for a moment if you see, there's some data that gives us indicate that one moment is just three seconds and three three seconds can be an eternity for the thought process, so the other thing that's also really interesting about that and I think that's one of the completely different things. The approaches we take in a book is what happens after the other side says no.
Early in my career I came across a book that I still refer to all the time called "Start with No" by a guy named Jim Camp and Camp Theory. was that if you make the other party feel free that they can say no at any time, then their autonomy is respected, they will relax a little more, and they will be more willing to work with you simply knowing that it is okay to say no. No, so we decided to go a step further and see what happens when someone really says no and since yes it is protection or no, yes, it is commitment and we don't know what we have gotten ourselves into, that's why we are afraid. saying yes but it's not protection, which normally what we find is that as soon as someone says no, if they feel protected, they tend to relax, they focus a little more and they can think faster, which is exactly what happened with you and you inadvertently trigger No, you are still very nice in the way you talk to him and we know that if you are nice to interact with us, it actually helps the other person think better because your mind works up to 31% more effectively if you are in a positive mood, so when you are in a positive mood, it activates it in another person and makes them smarter just by smiling at them having you, you have a wonderful tone of voice, so she is already doing this person. smarter by the way he interacts with it, he says your counterpart says no, which now focuses and causes you to give him a moment in time and the next thing you know he's throwing ideas at you and working them out and that's discover that space between yes and no and many times it is activated when the other person actually says no because they feel protected and safe and people are more likely, once they feel protected and safe, to interact with you, so in a few moments you were brilliant. thank you very much, after that, first you know what it is, in general, what is the correct answer, you know yourself, before, when we were chatting, you said well, no, you don't want to ask, you don't want to attack in any way you don't want to, so , what is the right thing to do, the right approach after that initial, no, well, first of all, just hesitate, give him a chance to think, because you

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know what goes through the other person's mind when he starts to talking to them, there's probably four or five things that have been going through their mind throughout the day, so giving them a chance to focus on you is the other thing that nobody does and I'll give you, I'll give you.
Another clue like: We

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call anyone on the phone and say: Do you have a few minutes to talk? Because if you say that to someone, a lot of things start going through their mind. How long are a few minutes? If I have a few minutes. I want to talk to you? I even like you. All these things go through your mind. Every time we call someone we all say now is a bad time to talk and you get one or two responses from that person who will say no, it is. It's never a bad time to talk, what do you want to talk about?
They are very focused or they will say yes, actually it is, but I can talk tomorrow at 2:00 and you get a time. It's time to talk now, follow up on that, if nothing good happens in that space, what happens after that, the next most important thing is to get the other person to say that's right, not your right, but yeah, and you get a, you get a, that's it. Just when summarizing a situation from the other person's point of view, don't be afraid to summarize a situation that seems like it goes against your best interests. I mean, that's actually the key and we've opened up a series of negotiations, but it's a summary of the facts that the other person sees and how the other person sees them and that's right, then it's going to move you forward in ridiculously phenomenal ways.
There are actually several different reasons why we think it works. One of the reasons is my Co-writer Tall Ros is brilliant and reads everything Tall Russ t a l r AZ has written, if he's written it, it's well written and worth reading, but we were going over this and he said: I think it triggers an epiphany. subtle because think about the number of times. when you hear someone on TV or see a slogan that you completely agree with and your reaction is "that's right", you know that "it's right" is when you completely agree with something and believe it to be a complete truth, then that's a powerful thing to make someone say the other thing, I think it's, we think it's, if someone you're talking to tells you, they're telling you that they empathize with you because of that in that brief moment and there's a

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between empathy empathy and sympathy, um, but when they feel empathy from you, they feel connected to you and they and they want to collaborate, so if you come to know, the next most important thing to try to get out of someone is that that's right and so sounds.
That's right, it's similar to Oh, you get it and there are a couple of times where you know in different ways you highlight the importance of your counterpart feeling like you get it, you know it. Find your religion. and and um, you know, triggering a that's right and so how is this, this empathy and oh, you understand that's important in a negotiation, you know it's a great question because, um, we, we believe that the whole world divided into three basic approaches? come into conflict and it's basically fight, flight or make friends, and each of them, something is more important to them than making the deal, the deal is secondary to each of those three types and a particular type that I belong to the type assertive, the Born assertive, you know, we consider ourselves very direct and honest.
It's more important that you really understand where I'm coming from than that you agree with me. I want to know, you know what I mean. I want if If you know completely what my perspective is and I'm satisfied that you listened to me, then there's a good chance I'll take your deal, as long as you know where I'm coming from, I mean, it's kind of like you work for a boss who It wouldn't be doing what you want it to do right if you understood that if they knew that you knew where you were coming from, they accepted everything you said, you wouldn't actually have a problem if they didn't follow your advice as long as you were sure that they knew where you were coming from, so than the other two types, you know, what we call the accommodating friend, the friend-oriented person that they want To make sure that we have a good relationship, we don't make a deal, that's fine, but as long as you know that I like you and feel that you liked me, that's important and then the third type is the analytical one and they are them.
They are very pragmatic, they try very hard to make dispassionate decisions, as long as they have the opportunity to share the reason for what they want, their thoughts, the results of their analysis, then they are also happy, so there are more important things to do. A deal for all of us. Do you think people generally fall pretty heavily into one of these three camps or are some people you know a combination of two or even a combination of all three? Well, the more experience you have, the more you will finish. you tend to pick up traits from the other two types because to be a complete negotiator, even a rainmaker, you need all three, you need to be able to assert your best position, you need to get along with people and you need power to analyze, um, very few.
People are like a stone cold, one of the three and then as we learn we start to select the other types, so assertives and analysts tend to select the accommodative characteristics because there is strong data that indicates that you have six times more likely to make a deal with someone you like and as a statement I want to know the best way to make a deal so if you like interacting with me it increases the chances of me getting what I want. I'm good with that and then you have to adapt your technique depending on who you're dealing with, you also learn and then you start to Understand that if you're impatient, if you have a disagreement about how the other person might see it and really broad characteristics, uh uh, like , for example, just silence, Dead Silence, um, each of those three guys looks at science very differently like assertive if you're quiet I think that means you want to hear more from me and that's why I talk where if you're an analyst and you're quiet you just want to think and I could completely misinterpret that you know and you're happy when I stay silent CU, you say, thank God, he shut up so I can think and then the usher who is very focused on relationships when there's silence, well, the only time the usher is silent is when you are angry, so if we are talking and you remain silent with me, I'm afraid you are angry with me, so when there is a stalemate, when there is a

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, when you have a problem, it's usually a result of The Three Guys, my height, my co-writer, he's highly analytical, he's brilliant, I mean, he's, he's, he's, he's, he's, he's, he's, he's a brilliant guy and, um , I emailed him one time when we were working on the book and there were some words I wanted to have changed and what we were working on I wanted spelled a little differently and you know a writer will say change whatever you want, but you know that's their baby, you start changing words they don't like so I emailed them.
I didn't hear from him for four or five days and now I'm like, oh my God, oh my God, you know this has to be bad, so call him on the phone and he had been on vacation. with his family and he realized that I was worried and he goes, goes, what's with all the worry, you know why you never worry about anything, why are you worried. It's been four or five days since we spoke and I sent you this email. and he said, "Okay, well, a lot of people tell me to stay silent because it bothers them too, so I misinterpreted it.
You started your negotiation career in hostage negotiation. It's that right. Well, I actually started it when I was three years old trying to get out of trouble with my parents professionally professionally yes technically and so I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how you found negotiatinghostages.and then how that led to the rest of your career, you know, the founding of the group Black Swan and how negotiation has been a part of your life, sure, um, yeah, completely indirectly, everything, everything fell from the sky . I was in a SWAT. team with the FBI um had a recurring knee injury and then just decided uh before the knee was completely broken while they could still put it back together to try something different and in the response to the crisis, I've always liked the response to the crisis, we had hostage negotiators and that sounded great.
I didn't know what they did, but how difficult it could be to talk to people. That can't be hard, so I decided I was going to be a good boy and I definitely clearly remember thinking, yeah, I'll talk to them. Third, I was able to do that, so I went to the head of the New York office, this team, a woman, Nam Amy, phenomenal, tough New York agent, and she said you have experience. I said no, do you have any training? any education in the area without any kind of experience in this that would make you a good negotiator I say no, she said go away, I say come on, she says no, go away, everyone wants to be hostages, negotiate, everyone wants to do .
It doesn't go away and I told her this had to be something I could do and she said volunteer for a suicide hotline, which I did. I met Amy recently because I wanted to put the story in the book and she said, you know I had to tell a thousand people to volunteer on suicide hotlines and two people did it and you were one of them, you know, one of them. the things I learned was that, you know, ask the right person to do what they tell you to do, I have to ask the right person, but be willing to do it, so I volunteered on the hotline.
I came back 5 or 6 months later and said yeah I've been volunteering, she said you're kidding, she said she I tell everyone to do that. Nobody does it, where are you volunteering? I told him it was a suicide hotline that was founded by Norman Vince Aele, the powerful positive thinking guy in New York. She said that's where I volunteered too, so I was the only one who did what they told me to do. She put me through five others. people I receive, I get the next training position. I went to the FBI hostage crisis negotiation school, it's phenomenal, uh, uh, a phenomenal, almost moving experience, and then I came back and I was lucky enough that not long after I came back, there was a bank. rob a bank robbery with hostages in Brooklyn, which is actually a very rare event that happens in the movies, yes it happens on TV every two weeks, in real life it happens across the country about once every 20 years and we showed up and it was a great operation, the first bank robber who surrendered turned himself in to me personally, so everything went well, we got everyone out and then I started teaching that incident and telling everyone what it was like and I discovered that I like teaching and then One thing led to another and the next thing I know I'm sitting here at Google and I was wondering if you could also talk a little bit about the Black Swan group and what you do there while I was still in the office.
Harvard Law Schools Negotiation Course. I'm the only agent who ever did that and while I was there collaborating with my now colleagues at Harvard we decided that we were doing the same thing just the same techniques, different bets, basically that means I had better stories and then after that I decided that this was an area where hostage negotiation applies to business and personal negotiations worked very well there and I was encouraged by my colleagues there, Sheila Heen, John Richardson, Doug Stone, phenomenal people who have been very supportive. Since then, I met up with some really good friends on this day and decided it would be something new to do because for most of my career I've liked going to New Directions and trying things that other people haven't tried, so... when?
When I retired, it was in 2007, which I know seems like a long time ago. There was a book called The Black Swan and it was about very small, innocuous things that had massive impacts and that's the whole design. of these skills, I mean, these skills even if the other knows that you are negotiating with them, they are still okay with it, it is very subtle. One of the cases I talk about in the book was very A Long Kidnapping in the Philippines and ultimately one of the turning points was getting the terrorists to say that was just it over the phone.
All changed. There was a $10 million ransom demand on the table. It went from $10 million to zero in a conversation space of about five minutes. It had been going on for a while and our negotiator had the bad guy say that's right and this was a bad guy who murdered by raping the head cutting off the bad guy had him say that was right and that changed everything so a couple of Weeks after that case was over, I was back in the Philippines, excuse me for another case, and, uh, the negotiator I was training is a phenomenal, patriotic, wonderful human being named Benji, and he says, hey, you'll never guess who called me on phone two weeks ago, so He was like I don't know and said it was our bad terrorist guy named Saaya.
He said that Saaya actually called me, which he said because he didn't know who Benji was. I just knew that Benji had to be the government's military policeman. high ranking official but I didn't know who he was he said hey have you been promoted yet? I don't know what you told me on the phone. I was going to kill Jeffrey. He stopped me from doing it. They should promote you. he hangs up, look even when they know they're still okay with it and that and that was the whole focus of the negotiation, if someone will deal with you and um, they won't feel worse as a result of it, most people I know if I have a negotiation story and they'll say, oh yeah, you know, I had these guys over a barrel, well, I really hit them, you know, there's nothing they could do right, the problem with that kind of approach is that if you hit someone in a negotiation, they're going to wait the rest of their lives to pay you back and you won't hammer people you'll never see again.
There is no unique thing. They are going to be people who will remain in your world in one way or another. either your daily life or they will see you again, so you want to successfully negotiate with people and then they call you on the phone and say good job, good job, I would talk to you again, which is exactly what happened in the Philippines, you leave It is clear in this book that your counterpart is also your partner, which I thought was an interesting point in the negotiation that you don't necessarily go head to head. remm, you know you're trying to work towards a conclusion, but you also point out that compromise is a bit of a dirty job and sometimes in negotiation it's a horrible word and I hope they don't bring it up. the tape is correct, you said it's a commitment, so what about the commitment?
What about the negotiations? Do you think it involves working together and then what about commitment? um it's so negative, you know, and there's a difference between a high value trade and a commitment, a

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commitment. the difference is meeting halfway, usually it's a kind of sorry but usually it's a bit of a lazy approach and you leave money on the table, you leave better results on the table when you compromise or meet in the middle, You know, I like to say. Never be so sure of what you want that you don't take something better and that's why you want to interact with someone because the adversary is a situation.
If you are talking to someone, actually you both have the problem that you both talk together. you'll probably figure it out and even if it's the most effective high value trade, what can I give you that's really valuable to you? It might be easy enough for me to give it. I did a talk for uh, Memphis, uh, Memphis Dispute Resolution. Several years ago, the Bar Association was publishing a magazine. They had to put someone on the cover of the magazine. They said we'll put your photo on the cover of the magazine. Put my photo on the cover of a magazine.
Some distribution is extremely valuable to me, something very difficult for me to get and something I don't receive on a regular basis. Something that they get, they have anyway, and they have to do it every month, so that's a perfect definition of high value. trade and the idea was that they wanted some training on trading and they wanted to hear someone come from a different point of view and some things that are pretty easy to understand. I mean, a lot of people have told me that the ideas are digestible. they're easy to apply, they're not difficult to understand, you know, everything is designed to be very easy to use, you can figure it out, you can use it and you start making a difference right away, so yeah, the adversaries of In a situation, the person you are talking to may feel like they have to be your adversary and you can eventually get them out of it with enough time, people are much more defensive than attacking, but adversary is a situation so I have to partner with this person , so I'm going to engage in behaviors that will make you want to collaborate with me and if we get into a really serious and tough negotiation, I can do it too, you know I can.
I can hold a very strong line, but ideally you still feel good about the entire interaction. Hostage takers and kidnappers are crazy, so there's no way those same techniques would work well on sane people, yes, but Yes, the perception is that hostage takers are crazy and they're not. I mean, everyone has patterns. Everyone is driven by emotions. Now that there's a lot more recognition of emotional intelligence, it's not that hard to make that case, but yeah. If we were in a business meeting and I and I had said it sounds like you're excited about this, that would still be an insult, huh, but if I said it sounds like you're passionate about this, being like that, yeah, I would.
I'm, you know, it's, like that, it's true, remember then, what's the difference between passion and emotions? I don't know, it's a terminology thing and then we're also talking about Danny Conan's book, Thinking. Fast and slow, there is more and more data that indicates that there is an emotional component to every decision we make, every decision we make based on what matters to us, therefore, what matters to you is an emotion of how you feel. things, so let's start with the idea that we are emotional, to start with a hostage taker, if they are upset it is just more of themselves, they are not different, they are just more intensely themselves, so hostage negotiations are a set of tools and skills that can deal with people with very intense emotions, they are equally effective when the emotions are less intense and the other side of the coin is that half the time we act as if things are the end of the world, anyway, I'm talking about anyone who has had trouble sleeping at that time.
Nighttime means you were tossing and turning about something that was bothering you, bothering you enough that you couldn't sleep. Anyone who's ever felt stress, you're just holding yourself hostage because you're worried about losing something, so when we start. running it backwards, there's actually emotional wiring and everything that happens, so let's start from the premise that we have some tools that work very well, emotional intelligence tools, you know, there's still a very intense drive to be rational, you know , Getting to Yes, is a fundamentally phenomenal book, but it really relies on a drive to become rational or even recognition says to separate a person's positions from their interests.
Okay, that sounds very rational. Why don't you tell me why you want what you want? I want well, most people think that if I tell you why I want it, then you have all the power over me, you just got my deepest, darkest secrets or I have revealed all my weaknesses and revealed my vulnerability. that's an idea it just doesn't work you know tell me why you want this oh because I can't pay my bills oh you know so I have leverage quote leverage and most of the books that have come out have been Throughout this push towards rationality, how Can we approach Us in this methodical, pragmatic and rational approach to negotiation?
You know, more and more it comes to light in different degrees and other ideas. Once again, Jim Camps' book begins without. It still has a phenomenal chapter about the open ending. questions and it's a completely different approach and it's written from a layman's point of view, his philosophy is a combination: he was a football coach, he was a fighter pilot in the Air Force and he was a salesman, so he has all that Kind of mixed terminology, which makes it entertaining. Bob Manukan, the head of the negotiation program, and that the first story is me negotiating with him in a simulated kidnapping negotiation.
His book Beyond the Winner still has fantastic chapter after chapter. about empathy, the tension between empathy and assertiveness I still map and revisit from time to time and my Harvard brothers and sisters now recognize much more that empathy is thetool for negotiation Effectiveness and us in my book You know, we call it real tactical empathy, understanding what we can do with someone's emotions and help frame their decision. You make the point here that there are these unknown unknowns that can really be the answer to ending the negotiation and to figuring out what it is that you both want um andSo I was wondering if you could talk about how to find these unknowns, these unknown unknowns, what it means to be an unknown. unknown and how we can get better at tracking them in a negotiation.
So, there are two types of pieces of information that your counterpart has on the other side that is really important to you are the things that they know are important to you and the things that they have no idea are important but do. are, and that's why detecting deception is not that useful because detecting deception in in an interaction you just know to cover up what you know is important and I have to start a lot more conversations with you to get this kind of accidental stuff, now The other thing is that there is never a negotiation that anyone is involved in when you are not holding cards, so to speak, otherwise you are not withholding information.
There will never come a time when you are in a negotiation where you don't have important property information to worry about. about letting the other side have it, if that's true for you, it's true for the other side, so here are two people who have information that they don't show to the other side, they know the other side doesn't have it and they strangers are strangers. It's like when those two things overlap because I don't know what you're hiding and you don't know what I'm hiding, there will be a lot of things in space that could be huge if we could figure it out, some of that could just be why you want what you want, which again, never be so sure of what you want that you don't take something better.
One of my students, um, a man is negotiating with his wife by the Christmas tree. practical boy practical boy wants wants an artificial tree many practical reasons for an artificial tree not to catch fire you buy it once you never have to do it you know all the reasons and he can't understand why she doesn't agree with Having the artificial tree has a lot of sense and sometimes it's like, why is this person crazy? Where does it come from? And she searched her mind a little bit and thought, "Well, the only thing that could be driving her was, you know, maybe something from when she was a kid, he told her that he used a tool we call a tag and he just tagged her, said that It seems like maybe there were real trees growing while she was growing up and immediately she starts telling him about her memories of Christmas as a child and how they stayed with her and how important it was to her that her children have those same kinds of memories throughout. life and that they got a real tree because as soon as he found out why she wanted what she wanted, he went completely to her side, he knew that was a better outcome, almost all negotiations are like that if we give him. opportunity and we get to the point where the other party feels comfortable sharing that information, that's really the point of everything in the book, there is always going to be information that you don't have and that the other person doesn't know is important, so which the more the conversations escalate, the things that come out, the innocuous information could make all the difference in the world. and make not just small differences, the Black Swan is a small thing that makes a big difference and that's really what you're looking for, it also saves time, keeps you from having to renegotiate, keeps you from having to do it again. moving forward in a better partnership, you know, a great summary of someone is when you summarize them in a way that they could never say it themselves.
The story in the book is when I found out that my son had changed the way he played soccer. and he was a lineman and linemen are great football players, it's a very manual skill, kind of a combination of a construction worker in a helmet and a Nassau CU scientist, they have to hit things, they put their head down, They crash into things and the things they try to crash into are trying to get away from them, so it's like trying to fire a missile with another missile. He is an American football lineman. It's a very complicated job and as a quarterback I never appreciated how complicated his job was because he just did it and he was moved from lineman to linebacker and he went from being told to hit everything he saw to turning away from everything, just hitting One thing, he's a guy with the ball, everything else he avoids, he wouldn't do it. do it and the other way you know you're wrong is when you're trying to explain something to someone and they look at you and say you're right, someone tells you you're right.
What I'm really asking you is to shut up and leave. They don't want you to talk anymore, so my coach or his coach and I explain to him how he's supposed to play linebacker. Guess what he would say to her? we're right and we'd say, well, yeah, because we like to hear we love to be told we're right and then he did it again the next day and he did it the wrong way and I thought you know. what's going on in their mind what do you know what's wrong with them and finally I took him aside one day and said: you think dodging a block isn't unmanly, wanting to get out of the way of someone who's trying to hit you makes you a coward. and he was really quiet for a second and then he said yes and he started dodging blocks the next day and he told me the other day because we talked about this a lot, he said, you know, I never would have done it.
I've been able to explain that myself until you said it. I didn't know it was true and never in a million years would I have thought to act like a coward, but it was absolutely what drove me, so when I can summarize it again from the other because if you tell him that like that, it was almost as if I was trying to convince him, well, he's a coward, but I was just acknowledging it for him even though it sounded like it went against what I was trying to understand, it just gave him an epiphany and it was really a black swan for him, was he?
How do negotiation strategies and tactics change when there is an emotional entanglement with your adversary, such as your spouse? So the question was: how do negotiation techniques change when there's an emotional entanglement with someone like your spouse, well, it's harder for us to fairly reward them in a way that they would say is right. I mean, we get in a lot more trouble the closer we are to someone emotionally and it's harder. to do that there's something we call I call an accusation audit um it's very, very disarming but I will take all the things that you may be harboring against me you know whatever name you can call me and I would say look, it seems like I've been a jerk all over. time here It seems like I've been wrong the whole time here and the closer we are to someone the harder it is for us to make those accusations It could be a spouse It could be a business partner where things have gone wrong I mean I've warned the people we're working with to try to

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their business with someone they can't get along with anymore and I said, look, you have to articulate everything bad that he would say about you and I won't do that, you know, I don't care, no.
I'll do that, so we get in our own way and I get in my own way on a regular basis, so it's hard for me. I'm not trying to make it sound easy, it's not, most things that are simple are also very difficult and that, and the closer we are to someone, the harder it often is to fully recognize how angry they are if the anger is with us and we feel that we are not responsible, we know that they make us responsible. I was one of my first negotiations after I was trained on the hotline, it was with the woman who is now the former Mrs.
Voss. and I had learned on On The Hotline that when you heard anger in someone's voice, you said you sound angry and that made it go away and it was like magic, you know, it worked for On The Hotline all the time and someone would call me. a direct line, there will be anger that will lead them one way or another, so I'm in a conversation with the now former Mrs. Voss about an argument about something that was fundamental to our relationship at the time and I heard anger, so you know, I'm Like I have my hostage negotiation skills here.
I can handle this, it's going to be easy, so I look at her and say, he sounds angry, yeah, I see you shaking your head there, you know it probably wasn't like that. She didn't do well and she exploded, she was angry and I remember at that moment she said, "I'm a hostage negotiator, that's not supposed to happen well." The problem was that it wasn't just that she was angry, but that she was angry. and she held me responsible for it and what I said before that would have been more accurate: it seems that I have been unreasonable, it seems that I have been unfair, it seems that I have never given you a chance it seemed that I have not respected you it seems that I have not respected your autonomy something closer than she could have said that's right and it's harder when we're closer to them or if we don't feel responsible if they think we're responsible it's harder for us to recognize that so that's a lot of answers long to your question.
I hope I have helped. Is there anything you have found in the popular media that you believe is patently false about negotiation or negotiation technique? um, in the movie The Negotiator, first of all, at the beginning, there's a line between Samuel Jackson's character and the woman who plays his wife and she says, well, you're a negotiator, you lie for a living, lying is a very bad idea and I don't believe, I never believed in hostage negotiation and I don't believe in a trade negotiation, one of the reasons I went with my friends at Harvard from the beginning, Bob Manukan, running the program there.
He put a big emphasis on teaching people not to lie and it occurred to him while he was there the first time that he said, Chris, do you know what hostage negotiators think about lying? and I told him: don't lie to anyone. You're not going to kill and they laughed, you know, and they thought it was kind of funny and then they felt awkward because they realized I was serious, but then I said, you know, but it's still probably a bad idea because someone that they know they're going to find out that you lied um so I don't believe in lying I think lying is a bad approach to negotiation the other party is going to find out in a trade agreement you lie they're going to find out and you're still in your world um, I don't think either, um, you know, in the attacking type of negotiator, I mean the hard blow to the other side, um, it's just bad for business in the long run, people don't want to make deals with you.
After a while, I mean, when I first got into the Harvard program on negotiation in its class, I fell back on my tough negotiation techniques that I learned as a kidnapping negotiator. The kidnappers are businessmen, commodity businessmen, whether we think so. It's horrible, they think it's a business and I had learned some very harsh negotiation techniques that I brought up to beat people up and they didn't know I did it to them. I did it in a very invisible way, the problem was that word spread. So the first two or three times you know I really killed the other side and then they started talking about it, it's like your reputation goes outside the industry and pretty soon no one was talking to me, I mean I was sitting around talking.
During the negotiation they stared at me because they were afraid to say something. Well, I spoke to a CEO in the energy business a couple of years later and he told me that I have such a reputation in my industry as a tough negotiator that no one wants. deal with me I have a deal on my desk right now the other CEO was there with me the entire time we negotiated every term he is afraid to sign it because if you make a deal with me now, by definition, you have been defeated and people now I no longer want to admit They've dealt with me, so no one will make a deal, so if you're a tough negotiator and you really win, the other side finds out and it doesn't take long and you can't. make more deals the question was uh, how do you start a negotiation? how do you start?
I want to hear where you come from first. Everyone shows up at a negotiation after having rehearsed their argument. have rehearsed your talking points. The reality is until they understand that. Outside of your head you won't be able to hear anything I say, so while you're concentrating on what you have to say, I want to hear what it is because you won't be able to hear me. me until they have said their opinion number one, number two. Now I think there will probably be some really important information for me to pick up that I wouldn't otherwise have, as a rule of thumb I can get in one negotiation and 10 or 15 minutes of information that would have taken me at least 2 weeks to acquire, otherwise, if I had ever been able to obtain it, and there are certain things about what is happening in your world that no matter how much research I do, I will never be able to discover, your boss.
It may have caused you difficulties with the last deal you closed. You may have internal pressures to do something. You may not be under pressure to do something. You may not be hungry at all. There is no amount of research you can do on this. that I can find out, I have tofind out for you, so I want to start the conversation so we can talk, you feel comfortable talking to me as soon as possible. And yes, I want you to go first. I want to know where you come from. If the question is whether the person on the other end of the line is a criminal you want to apprehend.
What can you give them? What room for maneuver do you have? If someone

talks

to you, you have something they want, period, you know. I always said that there is always influence. There is a whole. You're asking what kind of influence there is. What can I give them? You know, my buddy Jim Camp likes it. I say that there is no leverage because everything exists in the eyes of the beholder, in the mind of the beholder. I have another colleague who says that it doesn't matter what influence they have over you, what matters is what they think of the influence you have over them again it all ends up being in the eye of the beholder if you are talking to me I have something you want otherwise you wouldn't talk to me um and you don't even necessarily have to talk directly to me, if you're communicating about it in some way it's designed to get you something you want, if you're complaining publicly then there's something you want and it's up to me to recognize it and then take whatever it is. that thread.
Whatever that Black Swan is and use it to establish a working relationship and figure out what we can do together, so if the criminal is talking to me, I have leverage. The question is what are the type of things that that kidnapper wants you know what you're negotiating with them um if they're talking about all the kidnappings they want they want money they want recognition if we can give them recognition or the other side is if it's public in some way shape or form that means there is good publicity for them, they are trying to get publicity, uh, and if there is good publicity, there is bad publicity, so, if I understand that, Dynamic, if they express themselves in some way, there are things that they want happen.
There are things they don't want to happen, all I have to do is turn them around and worry them about the things they don't want to happen and then that changes their behavior because fear of loss is the number one driving factor for myself. , many psychologists believe that fear of loss is the number one factor driving our decisions. Psychologists generally fall into one or two camps. They make every decision based on fear or love. The others say that you. Make all decisions based on fear of loss. Whichever of those two areas you're in is fear, and fear of loss is a big determinant of how people think, so I just acknowledge it and then use the tools I have.
I've been told, what do you say to people who say there's no such thing as bad publicity if you don't have it to begin with? Most people don't like to be laughed at and that seems to be the only thing that hurts, ridicule seems to be the only thing that even people who mock philosophy seem to be the only thing they don't like, so I understand the intellectual thought process behind this, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about, but I haven't seen anyone yet who likes to ridicule anyone, so ridicule tends to be the only powerful type of X Factor Black Swan in advertising that makes a difference.
The question is, when is the time to threaten retaliation? in that position and once you do it, you know, you should do it, you should wait, you know, I tend to think of both as a nuclear attack and there's a long toxic residue and you have the capability for a nuclear attack and people like it. the idea, you know it, but I don't know at any point that people after the fact said yes, that was the right thing to do. I had negotiations that went wrong and one went wrong earlier this year and I still regret it. the loss of that relationship and I will try to repair one of our main core philosophies is that no deal is better than a bad deal and one of those was a bad deal that went on for 3 years and we did a lot. about the money, it was blood money, it was painful, painful and I ended up very angry and upset with a lot of the people I blamed for it and I still want to do what I can to repair those relationships, so it's difficult emotionally and intellectually.
I just don't want things to go wrong and if they do go wrong I will try to fix it at some point because we are still in the same environment, I mean the residue of negativity and people paying. your back is brutal, it really is and besides that, I don't want a reputation because then that reputation spreads if you are quick to pull the trigger, even if someone deserved it, people find out and then are reluctant to deal with you, a lot more people judge your actions who are not directly involved in the action. I like to say that the most important person watching me is not the person in the interaction, but someone is watching how I behave and to try and the most powerful people sit and study you for a long time before trusting you to put you in. really phenomenal deals, so I don't believe much in retaliation, just no, yeah, well. um, there's an old saying that was attributed to Goldman Sachs, you know, greedy, yes, but greedy in the long term, you know, in the short term, you can chase them in the long term.
Your most valuable asset is time. Everyone here has a good that is exactly the same as Warren's buffets. the same every day, he has 24 hours and we have 24 hours, so his most valuable commodity is time, the step back and what is his rate of return on investment of chasing bad debt versus cutting his losses and moving on forward. psychologically you've been cheated on, that person has hurt you and you want to pay them back and revenge is a dish best served, Cal, as they say, but if you're going to be greedy in the long run, the best return on investment of that meager The goodness of the time you have 24 hours a day, just chasing a bad debt or moving on and looking for a better, better, better opportunity.
I have seen many companies that have really started to improve their profitability when they understood how to reduce their losses and move forward. It's very easy to say. Very difficult to do. I'm still working on it. I now know intellectually that cutting my losses and moving on is a smarter move. I'm not saying I can always do it. During the last few minutes I'd like to turn it over to you, you said you had a story for us, so yeah, um, not long ago I was asked if I learned how to negotiate, what do you know, I grew up.
Iowa I'm a small-town guy from Iowa and I'm the son of hard-working parents, Richard and Joyce Voss, and I think my mom is a tough Midwestern woman, a tough Midwestern woman. I remember the, I think, the first negotiation I was in because my dad was like SWAT my mom was a protector, you know, dad punished you, my mom was nice to you and, you know, he had the belt and one time I got in trouble, you know, I'm sure it was my sisters that got me into it. Problem, it probably wasn't my fault. I had an older sister who was too young.
Oh, and so it was. My mom said: You know? Do you want me to punish you or do you want dad to punish you? You know dad had the belt and this seemed like a no-brainer, there's no way mom could hit as hard as him, on top of that as far as I know he didn't even have a belt so I remember telling him oh yeah ya You know, you could punish me, she's like going to the closet and taking the measuring stick. I was like a holy cow. This wasn't part of the original agreement and I don't remember exactly what happened, but that was one of the things I learned early on.
You know that the person who takes care of me can be a very tough person at the same time. So I'll share with you one of my favorite jokes. What is the difference between an Iowa mother and a terrorist? You can negotiate with a terrorist and my mother hates it. That joke is good, thank you for sharing it, thank you all for coming and thank you for being here today.

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