Chris Voss: The FBI’s Former Lead Hostage Negotiator Speaks on Getting People to Say Yes

Chris Voss: The FBI’s Former Lead Hostage Negotiator Speaks on Getting People to Say Yes


Everybody’s addicted to yes. Everybody
thinks that the way you get a deal, is start getting the other side to say yes. And in
fact when you try to get people say yes it makes them get defensive and
pushes them away from you. And you’ll be stunned at what people are willing to
say no to. I go to a book signing a Jack Walsh. The most dangerous time for any
one of these people is at a book signing. Because how many people ask Jack Walsh
favors, but I want to ask Jack Welch come and speak at my class at USC. A given
book signing probably gets asked 30 times. I look at Jack Welch and I say is it a
ridiculous idea for you to come be a guest speaker of my course that I teach
at USC? Now this is a completely different question. Right? And instead I
say that to him and Jack Walsh goes, “alright, this is my personal assistants name. This
is how you get ahold of him. I think we’re going to be in LA in the fall and
if we can make the schedules line up, we’ll see if we can make it happen.” How can you get that kind of
reaction on Jack Walsh? Because I posed it as it no and no is protection and no
centers people and no startles people in a really good way. The phrase that you
want to hear from the other side instead of yes or no you want to get people to
say no but the solid gold phrase is to get somebody say, “that’s right.” You know
that’s right is when you completely agree with something and you think it’s
a complete truth. Someone you’re talking to says it to you they’re telling you
they feel empathy with you and they want to collaborate. So if you get a no, the
very next most important thing to try to get out of somebody’s that’s right. So, I
walk into a bar one night with three other hostage negotiator and I look around and
I see there’s an empty seat at the bar. And I walk up and I get ready to sit
down this guy sitting next to the seat looks at me and says, “don’t even think about it.”
I look at him I say, “why is that?” He says, “because I’ll kick your ass.” So, I
said, “I don’t need that I’m Chris.” And as soon as I say my name, he freezes. When
I’m some nameless person, he wants to hit me but as soon as I become Chris,
everything changes and now I’m a human being and he wants to interact with me. The most
dangerous negotiation is one you don’t know you’re in. So, what’s the real
negotiation? In any given situation, what are the terrorists really after? They
actually want the United States to say, ” we’re gonna bring them to justice.” They
wanted something. ISIS wanted something. They wanted publicity. And so, understand
what the commodity involved is. How the other side sees it, is most important. How
we see it doesn’t matter. Kidnapping to us, is horrific. To them, it’s business, So,
hostage negotiations is set of tools and skills that can deal with people in very
intense emotions. They’re equally effective when the motions are less
intense and the flip side is, half the time, we act like things are the end of
the world anyway. It’s the humans a legacy you want to leave behind us.

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About the Author: Sam Caldwell

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