FBI’s Top Hostage Negotiator: The Art Of Negotiating To Get Whatever You Want: Chris Voss | E147

Last updated: Jun 2, 2023

The video is an interview with former FBI kidnapping negotiator Chris Voss, discussing the importance of listening in negotiations and his personal experiences in crisis response.

The video features an interview with Chris Voss, a former FBI kidnapping negotiator and founder of the Black Swan Group, discussing the art of negotiation. Voss shares insights on the importance of listening in negotiations and how it can lead to faster deals. He also talks about his upbringing and how it instilled in him a strong work ethic and problem-solving skills. Voss also shares his experience in crisis response and how he became a hostage negotiator, despite initially thinking it couldn't be that hard. The interview touches on Voss's personal life and the toll that his job can take on it.

  • Listening is critical in negotiations, whether in business or law enforcement.
  • Personal growth can come from overcoming trauma and using it as a learning experience.
  • Chris Voss's upbringing taught him the importance of work ethic and problem-solving skills.
  • Chris Voss loves crisis response because it requires quick decision-making.
  • Volunteering on a suicide hotline can be emotionally difficult, depending on how vulnerable you make yourself.
  • Human behavior is human behavior, period.
  • Listening is the most important skill in negotiations.
  • Empathy is crucial in negotiations to avoid seeming like a hostage taker yourself.
  • Saying "no" can be a powerful tool in negotiations because it can help you establish boundaries and gain leverage.

FBI’s Top Hostage Negotiator: The Art Of Negotiating To Get Whatever You Want: Chris Voss | E147 - YouTube

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The Importance of Listening in Negotiations

  • Listening is critical in negotiations, whether in business or law enforcement.
  • If you take the time to really hear somebody out in the first deal, every deal after that will come to you faster.
  • Listening allows you to understand the other person's perspective and build rapport.
  • Not listening can lead to misunderstandings and missed opportunities.
  • Listening is a skill that can be developed and improved over time.
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Personal Life and Trauma

  • Working in crisis response can lead to becoming distant in your personal life.
  • It can be harder to see things from someone else's perspective when you are close to them.
  • Traumatic events can either traumatize you or lead to post-traumatic stress growth.
  • Going through a traumatic event can be a knife to the heart, but it can also make you better than you were before.
  • Personal growth can come from overcoming trauma and using it as a learning experience.
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Upbringing and Work Ethic

  • Chris Voss's father required hard work and figuring things out.
  • Working for his father taught him to be ethical, honest, and hardworking.
  • Growing up in an environment of hard work and problem-solving instilled a can-do attitude in him.
  • Working hard and being honest are values that can lead to success in any field.
  • Chris Voss's upbringing taught him the importance of work ethic and problem-solving skills.
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FBI’s Top Hostage Negotiator: The Art Of Negotiating To Get Whatever You Want: Chris Voss | E147 - YouTube

Crisis Response and Decision-Making

  • Chris Voss was a member of the SWAT team in Pittsburgh for about a year.
  • He tried out for the FBI's hostage rescue team but re-injured his knee and was unable to join.
  • He loves crisis response because it requires quick decision-making.
  • He is a decision-oriented person who hates comfortable inaction.
  • He became a hostage negotiator because he thought, "How hard can it be?"
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Volunteering on a Suicide Hotline

  • Chris Voss sought out the head of the FBI hostage negotiation team in New York to express his interest in joining the program.
  • She rejected him because he had no previous experience or credentials.
  • She told him to go volunteer on a suicide hotline and not to bother her until he had done so.
  • Chris Voss volunteered on a suicide hotline for five months and then went back to the head of the FBI hostage negotiation team to tell her about it.
  • She was shocked because she had told over a thousand people to volunteer on a hotline, but only two people had actually done it, and Chris Voss was one of them.
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Emotional Difficulty of Volunteering on a Suicide Hotline

  • The training for volunteering on a suicide hotline was phenomenal.
  • Volunteering on a suicide hotline can be emotionally difficult, depending on how vulnerable you make yourself.
  • The biggest problem with volunteering on a suicide hotline is volunteer burnout.
  • The really difficult types of callers are called frequent callers, and they didn't suck the life out of Chris Voss, they fascinated him.
  • Chris Voss learned about the drama triangle, which is three archetypes of difficult people: the victim, the protector, and the persecutor.
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Human Behavior in Business Negotiations

  • The drama triangle shows up in business negotiations.
  • Human behavior is human behavior, period.
  • Someone who comes into a negotiation portraying themselves as a victim is trying to draw you into being the protector or to give advice.
  • If you give advice, they switch from being the victim to the persecutor and attack you for your advice.
  • As soon as you back off, they switch back to being the victim.
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The Importance of Listening in Negotiations

  • Listening is the most important skill in negotiations.
  • People want to be heard and understood.
  • When people feel heard and understood, they are more likely to be open to your ideas.
  • Active listening involves mirroring, labeling, and summarizing.
  • Mirroring is repeating the last one to three words of what the other person said.
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Lessons from Crisis Response

  • People often try to lure you into giving advice so they can attack it.
  • Helping your counterpart discover the best answer is more effective than offering advice.
  • People's thoughts are dominated by loss, and their vision of loss determines their behavior.
  • Look for the loss in crisis situations to understand the hostage taker's motivations.
  • Empathy is crucial in negotiations to avoid seeming like a hostage taker yourself.
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First Job as a Hostage Negotiator

  • Chris Voss's first real job as a hostage negotiator was a bank robbery with hostages in New York City.
  • In real life, bank robberies with hostages are rare events.
  • Most movies about hostage negotiations are not accurate representations of real-life situations.
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The Importance of Listening

  • Listening is crucial in negotiations because it helps you understand the other person's perspective.
  • Active listening involves paying attention to the other person's words, tone, and body language.
  • Paraphrasing what the other person says can help you build rapport and show that you understand their perspective.
  • Labeling the other person's emotions can help them feel heard and understood.
  • Summarizing the conversation can help you clarify any misunderstandings and move towards a resolution.
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The Power of "No"

  • Saying "no" can be a powerful tool in negotiations because it can help you establish boundaries and gain leverage.
  • When someone says "no," it can be an opportunity to gather more information and understand their perspective.
  • Using "no" as a way to say "not yet" can help you buy time and avoid making a hasty decision.
  • Using "no" as a way to say "I'm not comfortable with that" can help you establish boundaries and protect your interests.
  • Using "no" strategically can help you gain leverage and move towards a mutually beneficial outcome.
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Bank Robbery with Hostages

  • Bank robberies with hostages are rare.
  • Chris Voss was a volunteer on a suicide hotline when he was called to negotiate in a bank robbery with hostages.
  • His negotiation skills were at a high level due to his training and experience.
  • He was not nervous, but ready to go.
  • He learned the lesson of "showing up" from a government official.
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Running into Trouble

  • Chris Voss believes in the strategy of "running into trouble."
  • He was not asked to negotiate in the bank robbery, but showed up because he wanted to get involved.
  • Running into chaos or trouble results in less criticism.
  • Decisions have to be made, and someone has to do something.
  • Chris Voss was asked to negotiate after the initial negotiator talked the situation into stalemate.
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The Great CEO Negotiator

  • The bank robber acted like a great CEO negotiator, appearing helpless to avoid commitment.
  • Chris Voss learned about this strategy while studying negotiation at Harvard.
  • The bank robber claimed to be scared of the other people in the bank and was careful about what he said.
  • Initially, they thought he was an inadequate personality, but it turned out to be a smoke screen.
  • Chris Voss's objective was to get the bank robber to release the hostages safely.
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Assessing the Situation

  • Chris Voss and his team assessed the situation and determined that the bank robber was not a professional.
  • They used empathy and active listening to build rapport with the bank robber.
  • They used calibrated questions to gather information and gain control of the situation.
  • They used the "no" strategy to get the bank robber to reveal his true intentions.
  • They used the "how" strategy to get the bank robber to come up with a solution that would benefit everyone.
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Identifying the Kidnapper

  • The negotiators had the banks surrounded and were running negotiations on speaker outside to the commanders.
  • They identified the owner of every vehicle on the outside and talked to them except for one van.
  • The van belonged to the kidnapper who was running a cash courier business that serviced the bank.
  • The witness came in and identified the kidnapper's voice.
  • The lieutenant asked the negotiator to confront the kidnapper about his name as quickly as possible.
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Hostage Situation

  • The kidnapper reminded the negotiators that he had hostages but did not raise the threat level.
  • He put a hostage on the phone to confirm her condition.
  • The negotiator tried to hit the kidnapper with his name but did it gently.
  • The kidnapper ended up blurting out information about his getaway driver.
  • The case ended with everyone coming out safely.
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Smooth Transition

  • The protocol is to do a smooth transition when handing off from one negotiator to another.
  • The lieutenant decided not to do a smooth transition because he thought the kidnapper was manipulative.
  • The negotiator shifted with no intro and started talking to the kidnapper.
  • The kidnapper was a cagey guy who used smoke screens.
  • The negotiator used the mirror technique to get the kidnapper to reveal information.
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Negotiating without Giving In

  • The negotiator's goal is to help the kidnapper see a different vision of the future.
  • The hope is that the survival instinct will kick in and the kidnapper will want to live.
  • The kidnapper's principal concern was getting killed.
  • The negotiator tried to build rapport with the kidnapper and make him feel heard.
  • The negotiator used active listening and empathy to build trust with the kidnapper.
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The Importance of Keeping Promises

  • When negotiating with a kidnapper, it is important to keep promises.
  • Even if the kidnapper has beaten someone, it is important to promise that they will be treated with dignity and respect when they come out.
  • If you lie to a kidnapper, they will find out and you will lose your reputation.
  • It is impossible to lie to a liar because they are too good at it.
  • Hostage negotiators are successful 93% of the time, but sometimes negotiations fail.
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Negotiating Under Pressure

  • When negotiating under pressure, it is important to stay calm and focused.
  • If a kidnapper demands a car in 60 seconds, it is important to explain that it is impossible to get a car in that time frame.
  • It is important to make sure that the kidnapper knows that their life is important and that you want to help them.
  • Hostage negotiators have to do everything they can to save the hostages, but they cannot put additional people at risk.
  • It is important to talk to the commanders and get them to think about the situation, even if they are not likely to do anything.
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The Importance of Listening

  • Listening is the most important part of negotiating.
  • It is important to listen to what the kidnapper is saying and to try to understand their point of view.
  • It is important to use empathy and to try to put yourself in their shoes.
  • It is important to acknowledge their feelings and to show that you understand what they are going through.
  • It is important to use open-ended questions to get the kidnapper to talk more.
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The Power of Mirroring

  • Mirroring is a powerful technique that involves repeating the last few words of what the kidnapper said.
  • Mirroring shows that you are listening and that you understand what they are saying.
  • Mirroring can help to build rapport and to establish trust.
  • Mirroring can also help to get the kidnapper to talk more and to reveal more information.
  • Mirroring can be used to defuse anger and to calm the kidnapper down.
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