Chris Voss: Playful and Courageous Negotiation


Chris Voss (@VossNegotiation) served as an FBI special agent for 24 years, specializing in international hostage negotiation.

In 2008, Chris founded the Black Swan Group, a business negotiation consulting firm offering services and learning opportunities to "anyone who needs to negotiate, persuade, or influence."

I have struggled with business negotiation for nearly a decade.  After reading Chris' book "Never Split the Difference", I was eager to have him as a guest on the show.

"Everything we’ve previously been taught about negotiation is wrong: you are not rational; there is no such thing as ‘fair’; compromise is the worst thing you can do; the real art of negotiation lies in mastering the intricacies of No, not Yes."

Whether you have been told that you are already a good negotiator, or if you find negotiation intimidating and uncomfortable, this episode will help you refine your tactics and break through barriers.

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Show Notes: 

  • 5:30 How does Chris Voss create a playful and relaxing atmosphere for teaching negotiation?
  • 7:15 Why is it a bad idea to wait for "yes" or "you are right" during a conversation?
  • 9:00 "Do you have a few minutes to chat?" turns out to be a terrible pitch when you are trying to get people's attention and respect their time.
  • 13:00 Common negotiation mistakes people make but are not aware of.
  • 14:45 Difference in negotiation between men and women (and why some answers to this questions could be misleading)
  • 19:15: How does Chris encourage people to learn negotiation? (Comfort is the biggest barrier, not complexity)
  • 22:00 How can people practice negotiation on a daily basis?
  • 27:30 Is it possible to identify and avoid harmful people who are using negotiation strategies for the evil, not the good?
  • 30:30 Origin stories: What was Chris like as a 10-year old boy?
  • 34:30 Significant changes Chris has noticed when transitioning from a FBI agent, to a professor, to the CEO of his own business.
  • 41:30 How did Chris calm himself down during stressful and (often) dangerous situations?
  • 47:15 How does Chris "get out of his own way"? (We are often our own worst enemies and obstacles)
  • 49:30 People & teachers Chris Voss chooses to follow and learn from

People / Resources Mentioned:

Chris Voss: Talk at Google Headquarters

To learn more about Chris Voss and the Black Swan Group, please visit their website at They have a monthly newsletter to keep you informed. Subscribe here.

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