Welcome to the Farnam Street podcast called The Knowledge Project, I'm your host, Shane Parrish, the curator behind the First Street blog, which is an online community focused on mastering the best of what other people have already figured out. If you like this show, you'll love the website and our weekly newsletter, The Knowledge Project, allows me to talk with interesting people to uncover the frameworks you can use to learn more in less time, make better decisions and live a happier, more meaningful life.
On this episode, I have Chris Voss, the former FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator.
This dude has literally been face to face with a range of bad people. Chris wrote Never split the difference, which is how I first came across his work and was introduced in this interview will take you inside the world of high stakes negotiations showing you the skills that helped Chris become so successful when everything was on the line.
These are the tools and tactics you can use to be more persuasive in your personal and professional lives. Enjoy the conversation.
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I have to ask, how did you end up becoming a hostage negotiator? Like, was this something that you dreamed of as a kid?
Not at all. Not even remotely. Becoming an FBI agent to start with was a bit of an accident.
I want to be in law enforcement.
I never thought about the FBI. And my father encouraged me to think about federal law enforcement because he'd pay for a college degree. And I went out, got a job that only required a high school education. There's nothing wrong with that. I became a police officer, but finding out about federal law enforcement, Secret Service, specifically, Secret Service guy said, I traveled all over the world and I thought I've barely been out of Iowa. That sounds like a pretty good idea.
Ended up with the FBI as a result. And then I was I had a recurring knee injury and I'd done some martial arts in college and to try to make myself more physically capable and had hurt my knee in college and was on a SWAT team with the FBI and reinjured my knee again. And then instead of completely blowing it out, I still want to be in crisis response. And we had hostage negotiators, negotiators. I don't know what they did.
I figured, how hard could it be? I talk to people. I could talk to terrorists. How hard could that be?
I mean, I literally thought that, you know, so my my son, my son like to joke.
It was one of the unofficial voice family models is how hard could it be, which is almost but not quite the redneck equivalent of, hey, watch this.
So but I got into a hostage negotiation and it was by accident and was what I was built for and I loved it. And negotiation in general, I love real good negotiation is real good emotional intelligence. And I like taking a deep dive into people and connecting with them. Were you ever scared? Now what? We have hostage negotiators don't get shot over the phone, so.
No, but I mean, the consequences of success or failure in negotiation can be huge.
Yeah. You know, I think the lucky the thing I started out training on a suicide hotline and I went to the hotline initially because I was told that I had to do it to become a negotiator. So I went there for mercenary reasons. I went to learn. And your course, if your success rate in anything is higher, as soon as you sort of forget about failing and focus on learning. And so since I was there to learn, I got I got a tremendous confidence in a process and I didn't realize it.
But I was learning a concept that my my former boss, Gary Gary Necessar, used to always tell us, you know, there's no guarantee of success, but what we guarantee is the best chance of success, which carries an implied possibility that there might be some stuff here that's out of our control. And so with those elements and a great reliance on a process now, I was never scared of having things go wrong. Now, that doesn't mean that I was involved in situations where we could see it was going to go wrong.
And I worked a few cases like that. Kidnappings were all the earmarks were there for it going bad because we were that was part of our training to be to be able to recognize the profile of those the profile of circumstances and facts, and then to do what you could to try to hit it off. But you got to know train's coming at you to get out of the way that train. And there were a few things that went bad. There's nothing you could do about that.
I want to go back to that hotline that you worked on.
There's an interesting story in your book about your first performance review is wondering if you could tell us a little bit about that.
Yeah, that was great. I mean, that was because of negotiation skills are perishable and you don't know they they wrote invisibly, you get done with your training and if you go through good training, you're sharp. I mean, you're on it. You know, you're on it. You know, you're very sharp and you don't know that it's perishable. So I finish my training. I remember I was sharp because I was a bunch of people that were all sharp and the training was good.
And a year later, I had no idea how many bad habits I picked up. And I get I get the annual review was supervisor lessons in Jim, who is a really great guy, a big guy. And I had the person on the line actually I might have. It was so bad that the person congratulated me for doing a great job, which of course, I didn't realize that was a bad sign. And I remember walking back to the room to interact with Jim and he was like, Hey, man, it was horrible.
And I remember thinking, like, are you kidding me? Did you? And I said, did you get hear that guy?
He I was I was so good regulative me for being good. And Jim said, yeah, well let's start there. And what's wrong with that and how far off. You are if they say that, and I was like, wow, and he was right every step of the way, and it was at that point that I kind of took I rededicated to the deeper dive. I wanted to get better at it. I don't want to get worse.
I wanted to get better as a practitioner of this for so many years.
What would surprise people the most or perhaps I mean, what surprised you the most of it, how real life negotiation works versus the way that we think it works, the way you thought it worked before you get into this line of work?
Well, if you let the other side go first, it'll take less time. We used to I had a judge and a federal trial. I had a great saying. He says we're going to delay things in order to save time. And we think that the most direct route. Let me just tell you what I want so you can give it to me.
Like that's the most direct route and it's a mess. I mean, that that going and direct is a really bad idea. It just creates so much. It creates chaos coveys. We think that Stephen covid seek first to understand, then be understood the seven habits of highly effective people. I mean, always just maybe my perspective is wrong. I always thought of covid this warm and fuzzy, nice guy, you know, seek first to understand, then be understood as a mercenary tool.
I mean, if you want to get to an out your if you want to get to your outcome faster, let the other side go first. It'll take a lot less time. You don't waste time spinning your wheels or you don't waste time arguing or you don't waste time of point counterpoint. And I think most people don't realize that. They don't understand a tremendous amount of power of letting the other side go first, not the least of which is it takes less time overall.
Other downsides to letting the other side go first.
You know, only if you take yourself hostage. What does that mean? It's like, well, I can't I can't let you anchor first, because then that's going to that's going to change. It's going to change my expectations. Like, what is your position so weak and are you so weak minded that you're afraid to let the other side go first? So if your position is weak and you know it well, then letting the other side go first because of your ego issues, is your ego weak?
If your ego is weak, don't let the other side go first. But if you if there's any strength whatsoever in your position, your ego, your ability to learn, your ability to get a better deal, you got to let the other side go first. It's information. You're operating in a dark. Otherwise, how do you step outside of your ego?
Like, did you have techniques in the FBI where you were able to do this easily, or is this something learned over time?
You know, as soon as you learn that it's the best way to go, I mean, and then there's a couple of techniques. One technique is you're really focused on using your radar or your sonar or whatever metaphor, your gut instinct, your intuition. If I'm really focused on what emotions are driving you, there's an instant compartmentalization that takes place where my negativity is no longer going to get in my way. I mean, just in genuine curiosity is a hack for emotional control.
If I'm genuinely feeling like I'm genuinely curious as to why you're crazy, you know, that's that's that's one instant hack.
There's a variety of instant hacks. I will use my tone of voice intentionally because I can I can also hear my tone like on a suicide hotline. I learned really early on the soothing, calming tone, calm the other side down. But there's there's a reason why if you talk to yourself, sometimes you're actually smarter. If you talk out loud in a soothing, calming voice, that voice comes out of your mouth, goes through the air, comes back into your ear.
It hits your mirror neurons, it calms you down. So if you say to yourself out loud, not internally, but if you say to yourself out loud, you got this, you got this, I got this. I can do this. You can actually calm yourself down. That's another hack. I came to rely on a process and knew how good the process was early on. So I just thought, look, let me let me lay my process on you.
I'm going to give my way. So there's a variety, depending upon which one of those you stumble over early are, then, yeah, you can you can learn you can teach yourself to keep your emotions under control.
In the book you mentioned there was three, I think, three different types of voices that the one you just gave us was the first DJ and the voice, the late night FM.
D.J., you give us an example of the other two and how the tone and pitch is different.
Well, you know, the assertive voice is the direct and honest guy. Just here's what I want. Give it to me. If you think of the world breaks up in a pretty much evenly into thirds, it's from our. Caveman days, it's fight or flight, make friends response to threat, we fight it. We've run from it or we make friends with it. And the world really does pretty evenly split up into thirds. And so about a third of the planets are direct and honest.
That's my natural type. I'll say, look, I could be mean to you because I'm a jerk or I could be mean to you because I just don't know any better. Or I could be mean to you because I hate everybody or I could be mean to you because I hate you specifically. If I explain it to you like that and then your reaction is like, well, you sound like a jerk and I don't care why you don't like me.
The direct and honest voice I once had of an FBI hostage negotiator when I was just talking to him in my natural no normal tone of voice, he said, dealing with you is like getting hit in the face with a brick, if that's what they're direct, an honest voice does. If you think of yourself as a direct and honest person and you're just trying to get your point across, you're so blunt that it obscures your message. So that's the direct and then the the fight flight make friends.
The flight guy is a late night FM deejay voice. He's a guy that thinks that it's stupid to fight. Let me let me get let me get far enough away where I could be safe and then I'll then I'll rethink this. And then there's make friends.
And it's a person who naturally smiles when I speak to you and I just like talking to you. And when I speak to you, I mean, I just just I'm really happy to speak to you. I'm happy to be in your podcast.
And if I smile, you can hear it in my voice. Yeah, definitely. And even every now and then I had one of the hostage negotiators on a team and the New York guy named Charlie Baldwin. And Charlie was a natural accommodator. You know, we'd walk into a bar that we'd never been in before. Maybe we were someplace working a case we'd never been there before. Walking to the bar, Charlie, walk around and literally introduce himself to everybody in the bar, one at a time.
We'd just walk up and say, hi, I'm Charlie. And he'd smile at people. And when we were in hostage negotiations, Charlie, I'd write a note on the board that said, Smile, they can feel it in your voice. And it was very powerful. And Charlie broke down more barriers just by smiling at people.
How should we prepare to go into a negotiation? Well, it's impossible to know everything going in to start with, and it's a lot faster to hear it from the other side. So prepare to be genuinely curious and tell yourself some pretty cool stuff here, if I can if I can just find out what it is. So then that's part of letting the other side go first. Some people, some people say to go negotiation is the art of letting the other side have your way.
We get the other side talking and you're very collaborative. You find a way to gently say no to the bad stuff, like how am I supposed to do that is a great way to say no to something bad. How am I supposed to do that? And the other side feels very collaborative. They feel a lot of collaboration there and they feel very powerful and are more likely to throw out some more options.
And then when they throw out an option that suits you, the best phrase to close a deal is for you to say that was brilliant, let's do that. Right.
So you just get them talking to they throw something out that works well for both of you. And the real the real issue with any deal is implementation. It's not agreement. Yes. Is nothing without how I can I can give you fake yeses all day long and you're never going to get what you wanted. And that's that's why you want it to be the other side's idea, because they'll implement more effectively and with fewer reminders and fewer follow up if the implementation was their idea.
And that's where the real. Timesaver is or the profit killer is in bad implementation or even a deal that never gets implemented. We were in competition for a negotiation contract with one of the major telecommunications companies into the process of that found out that fully 50 percent of the deals they signed never get implemented. Half wow. Their signatures talk about they're killing themselves on implementation.
I mean, they are destroying their profit over bad implementation or even not even implementing at all. So, yes, is nothing without how. And it's one of the great toxic waste dumps of profit eating microbes out there wasn't getting to.
Yes. Based on that whole principle.
You know, it is. And, you know, one of the biggest difference between getting to. Yes. And and and and my book never split. The difference is getting to is intellectually sound. There's nothing intellectually to be challenged on getting to. Yes. And unfortunately, that does you no good as soon as you involve human beings, because none of us are intellectually out.
You know, we're all driven by emotion of passion and emotional intelligence.
If we don't know as much about specifically articulating emotional intelligence like we do now as we did when getting to was written, I think that would have been a different book. And I met Roger Fisher back in 2004 when I went through when I first started collaborating with Harvard Law School. And Roger Fisher was both brilliant intellectually and actually emotionally intelligent, incredibly emotional, intelligent. But they wrote an intellectual book and that's where it falls down.
One of the key ideas are there was Pattana best alternative to a negotiated agreement that you consider the worst case opportunity in any negotiation. Is this an idea you found useful or do you agree or disagree with that in practice?
Again, intellectually brilliant idea and practice a horrible idea. And it it it came it was much easier for me to come to accept that because as a hostage negotiator was my bad. Are we walking away or do I say do I say to the bank robber, well, I'm not giving you a plane, so we're leaving there in a bad and hostage negotiation. So as soon as I got I was never handicapped by bad. It's a great handicap. Here's here's the problem with that.
That becomes your goal. And so therefore, if you say to yourself and the vast majority of people who calculate their and as long as I do better than my worst alternative, as soon as I get past that, I'm good and I can quit, which these massive amounts of money on the table. Problem. One problem, too, what happens if you don't have a bad if you're if you believe you have to have a bad need to negotiate, then you've immediately taken yourself hostage and you die.
You say, oh my God, the other side has all the leverage and a power. I've got no I've got no legitimate bad. And, you know, we're hostages here. You take yourself hostage. If you could if if you could just let Battan to go entirely, then it doesn't matter. And that that puts you in a much better mind mindset and mind frame in so many different ways. So bad now, which is this intellectually sound idea.
I know what they were trying to do. They were trying to help people calm down in negotiations by being able to say to themselves, well, if that doesn't work out, I've got a reasonable alternative. Right. The practical implication of that and even one of my one of my colleagues who's a is really a business negotiator with hostage negotiation background. He made all the Harvard people really angry because he used to call it not bad enough, but what's the worst alternative to negotiate an agreement?
And he said, let's start because he hated it like I did. And they got so mad at him, they said there is no way. It's only battement.
He was trying to point out what a what a bad idea emotionally that was and how many problems that that it created as a result of the other bad recommendations you hear in your profession that are practiced even by practitioners.
Well, you know, there's a there's a couple of subtle ones.
And one of the first one is, is this you know, you've got to go first. You've got you've got a.. High. And in practice, that interferes with collaboration.
If you anchor high, it's it's basically it's starting out by not telling the truth. It's defining it as a win lose scenario. And it's also taken it's taken a risk of leaving a tremendous amount of money on the table.
And one of my one of my favorite stories was because we never taught high anger. But one of my students at Georgetown, he decides he's going to go for job interviews kind of high and he's making about eighty five K at the time and he wants a nice big jump and he wants to anchor one tent. That's what he's after and on a way to interview his father, tell like, you know, that's, that's a huge jump you're talking about.
Think of the percentage jump that's just that's twenty five thousand dollars in terms of percentage you're going for too much. And he's like, I'm determined I'm to go after it. I'm going to throw out the number one tent. So to go into the interview and I say, where are your salary expectations? And he puts himself up and proudly says, one ten. One ten. And he negotiated deal in any go, they give in. Give them the one 10, he's on a job after a couple months and he's talking to a colleague hired at the same time, same basic pay grade.
And he's in and he says to the guy says, you know, what do you think are his colleagues has done? What do you think of our compensation? He says, well, look, I got news for you. I negotiated my own deal. And this guy says you're getting paid more than one twenty five.
You know, you can you can imagine the guy's heart stopping in. I'll give you another example. Two to one founder of a business here in Los Angeles negotiated with another founder and coach, and she wants to pull 10 percent of her business. She wants you to decide to give an additional 10 percent to give to her husband because her husband's really help helping out. So if you want a 10 percent, you're going to hire banker. What do you think?
With twenty five, maybe being willing to settle at ten, she doesn't hire or she comes in with an emotional intelligence approach that she learned from me, which is she starts a conversation by saying, I've got a lousy proposition for you, which is enormously disarming. I mean, and and you say that and you shut up. And she ended up with a third of the business for her husband.
In the back of the book, you go through a negotiation, I think you call it a negotiation, one she. Can you walk us through that?
Yeah. You know, first of all, you take a take a a completely truthful version of what are the facts and circumstances that brought us here to get today. You know, don't put any spin on it from your side. You know, a summary summary of the facts, just the facts made and not not because say something like, well, we're the smartest people that ever lived.
And if they had any sense, they should be doing business with us, a summary of the facts, you know, and really drive for a summary that the other side would agree is true. Again, the no spin zone is real hard, but try not to do without any spread. And so then then start to look from emotionally intelligent. What are the crazy, wacko, bizarro schizophrenic reasons, fears that the other side might have in a back of the mind about us?
And a lot of this is really counterintuitive, but if you're a bigger company than they are, then fear that they might have in the back of their mind is that you're going to bully or that they see you as bullies. So take the circumstances.
And if you were a neutral third party, what are the fears the other side might have and lay out what those fears are? Because fear gets in the way of deals anyway from three to nine times more than benefits make deals. You know, there's an interesting stat out there that says 70 percent of the buy decisions are made more to avoid loss and to accomplish gain.
So think of the reasons why they would do business with you first, and that's real hard because we're so used to selling ourselves and our value proposition that nobody ever spent any time thinking about why they wouldn't do business works.
That's going to be that's going to be the deal breakers. That's where they're going to be. And you got to eliminate deal breakers before you can make deals. You cannot leave land mine deal breakers out there.
And I think most people are. We're taught over and over and over again in business.
What's our value proposition, which is very one sided point of view of things and takes and takes into account in no way, shape or form what the deal breakers are. And that's why with that telecommunications company I was telling you about 50 percent of their deals never get implemented because they're not paying any attention to deal breakers. And that's how costly that is. Imagine having a signed deal that you think was going to go and have half the time had the thing turn into a train wreck.
How much money does that cost you? You don't even have to make any better deals. You just have to not have 50 percent of them go on a tank and they're going into the tank over deal breakers. Now, if you take if you have if you have an effective summary of the facts that the other side would agree to, if you thought about their paranoid reasons for not doing business with you, which is where the deal breakers are now, you're ready to talk.
Is that when you do the acquisition audit or the the label's accusations are. Yeah, exactly. Right now you're ready. Now you're ready to lead into what are their potential accusations against us and your gut and the depth of how deep you go into that? I mean, that's how we start out with and we're also going to think about the reasons why they would make the deal with this. And it's a sequencing issue. You've got to get rid of the negative before you can go to the positive sometimes.
The negative, getting rid of it will be so powerful. That you don't even have to pitch the positive because the other side's going to go ahead and pitch it for you. So what are the accusations they might make? And if you're if you're a bigger company than they are, you might want to say, like, I'm sure we seem like bullies. You'd say you take the negatives and you articulate them. A very specific structure that we call labels.
We just calling it out and calling out the elephant in the room. Sure. We seem like bullies. I'm sure it looks like one coöperative. I'm sure we seem like we're not paying attention to what you're really after. You know, whatever it looks like, we're trying to push you around if there's if there's reason to think that there's plenty of baggage there. For example, if you're in real estate, you don't have to be a genius to know that every buyer and seller of a house, they all say to each other, look, your real estate agent is not on your side.
Real estate agents are only there to get a fast buck. I do a fair amount of coaching in a real estate industry these days.
And I'll say, what are the accusations the other side might potentially make against you? And I say, well, nothing. They've never met us. Right.
And I'll say, look, hold on. You don't know that. Buyers are saying to each other, no real estate agent is on your side, that real estate agents are only in it for the commission. You don't know that. And I said, yeah, well, we know that. But that's not true of us. I said, OK, all right, let's go back. Sure. That everybody else. Yeah, we're not talking about what's true of you.
You know, there's baggage in your industry. And so you don't have to be Albert Einstein of emotional intelligence to know that that baggage is there. A friend of mine bought a house here recently in L.A. I asked him about his agent. He said, look, I know they're not on my side. I know no matter how much they try to befriend us, they're only trying to push us into a deal so that they can collect the commission as quickly as they possibly can, he says.
I know that. All right. So this is this is a recognition of the circumstances now that plenty of agents said that that is not true of them at all. But just because it's not true of you doesn't mean that it's not in in your potential clients in the back of their mind before before they get started. And that's how you begin to clear this up, because if it's lurking in the back of their mind, it's a distraction. So let's let's go back again and let's take it to circumstances that if you weren't involved, you know, what's the reputation in the industry?
What's the reputation of the people in your position? Let's address that up front. And you get dialed in much faster with people. It's kind of hard for people to do because they know the stuff is out there. Another thing I tell people to do a lot of times, like what?
What would you like to deny before you get started? Every real estate agent is going to say, well, I'd like to say, look, you know, we're not one of those fast talking salesman. We're not one of those agents who are just looking for a quick commission. All right. So make a list of the stuff you want to deny. And instead of denying it, because denying things makes it worse and just pull it out and say, look, you know, I know that my work, my industry has a reputation for being fast talking salesman.
I'm sure it seems like every real estate agent you ever come across is just trying to get a quick hit with minimal amount of effort and move on.
And then then what happens when you say to prospective client or whatever industry you're in, the stuff you want to deny, you say it? Sure. It seems like then they go like, no, no, no, no.
But in reality, what you just did was you just cleared it out of their head and now now their heads clear. And now they can listen to you like that a lot.
So after that, you move to calibrated questions.
You you're going to move into a calibrated question or will you when you when we teach people how to take calibrated questions because questions might you need information, but they might not be the best way to get information, like you might say to a person, how would you like to proceed?
What would you think are the next steps? Now, they may have something in mind already and you might actually get a better answer. But instead of saying, like, what do you think the next steps are, you might want to say it seems like you might have some next steps in mind.
And we had one person refer to that technique.
They were so stunned by the effectiveness of gathering information with that label. Seems like you have some ideas in mind. Seems like you have some next steps you've been thinking about. They actually refer to that as unlocking the floodgates of truth teller.
What does that mean? I have I haven't seen the neuroscience that backs it up yet. We just know that in practice all the time. If I ask you a question, it has a tendency to get you to stop and think and contemplate and formulate an answer. If I just use a label, it seems like you've got something on your mind. There's something about that that instead of you formulate in an answer, it tends to just remove a barrier.
And I tap directly into your thought processes. And your thought processes come streaming out of your mouth, so it's almost like you eliminate the system two thinking and just get the raw system one. Exactly, yeah. And you're clearly a fan of Daniel Kahneman and his description of how the brain works. Right. Prospect theory, Nobel Prize winning psychologist.
Is that how you think about that?
Or do you have different terms in mind that our terms a little more layman's terms, because and this goes right to why hostage negotiation has direct application to business, because when I learn hostage negotiation back in the in the early 90s, they used to tell us I look, some guy, some poor guy's got himself in a jam.
He's barricaded someplace. He's taken hostages. Look for the loss. You know, there's going to be a loss. All our all our techniques are designed to get the guy talk and find out what his loss is, an address. So look for the loss. So something would have happened and we just figured that it was only the loss was a driver of bad behavior, bad criminal behavior in a Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky come along. And unfortunately, when the Nobel Prize is handed out, Amos Tversky has already died of cancer.
Otherwise he would have got it.
Also kind, diverse, could come up with prospect theory and win the Nobel Prize for it after hostage negotiation has been invented, which is the fear of loss is the single biggest driver of human behavior. Prospect Theory says lobstering stings twice as much as an equivalent game. Not that it's the only driver, but it's the biggest driver. And when I found that out, I said we've been operating like that for years, looking for the loss.
We just figured it was hostage takers.
We didn't know everybody was hard hardwired into us. Yeah, exactly. And if it's hard wired into everybody, then this set of emotional intelligence tools designed to uncover it as quickly as possible, diffuse the negativity around it, get somebody talking in a more balanced state of mind, and then you can move to people to solve the problems much more quickly. So that's the hack. The hack is the shortcut is look for the loss and factored into your thinking, which again is why 70 percent of buying decisions are made based on avoiding a loss as opposed to accomplishing again.
Do you think that relates to the old saying, like you never get fired for hiring IBM?
Yeah, because well, then the other the other crazy thing is in navigating people's fears, people aren't afraid to fail. They're afraid to fail in a new way. So you never get fired for hiring. IBM is like if we hire IBM and we fail, it's already been demonstrated to be a socially acceptable outcome. But let's say let's if we go out when when was when was Apple started? When do they first make the first Mac?
If we go out and hire these guys, you know, name Jobs and Wozniacki, they built some stupid computer in their garage that could go bad.
Whoever heard of those guys?
So let's hire IBM first, because that's the same failure rate. And so the safety and your failure is and a lot of people have trouble wrapping their minds around this.
But it's not that we're afraid to fail. We're afraid to fail and in a new way, in a different way from somebody else, because that's humiliating. It's embarrassing.
And and then that loss is the bigger loss is a loss of self esteem, which is an even bigger hit for us.
So if you're a new company and you have no real established track record, is there a way to use that to your advantage or shape the perceptions of somebody taking a risk on you?
Yeah, because again, then then you call it out, you know, the elephant in the room, so to speak, you can call it out. And it's not that it's guaranteed that you're going to make the deal, if you can't call it out, just increases your batting average. It increases your win percentage that there's there's no there's no guarantee of success.
There's just a guarantee, the best chance of success. So any negative that's there ignoring it is leaving a landmine.
But calling it out gives you your best chance at eliminating it as an issue, whether you're an unknown startup or whether or not you've got a strong competitor. I used to before the book came out and and been been very happy with the success of the book. It's been called one of the seven best negotiation books ever written.
It leads this category. The audible version of the book has been leading the business category on Amazon basically since the book came out.
It's phenomenal book. Yeah.
And but before all before we've had this kind of success with the book, if I stood up in front of a group, I would say to them, why in God's name would you ever listen to a hostage negotiator? Because that's what's going on in their head, right? Themselves, that question, so I'll just go ahead, I'll call it out for the very beginning, but it seems like listen to hostage negotiators, a really dumb idea. And people go like, no, it's not.
Maybe you might you might not. You might know. Some we don't know. And I'm like, OK, good, I got you to say it that way. I don't have to it.
And then it sits in a lot more than if you say it yourself. Exactly. And I think the final section to the negotiation, one sheet you had in the book, if I'm remembering correctly, had to do with money. Like is money always the primary motive or how important is money in a negotiation?
Well, let's talk about money in sections in the book, too. We're also looking from black swans, like if we want you to write down the things you learn in that negotiation, you didn't know going in.
And if you can't write those things down, you didn't do a good job because there's stuff to be discovered and it's usually and then on money or whatever your objective is, you know, we do want you to pick out a good goal to begin with because human beings are goal oriented. But we don't want your goal to be your best alternative or your worst alternative. You'll come up with a lofty goal and then think of how you're going to beat it.
So human beings need to do, in fact, need to be goal oriented in order to perform, which is all bad and a problem because of bad. Your goal then is very low.
Pick a high goal and then challenge yourself to beat it by discovering new information. So your high goal, may or may, shouldn't actually be money because you got to hit a range in money. Let's say let's say you beat somebody on the money issue really badly with your implementation is going to be horrible or you're going to put them out of business. So you need to come up with a dollar figure on the other side is comfortable for an analogy to that would be a friend of mine was running a magazine when he ran Washingtonian magazine in Washington, D.C. And we talked about salary negotiations and he said, you know, I tend to pay slightly on the higher end of people's expectations because if I pay him lower than they hoped for, they tend to be really anxious throughout the term of their employment.
And it's not going to do a good job if I pay them more than they expected. They actually they're going to think they were worth that all along. And they're not going to be that appreciative. They're going to take it for granted. But if I can pay them at the higher end of their expectation, they're going to feel really good about the salary. They'll be very comfortable, and that's when they're going to be at their best and then they're going to do a great job for me.
So overpaying people is as much a problem as underpaying people. Which one do you think is more prevalent?
I think what people I think that they're probably underpaid more and but then you can actually fix that, too, depending upon how you take care of them.
As an employee, you can underpay somebody.
And if you're really focused on their growth and development as people and professionals, they'll be really happy in the job and they'll do great because the old phrase money is not a motivator. What is a motivator, the meaningful work within that profession to be involved in stuff that's going to matter to everybody else being involved in critical strategic projects? Or I had an executive from the General Services Administration who got ahead really fast. He once said run to trouble, like, if you like, working on the company's biggest problems.
There's a couple of good things about that. I mean, if the companies really having some serious problems in a certain area, number one, you're not going to make it any worse. You're not going to be the guy that screwed that up because it's already screwed up. So it's like a fail safe area to be in. And then if you succeed, you become known as a troubleshooter. You worked on stuff that helped the entire company. The job satisfaction is through the roof, which puts you which actually then puts you in a position to get paid a lot more on down the line because you're so valuable.
And if they don't pay you more than it gives you an incredible resume, because then you go to another company and say, look, I saw I'm a I'm a I'm a problem solver, I'm a fixer, and somebody else is going to pay a lot more. That's pretty counterintuitive. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And and that's how people get ahead.
Are there cases where negotiations not really a negotiation, like how do you recognize that's the situation you're in and what are the alternatives?
Well, yeah, I mean we like to believe the most dangerous negotiation is one you don't know you're in. So first of all, any time the word yes is in your is in the air, somebody trying to get a yes out of somebody or something during a negotiation or if if I want is in your brain, you're in a negotiation. And there's there's no two ways about the most dangerous negotiation is the one you don't know you're in. That is either place for you or against you.
And, of course, in the most common commodity commodity that's in each and every negotiation is time, not price, not money, dollars or not dollars are not always and all the time always is right.
So as soon as you begin collaborationist time, an internal internal collaboration among colleagues trying to implement a project, trying to get somebody just to support you and what your proposal is, those are all negotiations and recognizing those early on or you know, the other thing is out here in Los Angeles, I had I was talking to a woman whose job was securing the rights to music for songs, the rights to music, for movies.
And she says this isn't a negotiation. We call Sony on the phone. We tell them we want the rights to this song. The person on the other end of the phone has no latitude whatsoever. He just tells us what he or she just tells us, what the prices she says. That's not a negotiation. I got news for you.
That is a negotiation. And here's why.
Never be mean to somebody who could hurt you by doing nothing. So the reality is that's probably true of everybody you interact with because you're interacting with them, because you want them to do something. What's the negotiation on this thing over the music? All right. So depending if she takes the other person for granted, that person writes down her information and her order. Does he put it on the top of his pile of, as you put it, on the bottom of the pile because he didn't like being treated by like an order taker?
If if she approached him emotionally intelligent way, maybe not only does he not put it on top of the pile, maybe by hand, he walks it down the hall to the next person in the chain, because if time is money and time is always an asset in a negotiation, even when somebody is taking an order, there's no shortage of people who would take an order as it didn't like how they were spoken to to take the person's request and either put it at the bottom of the pile or maybe goes into file 13, maybe goes in a trash can and it's forgot.
So the implementation terms are always there. And if if everybody could hurt you, if you're mean to them by the same token or with the right emotional intelligence approach, they could help you if they feel like it. And I like to get every age I can. So I want people to feel like helping me or even offering to help me in ways I didn't even know they could do.
And and that's where we gain our edges across the board with everybody in my company and also with the people that we coach. Because the better your relationship is, the more the other side is going to want to help you out if they have an option to people have tons of options that most of us don't even know about.
And I think one of the keys you mentioned in the book to figuring that out is active listening, I imagine. I mean, that was a huge part of your job and it's one of the keys to empathy and understanding. How can I learn to be a better listener?
Yeah, you know what? And then it's even beyond active. It's proactive listening because. All right, so one of my proactively going after I know that the negatives are a bigger deal and proactively listening for the negatives are proactively listening for their fear of loss. Having heard it now, I have a very specific tool kit designed to deal with that. Exactly.
And the the the practice of hostage negotiators since nineteen seventy two when it was invented pretty much have taught us exactly what works and what's the fastest way into somebody's emotional system so that I can hit the triggers and move on and with those tools and I get this done, done much more quickly.
One of my students did an actual study. Our conclusion was empathy saves time. Don't use empathy because you're a missionary, because you're a soft touch is empathy because you want to get stuff done faster. You've got other stuff to do to get after. How does it help you save time? Well, we're not spinning our wheels as quickly. Know, if I if I'm I'm rooting out the problems earlier.
I'm figuring out what you can throw on the table that you'll only throw on the table if you feel like it, if you feel connected to me or when when you're trying to telegraph there's a problem when your tone of voice, if you ask me if something is possible and I say OK, or if you ask me if it's possible, I go OK with empathy.
I know the difference between those two things. I got a set of tools proactively where I go right after the second one and I'll say, you know, it sounds like there's more here than meets the eye.
As opposed to what's the problem? I heard something in your tone of voice, what's the problem? Or sounds like there's something here I'm just not get the second one is going to trigger a floodgate of information, which you would like to tell me as long as you don't feel you're going to be attacked as soon as you tell. Right. And that's how I'm going to save time. What do you do?
I mean, it sounds like empathy works really well in particular situations. Are there situations where it doesn't work?
Well, like what if your opponent in a I don't want to use the word opponent, but the person you're negotiating with maybe doesn't have as many emotions or is way on the rational end of the spectrum?
Yeah, well, you know, again, it only works where people are involved, but even somebody who doesn't have a full range of emotions still got and I don't care what the range is, I just need to use my proactive skills, my tactical empathy skills to figure out where your drivers are. Everybody's driven by laws. They are sociopaths, which there is no shortage of them functioning in the business world. They're self-interested. They have desires. They're driven by love, loss aversion.
There's no getting around that unless unless you're catatonic, there's going to be emotions that are driving you just not the full spectrum that that everybody has. I don't care what the spectrum is. I'm going to use the tools to get in there to figure out which ones are driving you and simply adapt to them.
You said something previously along the lines of there can be great power and deference. Can you explain what you meant by that? Like what are some examples of when difference is the best strategy?
Yeah, the power difference is insane and not to get political because we don't want to talk political, but I wish I to remember the guy's name.
There's an article I think I read and I read it online on Amazon recently.
One of the guys who has the most influence whatsoever over Donald Trump is a billionaire from New York who is more successful, is older, and he's got more money than Donald Trump. And and the guy's not involved in politics whatsoever. But he uses deference on Donald Trump because it gets Donald Trump to listen.
He doesn't use deference because he has to doesn't need a job. He doesn't need any deals with Donald Trump. He doesn't need Donald Trump for anything, for whatever reason. They have a relationship. He's older than Donald. So he doesn't need to be deferential to him because he's younger. He's got more money than Donald Trump. So he doesn't need to be deferential to him because he needs the money. He's more established socially in New York. And Donald Trump, there's nothing he needs from Donald Trump.
If you were to do just a plain assessment and I hesitate to use the word superior because it's very judgmental, but his his life is on a higher functioning level across the board, other than the fact that he's not as well known as Donald Trump.
But this guy doesn't care to be well-known and he calls Trump on a regular basis and he's deferential to him because people loves when somebody doesn't have to be deferential, but is and so deference is a great tool for three hundred and sixty degrees of influence.
If someone is perceived themselves to be superior to you and your deferential to him, they love it because they think that they are a they're entitled to it. So it makes them very happy. If you're on a peer level with them and you're you treat them with deference. They love it because you didn't have to.
And they felt tremendous respect and appreciation for if you're subordinate to them in any way and you're deferential to how they feel, they love it even more in a wonderfully appreciative of it, because you didn't have to do it.
And they see you as being a very generous, gracious and nurturing person. So different kind of works on everybody where and as a mercenary, I like the skills to work on everybody.
I do not want the negotiation approach that I used to be restricted because I have to have common ground with you or because I have to have power over you. Those are all restrictions. If I don't have common ground, where am I? I'm not willing to be handicapped by that. If I don't have leverage on you, where am I? I'm not willing to be handicapped by that.
I want an approach where I'm not handicapped by what other people perceive to be strengths.
What are the other skills that work over everybody? You know, the the the phrase the technique that I use different times that we refer to as labels. You know, it seems like you've got something in mind here that's actually a very specifically worded hostage negotiation skill adapted for business use.
What we found on our three types of five fly to make friends. The the flight, the analytical type guy is very leery of questions, and if I ask you a question, even if it's a really good open ended question, a really good calibrated question, like what do you think the next steps are? Our analytical flight oriented guy, which is basically not fight every battle, but fight only if I have to. And they need to. And it's smart.
But the analyst is going to want to think about that answer for an extended period of time, because they want to think through all the implications of the answer before they come up with it.
So if I say what are the next steps to an analyst now, it's going to say, you know, let me get back to you in a week.
But if I say for whatever reason, it seems like you got some next steps in mind, the analyst is very likely to board them right out. So this label's skill, which interestingly enough, when I first left hostage negotiation, I didn't think it was that applicable.
But to our constant practice and the laboratory, which was the MBA program that I taught in at Georgetown University, the part time program, which mean everybody had a job during the day. So I said, take these skills back to your day job and try them.
We found out the labels were the most universally applicable skill of all the tools and what was the success rate on them as reported.
But what was success rate? It went from increases everybody's batting average, but that one of the best things it did was it.
Then it created some responses and people that were going completely silent, otherwise with a batting average was zero. Right. So the the labels, the labels across the board probably raises everybody's effectiveness, no less than 30 to thirty three percent. So whatever your effective rate is, if you're not using labels, it's going to drop that in on top on top of that. The other thing, while we're talking, which has the most, most universal success rate and somebody on the phone was telling me today that the success rate was one hundred percent, is intentionally getting people to say now that that rewarding all your Yes.
Oriented questions and to know oriented questions.
So would you like to do this? Say, are you against this? That's an insane success rate. And people have literally gone out and gotten on the phone as soon as we taught them how to do what we refer to as a know oriented question and simply said instead of would you like to try this option, said, are you against this option?
And a person gives them a no. And instead of rejecting the deal, it makes it I mean, that one that one's really insane, that that's crazy. And all three types like that, you have kids.
I mean, how do you negotiate with them? Do use labeling and getting them to know, like, walk me through what you do at home. Yeah.
You know, labels and mirrors, open ended questions, calibrated questions. Those are all real good depending upon the age of the child. You want your kids to think. And a good label is designed to encourage the counterparts thinking. You want your kids to think, you want your counterparts to say. And you Chasez. You know, Dad, can I can I have the car this weekend or Friday night? Can I have a car Friday night and your house could be like it.
It seems like you think you don't have to earn that privilege. You know, draw me and get them engaged. How can I give you the car on the weekend if you're not responsible during the week? You know, draw them into the thought pattern, increase their thinking that it's a great thing to do with kids. Are there any other things you do with your kids that parents who are listening to this podcast can take away and implement differently?
Another one that a lot of parents have a lot of success with is also the mirror, which is just repeating the last one to three words of what someone has just said. I mean, and, you know, sometimes your kids say stuff to you where you want to say to yourself, did you actually hear what you just said?
I the only one that heard how crazy that was.
Right. But the mirror actually gets him to rearticulated again with slightly different words. And a lot of it is not a parent child problem. A lot of it is a human being to human being problem. We just happened to mistake it because it happens to be adults and children involved in the interaction. It's a little bit like the analysis of saying playing basketball makes you tall.
You know, you're seeing a set of facts and you're misinterpreting the facts.
And so some of this is just human being, the human being. They just happen to be the human beings that were engaged with a lot at this point in time. So we do want the counterpart to think and you do want your kids to think and you want them to you do want them to hear out loud and be a good sounding board sometimes to make a reward what they just said, because it increases their thinking.
Have your kids ever negotiated you?
Well, just through sheer persistence, you see, that brings up another one that we think kids are persistent. We say teenagers are really tough on their parents because they don't take no for an answer. Again, it's a human being, the human being. I think teenagers have learned that once a parent says no, they're probably actually more persuadable because the act of saying no makes people feel safe. Like when my son was 17 and he said, Dad, can I say now before he finished his sentence yet?
But then I would also having said no, having felt like I protected myself, I would almost always find myself saying I cannot talk me through this again. Let me hear this because I've already said no. So I can't be hurt. And now I'm now I can hear I can hear him out. And again, this is basketball playing doesn't make it tall. It's not kids learning not to take no for an answer. It's a set of human beings who happen to be young, learning how eminently open-Minded a counterpart can be once they've said no, do you ever actively coach your kids on how to negotiate better, like not necessarily negotiating with you, but in seeking what they are getting?
What they want to achieve say is is is is a bad thing about growing up the son of an FBI hostage negotiator, which is what happened to my my son. I found out in when he was in his twenties how much trouble he got himself out of when he was in his teens use in hostage negotiation skills.
He was around it all the time. He learned early on about going after problems and diffusing problems like he was. He played football, junior high, high school, college. So this isn't in the book. He go to school. And I had him in a Catholic school where they had a uniform and every night and because he was a kid, he'd go go to school and there'd be something wrong with the uniform and students student say, hey, you know, you screwed this up today.
You're not wearing this properly. Watch out for the vice principal. Most kids are going to spend the entire rest of the day running from the vice principal because they don't want to get in trouble. As soon as he realized he'd made a mistake, the very next place he would go would be the vice principal's office. He'd knock on the door and go straight in. And he was telling me one time he walked in and he's telling the vice principal, you know, he's a disrespectful student.
He doesn't have any you know, he's not paying attention to the rules. You know, he's empty headed. And the vice principal stopped and said, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold.
He said, who sent you? And he said, I nobody says I realized I was wrong. I came in and a vice principal scribbled a note that gave him a free pass for the rest of the day. If it get out of here now, get back to class.
That's awesome. And he knew that was the way to avoid the tension. And those are only the stories.
You know that. Exactly.
What about relationships? I mean, should you change how you negotiate or engage with your partner? I mean, you had some interesting advice on compromise in the book. Does that apply to relationships?
Yeah, well, it applies based on where you're coming from. You know those Adam Grant wrote a great article called The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence.
Like, you know, we joke around, use your use, your use your powers for good and not evil, but emotional intelligence. Really powerful thing is potentially ridiculously manipulative. Use it in your relationships if you're trying to make things better, like are you are you trying to get the other side to just lay off of you? You can go back to what you're doing or you try and actually understand more so you can have a better relationship. These skills are absolutely required if you want to understand your counterpart more and have a better relationship.
So much so that the Silicon Valley female executive.
One day is talking to her fiancee and she says, why do I like talking to you all of a sudden last couple of days? Our conversation has been great. What's going on?
And he said, well, I've taken this training and are making me use it with you.
And she found out the book was never split the difference.
And she went out.
She bought 10 copies and gave it to all of her girlfriends, husbands and boyfriends because know seek first to understand and be understood.
It's great for relationships.
It's also those you can use it for manipulation as well. But if you want a better relationship, absolutely use this stuff for it.
Walk me through the compromise thing in the book about why we should never compromise.
Compromise is I got this killer gray suit and I got a pair of black shoes that I love and I got a pair of brown shoes that I love. I think I should wear to black shoes. You think the brown shoes are going to look great? Let's compromise.
I'll wear one black and one brown. I mean, compromise.
And in theory, supposedly you're open to the other side's position. Theoretically, that's a great idea. In practicality, its implementation is absolutely one black shoe, one brown shoe. Heard a story recently of a horrible compromise. Two companies are merging and progressive new company in the industry.
And it's an old line, historical, a very dignified company. And they come together to the process. They find out there's this phenomenal building with eight hundred million dollars for sale and they get a chance to get it for two hundred million dollars. And they want to build a new learning center.
And it's big enough for this state of the art learning center and their corporate headquarters.
The CEO from the the prestigious high, high reputation, long term reputation firm says we can't do that because we all look like it will violate what we stand for.
It'll look like we're spending far too much money on our headquarters.
We'll look self-indulgent if we buy that building. And the guy from the new the newer cutting edge company looks like we got we.
How could we how can we pass this up? It's got a state of the art facility. We can put our education and we can say this is six hundred million dollar value savings. We can move our people in. They're going to feel phenomenal being in this new new facility.
And so what they do, they compromised. They bought the building for the new learning center. They kept their old headquarters to for the images, in fact, are wasting hundreds of millions of dollars because of the compromise.
And a bunch of the executives who never agreed with compromise in the first place are going to leave the firm.
So they're losing a tremendous amount of leadership over compromise. And that's what happens with compromise.
You get you put half measures in and it destroys everybody's idea instead of finding out what what's the best course of action. I like that a lot.
What fields of knowledge is outside of negotiation itself? And I guess your own experience, have you found was valuable and kind of adding to your repertoire of tools and finding new insights?
You know, some of the stuff that I find really interesting now is has to do around the mental state of flow, because historically we're supposed to be dispassionate in negotiations. You drive to be just passion and drive to get into a neutral frame of mind. Well, flow is where your pattern recognition and your decision making is.
At its peak, your mental endurance increases and your overall performance is is much better. Like X Games, athletes are doing things that the world thought was previously physically impossible.
Are they physically can an X game athlete is their vertical jump five feet instead of two feet now, but their performance and what they're doing is the equivalent of taking a vertical jump and doubling and tripling it. But they're physically the same specimen. The state of flow which borders on, is a highly positive frame of mind bordering on it's fun. They're having fun, bordering on euphoria, they're pattern recognition and their decision making is near perfect in that state of mind.
That's what we need in business. We need more mental endurance. We need better pattern recognition. We need fearless decision making. To the Sunnis, fear drops away. We can think better.
It's a positive frame of mind. So the whole psychology of flow in terms of people's performance in business is stuff that I'm finding fascinating.
And it happens to also it's emotional intelligence rolled into flow. So that also plays a role in the decisions we're making and what negotiation to. When you win, you lose your flow temporarily, like when you were on the job, what did you do? I mean, it happens to all of us. We get distracted, something comes up, there's more information coming at us than we can handle. How did you get back into that?
Yeah, well, the old the old the old remedy was just rest in an exhausted hostage, negotiate. The end of the day, I just I just got to take them off the phone and let them get a good night's sleep. But the new remedy, what are the hacks? How can we get this guy recharged? I mean, it's one of the one of the reasons why I think people are meditating a lot more now. You know, ten minutes of good meditation might give you enough of a brain reset that you're back in the game ten minutes later.
I mean, that that's that's a hack into flow.
What can I do to change my mental state of mind that will give me a quick recharge. I mean, it's kind of what Tony Robbins is doing it in his in his seminars. Tony Robbins, before the neuroscience was there, he figured out the physical hacks and the flow. That's why he sleeps four hours a night. That's why he can stand up and do a 14 hour seminar, essentially with no breaks. I mean, if you if you go to one of his seminar, Robbins is on a stage for anywhere from you got to be prepared to sit there for anywhere from 12 to 14 hours.
On top of that, Robbins is going to make you do a number of things physically to put you in flow.
Why how how can you dial in to a Tony Robbins seminar for 14 straight hours, only leaving your chair for bathroom breaks, sitting in a in in a car, in a stadium, an indoor basketball arena, on a concrete floor, in a tiny little wooden chair squeezed into a bunch of other people and not get tired.
Robbins's is you in flow. How do you pay attention that whole time? That is direct application to the business world to your day to day performance. So there's a number. There's a number of things that you can do. Ten minutes of meditation, stand up and move around.
You know, he has people is people do what we used to call primal scream therapy and we just kind of let loose for a couple of seconds. There's a there's an instant reset and instant body reset. There's a whole bunch of things you can do to the course of a day that can give you a quick smile and laugh. You get an instant chemical change when you laugh. Don't laugh because you're in a good mood. Force a laugh and you'll actually feel better chemically.
You trigger a chemical change. It's a lot of different things that you can do.
20 years ago, if a hostage negotiator was running out of gas, we would take, I would never thought, to take them off the line. Tell them a couple of jokes.
Now, maybe I was. Yeah.
When you're in your negotiations with somebody, how do you separate out somebody on the other end of the phone or the negotiation like a you versus somebody who's read a book, like the people who know what they're talking about, from the people who pretend they knew what they're talking about?
You know, one of the biggest things is, is the other side. Tell it from because I get people that are trying my techniques on me because I try to communicate with me better and I'm good with that. Or I get somebody who's trying some of this stuff on me because they're just trying to try to prove that they're smarter than me and they're still going to exploit me and take advantage of me. I you can sniff that out pretty fast. So a lot of it really has to do with, you know, not as the other person trying to collaborate with me, but really, really trying to hurt me.
And and I'm good. I'm absolutely good with somebody negotiating with me as long as they're trying to make a better deal.
Right. Not if they're actively seeking to hurt you. Yeah.
And even then, at that point in time, I just want to know for sure, because I might not back out of that deal that I might not like them. And we have some people were doing business with that I really don't like, but it benefits my company a lot.
And so I'm not kidding myself about who I'm dealing with. There's nothing wrong with having a tiger by the tail as long as, you know you've got a tiger by the tail. So does that cost you a lot of stress? If I let my if I let it cause me stress, I realize now that every now and then the people that we're doing business with that are trying to exploit us, that is, as I say, a first world first world problem or a success problem.
I'm only dealing with these because the book is so good. Right. And because we make a difference in people's lives. I mean, make no mistake, we make a difference in people's lives. You go on you go on Amazon and look at the reviews and it's person after person after person. We made a difference in their lives. We made their lives better. Men and women.
Facebook posting the other day, a woman gave her daughter my book and she went out and negotiated a thirty percent salary increase for herself.
Nice. Yes, it's a really good positive impact. Yeah.
And so you get trolls because you're successful. You get attacked only by being successful. And when I remind myself of that, that I can deal with.
Want to switch gears a little bit, talk about some personal questions and just outside of negotiation, persay, but stuff that I found interesting or that came up, I was reading your book that I was curious about. The first one I want to ask you is like after a long career in law enforcement negotiation, how do you personally determine if you can trust someone who has your experience made you more trustworthy of other people or less? All right. So we've got we've all got the intuition to pick this up.
And as soon as you start focusing on implementation and seeing what people do in front of you, then trust is a funny word. Take the word trust out and put it in predictable. What am I going to predict these people are going to do? Yeah. If you can substitute the word predict for trust or predictable for trust, then put you in a much more rational frame of mind. And you and you can see things easier and then you can make better decisions and the best.
Indicator of future behavior is past behavior. So if I'm dealing with a company that has horrible follow up, I should expect them to continue to have horrible follow up. I can't trust them to suddenly be smart or I'm out here in Los Angeles now. No different conversations going on about TV shows. And and these guys cheat each other or set each other up to be cheated on a regular basis. So I can't expect them to be any different dealing with me just because I'm a hostage negotiator.
They're still going to try to set me up and take the intellectual property and cut me out and not leave me in a role. And I get bent out of shape over that. Or I can just expect it to happen and keep my guard up and not not kid myself. Or another analogy I like I think everybody knows the story of the scorpion, a frog trying a scorpion try to get across a river and he jumps on the frogs back and frog says, you know, if you sting me, then we'll both drown.
We'll both die. Scorpion says, Why would I ever do that again? Halfway across the river to Sportstalk Scorpion things and foxes. Why? Why'd you do that? Scorpion said, I'm a scorpion. It's a Monday, too. Yes.
So the frogs mistake not was not in helping the scorpion. The frog put put the scorpion on a twig and Tom across so that he can't stab you. Right. If he's going to stab me, that doesn't mean I can't collaborate. It just means that I'd be stupid if I don't think I'm going to get stabbed. So don't how do I now arrange this so I don't leave myself in a position to be stabbed?
What kind of thoughts would you share with your younger self? Let's say you're twenty years old and just beginning your career, so that has to do with my type.
So I'm a natural born assertive, which means I'm a little hard on people, I'm a little blunt. Dealing with me can be like getting hit in the face with a brick. So I would tell me, just be a little nicer, don't compromise who you are. Don't take any different positions. I've been I've always been highly guided by what I believe to be right and wrong. Set of rules do the right thing is a phrase that matters to me.
So I'll punch you in the face by trying to get you to do the right thing and thinking that my motivations are good enough to cover up my delivery. So I'd tell my younger self, just be nice. You don't don't change your positions, don't go in any other directions, just be nicer about it. You get a lot farther. But by nicer, do you mean that the bluntness was unkind or do you mean in your approach to saying the same sort of thing?
Mainly. Mainly how I said things. Right, OK, you know, and I don't know if it's a fair analogy or not.
And again, not to wade into anything politically, you know, but I'd ask you, what are the biggest differences in the overall goals and objectives of Ronald Reagan versus Donald Trump? You know, Ronald Reagan fired more people when he fired the air traffic controllers. I think that Donald Trump has his entire career.
Ronald Reagan was seen as a nice guy, but very aggressive, very pro-American, very anti Russia, pro-business, fired the air traffic controllers.
I mean, that was an aggressive guy, but he was he was used to always say, I'm a nice guy.
He smiled at people. So but he didn't change his positions, so that for me, that's for me.
Can you tell me a bit of time that you've failed and what you did to recover and learn from that?
Yeah, you know, I mean, there's all kinds of failures. Why when we talk about in the book, hostages died if we didn't expect them to die.
And at that time, I mean, I've always I was a big proponent of a strong team game. So I was really satisfied that that I had included my team. We've done everything we knew how to do and what we knew how to do wasn't enough. So to me, I used it. I used it to get better. So, you know, I did everything we knew how to do.
It was good enough at that point in time. You know, we we had another win, another much lower profile kidnapping where I thought it was going to go bad.
And the people that were working the kidnapping didn't want to listen to me.
I'm not sure that I could change the outcome, but I'm like, all right, so those guys are more experienced. And I didn't push it as hard, as hard as I could have. Right. And it ended up going bad. I mean, I chose not to wade into that. I and I don't think there's any way that we could have made a difference whatsoever on that one, because the person that had been kidnapped was, unbeknownst to law enforcement at the time, was doing a lot of criminal activity that he was hiding, which is the principal reason he died.
But I mean, there have been plenty of times and I made mistakes and I was wrong at the time. I called a suicide hotline at the at the end of the call, at the end of the year, I had a lot of bad habits. I didn't I didn't know about my bad habits at the time. I think the biggest difference is I think I'm very open to learning. I'm a little bit like, so if I'm not doing it right, tell me how to do it right, I'll do it right.
I just want to know the best way to do it.
What do you think the difference is between the people who are open to learning and not open to learning?
I think there's a I think there's an embarrassment factor. I think people are really embarrassed of being wrong. I, I that's kind of the only way I can can couch it, because I know that I'm I know that I'm very open to learning and I know that there are a bunch of people out there that are not. And I am kind of mystified by it, by myself. And so when I'm I got a few of those in our classes, you know, if a company brings all their salespeople in, it's going to be some people in there that that are are our before the year out are going to get fired by the company because they didn't make their numbers and they're not open to learning.
Turnover is very high. And and and one of the reasons why the boss has got that person in our training is because he's trying to save that he or she's trying to save that person and that person will be incredibly blocked. I mean, new ideas is such a threat to their self concept. They're horrified that maybe they were doing it wrong and trying to crack that code. Because if I can't get that that guy or that that gal to open our eyes, we can't say they're going to get fired.
What do you think prevents people from that, like the notion of being wrong, like what's going on inside that person? Because I'm sure they also at some level feel if they don't see it tangibly, that something has to change and yet they're still unwilling to see reality. That's it.
Well, it's you know, I know from I'm satisfied from from from Danny Kahneman that there's a fear of loss in there someplace and their perception of themselves. And there's there's some there's something inside them that just scares the heck out of them.
You know, I was one of the things that I was talking to my girlfriend recently.
I was saying, like, you know, I think everybody's got to learn to code somewhere. Deep down inside, somebody said something to everybody when we were little kids that was like our to learn a bad two lines of magic code in there and figure out what that code is. Those two lines is what really drives the direction of people go.
And it has to do with self esteem. It has to do with you know, I met a guy one time who was was it was a surprise to his family. You know, they thought they were done having kids. And 10 years after they were done having kids, another one is on his way.
And he used to love to tell this guy he was an ax and he grew up his two lines of code. I mean, that makes them to feel like he was unwanted. Right. So what did somebody say to somebody in those two lines of code and how do we get in there and help unravel it or maybe put a change, change a couple of words in there so that instead of defeating themselves, they're taking better care of themselves? I had another.
That I worked with, they used to always say, my grandmother always said self praise is no praise. Well, I'm thinking like so, you know, you can never praise yourself. You can you can ever say to yourself internally, you did a good job here. So I don't know what it is sometimes, but I anybody we can reach and figure out what it is we try to because we want people to have more and more satisfying and enjoyable lives.
So, Chris, I want to end on a high note. What's the smallest habit you have that makes the biggest difference?
You know, I think just taking a moment to let the other side articulate what's really burning on their mind, the other person is going to be highly appreciative of that. And you're going to save a lot of time. You know, again, it's a great mercenary missionary skill saves you a lot of time. It has better relationships.
People are going to like dealing with you even more if they get a chance to have their say and if they feel really listen to the amount of time it takes to have their say tends to be really short because people find being listened to being very satisfying.
I like that a lot. Thank you, Chris. Where can people find out more? All right. So the best way to connect is to subscribe to our complimentary newsletter. The Edge comes out once a week, and it is the gateway to everything we do. It's got a short article about a couple of tips on how to get better at negotiation. It's a light read. It's a quick read is a great way to start your day. Plus, it's the avenue is the gateway to everything we do.
The website is Black Swan felted Dotcom. But the best way to subscribe is to text the word API empathy and make it all one word. It's not case sensitive. Don't let your spellcheck put a space in between FBI empathy, but FBI empathy. All one word to the number two to eight to eight. The number is twenty two eight twenty eight. And you'll get a text response of signing up for the newsletter. Tell you about the training. It's free, which is a good price and it's a way that my company can help you get better.
That's excellent. Thank you so much, Chris. I really enjoyed this conversation.
Yeah, my pleasure. I did too. Thank you for having me on.
Hey, guys, this is Shane again, just a few more things before we wrap up. You can find some notes from today's show at F-stop blog podcast. You can also find out information on how to get a transcript there. And if you'd like to receive a weekly email from me filled with all sorts of brain food, go to F-stop blogs newsletter. This newsletter is all the good stuff I've done on the Web that week, and I've read and shared with close friends the books I'm reading and so much more.
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