The negotiating strategy to get what you need from a former FBI agent

Negotiations seem distant, but they actually all intervene in our daily lives, from negotiating car fares with motorcycle taxis to buying clothes at marketplaces, even deals with customers which are all about negotiating skills.

Sometimes negotiations are failed and ineffective. We just think it’s okay to try again next time, but for some life-and-death negotiations, such as to keep hostages or catch criminals, what kind of negotiation methods do people in this profession have?

This is what a former FBI agent, a 24-year-old crisis negotiator, Chris Voss, has told about negotiation techniques that have resulted in amazing success with a formula called “Tactical Empathy.”

Chris said that Tactical Empathy doesn’t mean that we have to “agree” with reason and what they do, but we don’t need to be “controversial” to prove the other’s ideas. What we really need to understand and see is the “emotion” and the “feeling” behind their actions and words.

The strategy of how to negotiate to get what you want from former FBI agent

1. Know what they want

The key to successful negotiations is to “read the mind” of others so that you can come up with a proposal and persuade directly to the point. In general negotiations like this, we need to understand what it is that the opposite side “wants” . Then, start a conversation about what they want or feel interested in.

2. build trust by repeating one’s words

Repeating what a dialogue partner says in an interesting tone or repeating the last few words will easily earn one another’s trust, because they will feel that we are still listening to them, and then opening their minds will be easier. This strategy slows down conversation and gives us more time to think, but be careful not to repeat every word because they may think we’re weird.

3. The choice of tone

The tone means as much as the content we speak, as it used to be said, “People remember things that make them feel more than words.” So in different situations, we might have to choose the right tone, which Chris has divided into three categories.

  • Late night DJ FM tone: Communicating with a soft voice makes them feel safe and makes us look trustworthy.
  • Powerful and fun tone: Communicate in a relaxed, smiley manner while speaking.
  • Firm tone: Communicate to be persistent, and direct, signifying our superiority. 

If the other party is prone to upset or irritability, let’s try to use a soft voice or many people call it a fake voice which can help another party to be calmer and more peaceful.

4. Show expression of sympathy

Techniques to practice strategic empathy by capturing other’s emotions and trying to convince them that we’re on the same side. This technique is called “labeling,” understanding others feelings, such as saying, “It seems that you are worried about…aren’t you?” It’ll make them lower their shields.

This technique Chris used with a prisoner who broke out of jail and hid in an apartment. After Christ found out what he wanted, Chris expressed his understanding of the prisoner’s feelings. After six hours of negotiation, the prisoner agreed and said that after talking to Chris, they felt calm.

5. Make them say ‘No’ more than ‘Yes’

It may sound strange, but having the other party say “yes” often makes them feel like they’re sitting in court with us as lawyers. Chris said that in hostage negotiation situations, making terrorists answer “Yes” frequently will make the other party more scared and careful but techniques for the other party to say “No” will make them feel safe and know that they are still in control of the situation.

We may apply this technique to non-emphasized questions, such as: “Is this a bad time to talk?” Or, “Did you give up on this job?” 

6. Make them says ‘Yeah, That’s right’ often

When we can get them to see that “we understand” them, that’s the most likely sign of success in negotiations. This technique is to ask questions from the “summary” of what the other party says, and if the other party confirms that our thoughts that come from them are often correct, it will make them feel that they share their feelings with us more.

7. Use the question words of ‘What’ and ‘How’

Using Questions Like “What” and “how” in conversation is a very powerful technique for negotiating. Don’t try to force the other party to accept what we say is right. We have to ask them what they think. Encourage them to speak so that we know the other party’s true desires or intentions. Changing the conversation partner role by turning the other party into the one who questions us will help us understand the other party better and make negotiations more successful.

We can apply techniques from former FBI agents to many businesses or daily lives, from making certain deals with friends, lovers, families or negotiating jobs or salaries at work. Ensured that this technique will certainly help you succeed in negotiating.

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