Chris Voss: This Is What I Do In A Negotiation

Chris Voss Shares Tactics That He Uses In A Negotiation at The James Altucher Show

Episode 187

“Terrorists have moms,” he said.

Jeffrey Schilling was kidnapped in the Philippines and held hostage for 7 and a half months. The terrorists said they were torturing him.

But Chris Voss didn’t fall for it.

Chris is a former FBI hostage negotiator and the author of, “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It.”

“Find a way to mention his mother’s concern for him,” Chris’ boss said.

“I remember thinking, ‘That’s the dumbest idea I ever heard. A terrorist is going to care about this guys mother?’”

“But my boss had great insight. And I didn’t see any downside to it. So in the middle of the negotiation I said, ‘Ya know Jeff’s mom is really worried about him.’”

“What happened next?” I asked.

“This murderous, sociopathic terrorist said, ‘His mother knows about this? You tell his mother he’s OK.’”

Months later, Jeffrey came home.

Some hostage negotiation tactics won’t work in business or with your wife.

But these 5 tactics will…

1. Use the “hand-cuff method”:

Use this line when someone yells at you: “I can’t hear you when you’re yelling at me.”

The logic simple. People yell when they want you to listen.

But if you eliminate their reward (being heard), then they have to comply. And you’ll never get yelled at again.


2. Push past threats:

“People who make threats always leave themselves an out,” Chris said.

But the truth is they need you. If you’re not talking, there’s no deal. They could lose out on a sale, a new employee, or millions of dollars.

“The point of a negotiation is to find out how much money is on the table,” Chris said. “You have to push the other side as far as they’ll go… without insulting them.”

3. Gain the upper hand 100% of the time:

“You can gain the upper hand by giving respect first,” Chris said.

Which a lot of people are afraid to do…

“But that’s exactly why you gain the upper hand,” Chris said.

4. Become less busy:

Rest is the new hustle.

“Anytime you slow down to do things more deliberately, you save time.” Chris calls this, “The delay that saves time.”

5. Show fearlessness

Fear can be useful. But not in a negotiation. “Showing fearlessness is a great way to inspire confidence in you from the other side,” Chris said. “It creates trust.”

I can’t afford to lose all my money again. So if you’re on this list… don’t listen to this interview:

A) you’re related to me

B) you work with me

C) you want to sell me something

Everybody else is welcome.

  • The negotiation tactic used against Mark Cuban [49:36]
  • Find out the negotiation tactic I use personally [42:08]
  • How to avoid the most dangerous negotiation [4:58]



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  • Kim Coleman

    Great post. Love anything Chris Voss talks about Give me moreover anytime

    • Good show. “To be honest with you” is so overused and abused. To be honest with me…

  • I just finished the first chapter on how to mirror and the late night FM DJ voice. I also tested it with the debt collector and it require a mix of assertiveness and the empathetic tone Chris writes about to get to a closure.

    To anyone reading this, Never split the difference is an amazing book if you’re into sales. If you aren’t into sales, then Dan Pink’s ‘To Sell Is Human’ is a good read too.

    Thank you James!

  • Best takeaway for me: Rest is the new hustle. Thanks as always James.

    Carl Kruse

  • ninja265

    Really awesome episode.

  • Bob Anderson

    I absolutely think this pod cast is awesome…I’ve listened o it several times and btw I always feel smarter when I listen to the James A interviews…good stuff

  • Elena Lipson

    Loved this episode! So many great tips to take into my next negotiation on Monday. I can’t wait to use the late night DJ voice.

  • almatuason

    Chris Voss. First voice you want to hear in the morning. Last one you have to hear before bed. And throughout the day, while sorting out issues you’re thinking: faced with the same situation, what would Chris Voss do? It’s done me well so far.