• James Purvis

10 Powerful Negotiation Tactics I learned from a Famous FBI Hostage Negotiator

As I mentioned in my recent article, 5 Things Top Performing Reps are Doing During the Mass Shutdown, something all sales reps should be doing even more of during this difficult time is self-educating. Whether that's sales training, reading books, blogs, or listening to podcasts - this is an opportunity to better yourself and come out the other side of the pandemic better than ever.


To demonstrate practicing what I preach, I took an online class called "The Art of Negotiation" from a famous negotiator named Chris Voss. If you don't know who Chris Voss is, he was the lead kidnapping and hostage negotiator for the FBI for over 24 years and wrote the New York Times Best Seller, Never Split the Difference: Negotiate Like Your Life Depended on It.



In this Masterclass, there are 10 powerful negotiation tactics that I wanted to share with you that can help you negotiate 10x better than ever before.


The first tactic Chris teaches is tactical empathy.


1. Tactical Empathy


Everything in life is a negotiation. You are in negotiations all day every day and you don't even know it. If you are trying to get anyone to say "yes" at any time - you are in a negotiation. If you use the words "I want" or "I need" you are in a negotiation. My 3 year old daughter is in a negotiation with my wife and I at least 20 times a day.


As Chris Voss will tell you, "Great negotiation is about great collaboration." The person across the table is not an adversary or your enemy. You are working with them to solve a problem together.


Tactical empathy is seeking to find out what the other's point of view is and become genuinely interested in what's driving them (goals, motivations, wants, fears, etc). You will want to understand what their rules are and respect them (it doesn't mean you have to agree with it). Tactical empathy allows you to influence your counterparts emotions for the ultimate purpose of building trust-based influence and securing the deal.


"The adversary is not the the person across the table; the adversary is the situation." - Chris Voss

2. Mirroring


Mirroring is all about engaging and getting the other side involved. This technique will get your counterpart talking and ultimately present you with your deal and make them feel that it was their idea. Chris refers to negotiation as, "the art of letting the other side have your way" which is what mirroring is all about.


So, how do you mirror? It's really simple. It's using 1-3 words; typically the last 1-3 words the other person was saying, and repeating it back to them in the form of a question. The outcome is that it shows the other person that you have been listening, are interested, and it helps them add more information. Your counterpart will love when you mirror because it shows that they have been heard and it builds rapport.


Example of Mirroring:


  • Counterpart: "You're price is too high!"

  • You: "Our price is too high?"- w/ inflection at the end

  • Counterpart: "Yea we have a limited budget here!"

  • You: "A limited budget?"

  • Counterpart: "We have other things we are trying to accomplish here!"

  • You: "Other things you're trying to accomplish?"

  • Outcome: Your counterpart will continue to go on and keep giving you context and feel you are working with them throughout the negotiation.


Tip: It's critical that you shut up after a mirror - this let's everything sink in and gets them thinking and adds effect. This is called "dynamic silence."


"To try and take emotions out of a negotiation is a fool's errand." - Chris Voss

3. Labeling