Top Quotes from Christopher Voss

Emotions are one of the main things that derail communication. Once people get upset at one another, rational thinking goes out of the window.

Christopher Voss

Successful negotiation is not about getting to ‘yes’; it’s about mastering ‘no’ and understanding what the path to an agreement is.

Christopher Voss

Body language and tone of voice – not words – are our most powerful assessment tools.

Christopher Voss

The most dangerous negotiation is the one you don’t know you’re in.

Christopher Voss

Price doesn’t make deals, and salary doesn’t control your career.

Christopher Voss

Whether we notice it or not, we spend our days negotiating for something: for our spouse to do more housework, a child to eat just three more bites or go to bed on time, an extended deadline on a project, a salary increase, a better rate on a vacation package.

Christopher Voss

Most people offer obvious telltale signs when they’re lying.

Christopher Voss

If your first objective in the negotiation, instead of making your argument, is to hear the other side out, that’s the only way you can quiet the voice in the other guy’s mind. But most people don’t do that.

Christopher Voss

The secret to gaining the upper hand in a negotiation is to give the other side the illusion of control. Don’t try to force your opponent to admit that you are right. Ask questions, that begin with ‘How?’ or ‘What?’ so your opponent uses mental energy to figure out the answer.

Christopher Voss

Emotions aren’t the obstacles to a successful negotiation; they are the means.

Christopher Voss

In a job negotiation, the implementation of that deal is your success that also causes the company to succeed.

Christopher Voss

There are a lot of negotiators that really will give in on a deal because being understood is more important than getting what they want. And there’s a particular type in particular, the assertive negotiator: being understood is actually more important to them than actually making the deal.

Christopher Voss

Negotiation is often described as the art of letting the other side have your way. You have to give the other side a chance to put stuff on the table voluntarily.

Christopher Voss

When it comes to salary negotiation, don’t forget that salary is only one term of employment. What else is on the table – vacation time, benefits, bonuses, flex days? Before determining that these terms are ‘must-haves’ or ‘giveaways’ to get a bigger salary, find out what the counterpart has to offer.

Christopher Voss

Consider this: Whenever someone is bothering you, and they just won’t let up, and they won’t listen to anything you have to say, what do you tell them to get them to shut up and go away? ‘You’re right.’ It works every time. But you haven’t agreed to their position. You have used ‘you’re right’ to get them to quit bothering you.

Christopher Voss

People who are lying are, understandably, more worried about being believed, so they work harder – too hard, as it were – at being believable.

Christopher Voss

The ‘that’s right’ breakthrough usually doesn’t come at the beginning of a negotiation. It’s invisible to the counterpart when it occurs, and they embrace what you’ve said. To them, it’s a subtle epiphany.

Christopher Voss

The No. 1 rule in any negotiation is don’t take yourself hostage. People do this to themselves all the time by being desperate for ‘yes’ or afraid of ‘no,’ so they don’t ask for what they really want. Instead, they ask for what they can realistically get. I’ve heard many people say, ‘Well, that’s a non-starter, so we won’t even bring it up.’

Christopher Voss

As human beings, we’re powerfully swayed by how much we feel we’re being respected. People comply with agreements if they feel they’ve been treated fairly and lash out if they don’t.

Christopher Voss

As a negotiator, you should strive for a reputation of being fair. Your reputation precedes you. Let it precede you in a way that paves success.

Christopher Voss

The sweetest two words in any negotiation are actually, ‘That’s right.’ Before you convince them to see what you’re trying to accomplish, you have to say the things to them that will get them to say, ‘That’s right.’

Christopher Voss

There are three kinds of yeses. There’s commitment, confirmation, and counterfeit. People are most used to giving the counterfeit yes because they’ve been trapped by the confirmation yes so many times. So the way you master no is understanding what really happens when somebody says ‘no.’ When yes is commitment, no is protection.

Christopher Voss

Mirroring is simply repeating what someone just said. It creates more reception from the other side, it focuses attention, and it gives them an opportunity to dial in more with you and you to dial in more with them. It causes an almost completely unconscious response for the person to want to go on.

Christopher Voss

There’s great power in deference. You ask somebody ‘what’ or ‘how’ questions. People love to be asked how to do something. They feel powerful, and from a deferential position, you’ve actually granted that power, and you’re the one that now actually has the upper hand in the conversation.

Christopher Voss

Every job that you take, the term that you should always include is, ‘How can I be involved in the strategic projects that are critical to the future of the company?’ You ask that question. It’s a great ‘how’ question.

Christopher Voss

What I really think of myself as is a person who’s great at negotiation coaching and consulting.

Christopher Voss

I wanted to be a hostage negotiator.

Christopher Voss

I was on the SWAT team in the FBI, and I had always wanted to be in SWAT.

Christopher Voss

When you expect to get into a negotiation, you expect to be faced by a guy that’s going to attack you, a guy or gal that’s going to attack or that they’re going to try to get the best of you. Two-thirds of us, that makes us very defensive.

Christopher Voss

The ‘Rule of Three’ is simply getting the other guy to agree to the same thing three times in the same conversation, it’s really hard to repeatedly lie or fake conviction.

Christopher Voss

People typically only believe they’re in a negotiation when dollars are involved. And maybe sometimes they’re smart enough to see if there’s a commodity that you can count being exchanged. And, of course, the commodity that we most commonly exchange is money.

Christopher Voss

In reality, every single negotiation involves another commodity that’s far more important to us, which is time – minutes, hours, our investment in time. So even if you’re talking about dollars, the commodity of time is always there because there has to be a discussion about how the commodity of dollars is moved.

Christopher Voss

If you’re going to play the bargaining game, you just need to make the other side mad. You want them to get a little annoyed. Then you know that you’ve come in with a good price.

Christopher Voss

The moment you’ve convinced someone that you truly understand her dreams and feelings, mental and behavioral change becomes possible, and the foundation for a breakthrough has been laid.

Christopher Voss

The sooner you cut off negotiations with someone you shouldn’t be dealing with, it gives you the chance to move on to a more profitable deal.

Christopher Voss

You’re supposed to have a passionate purpose as a CEO.

Christopher Voss

What drives you? What’s your motivation? That’s not emotion. That’s passion. It’s a different word.

Christopher Voss

‘No’ is a dynamic that you’ve got to master before you can ever master ‘yes.’

Christopher Voss

In Syria, for some time, they have been trading hostages for a number of things: for weapons, for money, for political influence, and for favors.

Christopher Voss

There is great power in deference. Deference works with everybody.

Christopher Voss

In my years as the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator, I learned an important fundamental lesson: Hostage negotiation is often nothing more than a business transaction.

Christopher Voss

Since retiring from the FBI in 2007, I’ve traveled the world and worked with everyone from CEOs to their managers and everyday workers on how to apply techniques from hundreds of high-stakes, life-or-death negotiations to business negotiations.

Christopher Voss

The best messages in any given negotiation are really implied indirectly, come to the other person based on thinking that you’re getting them to do – getting them to get some really solid thought behind their answers. And so a great thing to send someone in an email is, ‘Have you given up on this project?’

Christopher Voss

The first and best way to say ‘no’ to anyone is, ‘How am I supposed to do that?’ Now the other side actually has no idea as to the number of things you’ve done with them at the same time. You conveyed to them you have a problem.

Christopher Voss

How you use your voice is really important, and it’s really driven by context more than anything else, and your tone of voice will immediately begin to impact somebody’s mood and immediately how their brain functions.

Christopher Voss

Fair’ is, like, this incredibly overused term in negotiations: ‘I just want what’s fair.’ ‘What’s the fair market price?’

Christopher Voss

What you want to do is put people in a position where they feel connected enough to you that they’re willing to collaborate with you; they’re willing to show you the things that they were scared to tell you about before.

Christopher Voss

Very few negotiations are begun and concluded in the same sitting. It’s really rare. In fact, If you sit down and actually complete your negotiation in one sitting, you left stuff on the table.

Christopher Voss

Remember Robin Williams’s great work as the voice of the genie in Disney’s ‘Aladdin’? Because he wanted to leave something wonderful behind for his kids, he said, he did the voice for a cut-rate fee of $75,000, far below his usual $8 million payday. But then something happened: The movie became a huge hit, raking in $504 million.

Christopher Voss

Once you understand what a messy, emotional, and destructive dynamic ‘fairness’ can be, you can see why ‘fair’ is a tremendously powerful word that you need to use with care.

Christopher Voss

Salary negotiations are particularly important because people are testing you as both a co-worker and an ambassador. They really don’t want you to be a pushover, and they don’t want you to be a jerk.

Christopher Voss

Salary negotiations shouldn’t be limited to just salary. Salary pays your mortgage, but terms build your career.

Christopher Voss