Mark Divine Show

How to Get What You Want in Any Negotiation (with Ashley Stahl and Chris Voss)

 In this episode, Mark hands the mic to Ashley Stahl, a former counterterrorism professional turned career coach. In this feed drop from Ashley's You Turn podcast, Ashley interviews Chris Voss, the lead international kidnapping investigator for the FBI, author of Never Split the Difference, and CEO of the Black Swan Group.

Today, Mark hands the mic to Ashley Stahl, a former counterterrorism professional turned career coach. In this feed drop from Ashley's You Turn podcast, Ashley interviews Chris Voss, the lead international kidnapping investigator for the FBI, author of Never Split the Difference, and CEO of the Black Swan Group. In this masterclass on negotiation, Chris and Ashley cover salary negotiation tactics, how to use empathy to get what you want, negotiation psychology, and so much more.


Key Takeaways:

  • Never go first. Chris says the secret to gaining the upper hand in negotiations is giving the other side the illusion of control. That's why the smartest and best negotiators let the other side go first. He who speaks first loses, since you're giving the other side a lot of information right off the bat, and you're not learning anything you can use in your favor. If you're asked a question first, respond, but don't answer the question right away. Pivot as much as possible back to the other person and make them divulge first.

  • There are no bad teams, only bad leaders. Chris says that if his people are responding to him poorly, then he's failing as a leader, and he needs to make some changes. The more work-focused a leader gets, the more the work product suffers. If a leader isn't happy with the job somebody's doing, they're likely treating that person as a commodity and not as a human being. Make sure you're spending enough time nurturing and encouraging your people and finding out who they are.

  • Empathy means understanding, not caring. Empathy has become a synonym for caring about the other side. But Chris says empathy is really about completely understanding where the other side is coming from. If you need to like, agree with, or sympathize with someone to exercise empathy, then what happens if you don't like them? What happens if you don't agree with them? You can't exercise empathy if those are necessary requirements. But if you don't need any of those things, you can exercise empathy with any human being on the planet.

  • Seek first to understand, then be understood. In any negotiation, this is the fastest sequence to get your way. You don't have to agree that the other person's perspective is true, fair, or even reasonable. All you have to do is reflect their perspective back to them, so that they feel like you understand them.

  • Focus on fixing losses vs. accomplishing gains. The reasons why we won't do something are more important in our decision-making than the reasons we will do something. 70% of sales are made by people trying to fix losses, not accomplish gains. So in any given negotiation, the reasons why someone doesn't want to agree will play a bigger role than the reasons why they should agree.

  • Don't give lip service. If you hear the other side out in a negotiation, you need to adjust what it is you have to offer after hearing their objection. You need to show that you actually listened. If you make no adjustments and act like you didn't hear and understand them, the other side will think that talking to you is a waste of time.

  • Never compromise. There's a difference between compromise and adaptation. Never be so sure of what you want that you wouldn't take something better. This also means accepting that the other side may have the best idea.

  • Relationships make or break a deal. The quality of the relationship between two parties throughout a deal can make or break the whole thing in the end. If someone has been problematic in the run-up to a deal, they're not suddenly going to change their behavior once the deal is made. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior; if you're entering a business relationship with this person, pay close attention to how they act in the deal process before closing.

Chris' best tip for salary negotiation. In a salary negotiation, talk about what you bring to the table. When you start talking to a potential employer about collaborating on a great future together, now you're a different person to that employer. It shows that you're interested in mutual gain. Talk about how you're going to fit into their important goals. If you live up to what you're talking about, you're going to seem like a bargain for them.

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