Having good negotiating skills is vital in every aspect of life, especially business. The ability to properly bargain in order to get what you want takes time and practice, says former lead international kidnapping negotiator Christopher Voss.
At the Iconic Tour in Los Angeles, Voss discusses the tactics of a master negotiator and says there are certain strategies everyone should use to be successful in business. Here are his three key tips to getting what you want:
"You're addicted to yes," says Voss. "Yes is always a trap." The problem with yes, he says, is that we're all taught that it's the goal. But people will often just say yes so you will leave them alone. He calls this a "counterfeit yes."
Instead, he says that you should frame questions in a way that makes people want to say no. This may seem counterintuitive, but it works.
He gives an example of running into business executive Jack Welch. Voss says that he wanted Welch to be a guest speaker for an MBA class he was teaching at the University of Southern California. He approached Welch one day and asked him, "Is it a ridiculous idea for you to come and speak to the negotiation course I teach at USC?"
Voss says that framing the question in a way that would garner a no made Welch think speaking to the class would not be ridiculous. He handed over his contact information, Voss recalls.
In fact, the expert negotiator says that, he always trains people to ask their bosses, "Do you want me to fail?"
"You'd be shocked what people are willing to say no to," says Voss.
During a presidential election, when a candidate says something that you believe in you say, "that's right," says Voss. "That's what you say when the other person has said something that you actually buy into."
When that happens, the person feels so much more connected to you, which is ideal.
However, Voss warns that this is very different from "you're right," which he says is the worst form of "false agreement" that exists.
"It probably costs people and companies more money across the board and causes people to accuse people of being liars," he says.
The negotiator says that in general people say "you're right" just to get someone off their back or to maintain a relationship. Saying "you're right" does not signify that you agree with the argument that's being presented, he says.
This "two millimeter shift" from getting the other person to say "you're right" to "that's right" is crucial. Plus, it works in all sorts of scenarios from terrorist situations to business negotiations and makes people want to deal with you again, says Voss.
"That's what builds a long-term career," he says, "That's what builds success."
We all make mistake, says Voss, and he's no exception. "I do my preparation, I get into my negotiation and I might say something wrong," he says.
However, Voss explains that you just have to take an overall approach in a negotiation that gives you "latitude" because you know that you will make mistakes.
How do you do this? By genuinely listening to the other side and using empathy as a tactical strategy "because it works," says the FBI negotiator. As long as you have a steady process where you treat people with respect and appreciation, he says, "it's going to be okay."
"Understand that you're not going to be perfect. Don't try to be perfect," says Voss. "You'll make mistakes and they won't be the end of everything. Let yourself make mistakes."
More from iCONIC: