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Chris Voss

Chris Voss Masterclass: Unmissable Event with Former FBI Hostage Negotiator

Live virtual event with ‘Never Split the Difference’ author

Chris Voss

While hostage negotiators deal with extreme situations most business leaders will never face, strong negotiation skills are needed in companies to avoid risk.

Chris Voss spent 24 years in the FBI, eventually becoming the lead international kidnapping negotiator. His high-pressure negotiations with hostage takers, criminals, and terrorists contained lessons that could be applied more widely and to business, and are set out in his bestseller “Never Split the Difference.”

Teams have a rare chance to learn these techniques directly from Chris Voss himself at our live virtual masterclass - Chris Voss - Negotiate and Communicate on 10 April, 2024. Book now at

Meanwhile, here's a brief outline of potential risks of poor negotiation skills and key negotiating strategies Chris revealed in a Growth Faculty interview:

Risks Arising From Poor Negotiation Skills

In many cases, poor negotiating skills can have big ramifications for an organisation. These risks include:

Poor Deals & Agreements

Without savvy negotiators, a company can end up accepting suboptimal terms for major supplier contracts, partnerships, sales deals, stakeholder agreements, and other key arrangements. They may overpay or undervalue assets traded relative to market dynamics.

Missed Opportunities

For many business agreements, multiple components are negotiable - terms, access, pricing, timeline flexibility etc. Negotiation-averse teams can miss opportunities to tailor partnerships and deals to the company's advantage. Rivals meanwhile exploit negotiation openings.

Damaged Relationships

When core agreements ultimately benefit one party disproportionately, perceived unfairness breeds resentment between firms and stakeholders. This can erode trust and goodwill in the relationship going forward, closing doors for future opportunity.

Reputational Harm

If an organisation develops a reputation as an easy target among vendors and partners, they can find themselves consistently reaching raw-end deals. Suppliers may pad contracts knowing your firm’s executives won't counter.

Negotiating strategies for businesses

Chris Voss has taught business negotiation extensively, including internationally and at various MBA programs in universities. He has also taught at Harvard University and guest lectured at the Kellogg School of Management. Here are some of the strategies in his negotiating toolkit:

  • Collaborate, don’t fight. Perhaps the most important message Voss conveys is that negotiation should not be viewed as a battle or confrontation, but rather as collaboration. Especially in business deals, your goal should be to establish trust and understanding with the other party so you can find a solution that works well for both sides.

  • Spot Counterfeit "Yes" Responses. Chris Voss stresses that people actually feel more in control when they answer “No” but will offer up fake or superficial agreements (a "Yes") to appease the other side. Work to unearth fake “Yesses” from the other party by asking follow-up questions and digging deeper before moving forward. Try also to ask questions that allow the other party to say “No” to give them the illusion of control.

  • Generate "That's Right" Statements. Rather than pushing for outright "Yes" statements which can be seen as concession and a loss of control, Chris Voss says he prefers to focus on driving the conversation to get the other side to say "That's right." The words “That’s right” affirm your points without the same loss of leverage.

  • Use Tactical Empathy and Emotional Labelling. Voss says there is extensive research on the power of empathy and emotional intelligence in negotiations. By using a calm and friendly tone of voice and openly verbalising the other side's potential feelings and motivations, negotiators build rapport and trust to gain cooperation and breakthroughs. Simply labelling observed emotions alone is highly effective for progress (‘You’re angry’, ‘You’re frustrated.’).

  • Use “What” Instead of “Why” Questions. The reason is that asking someone “Why” makes them defensive (I’ve done something wrong). Instead of asking “Why do you want that?” Voss coaches clients to switch to “What makes that a good choice?” or “What’s behind your thinking on that?” These are ways to trigger forced or reciprocal empathy from the other party, and it works to fatigue them too, so they’ll be more willing to close out the deal.

Negotiation skills make a critical difference during contract negotiations between a company and vendor or client.

Get your team to a masterclass with Chris Voss

Gather your team and join our entertaining and informative live virtual masterclass with Chris Voss in April 2024, and gain expert advice on negotiating sales deals, resolving business conflicts, or tackling even interpersonal issues (Growth Faculty members get access included in their annual membership).

The result will be a team skilled up in valuable negotiation tools, and the confidence to negotiate mutually beneficial long-term deals.

See Adam Grant in person in 2024


If you're interested in seeing one of the world's leading authorities on work culture, psychological safety, and work-life, don’t miss Adam Grant’s highly-anticipated Australian tour in 2024 ADAM GRANT – LIVE: Unlock Hidden Potential & Transform WorkLife. Tickets are selling fast (Some categories SOLD OUT). 


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