Tips and Negotiation Tactics

Ever wish you could be like the Master Negotiator Chris Voss or even our Harvard professor Co-founder, David Lax?! ...Us too!

We’ve compiled some great, easily applicable negotiation tips and tactics you could use in everyday life, whether it’s in the workplace, relationships, or even something as simple as ordering your morning coffee!

Chris Voss, who was the former international hostage negotiator for the FBI, talks about how emotional intelligence is very important in the art of negotiating. Being able to just keep your mouth shut allows for you to see, listen, and notice many things you usually wouldn’t which opens up more opportunities when negotiating what you want and need. Chris’s top five field-tested negotiation techniques discussed in his award-winning book are: 


  1. Mirror words selectively. 

“Repeat the last one to three words your counterpart just said back to them. This is one of the quickest ways to establish a rapport and make your counterpart feel safe enough to reveal themselves. The beauty in this is the simplicity. People love this. Use it with what I like to call the “late-night FM DJ voice” and upward inflecting (sounds like a question). Tactics like this will slow the conversation down for you and allow you more time to think.”

  1. Practice tactical empathy.

“Demonstrate to your counterpart that you see the nuances of their emotions. Proactively label their fears. Phrases like “It sounds like you are afraid of…” and “It looks like you’re concerned about…” go a long way in disarming them. Also, list the worst things that the other party could say about you and say them before they can. Expressing—and not denying—accusations they may be harboring (no matter how ridiculous) keeps them from festering.”

  1. Get to a “no.”

“Being pushed for “yes” makes people defensive; they fear a trap. Lawyers actually have a name for this—they call it “cornering.” Who wants to be cornered? But saying “no” makes the speaker feel safe, secure and in control, so trigger it. Ask no-oriented questions, like: “Is now a bad time to talk?” and “Have you given up on this project?”

  1. Trigger “that’s right.”

“The moment you’ve convinced someone that you understand their dreams and feelings is the moment a negotiation breakthrough can happen. Trigger a “that’s right” response by summarizing and reaffirming how your counterpart feels and what they want. A great summary that will trigger a “that’s right” will be done based on feelings and passions that are driving them but that they may be blind to. This creates a subtle epiphany and simultaneously confirms that they share empathy with you.”

  1. Create the illusion of control.

“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.”