#364 – Chris Voss: FBI Hostage Negotiator - Transcripts
is a conversation with Chris Voss, former FBI hostage and crisis negotiator and author of Never Split the Difference, negotiating as if your life depended on it. And now a quick few second mention of each sponsor. Check them out in the description. It's the best way to support this podcast. We've got Shopify for e-commerce, Indeed for hiring great teams and Inside Tracker for biological data. Choose wisely my friends. Also, if you want to work with our team, we're always hiring, go to LexFreedman.com slash hiring. And now onto the full ad reads. As always, no ads in the middle. I try to make this interesting, but if you must skip them, please do check out our sponsors. I enjoy their stuff. Maybe you will too.
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What is the toughest part of that process? The toughest part is if it looks bad from the beginning and you gotta engage in a process anyway.
What are the factors that make it bad? That makes you nervous that if you were to observe a situation where there's general negotiation or it's a hostage negotiation,
what makes you think that this is going to be difficult? If they wanna make it look like they're negotiating, but they're not. Like in the 2004 timeframe, Al Qaeda in Iraq was executing people on camera for the publicity. And they wanted to make it look like they were negotiating. So they'd come on and they say, if you don't get all the women out of, Iraqi women out of the jails in Iraq in 72 hours, we're gonna kill a hostage. That was one of the demands in one of the cases in that timeframe. Now, first of all, even if we'd have been willing, the US government coalition would have been willing to do that, it wouldn't have been able to happen in 72 hours. So is it an impossible ask from the beginning? And so then that looks really bad. Like they're trying to make it look like they're talking reasonably, but they're not. So your hostage is in bad shape there. If they've made a demand that you just, even if you wanted to do, you couldn't do.
So then what makes that very difficult is,
in kidnappings especially,
but they're not, you're working with family members, you're coaching people. Bad guys are in touch with family members, or if they're not directly in touch with family members, the other thing that Al Qaeda was doing at that time was, they didn't give us a way to talk to them. They're making statements in the media, but then not leaving their phone number, if you will. So that's one more thing. They're intentionally blocking you. They're asking you to do something you can't do. They're not giving you a way to talk to them. So you gotta get with the family and discuss with the family how you're gonna approach things. Now the family definitely wants to know, is this gonna help? So a bunch of cases like that in that timeframe. And you gotta be honest with them. It's a long shot.
Our chances here are slim and none. And when it's slim and none, I'll take slim, but it's still very, very slim. And there were a number of people that were killed in that timeframe before the tide finally got turned.
And it was hard dealing with families at the time. Can you negotiate in public versus like a direct channel in private?
Oh yeah. Bad guys pick the media. They're making statements in the media. And that's a big clue. Their channel of choice tells you an awful lot. And if they're choosing the media, then that means people are trying to appeal to, that means there, in their view, there's such a thing is good media. So if there's good media, there's bad media. How do you make it bad? And we made a bad form. That just, unfortunately, it had to go through a number of iterations
before they got the message and quit. In that negotiation, do you think about the value of human life? Is there a dollar figure? Is there, how do you enumerate, not enumerate, quantify the value of human life?
Yeah, that's like beauty, it's any other beholder. So that was the first lesson on any hostage negotiation, really any negotiation. Like it doesn't matter what it is to you, matters what it is to the other side. One of the things, especially in your conversation I listened to with Andrew. By the way, you guys, another thing I really liked about that conversation, first of all, I think the world of him. Andrew Huberman. Yeah, Andrew Huberman. And he released it on my birthday. I appreciate that. It was a nice birthday for me. Tried to tell him perfectly just for you, yeah. Yeah, nice job, thank you.
But empathy is in the eye of the beholder, in every negotiation, whether it's over a car, a house, collaboration in your company with the bad guys. How does the other side see it? Now, the nice thing about kidnapping for ransom, if there's an actual ransom demand,
an actual demand, there's a nice birthday present to me.
Perfectly just for you, yeah. It's a mercenary's business. They're gonna take what they could get. And they tend to be really good at figuring out how much money somebody has. So, and again, I'll keep drawing business analogies. You're looking for a job with an employer. There's a market price of the job, and then there's what the employer can pay you. Now, maybe the market price of the job, the market's 150 grand. Employer can pay 120, but it's a great job. We were talking about Elon a minute ago. I'd work minimum wage to follow him around. That would be worth it.
What are the value other than the dollars? And how hard is it to get the dollars? And how quickly can you get to them? Those are all things that the bad guys are good, and kidnapping are good at figuring out. So, the value of human life to them is gonna be what can they get. A crazy thing in the kidnap business. We used to get asked by FBI leadership, when is this gonna be over? And the answer would be, when the bad guys feel like they've gotten everything they can, by dissecting that statement, you're talking about when they feel like they got everything they can. So, the key to kidnapping negotiations are the feelings. Are the bad guys, we're talking about feelings!
Kidnapping is feelings.
the field, which drives everything. Doesn't matter what human endeavor it is. So it's not reason, it's emotion.
There's no such thing as reason. I should say, for a little bit of context, I just talked yesterday with a guy named Sam Harris. Yeah. I don't know if you know Sam, but Sam, and because I was preparing for a conversation with you, I talked about empathy versus reason. And he lands heavily on reason. Empathy is somewhere between useless and erroneous and leads you astray and is not effective. That reason is the only way forward.
Well, let's draw some fine lines there. And the two fine lines I would draw is, first, what is your definition of empathy? And then secondly, how do people actually make up their minds? And I'm gonna flip it. I'm gonna go with how people make up their minds. You make up your mind based on what you care about, period. That makes reason, emotion-based. What do you care about? You start with what you care about. You see some guys swimmin' out in, off the coast of the ocean and you see a shark comin' up behind. Who you're cheering for? If it's Adolf Hitler out there, you're cheerin' for the shark.
You might actually feel bad for the shark, cuz it's gonna taste bad.
Who do you care about? Who do you care about?
You mean the human will taste bad? Yeah, he eats Adolf Hitler. It's you're gonna leave a bad taste in your mouth, even if you're a shark. So you're making up your mind on every circumstance that's based on what you care about. So then what does that do to reason? Your reason is based on what you care about from the beginning. Now then empathy, if you define it as sympathy, which it was never meant to be sympathy ever. Etymology, I think is the word. I keep getting etymology and entomology mixed up. Etymology being, where words came from? origin, entomology being bugs. Got it.
So I like etymology. Where did something come from? I also like entomology. Anyway, etymology. My understanding from my research, the original definition of empathy was an interpretation of a German word where people were trying to figure out what the artist was trying to convey. It was about assessing art. And so it was always about understanding where somebody was coming from, but not sharing necessarily the same thing. So then when I was with D.F. Beyond, I first started collaborating with Harvard. Bob Manukin wrote a book, Beyond Winning, Second Chapters, The Tension Between Empathy and Assertiveness. Still the best chapter on empathy I've ever read anywhere. And Bob writes in his book, Bob was the head of the program on negotiation.
He's also agreed to be interviewed for a documentary about me and my company that hasn't been released yet, but it should be released sometime this year. What's the name of the documentary? Tactical Empathy. Good name. So Bob's definition of empathy said not agreeing or even liking the other side. Don't even gotta like them. Don't gotta agree with them. Just straight understanding where they're coming from and articulating it, which requires no agreement whatsoever. That becomes a very powerful tool, like ridiculously powerful. And if sympathy or compassion or agreement are not included, you can be empathic with anybody. I was thinking about this when I was getting ready to sit down and talk to you because you use the word empathy a lot. I can be empathic with Putin.
Easy. It's easy. I don't agree with where he's coming from. I don't agree with his methodology. Early on the Ukraine-Russian war, I saw an article that was very dismissive of Russia that said Russia's basically Europe's gas station. And I thought, all right. So if you're in charge and the way you feed your people is via an industry that the entire world is trying to quit, Europe's gas station, the whole world is trying to get out of fossil fuels. If that's how you feed your people, if you don't come up with an answer to that, the people that you've taken a responsibility for are going to die alone in the cold and the dark. They're going to freeze and they're going to die. All right. So that doesn't mean that I agree with where he's coming from or any of his means. But how does this guy see things in his distorted word?
You're never going to get through to somebody like that in a conversation unless you can demonstrate to them, you understand where they're coming from, whether or not you agree. Early 90s, last century. I'm a last century guy. I'm an old dude. I refer to myself as a last century guy. Also a deeply flawed human. So terrorist case, New York City, civilian court, terrorism does not have to be tried in military tribunals. That's a very bad idea. It was always bad. The FBI was always against it. I'm getting ready. We have Muslims testifying in open court against a legitimate Muslim cleric.
The guy that was on trial had the credentials as a legitimate Muslim cleric. The people that were testifying against him didn't think he should be advocating murder of innocent people. We'd sit down with them, Arab Muslims, Egyptians, mostly. And I would say to them, you believe that there's been a succession of American governments for the last 200 years that are anti Islam and they shake their head and go, and that'd be the start of the conversation. That's empathy. That's empathy. You believe this to be the case. I never said I agreed, I never said I disagreed, but I'd showed him that I wasn't afraid of their beliefs, I was so unafraid of them that I was willing to just state them and not disagree or contradict. Because I would say that and then I'd shut up and let them react. And I never had to say, here's why you're wrong. I never gave my point of view. Every single one of them that testified, that's empathy.
Not agreeing with where the other side is coming from. I'm not sure how Sam would define it. But common vernacular is its sympathy and its compassion, and that's when it becomes
useless. And there's a gray area, maybe you can comment on it, is sometimes a drop of compassion helps make that empathy more effective in the conversation. So you're just saying you believe
x doesn't quite form a strong of a bond with the other person, the other person.
You're imagining it doesn't. Maybe you're right, yes, I'm imagining it doesn't. I'm imagining you need to show that you're on the same side. You need to signal a little bit about your actual beliefs, at least in that moment, even if that signaling is not as deep as it sounds. But at first, basically patting the person on the back and saying, we're on the same side, brother.
You know, that's what most people, when they're really learning the concept, that's the basic human reaction. And in application, especially in highly adversarial situations, like, I need a regular guy, Muslim, but how's that guy going to say, buy it if I like, you know, dude, I'm on your side. I've been there. I feel you. No, no, no, no, no, no. People get conned by that so much. Like if we're on opposite sides of the table, and I try to act like I'm not on the opposite side of the table, that makes me disingenuous. So I would rather be honest. My currency is integrity. And at some point in time, if you go like, you know where I'm coming from? My answer is going to be like, look, I can agree on maybe where we're going. But if we're talking about, you know, am I on your side now?
As a human being, I want to see you survive and thrive, not at my expense. I think the world is full of opportunity. I'm optimistic. And I got more than enough reason for saying that. It's enough for here for both of us. So I got no problem with you getting yours. You know, just don't take it out of my hide. And I'm going to be honest about it, about both of those things. I'm not interested in you taking it out of my hide. I think there's plenty here for both of us. Now, I don't need to be on your side, except in a human sense. But do I have to side with you over the war?
No. Or how we're distributing the stock, or how much you get paid, or how much you make off this car. I think people, my experience as a layman, is that empathy is not got a downside. That you don't need me to act like
I'm on your side for us to make a great deal. Great deal. Well, we'll talk about two things, a great deal and a great conversation. They're often going to be the same thing, but at times they're going to be different. You mentioned Vladimir Putin. There is some zoom level at which you do want to say we're on the same side. You said the human level. It's possible to say, kind of zoom out and say that we're all in this together. Not we Slavic people, we Europeans,
but we human beings. Well, the same planet. Same planet. Right. Several years ago, and his name has evidently been mud now, but he was very nice to me. A lawyer here in a town named Tom Girardi, and no shortage of bad reporting on him now. I have absolutely no idea if any of it's true. I do know that in my interaction with him, he was always a gentleman to me and was very generous. When he'd get into conversations with people, he'd always say, let's look at 10 years from now, where we could both be in a phenomenal place together. Now let's work our way back from there. That's a good line. Yeah.
And then I saw him do it in simulations. I was teaching at USC. We were at a function together and a gentleman at the time told me that who he was and he was really influential. So I walked up to the guy, Cold that I said, Hey, I'm going to come into talking to my class, he didn't know me. I learned the fact that
we had mutual acquaintance and he graciously consented to come in.
Yeah. And he said, what do you want me to talk about? And I said, look, dude, just from your success here, it doesn't matter what you talk about, either I'm going to agree or I'm going to disagree, or I'm going to learn from it, my students are going to learn from it. So students want to role play with them. They dispute and let's do a negotiation. Every single time you'd go to pick a point in the future where we're both happy 10 years, 20 years from now, and let's work our way back. Now, hostage negotiator, same thing. I call into a bank, bad guy picks up on the phone, and I'm going to say, I want you to live. I want to see you survive this. Whatever else goes with that, let's pick a point in the future that we're both good with, and then we work our way back. And people make also, we were talking before about emotion and what you care about, people make their decisions based on their vision of the future. Without question, I think there's a Hindu temple in the United States has been or being assembled the same way that the Hindu temples were in India a thousand years ago, by hand, volunteers, by hand.
These people are knocking themselves on for place in paradise, a vision of the future. What you will go through today, if the future portends what you want, you'll go through incredible things today. It's a vision of the
future. So you have to try to paint a vision of the future that the person you're negotiating
with will like. Just top to do. Yeah. Let's find out what their vision of the future is, is, and then remove yourself as a threat. If we can collaborate together at all, if you think that I could do anything at all to help you to that point, and integrity is my currency, I'm not going to lie to you, which gets back before that I lied to you about whether or not I'm on your side. Right now, at the moment, we're on opposite sides of the fence. That's not going to stop us from being together in the future. You're going to say, well, you didn't lie to me about today, maybe you won't lie to
me about tomorrow. Going back to world leaders, for example, whether it's Vladimir Zelensky or Vladimir
Putin, you don't think it closes off their mind to show that you have a different opinion? Depending upon when you showed it. Are you arguing from the beginning, or are you displaying understanding from the beginning? I don't think it stops you from being adversarial. That was the thing about Manukin's chapter in his book, The Tension Between Empathy and Assertiveness. I remember reading that name of the chapter thinking like, eh, in my business, there is no tension. Then I got into it and I read, I thought, this is a red herring. He's drawing people in, because his entire chapter is that empathy puts you in a position to assert, and that there is no tension.
It's a sequencing issue, and that's why, again, I think it was written for lawyers. There is no tension. Yeah. Sequencing issue. The timing is everything. You emphasize the importance in terms of sequencing and priority of listening, of truly listening to the other person. Right. I'm sorry. What did you say? That was a bad joke. Sorry. Your timing is just perfect.
How do you listen? How do you truly listen to another human being? How do you notice them? How do you really hear them?
I always hated the term active listening. If anything, it's proactive. As soon as you start to try to anticipate where somebody is going, you're dialed in, because along the way, either you're congratulating yourself for being right, or, when suddenly they say something that surprises you, you really notice it. That's not what I expected. You're dialed in, you're listening. proactive. And then one of the reasons we named the book, Tactical Empathy, named the book, never split the difference, but we're talking about tactical empathy, calibrated emotional intelligence. What's a calibrated? First, it was experienced as hostage negotiators, and we've come to find out that our experience as hostage negotiators is backed up by neuroscience. Another reason why I listen to Andrew Huberman's podcast all the time, heavy, heavy, heavy, heavy on the neuroscience. And so then emotional intelligence calibrated by what we know about neuroscience. What do we know about neuroscience?
And I'll talk about it from a layman's perspective and even say we's an arrogant thing, human beings. I didn't do the research. I'm scooping up as much of it as I can as a layman. The brain's largely negative. I think there's ample evidence, people would argue with you as to what the wiring is and what does what, and the limbic system and all of that. But the brain is basically 75% negative. As an layman, I make that contention, number one. Number two, the best way to deactivate negativity is by calling it out. And I could say, look, I don't want you to be offended by what I'm getting ready to say. That's a denial. Your guard is up, you're getting ready to get mad. If I say, what I'm getting ready to say is probably going to offend you.
Now you relax a little bit and you go, all right, what is it? And then I say it, whatever it is, and you're going to be like, oh, that wasn't that bad. Because we knew from hostage negotiation by calling out the negativity deactivated, and then a number of neuroscience experiments have been done right and left by calling out negativity,
deactivating the negative. Calling out ahead of time. So acknowledging that this is ahead of time,
that this is going to hurt. The experiments that I've seen have been when the negativity was inflicted and then having a person that it was being inflicted upon simply identify it. Just identify. Yeah, what are you feeling? I'm angry and the anger goes away.
It's tough because I've had a few, and again, we're dancing between things, but I've had a few conversations where anger arose in the guest I spoke with. Yeah. And I'm not sure identifying it. That's like leaning into it and going into the depths, because that's going into the depths of some emotional psychological thing they're going through that I'm not sure I want to explore that iceberg with a little ship we got. You have to decide, do you want to avoid it or do you want to lean into it? It's a tough choice. See, elephant in the room. It is an elephant in the room. It is an elephant, especially when I think that's the big difference between conversations and negotiations. Negotiation ultimately is looking for closure and resolution. I think general conversations like this is more exploring. There's not necessarily a goal.
Put it on the room.
Like if you were to put it, like if I had to put a goal for this conversation, there's no real goal. It's curiously exploring ideas. So that gives you freedom to not call out the elephant. But for time, you could be like, all right, let's go to the next room, get a snack, and come back to the elephant. Right.
All right, so I'd make a tiny adjustment on the negotiation definition. Sure. Because you said, I think, seeking closure. You used two words, and closure was one of them.
Goals, maybe another. Well, yeah, what is negotiation?
Well, I would say seeking collaboration. And because closure kind of puts a little bit of a finality to it and a real problem. And any negotiation is always implementation. That's why we say yeses. I say yeses is nothing without how. And yes, at its very best, is only temporary aspiration. It's aspirational. It's usually counterfeit.
So if you're looking for, okay? That's a good line. Yeses is usually counterfeit. It's aspirational without the how. Yeah. It's just a good line. Yeah.
Thank you. Now we're working on it. I was practicing. In front of the mirror for a few minutes today. Doing pretty good.
Doing pretty good. You got a bright future, I think. You should write a book or something.
Your book is excellent. Your book, by the way. Thanks. Appreciate that. What am I doing here, anyway?
This, on Earth, in general, with you. I don't know. We're collaborating.
Why me, though? Why'd you want to talk to him?
I've heard you speak in a few places. I was like, this is a fascinating human. I think on Clubhouse, in different places, and I listen to some YouTube stuff, and this is just you've meet people that are interesting. That's what I love doing with this podcast, is just exploring the mind of an interesting person. You notice people. Sometimes there's a homeless person that's outside of 7-Eleven. I notice, who are you? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It's fascinating. I don't look at the resumes and the credentials and stuff like that.
It's just being able to notice a person. As I've been leafing through the different choices of the podcast, the young lady that only fans and the sex workers. That's a fascinating human being. I want to know what makes that person tech at 1000%.
The fascinating thing about her is her worldview is almost entirely different than mine, and that's always interesting to talk to a person who just is happy, flourishing, but sees the world, and the set of values she has is completely different. And is also not argumentative, is accepting of other worldviews. It's beautiful to explore that.
Yeah, yeah, no kidding. I would agree. And then, yeah, thought provoking. Because I consider myself, the word I was looking for before is abundant. I think it's an abundant world. So I'm pretty optimistic. I consider myself, I don't know, happy exactly describes it, but yeah, so then if I'm happy, optimistic, abundant, I got a worldview, and then you run into somebody that has a vastly different worldview, and they're happy, and they think it's abundant too. And you're like, what is going on in your head, or mine, or what am I missing?
Yeah, so that's fascinating. And the pie grows, which is useful for kind of negotiation when you paint a picture of a future. If you're optimistic about that future, there's a kind of feeling like we're both going to win here. Exactly. And that's easy. We live in a world where both people can win.
Yeah. And in point of fact, that's the case. Although a lot of people want us to think otherwise, mostly because of the negativity that I was talking about before.
So the brain is generally cynical.
Yeah. My description of it is, the pessimistic caveman survived. And we're descendants of the pessimists. Yeah. The optimistic guy got eaten by a saber-through tiger.
Yeah. But on the flip side, the optimists seem to be the ones that actually build stuff these days.
There's the switch. So at what point in time do we catch on? Because the difference between survival and success mindset. The success mindset is highly optimistic. So where do we switch or how do we stay switched from survival to success? That's the challenge.
Yeah. Somewhere we stopped being eaten by saber-through tigers and started building bridges and buildings and computers and companies.
We started to experience. We got enough data back to collaborate. And we stopped listening to our amygdala and we started to listen to our gut.
Let me just return briefly to terrorists. What do you think about the policy of not negotiating with terrorists?
Well, that's not the policy, first of all. Now, everybody thinks that's the policy. Yeah. It hasn't been the policy since 2002 when Bush 43 signed up National Security Presidential Directive, NSPD, at the time it was NSPD 12, which basically said, we won't make concessions. That doesn't mean we won't talk. So I'm in Columbia at the same time and I have been intimately involved with the signing of him signing that document. I knew exactly what it said and he didn't inherit it from somebody else. He signed. And I'm in Columbia and the number two in the embassy says, his last night on TV to president of the United States said, we don't negotiate with terrorists. Are you calling a president in the United States a liar? I remember thinking like, all right, so he probably said that and that's not on the document that he signed. I said, look, I'm familiar with what he signed and that's not what it says.
Well, and so the argument. But that's always been the soundfight that everybody likes. We don't negotiate with terrorists. Depends upon your definition of negotiation. If it's just communication, we negotiate with them all the time. Number one and number two, like every president has made some boneheaded deal with the bad guys. Like Obama released five high level Taliban leaders from Guantanamo in exchange for an AWOL soldier that we immediately threw in jail. And I thought that was a horrible deal. And that's putting terrorists back on the battlefield. And then Trump turned around and topped it by putting 5,000 terrorists back on the battlefield. So we haven't had a president that has stuck to that on either side of the aisle
since people started throwing that out as a soundbite. What do you think of that negotiation? Forget terrorists, but the global negotiation, like with with Vladimir Putin, the recent negotiation over prisoners, the exchange, the Breton Gardner, is there a way to do that
negotiation successfully? First of all, I agree with the idea that she was wrongfully detained and that she didn't deserve to be in jail and that there should be no second class citizens, ever. And whether you're a WNBA player or you're just some bonehead that walked into the wrong situation, your government should not abandon you ever, ever. Now what they do in the meantime, there should have been a negotiation. They were desperate to make a deal at a bad time. They'd been offered far better deals than prisoner swaps earlier and turned them down. And then he gets turned up. And thank God for Brittany Greiner that the public got enough attention. They kept pressure on the administration. They made a deal. Now governments want to make those kind of deals. That's fine.
As long as it, because that was basically a political negotiation. You're putting 5,000 Taliban back on a battlefield, that ain't negotiating with another government, you're putting five of them back on a battlefield. That ain't negotiating with another government that's directly contradicting this thing that you claimed. And those were all bad deals. Was the Brittany Greiner thing a bad deal? I think it was great for her. If I was in the middle of it,
it would've been better, and she still would've come home. Yeah, there's some technical aspects of that negotiation. What do you think is the value just to linger on it of meeting in person for the negotiation? I think it's a great idea. Can I just follow that tangent along? There's a war in Ukraine now. It's been going on over a year. It's a great idea. It's for me personally given my life stories is a deeply personal one and I'm returning back to that area of the world that was there. Vladimir Zelensky said he doesn't want to talk to Vladimir Putin. Do you think they could get in a room together and say you were there in a room with Putin and Zelensky and Biden is sitting in the bag drinking a cocktail or maybe he is at the table participating. How is it possible through negotiation, through the art of conversation to find peace in this very tense
geopolitical conflict? I think it's eminently possible. I think getting people together in person has always been a good idea. Who's getting them together under what circumstances and how many times you're getting them together? The documentary, The Human Factor about the Mideast Peace and Negotiations, mostly through the 90s, mostly into the Clinton administration got kicked off under Bush 41 and then the documentary continues through Trump, but just touching basically on it. But they're getting Arafat and the different Israeli prime ministers together in person. These guys do not want to talk to each other and depending upon the prime minister, the mere thought of being on the same planet with Arafat was offensive. And they started getting these guys together in parts and regularly and they started seeing each other as human beings. And I started realizing that there was enough room on a planet for them and that people dying was stupid and they would slowly work things out by getting these guys together in person. So how long does it take? Who's hosting it?
But it's a good idea. But the skill of achieving that thing that you talk about a lot, which is empathy. And I would say in that case, not just empathy, but empathy plus a bit, you might
disagree with this, but a drop of compassion in there. I think compassion is helpful, but it's not essential. If you just know where I'm coming from,
the feeling of being understood. Yeah, heard and understood. That's powerful.
Yeah. And again, I know I picked a vast majority of this up on Andrew's podcast, but I picked it up in other places. Because early on when we were putting a book together, Tal Raz, the writer, my son uncredited co-author. So the book's really a collaboration between me, my son Brandon and Tal Raz. And we're driving for that's right. When somebody feels like what you've said is completely their position, they say that's right. Not your right, but that's right. So Tal says, I think what's happening here is you're triggering a subtle epiphany in somebody. So I'm like, all right, I'll buy that. So I start looking up the neuroscience of the feeling of epiphany, getting a hit of oxytocin and serotonin. I'm like, all right, I'll buy that. Oxytocin is a bonding drug.
You bond to me. I don't bond to you. When you feel completely understood by me, you bond to me. Then in one of the relationship podcasts that I'm listening to on Andrew, it says oxytocin inclines people to tell the truth. You're more honest. All right, so you feel deeply understood by me. You bond to me and you start getting more honest, serotonin, the neurochemical satisfaction, epiphany, you feel oxytocin and serotonin being understood. All right, I got you bonding to me. I got you being more honest with me and I got you feeling more satisfied. So you want less.
What more do you want out of a negotiation? Of course, there's already with the leaders and great negotiators, there's walls built up, defense mechanisms against that, right? You're resisting, you're resisting this basic chemistry, but yes, you should have that. You should work towards that kind of empathy. And I personally believe, I don't actually understand why, but I've observed it time and time again, but getting in a room together and really talking, whether privately or publicly, we're really talking. And like this, so I'll comment on this. So right now, this is being recorded and a few folks will hear this, but when you really do a good job with this kind of conversation, you forget there's cameras. And that's much better than there being even a third person in the room, but often when world leaders meet, there's like press or there's others in the room. Man to man or man to woman, you have to like meet in a saloon, just the two of you, and talk. There's some intimacy and power to that, to achieve that if you're also willing to couple that with empathy, to really hear the other person. I don't know what that is.
That's like a deep, deep intimacy that happens. And I think there's actually, cause we get asked this in a black swan group all the time, like how did, you know, zoom, that's bad, you know, cause you don't have the same visual feedback on zoom. And that's not true. Like you and I, I see you from the waist up right now. If we're on zoom, I'd be looking at you from the waist up.
I'm not wearing pants, yeah. I'm not wearing pants, yeah, with the internet. I apologize for that. Sorry, yeah, yeah, yeah. You only see a small portion.
Usually, that's usually where I go. But anyway.
I'm glad we're both at Ridiculous Center, I appreciate it.
But what makes this different in person? I actually think, I think there's energy that we don't have the instrumentation to define yet. And I think that there's a feel. I think there's an actual energetic feel that changes. And just cause, we, again, just cause we can't measure it,
doesn't mean it's not there. Yeah, I would love to figure out what that is. Folks that are working on virtual reality are trying to figure out what that is. During the pandemic, everybody was on zoom. Zoom and Microsoft everybody was trying to figure out how do we replicate that? I'm trying to understand how to replicate that because it sure is not fun to travel across the world just to talk to Snowden or Putin or Zelensky, I'd love to do it over Zoom, but it's not the same. It's not the same.
It's not the same. I go in a room with Putin. You would go in a room? I would, yeah, 1,000%.
I get it that's right, Adam. I would, yeah. That's right.
Well first you would give him at that site probably. Ah, getting a given. And here's the issue that trips everybody up in negotiation, the difference between hearing and speaking, the same words are vastly different. And what I'm looking for is what the response is I'm getting out of you. Because if you can't, first, that's right especially.
Like if you can't appreciate what that really means, hearing it is unsatisfying. So those two words are really important to you. You talk about this in your book. Why is that so? What does that's right mean?
Why is it important? Well, it means that what you just heard you think is unequivocally the truth. Like it's dead on. It hit the target. It's a bullseye. And it's been a topic of discussion, especially between my son and I, a lot. Like what happens? This oxytocin bonding moment. And his contention has always been like Donald Trump is the poster child of what it means. Because Donald Trump's not addressing an audience, he's in a debate with Hillary or he's giving a speech someplace. And when the people that are devoted to him, when they believe that what he's just said
is completely right, it's insightful.
What happens? They look at him or they look at the TV and they go, that's right. And it's what people say when they're bought into what they just heard. Now if you're not convinced of the way that Donald Trump's followers are bonded to him, and he also just like this, in my view destroys the idea of common ground. Because when he first started to run for president, the pundits all said, aye, he's a New Yorker. Nobody in the Republican party is going to like him. It's middle America. It's blue collar. It's regular common folks. Factory workers. They're not going to like Trump because he's from New York and he went to Wharton. He's an Ivy leaguer and he's a son of a wealthy real estate mogul and he had a million dollars handed to him when he got out of college.
He's born with a silver spoon in his mouth. The rank and five Republicans are never going to accept this guy based on common ground. Look how smart that was.
Do you think he's a good negotiator?
Do you think Donald Trump is a good negotiator for shade? No, I think he's a great marketer. If you look at his negotiation track record, all right, so I started following Donald Trump in the eighties when I was in New York. I'm a last century guy. He's a last century guy. We've got mutual acquaintances. The minister that married him to Mahler Maples was a friend of mine, a close friend of mine. In 1998, I threw a fundraiser in his apartment at Trump Tower that he attended. No shortage of mutual friends. We went to the same church, still have mutual acquaintances, friends, and have watched his track record, Negotiation History, which is exactly his track record with North Korea. Where are we with North Korea? What was the deal that he made with North Korea?
See, your answer is the same as everybody else's. Well, I remember it started out with a lot... I don't know what happened because nothing
It's more public fanfare, so marketing-minded presentation of the situation. Starts out with a bang. If he doesn't cut the deal in a really short period of time, he moves on, and everybody wonders what had happened because there was so much fanfare at the beginning. Now at the beginning, him even opening that dialogue with North Korea was masterful. I was such a fan when you've got a president of the United States that is willing to sit down and talk with a leader of another nation. When every other president, all our advisors are saying, the leader of North Korea is beneath you. You cannot dignify him by responding to him directly. Consequently, the Trump administration inherits a can of worms that has been simmering for 30 years. He didn't get us into that. He opened up a dialogue where nobody else was capable of opening that dialogue, and then it just went away. Nobody knows what happened. There was no deal made.
Those negotiators make deals.
What do you think about these accusations that he's a narcissist?
If you're a narcissist, does that help you or hurt you?
Is there a more popular term these days than narcissists? Everybody's a narcissist. Everybody you don't like is a narcissist.
Like the homeless guy down on the corner. He's a narcissist. That's why he's there. It's lost meaning for you a little bit? Yeah. In most psychological terms, as a hostage negotiator, we were never into psychology, and we steered away from it. Psychology at best is soft science. If it's not informed these days, if it's not informed by real studies or neuroscience, the guys that I'm impressed with these days are psychologists and neuroscientists. I'm interested in that guy or gal.
In a psychology convention, do you get them all together and they all agree? But also the interesting thing about psychology is each individual person is way more complicated than the category psychology tries to create. There's something about the human brain. The moment you classify somebody as a narcissist or depressed or bipolar or insane in any kind of way, for some reason, you give yourself a convenient excuse not to see them as a complicated human being to empathize with them. I had that when I was talking to, I did an interview with Kanye West, and then there's a lot of popular opinions about him being mentally unwell and so on. I felt that that kind of way of thinking is a very convenient way of thinking to ignore the fact that he's a human being that, again, wants to be understood and heard.
That's the only way you can have that conversation. Yeah. I agree completely. That's right.
I'm just so close to you now. It might be because I'm not wearing pants. All right.
You're funnier than I am. You're funnier than I am. That bothers me.
All right. I'll say something stupid soon enough. Don't worry about it. We were talking about terrorists and non-negotiating with terrorists. Is there something- Nice job going all the way back to where that rabbit hole started. There's where rabbit, where Alice in Wonderland right now. Is there something about walking away of non-negotiating? Is there power in that?
All right. It depends upon whether or not you're doing it with integrity or a tactic to start with. Then also, hostage negotiators are successful 93% of the time, kind of across the board, which means that there's 7% of the time it's going to go bad. That was my old boss, Gary Nestner. I learned so much from Gary, but a phrase that he used over and over and over again until I finally worked the case and went bad was, this is going to be the best chance of success. Best chance of success. Then something went bad and I remember thinking like, well the best chance of success is no guarantee of success. Your question is are there negotiations you should walk away from? If you got no shot at success, then don't negotiate. You have to accept the fact there are some deals you're never going to make. We teach in my company it's not a sin to not get the deal, it's a sin to take a long time to not get the deal. And Gary, in his infinite wisdom, they realized that there was something called suicide by Cobb, and that it might have...
Gary was very much into clusters of behavior. He kept us away from psychological terms, and there would be clusters of behavior that would be high-risk indicators. And he wrote a block of instruction called high-risk indicators, which meant if you start seeing this stuff show up, this thing's probably going bad. And you're going to need to recognize that from the very beginning and adjust accordingly. And it's the same way in business and personal life. I'm talking to the head of a marketing company I have tremendous respect for. I admire that what this guy in this company does started from scratch. He borrowed space in the back of a drugstore to start his company, and now it's hugely successful. And he's laying out to me that he finally had to confront a potential client and walk away from him. And he said, how do you think I handle this? And my answer was thousand percent correct. And as a matter of fact, the behavior that he indicated, he's a type, and you should have walked away sooner than you did because this guy was playing you the whole time.
Al Qaeda, 2004, they're playing us. They're not negotiating. We called them out on it. Don't think you're negotiating. You wouldn't say it exactly like that, but that was absolutely the approach. Confront people on their behavior in a respectful way.
And signal that you're willing to walk away. And mean it, a thousand percent. And mean it. Isn't that terrifying? I mean, it's scary because you don't want to really
walk away. Or do you have to really want to walk away? Well, this gets core values, your view of reality. If it's an abundant world, it's not
scary to walk away. If it's a finite world with limited opportunities, then it's horrible. But you have to use that worldview to be willing to actually walk away. It could be walking away from a lot of money. It could be walking away from something that's going to hurt people.
Because if you lose a hostage. Yeah, well, but if they're not going to let the hostage
out, suicide by cop, they ain't letting them go.
To seven percent, how do most negotiations fail? The bad guys were never there to make a deal in the first place. If it was suicide by cop, if they were there to, if they're on a killing journey, it's an Israeli phrase. If they're on a killing journey and the actions
that they're currently engaged in are part of that killing journey. Killing journey. Is there advice you can give about, you mentioned Israel, Palestine, the Middle East, taking on a few conversations on that topic. Is there hope for that part of the world? And from that hope, is there some advice you could lend?
Yeah, I think there's hope. Then I got friends on both sides. And also, after I left the FBI, most people listened to this, probably not going to remember who Rodney Dangerfield was. Oh, come on. But he's a comedian. Still doesn't get it in your respect.
Yeah, yeah. New Yorker. But he's a comedian. Still doesn't get it in your respect, yeah. Is he a New Yorker?
I think he was a New Yorker. Or like Jersey or something, yeah. Yeah, and he did a movie a long time ago called Back to School. He went back to school. He was an old guy back to school. So I went back to school after I left the FBI. I did get a master's at Harvard Kennedy. And that's where I'm running across people on both sides of that. And when they could talk, they said, let's start from the premise that both sides want a better life for our kids, which is this version that I was telling you earlier from Tom Girardi. Let's pick a point in the future that we're both happy with. And they found that they could talk. All right, so it might not be better for us.
How do we make it better for our kids? And that's where the hope derives from. Because I think both sides ultimately want it to be better for their kids, which is why they still engage in interactions and which is why I think the leadership, regardless of how compromised they might be on either side, there are few straight players in the game, in the Middle East, or anywhere for that matter. But they want a better future for their kids. You get people to agree that you want a better future for your kids. Now you can start talking about, well, how do we work our way back from that? And then, all right, so we got a mutual point in the future. The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are also, for me, interesting because you mentioned Clubhouse about almost two years ago now, when Israel was shelling Gaza. They hit the UPI office. They got fed up with the rocket attacks from Hamas. And of course Hamas is putting rockets in the UPI office or the AP office, whichever press office it was there. How's that office going to be there otherwise?
Hamas is running a show. You're not going to run that office unless you let them store weapons there. That's just part of the game. And are they going to store them in specially designated ammunition dumps? No, they're going to put them in schools, they're going to put them in hospitals, they're going to put them in all places, that when Israel hits them they're going to look really bad. So after a while Israel gets fed up and they start shelling Gaza, and they're hitting these places. A friend of mine, Nicole Betam is hosting buddy. I said, all right, cool. We'll go on. We'll do it. And watch. We won't have a single argument.
We'll invite people on from both sides. There was one rule. Before you started to describe what you thought of the other side, you had to say, before I disagree with you, here's what I think your position is. And you got to continue to state the other side's position until they agree that you've gotten. Now, what happened? No agreement and no arguments. That was what we were really going for. We wanted to show that people on both sides in one of their emotional timeframes, if your only requirement was you had to state the other side's position first, nobody got out of control. Did it work? That's exactly what happened. We wanted to show people that you can have conversations that do not devolve into screaming matches with vitriol, talking about how you're dedicated to the destruction of the other side. Just first,
see if you can outline where they're coming from. That's really impressive because I've, just having seen on Clubhouse, people, which part of the reason I liked Clubhouse, you get to hear voices from all sides. They were emotionally intense. I'm sweating just in the buildup of your story here. I thought it's going to go to hell, but you're saying it kind of worked.
Not one person lost control. Now, of the two sides, the people that were speaking on behalf of the Israelis were a little better at articulating supportive positions for the Palestinians. Most of the people who want to speak up on behalf of the Palestinians, they'd want to start like, you're doing this. I'd say, no, no, no. You can go there. Just not yet. Before you go there, you can say that all you want. Before you go there, you've got to try to articulate to them where they're coming from, they got to tell you you got it right. What would consistently happen is there's a leveling out of a person to try to see the other side's perspective and articulate it. It's enormously beneficial to the person who's trying to do it, which was really the point that we were trying to make.
It's a really interesting exercise by way of advice. If it works at Clubhouse, for people who don't know, that's a voice app where you can be anonymous. It's really regular people, but regular people who can also be anonymous. It can be chaos. If it works there, that's really interesting. When you sit down for a conversation across the table from somebody, don't have them even steal me on the other side. Have them just state the
other side. Explain your understanding of it. That's it. Every now and then I would jump in, and as somebody supporting Israel, whoever the heck they were, and they'd say a couple things. The Palestinian guy would be like, ah, or gal, or supportive of them, would say, you miss some stuff. I'd say, let me jump in. First of all, I know what the Nakba is. The Nakba is a catastrophe. That's the day Israel was born. For the rest of the world's birth of Israel, for you, it's the Nakba. I said, you've got members of your family that are still walking around carrying keys to the front door of the house. They abandoned it.
I'd say, you feel bad that, in point of fact, that in World War II, the world stood back and watched while the Nazis threw the Jews off a
building. The only problem was they landed on you, and they'd be like, yeah, and they'd be like,
yeah, that's where they're coming from. Articulating deeply what the other side feels is transformative for both people involved in the process.
What's the toughest negotiation you've ever been a part of, or maybe observed or heard of? What's a difficult case that just stands out to you, or maybe just one of many?
Well, the stuff we went through with Al Qaeda in and around Iraq, Iraq and Saudi, first one was in Saudi in 2004 timeframe. The hardest part about that was working
with family members and not deceiving them about the possibility of the outcome. How do you talk to family members? Is that part of the negotiation?
Yeah. Empathy, learning empathy the hard way, and then being able to take it up to higher levels, because at its base level, a guy that we're working with now that's coaching us in the U.S. and is a business partner, his name is Jonathan Smith, he pointed out to us that there's a Shu Hari concept. Are you familiar with Shu Hari? It's a martial arts concept. Shu is do it exactly as the master is telling you to do it. Wax on, wax off, credit kid stuff. Ha is when you've done the repetitions enough times, you're getting a feel for it, and you begin to see the same lessons coming from other masters. You're seeing the same things show up in other places. And at the re-level, you're still in the discipline, but you're making up your own rules. It's almost a flow state. And you don't realize that you're making up your own rules.
And if somebody asks you where you learned that, you probably say, my sensei taught it to me, my master taught it to me. This will come back around the negotiating with families pretty quick. We did this once because there's a bunch of people that we coach, business people that are scared of the amount of money that they're losing if we're not coaching them regularly. One of these guys, Michael, we're interviewing him for a social media posting about two years ago. And Michael says, yeah, you got to gather data with your eyes. And I remember, and I went, whoo. I said, where did you hear that before? And he
goes, I don't know, I heard it from you, I think. And I was like, no, no, no, no. From you, I think.
And I'm like, no, no, no. I didn't remember saying that. For that first time I've heard that he's in re. So what's this got to do with families? Empathy at its base level, in a shoe level, I learned it on the suicide hotline is saying, you sound dank. I'm just calling out the elephant in the room. Your emotions, what's driving you. I'm throwing a label on your affect and I'm saying you sound or it sounds like you are because that's the basic karate kid wax on, wax off approach. Now there are a lot of hostage negotiators that'll tell you empathy doesn't work at home, not true. They've never gotten out of shoe. You're getting ready to talk to your significant other and you want to go someplace that you know is going to make her angry. You want to go do something.
Now that's real negotiation right there. You could say to her, you sound angry, in which case she's going to blow up because her reaction is, you made me angry, bozo. Can you act like you're an innocent third party or that you were independent of how I feel bad? And you learn a little bit more and you say the high level is probably going to make you angry. And then what I did with families, I knew how they felt before I walked in the door. I knew that they were scared to death. You find out that your husband, your father, your brother has been grabbed by Al-Qaeda who are in the business of chopping people's heads off. You're going to be horrified. I can't walk into them and go like, you sound angry. Of course I'm angry, you idiot. But knowing what they are, I used to walk into families houses and I'd say, I know you're angry. Now what do the circumstances dictate that they should also feel?
They're going to feel abandoned by their government. They're going to feel totally alone. They're going to be scared and they're going to be angry because they feel the government abandoned them. Point of fact, is this an accurate statement? That their loved one voluntarily went into a war zone and voluntarily went someplace the government told them not to go. Are the facts that the government abandoned them? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, the government wanted, tried to get them to not go! And they went anyway. But that doesn't change how they felt in a moment. And I walk into a house and I go, I know you're it. I know you feel abandoned and alone.
And I know you're horrified. And I know you feel the United States government has abandoned it. And they would look at me and go like, What do we do now? Now we're ready to rock.
Is there with Al Qaeda or in general is there a language barrier too? It It could be just barriers of different communication styles. I mean, you got like a New Yorker way about it. That might make somebody from like, I don't know, Laguna Beach, I'm confident. Do you feel that language barrier in communication? Is that language and communication style
in itself creating a barrier? You got a barrier when you think that your way is the way. Sure, that's the biggest barrier. Yeah, and that happens all the time. When people talk about, what about cross-cultural negotiations? What hand do I gotta shake hands with? So that I can get my way barrier. Well, if you strip it all down, we're all basically the same blank slate when we were born. Everybody's got a limbic system. Everybody's limbic system works pretty much the same way. People are driven by the same sorts of decisions. How does this affect my future?
What am I at risk of losing? How does this affect my identity? I caught a kidnapper, you're a New York City businessman, you're a tobacco farmer in the South. All making those same decisions based on those same things. So as soon as I start to navigate that, and I tailor my approach, which is what empathy is, to what you think, how you see things. So I can be the biggest goofball ever from, if you live in the South, yeah, maybe I'm a New Yorker, or I'm somebody from LA, or somebody from Chicago. But my geography is foreign to you, but as soon as I start dialing in on how you see things,
suddenly you're listening. What about the three voices you talk about? The different voices you can use in that communication.
Right. Talk about the different voice. Right. The assertive's voice, direct and honest. I'm a natural born assertive.
Natural born? I thought we're all blank slate. Is you're born?
Well, that's it. Yeah, stop catching me on what I said. How dare you accuse me of what I've said, to quote Bono, I stand accused of what I've said,
the things I've said. That's a good line. He's got a few good lines. Yeah. So assertive voice, you're born that way.
Which one, what are the other ones?
Analyst, you're an analyst. I can tell you're assertive. Yeah.
What's an analyst voice? Well, an analyst is close to the- Smarter, more thoughtful. No, as a matter of fact. Look, you ever do a decision tree? Yeah. See, you like it too, don't you?
So decision trees, you know, I'm a computer scientist, so the way I've,
I like mathematical, systematic ways of seeing the world. It's an analyst. You think Donald Trump would ever say that? Unlikely. Wait, is he more the assertive kind of guy? He's a natural born assertive, yeah.
Yeah, are all New Yorkers like this?
Is this something in the water? No, that's a crazy thing. I mean, there's an affect that a city can have. And you know, New York's Northeast, not just New York, but the Northeast is a little more the affect of the area, of the culture of the area. The individuals, individuals still boil down into the three types, cross or board. What's the third one? Accommodator, smiling, optimistic, hopeful. Yeah. I'm a thousand percent convinced that the phrase hope is not a strategy is designed at people's frustration over a third of the population being accommodators that are hope-driven. I hope this works out. And they're very relationship, on the surface they're very relationship oriented. They tend to appear to be very positive, and then they are.
But it's really built around hope.
And the idea is you can adopt these three voices.
You can, yeah, you can learn them. They're all learnable. The analysts are often mistaken for accommodators, because as you said before, you know, analysts are more introspective, more analytical. They're looking at the systems at work. And if they like to learn, they notice that accommodators make more deals than they make. They also notice that there's a higher failure rate of the deals. But since they notice stuff and they think about it, they catch on faster than assertives do, that the pleasant nature of an accommodator contributes strongly to them making deals. Like my daughter-in-law is an analyst. You know, another descriptor we have in that, an analyst are assassins. You know, an analyst will snipe you from a thousand yards out in the middle of the night, and you never know what hit you. And they're really happy with that.
But how is assertiveness, the assertive voice served you in negotiation?
Poorly. In negotiation. Poorly. This sort of voice is almost always counterproductive. It feels like getting hit in the face with a brick, getting hit in the face. And that's almost always counterproductive. So for me to be more effective, especially in a negotiation,
I'll need to slow down and smile. You know, I heard that Teddy Roosevelt as a good negotiator and that he was extremely stubborn. And perhaps the right term for that will be assertive, but he picked his battles. Is there some value to holding strong to principle? So I don't even know if that's probably the opposite of empathy. Are there times when you can just stick, be extremely stubborn to your principles
to win your negotiation? Oh, we do it all the time.
We're just nice about it.
Okay, it helps to be nice, you're saying. Well, yes, because I need you to hear me. And the assertive's tone of voice, so when we do our training, typically we do an exercise called 60 seconds or she dies. And I play the bad guy bank robber and I ask you to be the hostage negotiator. And your job is to give you the four real world constraints and then you're gonna try and negotiate me out of the bank. Now we're doing this, now the first voice that I always use in that exercise is the assertive's voice, which is the commanding voice. It's the voice that all police officers have taught to use in the street, issued loud and clear commands. You know, it doesn't, to me, I don't feel like I'm attacking you. I just feel like I'm being direct and honest and clear. You on the other hand feel attacked. Now we're doing this exercise in Austin a couple of years ago. The first participant has an Apple watch on.
He tells us afterwards that sitting still, not even answering, when he first gets hit in the face with the assertive's voice, his heart rate jumped to 170, which is a typical fight or flight reaction. I come at you like I'm fighting you. Your fight flight mechanisms all kick into gear, which clouds your thinking. You're automatically dumber in the moment. So if I wanna make a great long-term deal with you, highly profitable, I'm agnostic to you being profitable. You'd be profitable, well, that's fine. I'm here to make money for me. Me making you dumber will always hurt me.
Me making you feel attacked will always hurt me. So there's never a value in being,
in you making me afraid. There's never a long-term value in it. That's, it's another thing that tall Roz, when we were writing a book, braced me on. Because he said, there's scientific data out there it's called strategic umbrage. Well, there's data. Well, whether or not it's scientific, I would call that into question. But he said, there's studies out there that show that strategic umbrage works. And another thing that I also enjoy, you probably get tired of me saying
wonderful things about Andrew. He talked- There's never, there's never enough wonderful things to say about the great Andrew Huberman, the host of the Huberman Lab Podcast. Everybody should subscribe too. You should talk to Andrew- You're funnier than he is though, I'll give you that.
Hear that, Andrew. You're funnier than he is though, I'll give you that. Hear that, Andrew. He's funny accidentally. He makes me laugh all the time.
Not when he's trying to be funny, He's one of the people in this world that's truly legit. He's a really strong scientist and a really strong communicator and a good human being. And those, those together don't come often.
And that is nice to see.
Yeah, Yeah, yeah, he's a treasure. National treasure.
You were saying well he sort of taught me how to think about data and studies and science and Also from different books that he's turned me on to it's really helped me think about this stuff So the studies about strategic umbrage were done the ones that I've seen that show It's effective there were simulated negotiations with college students Now here's the problem with that a simulated negotiation with a college student college students. They're gonna sit down as part of their assignment They're gonna sit down one time They're going to sit down for 45 minutes. And they're going to think that if they didn't come to a deal at all that they failed. And there's no ongoing implementation. There's just the deal and then a walk away of a pretend situation. So they got no actual real skin in the game. There's no deal on Earth. Do you sit down and come to agreement 45 minutes and never see each other again? Because there's the implementation of the deal. Even if it's only payment. So the data is flawed. based on the way it was collected.
It's a highly flawed study. And all data is flawed, as you know, as a scientist. You just gotta be aware what the flaws are and decide whether or not that destroys the study. Or what do you think? Take a look at the data. There's no such thing as perfect data. Look at the data, see what you think of it. The data that says that strategic umbrage works is based on flawed circumstances. Can you explain strategic umbrage? Getting mad, scaring the other side into a deal.
Getting mad at using anger strategically to bully the other side into an agreement. That's nice to hear in some sense. It's nice to hear that empathy is the right way
in almost all situations, isn't it? Best chance of success. Not that it works every time, just it works more than anything else does.
What is the technique of mirroring? There's a lot of cool stuff in your book. There's just kind of jump around.
What's mirroring? Mirroring is like, it's one of the most fun skills because it's the simplest to execute. You just repeat one to three-ish words of what somebody said, usually the last one to three words. What I found about it is people that really like mirroring love it because it's so simple and so effortless and invisible. They typically, for lack of a better term, tend to be both high IQ and high EQ. Like, I'm not a high IQ guy. I'm an average dude. I like to think that I can learn and EQ, emotional intelligence, is a skill you can build and I'm always working on building it. But a lot of really regular average people would be like, mirroring, that's stupid. I'm not doing that. And I don't know why they don't like it. But when I find somebody that loves to mirror, I'll always ask them, how'd you, how'd you score IQ?
And typically, their IQ is pretty high. Now, I don't know why that combination attracts people to mirroring because there's nine skills, eight from hostage negotiation and the ninth really was tone of voice and we just define that as a skill. And each one is different and focuses on different components of the conversation. And a lot of people don't like to mirror. They found it so awkward. Like, I don't particularly, I'm not particularly strong in mirroring. I gotta do it intentionally. I'm good at labeling. But does it also always work?
Oh, yeah. Yeah, it feels maybe awkward, but it's true, there's gotta be ways to signal
that you're truly listening.
That's important. I think you can do body language, you can, yeah, there's a lot of ways to signal that,
but mirroring is probably just this trivial little hack.
It kinda is. You know what, there's a situation, I had a conversation with Steven Codkin, he's this historian, and he would say my name a lot throughout the conversation. He would be like, well, you have to understand, Lex, is that, and for some reason, that was making me feel really good. I was like, he cares about me. And I wonder if that key, if everyone has that key, that could be the name, just using people's name,
could be powerful. Using the name is really context-driven. It can be extremely powerful with someone who's genuine, and it comes across in their demeanor, and it's used in a way that you can tell is meant to encourage you. Yeah. As opposed to explore you. Sure. And the people that are really into exploiting
will also use it and do the same thing. So you have to be, you have to avoid using the things that people that are exploiters, manipulators use, because it might signal to others
that this person is trying to trick me.
Gotta be very conscious of it, yeah. What's labeling that you mentioned? The thing you like.
Well, I said earlier that old progression from you sound angry to this is probably gonna make you angry, to I know you're angry. Labeling is hanging a label on an emotion or an affect,
and then just calling it up. Is that almost always good? Could it be a source of frustration when a person is being angry and you kind of put a label on it, call out the elephant? Is it possible that that will lead to escalation of that feeling versus a resolution?
Well, the con, what would make it bad? Like, if I'm pointing out like that blatantly obvious, like if I say, look, I need you to get up and go down to the bank and make the deposit. Let's say I'm talking to somebody who works at my company. I need you to get on the phone with this person and make the appointment. And they go, sounds like you want me to talk to this person. That would be annoying. If it's just so absurdly obvious that there's no insight in your label at all. And as soon as you're demonstrating an awareness or a subtlety or an insight, either to you or to them, now we're making progress. So the only time a label could ever potentially be counterproductive is like, if you weren't actually listening
and the label indicates that you're not listening,
indicates that you're, you know, I'm teaching USC and I'm teaching labels and one of the kids in a class, he just wants to take the skills and make his deals and just hustle them. And he's just looking for a hustle. So he writes up a paper about, you know, he goes, there's some malls by Palm Springs or someplace, some platform malls. A lot of people go to buy suits. So he goes in there and he immediately starts the bargaining that my book teaches with no empathy. And he's like, throws a price at a guy and a guy's like, no. And he throws another price at a guy, guy's like, no. And then he says to the guy behind the counter, sounds like we can make a deal. Like, no, it doesn't. I just shot down everything you just said. If anything, it sounds like we're never going to make a deal. But he tried to use this label for manipulation.
Now the guy didn't
get mad on the other side, but it's like clearly this dude is not listening. And at the core of everything, you have a bunch of like, you know, almost like hacks, like techniques you can use, but at the core of it is empathy. At the core of it is empathy. Yeah. That's the main thing,
you can be able to just sit there and listen. Yeah, and perceive. Yeah, and look for insights.
You know what? I like silence. Or like you're both sitting there, chilling with a drink, looking up at the stars. There's a moment, the silence makes you kind of zoom out, realize you're in this together, as opposed to playing a game or some kind of like chess game of negotiation you're in it together. I don't know. There's some intimacy to the silence. And like, if I ask a question and just let the other person sit there in silence before they answer or vice versa. They ask me a question, I sit there in silence. That's a big, it feels like
a big intimate thing. Yes. And the other two types until they've experienced that are afraid of it. And what I'm actually going to do is for whatever reason, I'm really comfortable with silence. I think because I've experienced its effectiveness and also my son Brandon, like he's a king of dynamic silence. Like he coaches people, he says, go silent, count thousands to yourself. Don't stop till you run out of numbers. That's a good line. He's also good, full of good lines. He is. That is. And so there's so much to it.
But the other two types are natural wiring against it until they've experienced it. And you've got instinct, intuition has given you data once you've experienced it. But your amygdala is kicking into gear. Again, sorry, I realize it's more complicated than that until you've experienced it. So accommodators, hope-based, how do they signal fury? The silent treatment. So when you go silent, they're scared to death, you're furious because that's how they indicate it. The assertive thinks that you as the analyst went silent because you want them to talk some more. When a point of fact, you're thinking or, and I love your description, the feeling of intimacy and silence and experiencing the moment, because I'm actually going to factor that into trying to get the accommodators to love shared intimacy. They would love to experience a moment. And I can see that being very compelling than be willing to cross that chasm and experience silence and see how it works for them.
Yeah, it's nerve wracking, which is why it's intimate. Because you start thinking, what's the other person thinking? Are we actually going to do this? Are we going to sit here for 10 seconds and count? I mean, there's tricks to it, I guess, like Brennan says is to just count it out and realize through data that there's intimacy to it. A friend of mine, he lost his voice because he's singing. So the doctor says he can't talk for a week, just to heal the voice, the vocal cords. But he hung out with other people, with friends, and didn't talk to them. He just hung out. And he said it was really intimate. They both didn't talk to each other. They just sat there and enjoyed time together.
I don't know. It's a wake up call. It's a thing to try maybe with people in your life. Just hang out and don't say anything. As an experiment, don't say anything the entire day. We're trying. Yeah, definitely. It's interesting. I haven't tried it myself. It's kind of like a silent retreat, but more active as part of regular everyday life. Anyway, is there other interesting techniques we
can talk about here? For example, creating the illusion of control. Yeah, that's right. Yeah, that's principally by asking what and how questions, because people love to tell others what to do or how to do it. It does a lot. That was really the way when the book was first written, that we really thought about what and how questions. It's given the other side, the illusion of control. And there's a lot more to it than that that we've discovered. I mean, it triggers deep thinking. It wears people down. Deep thinking could be exhausting.
And you want... So what's the role of exhaustion in negotiation? Is that ultimately what...
You got to be careful with that. You got to be careful with that. Some people exhaust intentionally. One of my negotiation heroes, a guy now who's unfortunately suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's, John Domenico Pico is the UN hostage negotiators that got all the Western hostages out of Beirut in the 80s. And he wrote a book called Man Without a Gun. And according to Johnny, at this point in time, I don't think he has any memory of who I am at all. But he writes in his book, one of the great secrets of negotiation is exhausting the other side. Political negotiations that could be Johnny was very deferential. He was in the middle of, in the 80s, leading up to about 1986-ish. Every negotiation involved in warring parties in the Middle East that you can imagine. He was in Cyprus. He was in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran.
The Iranian government had tremendous trust in him as a Westerner, a representative of the UN. Got all the Westerners out of Beirut. And he was just ridiculously patient in which the other side found exhaust, would often find exhaustion.
So exhaustion can't be a component of finding resolution in a negotiation.
If it tamps down the negative emotions, often exhaustion will tamp down negative emotions. The real trick is really getting negative emotions out out of the way, because you're dumber in a negative frame of mind.
So the goal is always positive emotion as you talk about? Yeah.
That's why you're always chasing together. I think so, yeah.
And that's what that's right. It's about yes, like whatever you're triggering the whatever the chemistry you're triggering your brain Yeah, yeah, we're doing good here And you know long term for long term success. Absolutely. Yeah, how's the word fair used and abuse bomb the f-bomb as you call it
How's it used and abused in negotiation? It's usually Used it's most frequently uses a weapon It's abused as a point of manipulation. It's what people say when they feel backed into a corner and they can't Come up with any legitimate reason as to why they're being backed into a corner Like nobody uses word f the f-bomb nobody uses the word fair when they've got criteria to back them up So consequently when somebody start starts dropping out, you got to realize the other side's got no legitimate outside criteria They're they're feeling very vulnerable. They can't explain it, but they feel defensive and It saying hey look I've just I've given you a fair offer is a way for me to knock you off your game if you're if you're not You're not aware of it so a lot of cutthroat negotiations negotiators are gonna use it on you to knock you off your game the The NFL strike Probably now it's been a good 10 years ago. Um, and maybe even longer than that one of this Sticking points was the owners were not opening their books to the players players want to see the numbers and in order to not open their books They just sent a rep tell the press conference saying we've given them players a fair off Well, if it was fair you to open your books Yeah, if if you gave them a fair offer and it was justified by what was in your books You'd open them to prove your point. So what ends up happening though that well The owners gave the players a fair offer starts to get picked up in the media Mm-hmm, and then it starts getting repeated and now now that different people on a player's side are going like em Maybe maybe they have given us a fair offer. It caused People to be insecure about their own position It's an enormously powerful word that can be used and abused and it almost always comes up in every negotiation It's shocking the number of times it comes up and with people who don't really understand how or why it's coming up
so usually it's a signal of
Of a not a good place in the negotiation without without question I'm completely convinced that if the person is using the word as a means of getting what they want then Either accidentally on purpose either in their gut or they know they got a bad position or their gut is afraid that they are Do I use the word? What I'll say is I want you to feel like I've treated you fairly and if even any given point in time
You think I'm not treating you fairly. I want you to stop me and we're gonna address big ridiculous question, but How do you? Close the deal. How do you? take the
Negotiation to its end is the implementation ultimately you got a pivot You got a pivot to agreed upon implementation to really to really move out and out on the negotiation And I may say how do you how do you want to proceed? And if you don't know I might say no one to question Is it a ridiculous idea if I share with you some ideas of how to proceed?
And then you agree on the actual steps and that's the implementation. It's not just the philosophical agreement It's actual steps. The big problem in all negotiations is a lack of discussion of next steps. That's deep
Who is the best negotiator you've ever met? Yeah, actually probably my son Brandon. Yeah. Yeah, he's ridiculously talented I mean, he's ridiculously talented And yeah, he's you know, and what was it the coils book the culture the telecode says that you know People just noticed didn't started getting good at it. It's no such thing as a child prodigy. He's got interested when they were kid. I mean Brandon started learning how to negotiate when he was two years old and he's been in it and immersed in it You know since he can make complete sentences even before he can make complete sentences He's ridiculously talented. What's what's his future? What's he want to do? He's Gun he has been involved. He's he run and built my company and now he's gonna
Be an affiliated licensee run his own operation. He's pretty he's pretty much gonna end up doing very much and he has It's gonna open his entrepreneurial opportunities to do whatever he wants and not have his dad say no and do a better job than his dad More most likely. Yeah Okay, do you see some of the techniques that you talk about as manipulative
Manipulation is whether or not I'm trying to exploit you hurt you Um Am I trying to manipulate a bank robber and to let me save his life? Yeah, so manipulation is like what am I what am I trying?
to do to you? Yeah, so but you don't see the negative connotation if you're trying to Bring a better future. It's not manipulation
Stop me if I'm trying to bring a better future from being genuine and honest like I Compliment you. Yeah, if my compliment is genuine, that's not manipulation like it better. But you know if I think you know You're you got a pair of shoes that that are the dumbest looking things I've ever seen And I go wow, those are great shoes now. That's manipulation
So there's there's guys like Warren Buffett who are big on integrity and honesty What's the role of?
Lying in effective language a bad idea line is just a bad idea for a variety of reasons first of all There's really a chance the other side. It's a better lie than you are. They're gonna spot it right off the bat. Secondly They could be luring you into a trap to see if you will lie thirdly the chances are they're gonna find out that you lied to him eventually is really high and then the penalties and the taxes Are gonna be way higher than what you had in the first place
So long term you want to have a reputation of somebody with integrity and the more you lie the harder it is to maintain that reputation Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly. And we're just gonna get out. Yeah, so what's the We can just return to that question. What's the difference between a good conversation and a good negotiation? Can we because I think just reading your work listening to you there's a sense I have that the thing we're doing now and just conversation on podcasts and so on is different than negotiation it feels like the purpose is different and yet having some of the same awareness of The value of empathy is extremely important, but it feels like the goals are different or no
Really close fine line. I mean I you know, I I ruled in here not having any expectations not looking for anything other than to have an interesting conversation and To Hear what was behind the questions that you're asking me and what interests you and then also Your description of silence and a power of silence some I'm going to take away as a learning point and help learn to teach others But I didn't come in here. I suppose the negotiation is when we're both aware of a problem. We're trying to solve
Right. There's no problem in the room. Right just to solve except maybe like the human condition and Inside, you know wisdom insight learn inside. How do you train to become better in negotiating?
Um in business and in life. Yeah. Yeah, just small stakes practice for high stakes results I mean decide what what kind of negotiating resonates with you
I mean what's that mean small stakes practice for high stakes or small stay so small little
Incremental picking up girls at a bar. What are we talking about? Well, it can't be for some people. It's that's high stakes practice Well, you know label labeling mirrors. What are the basic tools of great negotiation labeling Miriam paraphrasing summarizing? So you start you start labeling a mirror people that you just have a regular interactions with Just to gain a feel for whether or not you can read somebody's affect or how accurate your read is to get better at it and so, you know label the the Lyft driver or grocery store clerk or Person behind the airline counter at at the airport. So putting a label on their affect or throwing something at them That because negotiation is a parables perishable skill emotional intelligence is perishable so seeing if you can indicate that you understand their label, um One of my favorite labels to throw out on somebody which you know, maybe re-level I might look at somebody who looks distressed and I'll go tough day. So several years ago. I'm at the counter at LAX Well, I'm waiting the line to get to the counter And a lady behind the counter is clearly making a point to not meet my eyes So that I don't approach and she looks and so like, you know You know when you're next in line and they're making sure that you don't meet eyes Well, I'm waiting the line and I'm thinking to myself. Alright, so they're having a bad day So I walk up and as soon as I approach the counter I go tough day and she kind of Snaps around and she goes no, no, no, how can I help you? Mm-hmm It goes out of her way to help me now. I'm practicing but I also know it made her feel better It relieves some of the stress.
So now I'm going through TSA. I want to look for people who are having a tough day It's a good place to find a good place to find in practice And I'm rolling through the line and I realized I haven't tossed a label out on any one of these guys and and there's this guy Watching the bags come out of the x-ray machine. He's just kind of got an indifferent look on his face and I go tough day And he kind of goes I could see from his body language like no good place and I go just another day, huh? And he goes yeah, just another day, you know, he felt seen but I missed and I'm practicing and I'm trying to stay sharp
So these are the few words were just a few words. You're trying to like quickly localize the effect
And I live on it very very very analytically said and I live on it very very very analytically said
Thank you. I'm not letting it go. I love it It does the same apply to just conversation in general just how to get better conversation I think a lot of people struggle they haven't securities They have anxiety about conversation I as funny as it's to say I have a lot of anxiety about conversation
Is that is basically to do the same kind of practice? Yeah some of the techniques you get genuinely just trying to make sure you heard somebody
Oh, yeah, what's the best conversation you ever been in except this one, of course I mean, not the best conversation, but what stands out to you as a conversation that changed you as a person, maybe.
Well, there's probably been a lot of them along the way, I mean, but one that I remember on a regular basis, actually there's two, but when I was in the bureau, I'm at Quantico, I'm there for an in-service, there's another guy from New York, a buddy of mine named Lionel, and we're both trying to decide whether or not we want to try to get into profiling or negotiation because they're both about human dynamics and both of us really like human dynamics. And we're sitting around talking about it and we're talking about several things and he labels me, and I knew he didn't know what he was doing, I think he had picked it up and I had been talking about my family, quite a few things, and he said to me, and I never said this directly, that we were close. But he said to me, sound like your family's really close. And I can remember in a moment like this feeling, just like I felt great in the moment. I mean, what he said just drew together everything that I'd been saying and nailed the essence of it. And I have a very clear recollection of how good that felt in a moment. So a couple of years later, I'm on a suicide hotline. Now I got this line at the back of my head, you know, line technique, reaction, read, whatever you want to call it. Guy calls in on a hotline, and I could tell the dude is rattled by his tone of voice. I mean, just amped up. And he goes, you know, just trying to put a little on the day. I need to help put a little on the day.
I gotta put a little on the day. And I said, Oh, you sound anxious. And he goes, he goes, Yeah. Yeah. And he And he came down a little bit and he was a guy that was telling me about, he was battling a disease of paranoia and he's going to go on a car trip with his family the next day. And he knew that on the car trip, he was going to, you know twist himself in the knots. And so the night before he was twisting himself in the knots, and he's laying out everything that he's done to try to beat paranoia and how much his family's helping. going on a car trip with a family because they're going to take them to see a doctor. And so I hit him with the same thing that my buddy Lionel said. I said, sounds like your family's close. He goes, yeah, we are close. And he leveled out a little bit more.
And then he started ticking off all the things that he was doing to try to be paranoid. And he sounded determined. And so I said, you sound determined. And he goes, yeah, I am determined. And I'll be fine. Thanks. And that was all I said. So those two conversations, which are overlapping
conversations, those two things really stick out in my mind. Do those things like through all the different negotiations and conversations you've had, do they kind of echo throughout? Like you basically, because when you empathize with other human beings, you start to realize we're all the same. And so you can start to pick little phrases here and there that you've heard from other little experiences that we're all about. Like we all want to be to be close with other human beings. We all want love. I think we're all deeply lonely inside. I'm looking for connection. We're just if we're honest about it. And so all humans have that same, all the same different components of what makes them tick. So you kind of see yourself basically just saying the same
things to connect with another human being. Yeah, there aren't that many different things that we're looking for understanding on or connection on or satisfaction of. There just aren't that many of them regardless. And so yeah, you're looking for it to manifest itself in some form or another, and you're willing to take a guess on whether or not that's what you're seeing or
hearing. What advice would you give to me to be better at these conversations? To me and to I tell other people that do kind of interviews
and podcasts and so on, interviews.
I really care about empathy as well.
Is there kind of as a life-long journey in this process. Well I think, I would advise you to take that approach which is the approach that you're taking. You care about it, you're very curious about it. You see it as a life-long journey. You're fascinated by it. You enjoy learning about it and you definitely do see it as a life-long journey as opposed to this is what I can, If I can acquire this, then I can manipulate people.
No, I mean I fall in love with people I talk to. There's a kind of deep connection and it lingers with you. Especially when I'm preparing. The more material there is in a person, the more you get to fall in love with him ahead of time. That you get to really understand not understand but what I mean by falling in love Well, appreciate. Appreciate, but also become deeply curious. That's what I mean by falling in love. Yeah. You appreciate the things you know but you start to see like Alison Wonderland, you start to see that there's all this cool stuff you can learn if you keep interacting with them, and then when you show up and you actually meet, you realize it's like more and more and more and more, it's like in physics. The more you learn, the more you realize you don't know, and it's like really exciting. Then, it could also be heartbreaking because you have to say goodbye. Goodbye, I hate goodbyes.
I hate goodbyes. Seems terminal, right? Yeah.
It reminds me that I'm gonna die one day.
Yeah, it seems tough. Like things end, good things end, it sucks. But then it makes the moment more delicious, you know, that you do get to spend together. Yeah. Okay. I just wanna, I completely forgot, I wanted to ask you about this, the 7-38-55% rule. It's really interesting. Does this, is there an all truth to it? That 7% of messages conveyed from the words used,
38% from the tone of voice and 55% from body language.
Is that really true to that? All right, so Albert Morabian, I think is the name of the UCLA professor that originally proposed a 7-38-55 ratio and discussed it in terms of that it wasn't the message, but how much, he called it liking. Like are you, not that you're, the meaning is coming across, but you're liking of the message. And so it's been extrapolated heavily by people like me to this meaning of the meaning in 7-38-55 from liking to the meaning. What I've seen regularly is people that communicate verbally if their speakers, Tony Robbins, 7-38-55 guy, he throws the ratio out there, go, that's it exactly. That's exactly how the message comes across. This is how we gotta balance it. This is how we gotta do it. Those that communicate principally in writing, the meaning of the words are much more important than them. So they're deeply uncomfortable with 7 being the words because the content, the words, the meaning of the words, when you're writing, it's so important that you hate to poo-poo it that way. So I, first of all, I thousand percent believe it's an accurate ratio, but the real critical issue is not what the ratio of those three things are, it's what's the message when they're out of line. Like what's the message when the tone of voice is out of line with the words?
Like it don't matter what your ratio is, you've got a problem if their tone
does not match their words. And that's hard to really put a measure on, exactly. Even in writing, there's a tone, I mean, it's not just, even in writing, it's not just the words. There's the words, but there's like a style underneath the whole thing. Right. And there's something like body language, presentation of the whole thing. Yeah, I'm a big fan of constraint, mediums of communication, which writing is, or voice, like Clubhouse. There's a personality to a human being when you just hear their voice. Like there's, it's not just, you could say it's the tone of voice, but there's like, you can like, what is it? The imagination fills in the rest. Like when I'm listening to somebody, I'm like, I'm imagining some amorphous being, right, doing things, when they get angry, I'm imagining anger.
I don't know what exactly I'm visualizing. Listen to somebody. Well, and so you made me think of a funny story because we were talking about your buddy Elon before. And I told you, you know, about, you know, that I'd interacted with some of the senior executives. So I know that they love working with him and I think he's an interesting guy and they realized that he can be funny and he jokes around. So they're telling me, they're on this conference call, just words, and a guy on the other end of the line says something that was wrong, but wasn't bad. And so they said, they're on a phone and Elon goes, you're fired. And then everybody in the room with him can see that he's joking. But the person on the other side can't, and they all go to like, wait, wait, wait, wait, they can't see your look on your face right now. You got to stop, you got to stop. Because the guy on the other side is dying right now. He doesn't realize you're joking.
So there were the words and the tone of voice,
but it lacked the visual to go with it. Nevertheless, it was probably funny. I'm sure it was very funny at the time. Maybe not to him. Just as interesting to ask, I don't know if you're following along the developments of large language models. There's been something called Chad GPT. There's just more, more and more sophisticated and effective and impressive Chad bots essentially. They can talk. And they are becoming more and more human-like. Right. Do you think it's possible in the future that AI will be able to be better in negotiators than humans?
Do you think about that kind of stuff? I'm sure. Well, so definition of better versus less flawed. Chad bots have been out there for a long time. And probably about five years ago now, a company approached us because they were doing a negotiation Chad bot. And they said two things. First of all, I said, you know, why are you talking to us? So well, in point of fact, we already spoke to the people that are teaching, quote, the Harvard methodology. And, you know, the rational approach to negotiation just doesn't work. Rational approach just does not work. Our Chad bots are not getting anywhere. But we're showing in around about 80% of the interactions, a higher success outcome with these Chad bots.
And they showed me what they were doing. And it was still a lot deeply flawed emotional intelligence wise. But the reason why that they were having higher success rates is the Chad bots were never in a bad mood. And you could reach out for Chad bot in the middle of the night. So if you were talking to somebody that was never upset and was always available, then you're gonna have a higher success rate. Negotiations go bad when people
are in a negative frame of mind. So the natural ability of a Chad bot to be positive is just going to give you a higher success rate.
Yeah, yeah. And they're not gonna get mad and argue with you. You know, you say to a Chad bot, you know, your price is too high. Chad bot is designed to come back with a smiley face. Yeah. You say to a person, your price is too high. They go, how dare you? I'm trying to make a living.
You know, they gotta go off the deepest. Unfortunately or fortunately, I think the way Chad bots are going now, they will come back negative because they're becoming more and more humanlike. That's the whole point. To be able to pass the touring tests, you have to be negative, you have to be an asshole, you have to have boundaries, you have to be insecure,
you have to have some uncertainty. Well, as them pursuing being having boundaries and being negative. Like I can, again, you throw a proposal to me, Before I say no, I'm going to say, look, I'm sorry, that just doesn't work for me. I'm going to set up a real clear boundary without being negative. A lot of people really struggle with setting boundaries without being negative, without name calling, without indignation,
without getting upset. When you show that you're not getting upset, I'm not just seeing that. I'm seeing a flawed human that has underneath it a temper, underneath it the ability to get upset, but chooses not to get upset. And the chatbot has to demonstrate that. So it's not just going to be cold and be this corporate, blank, empty, vapid creature that just says, oh, thank you. Thank you for saying that. No. The chatbot has to be able to be mean
and choose not to be. Interesting. I don't know. I'd be willing to see that
play out and see how it plays out. Maybe not, but I guess what I'm saying is to be a good negotiator, you have to have the capacity to be a bad person and choose not to. Really? I think so. Really? See, I think you're just going to have the capacity to set a boundary and stick to it. Interesting. Because I think it's hard for me to trust a person who's not aware of their own demons, because if you say you don't have any demons, if you don't have any flaws, I can't trust you. Yeah. Well, it's first of all, it's a lie, right? So somebody's life, right? This is gives back to life Yes, so you have to have a self-awareness about that But he'd be able to control and demonstrate the able to control it.
I mean this is humans. I just think humans Intelligent effective humans are able to do this. Well and chat bots are not Yet and they're moving that direction. So it makes me think about what is actually required for effective negotiation That's what AI systems do is they make you ask yourself What is it that makes humans special any discipline? What is it that makes humans special chess and go games? Which AI systems are able to beat humans at now. What is it that makes them effective at? Negotiation, what does it make them effective at? something that's extremely difficult which is Navigating physical spaces. So doing things that we take for granted like making yourself a cup of coffee is exceptionally difficult problem For robots. Yeah, because of all the complexities involved in navigating physical reality We we have so much common sense reasoning built in just about how gravity works about how Objects move the What kind of objects there are in the world It's like it's it's really difficult to describe because it all seems so damn trivial But it's not trivial right because a lot of that we just learn as babies We keep running into things and we'll learn about that So AI systems help us understand. What is it that makes humans release?
What is the wisdom we have in our heads and And negotiation to me is super interesting because negotiation is not it's about business. It's about Geopolitics it's about running government Is basically negotiating? How do we have the different policies different? Bills and programs and so on how do we allocate money? How do we reallocate resources all that kind of stuff that seems like AI in the future could be better at that right, but maybe not maybe you have to be a messy weird insecure Uncertain human and debate each other and yell at each other on Twitter Maybe you have to have the red and the blue teams that yell at each other In in the process of figuring out what is true. Maybe AI systems will not be able to do that
I figure out the full mess of human of human civilization. Yeah, interesting Well, I mean the two thoughts that I had along the way was I mean is anytime you're talking about systems or scaling You know, yeah, you're talking my belief is chatbot systems things that don't require Decision-making just following the instructions at least 80% of what's going on now The remaining percentage whatever it is. Does it does it require the human interaction and what's required? Like I'm not I'm not I'm not like I am NOT pro conflict And I also know that there's a case to be made in the creative world. It's some of the best thinking came out of conflict I'm reading interviews of Bono you too you know their admiration for some of the Beatles best music came when they were fighting with each other and The song one octune bay, which is I believe from the album octune baby Those guys were fighting. I mean they were on a verge of breaking up and their appreciation that conflict could create something beautiful And then when I was in a crisis negotiation unit, you know my last seven years in the FBI There was a guy that um named Vince brain dude brain brain negotiator And he and I used to argue all the time And then when we had a change in the guy who was in charge the guy was in charge took me off to the side He's like, you know, I can't take you and Vince fight not and I said, well, I got news for you I think we come up with much better stuff as a result of our battles And he said, you know Vince said the same thing to me and I like so if we don't have a problem fighting Why do you have a problem, but you know some there's there is something there that sometimes the most difficult? insights You rack your brains as to why someone is so Dug in on something that so you thinks is so wrong. Yeah, maybe there's something to it
I think there's something to it. There's something about conflict
Even drama that might be a feature not a bug of our society. I'd say it's
Do you think there will always be war in the world? Yeah So there will always be a need for negotiators and negotiating. Well, as it turns, it turns out. Why do you think there will always be war? What's your intuition about human nature there?
Yeah, just because we're basically 75% negative. And then for lack of a better term, I call it two lines of code. Everybody, when we were little, somebody planted in two lines into our head. We don't know when it got in there, but somebody said something to us, it's stuck. And there are a lot of people that had some really negative garbage dumped in their brain when they were little. And just based on the numbers, what kind of opportunity they were given afterwards, did they ever have an epiphany moment when they genuinely believe they can get themselves out of it? Like, what is it? One of Joe Dispenza's book is Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. Like how do you get at that two lines of code that either mean or well intentioned but stupid ly speaking adults said to you at the wrong moment and planted in your brain? Like how the chances of everybody on earth getting that out, even a majority of people
on earth getting that out of their heads is really small. What advice would you give to a young person today about how to have a career they could be proud of or a life, maybe somebody in high school, college, trying to figure out their
way in this world? It's probably a take on a cliche of do what you love, but if you figure out your ideals and pursue your ideals and stick to them when it costs you. Like a guy I admire very much, Michael Mulgill, runs this Operation Chris video at Atlanta. And one of his talks, he would say core values are what you stick to that cost you money. It's not a value that really matters to you unless it's costing you and stick to your values. Now, when I was in the FBI, I worked really hard at the number one core mission of the FBI is protect and defend the American people. So I could pursue that value at all times, which I did, or I could follow the rules.
You don't have time to do both. When did you know you found what you love?
When did you fall in love with whatever this process is that is negotiating? I think it was in a conversation on the suicide hotline that I was telling you about earlier with the guy who was paranoid when I thought I can have that significant of an impact on another human being in this short of a period of time.
That's really cool. How hard is it to talk somebody off the ledge? So this question is a big question. Why the hell live at all? How do you have that kind of deeply philosophical, deeply psychological, and also practical conversation
with somebody and convince them they should stick around? Well, it's more clearing the clutter in their head and let them make up their own mind. That was what volunteering on Suicide Island was really about. Just let me see how quickly I can clear out the clutter in your head if you're willing to have it cleared out. Did you call here because you're actually looking for help or did you call here to fulfill some other agenda? Are you willing to clear the clutter in your head?
Not everybody is. So once you clear out the clutter, there's at least a somewhat hopeful chance that you'll
continue for another day. And if you step back, very few people that commit suicide physically are up against it that hard. Most of them by and large are pretty intact physically human beings. They're struggling with emotional stuff, but it's an emotional issue. It's not a physical issue. So if you were to be a complete mercenary, a guy I'm a very big fan of, a guy named Mark Pollock, a born great athlete, lost his eyesight, and then became paralyzed. He's an emotional leader. He's about helping people thrive and live great lives. Mark was born, he was a spectacular athlete, and first he lost his sight in one eye, then he lost his sight in the other eye, and then he fell out a window in a tragic experience. If there was ever a dude that was saying, like, living sucks, and if there's any doubt in my mind, something worse happens to me every few years. But Mark's about being alive and inspiring other people. So the hard part with navigating with somebody who's tossing it in because there's a chemical imbalance or it's the way they're interpreting the world.
There's clutter in their head.
Can you help clear that clutter in their head? And help them by themselves, inspire them to reinterpret that world as one worth living in? What do you think is the meaning of life? Why live?
What's the good reason? Well, I have very strong religious beliefs. Spiritual. I don't, 1,000%, if you were to try to confine me in a box, I'd be a Christian. I have tremendous respect for the Jewish. I don't think any religion's got it nailed, exactly. Again, I keep mentioning, I'm kind of a Bono Christian. I think Bono is like what... And I'm going to butcher it, but my belief in Jesus is what I've got after Christianity leaves the room. The dogma of man's application of spiritual beliefs. That being said, I truly believe that my life was a gift and there's a purpose here for my creator decided that I woke up in the morning because he still had some cool, interesting
things for me to do.
And you have gratitude for having the opportunity to live that day.
And you have... Yeah. Well, you do one heck of a good job at living those days. I really appreciate your work. I appreciate the person you are. Thank you for just everything you've done today, for just being empathic, honestly. You're a great listener, you're a great conversationalist, just an honor to meet you and to talk to you. This was really awesome, Chris.
Awesome, Chris. My pleasure. Thanks for listening to this conversation with Chris Voss. To support this podcast, please check out our sponsors in the description. And now let me leave you with some words from John F. Kennedy. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate. Thank you for listening, and hope to see you next time.