When I got into hostage negotiation I thought to myself I was going to save everyone. What I learned quickly is that you cannot save everybody, you can only save those that want to be saved.
- Chris Voss
Chris Voss is one of the best hostage negotiators that has ever lived. His book "Never Split The Difference" has become the high-stakes sales and negotiation bible and his company, The Black Swan Group is one of the most sought-after training companies for high-stakes situations.
In other words, he is a badass dude.
Over the past year, we've gotten together a few times to work on a project with Joe Polish, Laura Catella, and a couple of others. We were shooting some ideas back and forth in a group text this morning and I started reflecting on some of the things I have learned from Chris and how they might contrast with what people think they might learn from a world-renowned badass human being.
Hugs Are Good. Right?
You may like hugs. You may be aware of all of the psychological and neurochemical benefits of a friendly, loving hug. If a child has been battered his or her entire life and you lift your arms to give him or her a hug, they may flinch, run or scream. It can be frustrating when someone doesn't want what is "good" for them, but we must understand the atmospheric conditions of their life. Chris uses that example in our chat below:
He calls it "tactical empathy" this is the name of the documentary about Chris and the first module in his Masterclass course.
Last year I sent 8 Wolf Pup holders to the movie premier in LA to see the Tactical Empathy documentary. If you have a Wolf Pup you can see the trailer for it here.
Can't Save Everybody
While marriages, sales calls, partnerships, etc are rarely life or death like a hostage situation, the rule still applies. One of the best skills to develop is the ability to discern whether or not the other party is willing to play ball. If one or more parties are not willing to "save" a deal, the deal needs to be taken off the table and the parties need to move on as soon as possible. the longer one or more parties try to save something that cannot be saved, the greater the collateral damage.
(In our forthcoming project, Chris breaks down how he built his entire business on this concept using Joe Polish's HALF vs ELF concept)
When Chris wanted to become an FBI hostage negotiator he walked into the FBI offices and got a meeting with one of the ladies he was told me meet with. She told him that the list of potential negotiators was a long one and that if he wanted to get practice, volunteer for a crisis/help hotline, and learn how to talk to people in crisis.
Months later, he came back and informed her that he had spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours on the phone talking people through their situations. She was stunned. She has told hundreds of applicants the same thing and Chris was the only one to actually do the work.
Show up and do the work. It's one of the worst-kept secrets in the history of the world and yet so few people do anything with it.
Then We Need To Get Better.
I'll save the details so as to not spoil the documentary for you, but Chris and his team were sent overseas to handle a massive hostage situation. When it went south, it went way south. As his team was packing up, reviewing the situation the consensus was: "We did everything we know how to do and used every tool we have the best we could. We did the best we could do with what we have"
Refusing to accept that conclusion, Chris responded:
"Well, then we need to get better. We need to learn more. We need better tools".
Subsequently, he contacted Ivy League schools, research labs, colleagues, and anyone else that could help them improve upon and reinvent the entire process.
Far too often people are blaming circumstances outside of their control. Randomness (the thing we call luck) will always exist. So will the ability to get better.
There's more, but until we have a schedule to roll out our joint project, I'll save it for later.
Watch the videos above. Read Never Split The Difference.
Develop Tactical Empathy.
It's a force multiplier in the sense that it will improve all of your relationships and, soon, you'll see how to scale a company with Tactical Empathy as your secret weapon.