Top 6 Business Negotiation Strategy | Chris Voss

Negotiation is not:

I win!

You Lose!

Negotiation is a collaboration between the two parties.

-says Chris Voss, one of the world’s top Ex-FBI Hostage Negotiator.

I got an opportunity to take a master class on the “Art of Negotiation” from The Chris Voss.

Happiness for me is to share every interesting thing I learn.

So, Here we go!

If you want somebody to say yes, you are negotiating with him.

I don’t know about anybody else, but I definitely negotiate with my son (Champ) every day.

In fact, every time I want him to say a yes to study.

Me: “Champ, let’s finish your Mathematics home-work!”

Champ: “Please Mamma, Can I do it after reading 5 pages from the Harry Potter book?”

….after some time

Me: “Champ, are you done reading? Can we now finish Math HW?”

Champ: “Mamma, I am feeling hungry! Can we do it after lunch?”

…..after one hour.

Champ eats his lunch for an hour, sometimes for even longer 🙂

Me: “Champ, let’s just sit for half an hour with a timer and finish whatever we can!”

Champ: “Ok Mamma, but only half an hour please :)”.

#Idea : Sometimes making the deal size smaller helps you land the deal. There will always be opportunities in the future with the same client. 

Just like me with my son, your sales reps negotiate with your clients every day.

If you equip your sales reps with the right strategies to negotiate, I am sure they will be able to close more deals!

Let’s get started with different strategies used in the art of negotiation!

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Tactical Empathy | Negotiation Strategy #1

Empathy is becoming completely aware of the other side’s perspective.

Empathy is the ability to find out what’s driving the person on the other side.

Once you know what’s driving them, it would be easier to convince them to take certain actions as you ask.


The deliberate influencing of your negotiating counterpart’s emotions for the ultimate purpose of building trust-based influence and securing deals.

The ways you employ your voice, labels, mirrors, and dynamic silence all contribute to tactical empathy.

– Chris Voss, The Master Class

This technique of tactical empathy can be applied with this simple 3-step process

  • Tone of Voice –
    • Chris suggests that it’s critical to keep the tone of voice soothing.
    • And it should be combined with upward (inquiring) or downward (understanding) inflections.
  • No denials or disagreements –
    • Empathy does not necessarily mean you need to agree with what the other person is saying.
    • But you need to make sure that you understand and respect what the other person is saying.
  • Make them feel heard
    • If a person feels he is not heard, he stops speaking. That’s not what you want.
    • Chris says, “You don’t agree, but you don’t disagree, either.”.
    • Example: Don’t say, I don’t want you to think we’re ignoring what you want. Say, I’m sure it seems like we’re ignoring what you want.

Mirroring | Negotiation Strategy #2

Interesting people are interested. – Old Saying

Genuine Curiosity is compelling.

People would want to tell more.

People would love talking to you if you show genuine interest in listening to them.

Once you show them you are interested.

You will automatically become interesting for them :).

#Hack: You can become interesting by “Mirroring”.


The conscious repetition of your counterpart’s words.

Mirrors are designed to show the other side that you’re listening to them and understanding them.

– Chris Voss, The Master Class

Mirroring is a way to acknowledge that you are listening attentively.

All that you need to do is repeat 1-3 words from the last sentence of what the other person is saying.

I just tried the mirroring technique in a conversation with my son.

Mirroring worked like charm in it.

Here is the audio clip for the same.

I just kept repeating 1-3 words from his statements, and he just went on and on.

While your sales representatives are in call with your clients.

They can use this technique of mirroring with them.

This shall help them extract a lot of information from the client.

This information shall help your sales reps understand the client’s pain-points.

An accurate understanding of pain-points shall help your sales reps direct the clients to most apt solutions.


Buyer: Our product is strong, but our reps aren’t always clear about our differentiators. They tend to back peddle when customers ask how we’re different.

Sales rep: Back peddle?

Buyer: Yes. They don’t have a clear answer and they’re not consistent in how they answer.

Sales rep: Not consistent?

Buyer: Yes, that’s the real problem we’re dealing with. I have 70 sales reps who handle sales calls in 70 different ways. Their narratives don’t match up and their sale processes don’t either.

If you look at the conversation above, the sales rep is using mirroring technique and he is able to fetch very useful information about inconsistency in his sales team.

Labeling | Negotiation Strategy #1

My son unknowingly knows this technique of reducing the negative emotion (anger) in my case.

From the age of 3.5 years itself, every time he used to see me raise my volume.

He would say it in a very calm and composite way, “Mamma, I don’t like to see you get angry!”

or he would just say, “Mamma, are you angry?”

( I am not a saint,  I am a mom, after all, I do lose temper! )

And the moment, I hear this from him.

My anger suddenly reduces by 60%.

It triggers me to think, “Anger is not going to help……Calm down!”.


Verbally acknowledging the other side’s feelings and positions.

Labels are powerful tools for reinforcing positive feelings and deactivating negative ones.

-Chris Voss, The Master Class

While in a negotiation, If you label a negative emotion, it diffuses. And if you label a positive emotion, it amplifies.

To explain labeling Chris gave a wonderful example of chatting with customer service personnel from airlines.

Scenario: Chris asked for some amendment in his air tickets. The lady on the other side asked him for some information and put him on a Long hold.

#FoodForThought : The customer care executives get beaten up all day. Nobody calls them to appreciate their time /effort. What would you speak to customer care executives to make them feel different? You would be amazed to see what Chris did.

Chris: You are being so generous with your time. Thanks a lot, I really appreciate it.

By saying this Chris actually labeled a positive feeling of being generous.

To hear this, something magical happened in the lady’s mind. Her tone changed instantly.

The generosity got amplified. And she amended Chris’s tickets without any extra charges.

She was being generous to not charge any extra money.

Here is an amazing example of you can apply labeling in sales:

The Power of “No” | No Strings Attached | Negotiation Strategy #4

Chris says when people answer a question with a yes, they sort of feel that it’s about they are making a commitment.

Sometimes people just say a yes to end the conversation.

Chris suggests that asking a “No- Oriented” question is more powerful than a “Yes-Oriented” question.


When you ask, “Does that sound like a good idea?” (Here, the person might think if he says a yes, you shall pitch in your product and he will feel obliged to buy.)


When you ask, “Does that sound like a ridiculous idea?” (Here, the person can easily answer with a No and an insight. Something like, it is not that bad, however, if it would be better if it made my life easier.  Absolutely no strings attached. )

Also, the information that follows a “No” answer is very crucial and can help you gain more insights on buyer’s pain-points.

The Fear of Loss | Negotiation Strategy #5

Chris suggests that “Fear of Loss” is a very important aspect of human decision making.

You sleep over gain but the fear of loss steals away your sleep.

On our home page, our pitch was growth-driven, After learning from Chris, we made it “Fear of Loss” driven.

Look at the two pictures below:

  1. The first picture shows “Growth” as a driving factor with the words “Multiply Their Revenue”.


  2. The second shows “Fear of Loss” as a driving factor with the words “Stop Their Revenue Leaks”.


What’s your take on this? Which one rings the bell for you? Please do let us know in the comments section at the end of this article.

#FoodForThought: What does your sales pitch look like? Is it driven by “Fear of Loss” or “Opportunity to Grow”?

Black Swans | Negotiation Strategy #6

In the Master Class course, Chris shared how he named his company Black Swans.


A piece of innocuous information that, once revealed, changes the course of the entire negotiation.

Negotiation is, in many ways, all about finding black swans and using them strategically.

-Chris Voss, The Master Class.

The black swan theory is a metaphor for something that comes as a surprise but has a phenomenal effect, often inappropriately rationalized with the benefit of hindsight.

In a sales negotiation, if your sales reps can identify the black swans, they are sure to close the deals.

Happy Selling!

If at all this article brought you some valuable insights, Do you think it will be a ridiculous idea to gain more of these?

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Top 5 Business Negotiation Strategies | Chris Voss


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