Blog: The Negotiation Edge

Chris Voss

Christopher Voss is the CEO of The Black Swan Group, a firm that solves business negotiation problems with hostage negotiation strategies. Chris founded the Black Swan Group, in 2008 upon his retirement from the FBI where he was the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator. Chris is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business where he teaches business negotiation in both M.B.A. programs.
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Recent Posts

How To Get An Edge When Buying A House

“The Chris Price” is how I got a 10% price reduction on shirts in an outlet mall after I was told there was no discount. It’s how I got a 20% discount on a cummerbund (I know it’s embarrassing that I even had to buy one) at a Joseph A. Banks after I was told there was no discount.

It’s how a high school buddy of mine (Brock Alter) got a huge discount at Macy’s (about 75%), and it’s how Eduardo (a student of mine at Georgetown) got a discount on a case of tequila at a liquor store!

It’s the counterintuitive application of what hostage negotiators use to keep hostages alive. Make sure the hostage taker knows the victim’s name. They will see them as a person and be less likely to harm them. It triggers what Brandon Voss has accurately defined as the process of “reverse empathy.”

3 Keys To Closing A Negotiation Brilliantly

The last impression is the lasting impression.

We don’t remember things the way they happened. I’m sorry, but we don’t. We remember the most intense moment and… how things end.

Broadway has known about this forever – “Give ‘em a big finish & they’ll forgive you for anything” goes the adage.

“What about the 1st impression”? You might wonder. I remember my mom drilling into my head “If you don’t make a good 1st impression you may never get a chance to make another”. Not a false statement, but more pointed at the empty-headed teenager she was talking to.

Your game needs to shift once you’ve gotten past knowing how to smile, look someone in the eye and shake hands. Here’s how:

How to Get Secrets – A Black Belt Negotiation Skill

The key to any negotiation is getting the other side talking.  That’s one of the purposes of small talk.  To establish rapport. To get the conversation going.  To get them talking about the things they’d love to trust you with, but are hesitant to. To get them to spill the beans.

How To Recognize Weakness or Strength During Negotiations

Individual “signals” can be faked. “Signals” are choices of words, changes in tone of voice, body language changes (“flinches”) or things often referred to as “tells” .

So, you’re really looking to triangulate signals.

The Top 2 Reasons To Not Go First In A Negotiation

Here's the top 2 reasons not to go first in a negotiation. And they both leave money on the table.

How You Can Handle The #1 Most Common Lie in Negotiations


I remember hearing a few years ago a businessman saying he started moving his business forward much more successfully when he started treating every “maybe” as if it were a “no”.

The #1 Negotiating Rule For Getting The Most Out Of The Holidays



This rule will make this an even better holiday season for you and everyone your words touch.  

3 Ways To Make “No” Work For You

Is “Yes” really always “yes”?

“No” is protection. “Yes” is commitment. “No” instantly makes people feel safe while “Yes” makes them worry about what they’ve committed themselves to. Nearly every “Yes” at best is a conditional “yes” and often is a counterfeit “yes”.

The #1 Sign Their Position is Weak And How to Handle It

One of my students at USC Marshall recently made this observation during a negotiation: “When he said that, I smelled blood in the water. I knew I had him.”  

What did the counterpart say that was such a telegraph of a feeling of weakness?  An inadvertent “announcement”? A “tell” if you will, that he felt he had no leverage?

The 1st Deadly Sin of Negotiation and How to Defeat It

The #1 Sin -  The Lust for “Yes”

Lust.  One of the 7 deadly sins of life and the first Deadly Sin of Negotiation.  It’s a powerful poison for a reason.  Lust is the dangerous alchemy of love and fear combined.  You love, yearn, crave something and at the same time you fear losing it so much you close your ears, eyes, and mind to everything that threatens it.