Expert Negotiation Tips When Your IT Network Is Held Hostage

Christopher Voss

Chris Voss is the CEO and Founder of The Black Swan Group, an organization that teaches strategies found in hostage negotiations and applies them to the business world. He is also the best-selling author of the book Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It.

Prior to 2008, Chris was the Lead Negotiator for the FBI International Kidnapping Response as well as the FBI’s hostage negotiation representative for the National Security Council’s Hostage Working Group. During his career, he also represented the U.S. government as an expert in kidnapping at two international conferences sponsored by the G8.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Chris Voss’ career evolution from FBI agent to negotiation specialist
  • What is labeling, and how can the process be leveraged?
  • Good questions and poor questions in negotiations
  • Dealing with false deadlines and managing the timeline
  • The three-step process of persuasion
  • Utilizing the late-night FM DJ voice to great effect
  • Chris’ best negotiation tip for privacy and security professionals

In this episode…

Negotiation is a specialized yet universally useful skill. Even mundane conversations are filled with requests, persuasion, and deliberation. The basics are learned intuitively, but for more serious circumstances, more is required.

Hostage situations are the most dire instance of negotiation. Experts are equipped to handle these scenarios with care and precision, pulling from thorough training and prior experience. In our digital world ransomware is also a hostage situation only your IT network is the hostage!! These advanced principles are incredibly useful for emergencies and day-to-day life alike. Now you can learn directly from a real-world ransomware example of how high-level negotiation works in practice.

In this episode of She Said Privacy/He Said Security, Justin and Jodi Daniels are joined by Chris Voss, the CEO and Founder of The Black Swan Group, to share the concepts of high-stakes negotiations. They walk step-by-step through Justin’s ransomware negotiation for a hostage IT network and how he applied Chris’ principles to great success. They also discuss how to handle timelines, good questions for negotiations, and the best negotiation tip for privacy and security professionals.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Red Clover Advisors.

Red Clover Advisors uses data privacy to transform the way that companies do business together and create a future where there is greater trust between companies and consumers.

Founded by Jodi Daniels, Red Clover Advisors helps companies to comply with data privacy laws and establish customer trust so that they can grow and nurture integrity. They work with companies in a variety of fields, including technology, e-commerce, professional services, and digital media.

To learn more, and to check out their Wall Street Journal best-selling book, Data Reimagined: Building Trust One Byte At a Time, visit www.redcloveradvisors.com.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01

Welcome to the She Said Privacy/He Said Security Podcast. Like any good marriage we will debate, evaluate, and sometimes quarrel about how privacy and security impact business in the 21st century.

Jodi Daniels  0:22

Hi, Jodi Daniels here. I’m the founder and CEO of Red Clover Advisors, a certified women’s privacy consultancy. I’m a privacy consultant and certified informational privacy professional providing practical privacy advice to overwhelmed companies.

Justin Daniels  0:37

Hello, I’m Justin Daniels. I am a shareholder and corporate m&a and tech transaction lawyer at the law firm Baker Donelson, advising companies in the development and scaling of technology. Since data is critical to every transaction, I help clients make informed business decisions while managing data privacy and cybersecurity risk. And when needed, I lead the legal cyber data breach response brigade.

Jodi Daniels  1:01

And this episode is brought to you by Red Clover Advisors. We help companies to comply with data privacy laws and establish customer trust so that they can grow and nurture integrity. We work with companies in a variety of fields, including technology, e-commerce, professional services, and digital media. In short, we use data privacy to transform the way companies do business. Together, we’re creating a future where there’s greater trust between companies and consumers. To learn more and to check out our best selling book Data Reimagined: Building Trust One Byte at a Time, visit redcloveradvisors.com. Well, today, we have a very special episode. Am I going to introduce our guests first and then we explain the episode or you explain the episode and then they introduce our guests?

Justin Daniels  1:47

Why don’t you introduce our guests and I’ll explain to you.

Jodi Daniels  1:49

Okay, so today we have Chris Voss, who is the CEO and Founder of The Black Swan Group, as well as the best selling author of the book Never Split the Difference. If you have not read, Never Split the Difference audience, you must go grab a copy. Of course after you listen to this podcast, Chris has met his many years of experience in international crises and high stakes negotiations to develop a unique program that applies globally proven techniques to the business world. Prior to 2008. Chris was the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI, as well as the FBI’s hostage negotiation representative for the National Security Council’s Hostage Working Group. During his career, he also represented the US government as an expert and kidnapping at two international conferences sponsored by the G8. Well, Chris, it is a true delight to have you on the show today. So welcome.

Chris Voss  1:49

Thank you. I apologize. You had to go through all those acronyms and alphabet and the government alphabet, all that stuff? Yeah, happy to be here.

Jodi Daniels  1:49

I had to use my brain — working very well, today — it’s my good cup of coffee.

Justin Daniels  3:01

So listeners, before we get started today, you might be thinking, why do we have a ransom negotiation discussion? And the reason we’re going to do that today is I’m going to show you, we’re gonna ask Chris questions about his principles about negotiation. And then I’m going to show you how I applied multiple principles that Chris has talked about into a ransomware negotiation that I conducted for a client, where you don’t get to talk to them, you don’t get to see them. It’s all done via email, and shows you how his principles can really be helpful when the worst thing happens in our world is when we have a data breach, or even worse, a ransomware attack where they’ve encrypted your entire network. So Jodi is going to be a bit of an investigative reporter, ask Chris some questions, he’s going to explain to you some really important concepts from the Black Swan approach. And then I’m going to show you how I applied them in a ransomware negotiation for a client.

Jodi Daniels  3:59

Well, this will be fun, because I did want to be a journalist early in my career, so I’m going to dust off those skills. And Chris, we always start every episode by trying to dive a little bit deeper into how people’s career evolved to what they’re doing today. So I did give some hints in your intro, but we’d love if you could share a bit more.

Chris Voss  4:20

Sure, we’re, I mean, what’s that it’s a long way from Mount Pleasant, Iowa, you know, where would you like me to start?

Jodi Daniels  4:28

Um a little bit of how did you find yourself in the negotiation seat as you were and how and what The Black Swan Group does today?

Chris Voss  4:37

Yeah, well, you know, as an FBI agent, you become a hostage negotiator as an additional duty and I found my way there because I’ve been on SWAT, you know, it just says getting ready to leave a police department KCMO Kansas City Missouri Police Department was on a list to go to the SWAT team and and I got hired by the Bureau and SWAT is typically an additional duty also so I was on a SWAT team in the Pittsburgh office, my first assignment got rotated into New York tried out for the Bureau’s hostage rescue team, which is the FBI equivalent of the Navy SEALs. And in point of fact, a bunch of SEALs and Delta guys on that team. I reinjured an old knee injury from my college days martial arts when I tore my knee up and had it reconstructed. And I realized I couldn’t do that very many more times. And so I thought, well, we got hostage negotiators. How hard could it be? I talked to people every day and this thing is it looks simple, simplest are often the most complicated and challenging and rewarding. Like as much as I love SWAT I hostage negotiation, communication, emotional intelligence EQ was far more interesting to me once I get into it, volunteered on a suicide hotline. Good luck, tuning 20s came my way. I get to negotiate in sort of large scale unusual rare events, bank robbery with hostages, and just loved it and took initiative and instruction ended up being become a full time hostage negotiator at Quantico, you know, the legendary Quantico, where lives are changed, and ended up in charge of all of our kidnapping response. And while I was learning that, I ended up collaborating with Harvard folks and they were very supportive and said, You know, it’s the same thing. The stakes are different. But everybody negotiates as if it’s the biggest thing in our life and The Black Swan Group and both the book and I know, I’m oversimplifying it, but those were the high points.

Jodi Daniels  4:38

Well, we appreciate it. So with that in mind, let’s dive on in so we can leverage those principles that we have in our ransomware situation. That sound good?

Chris Voss  6:56

I love it. I love it.

Jodi Daniels  6:59

Okay, so in negotiation, or just in daily life, people can react badly to questioning, what is labeling? And how does that defuse tension?

Chris Voss  7:12

That’s a great question, because you need to gather information. But asking questions is not the best way to gather information. For whatever reason, labels hit the brain in a way that causes you to feel the responses are voluntary. You don’t feel coerced. When you’re questioned. You feel questions when you’re asked questions, you feel questioned, it diminishes reported some degree. And a label kind of hits the brain in the side, though, and people just respond even when the time labeling just lands better. And people are more likely to respond voluntarily, without filtered information.

Jodi Daniels  7:55

Justin, what are your thoughts on labeling and diffusing tension as it relates to ransomware?

Justin Daniels  8:00

So this is how I applied labeling that Chris talks about from his book in a ransomware negotiation. So much like Chris might have in his career, I get a phone call on a Sunday from somebody who I’m friendly. And they’re like, one of my clients has been ransomware. We don’t know what to do. Can you help us? So I parachuted into a situation where I don’t know the client, I don’t know anything that’s going on. And we have an email address. So we send something to the email address, which is the threat actor’s way of saying, Hey, we’ve encrypted your network, if you want to get it back, you need to respond to us. And one of the things that Chris said, and we’re trying to gather information is we’ll ask the following kinds of questions. It seems it sounds like it feels like, and one of the things that we were asking was, hey, it sounds like you’re telling us we can’t get access to our network? Can you provide us a proof of life so that if we’re paying you this ransom, we know that we can get a decryption key that actually works. It’s a proof of life. What I’m really doing is not trying to sound adversarial, but just having a conversation so that we can buy time because we have to figure out “do our backups work? Are we able to find some other way to get back up and running in a reasonable amount of time, so that we don’t have to pay the ransom because their initial offer to get the network back was half a million bucks?”

Chris Voss  9:25

And let me do a little color commentary here as well.

Justin Daniels  9:29

Please.

Chris Voss  9:30

What you did was ask a natural normal question. And in any of these high stakes negotiations, you should never be afraid to ask a legitimate question. You ask a question which and particularly where I’m proof of life, go to the other side is going to think to themselves, they’re going to look at their partners go look, you know, that’s a good question. That’s a fair question. Do you see a bomb? It’s a legitimate question. And the proof of life issue, regardless of the circumstances is you know, if I do this As you guys can comply, you’re not refusing to do it. You just, you know, like, hey, how do we know that this is gonna work if we do it? And it’s a legitimate question and I’ve been, that’s one of the brilliant aspects of this, even if the other side seems to have all the leverage, quote, leverage, you still get some legitimate things to bring up as long as you’ve been respectful. And that’s exactly how you did it.

Jodi Daniels  10:26

Chris, I’m curious, could you offer an example of a question? That wouldn’t be a natural question that you would advise? Perhaps instead, we should say it differently?

Chris Voss  10:38

Oh, well. So a question that would be inappropriate? Is that what you’re asking me?

Jodi Daniels  10:45

Right? Well, so if the idea is we don’t want to label because we don’t want to make the other side feel like that’s what we’re doing? And here a natural question would be what? Okay, where would be an example of one that wouldn’t be okay, that we don’t want that most people might feel like, that’s an okay question to ask. But utilizing principles here would be no, actually, that probably wouldn’t be as advised.

Chris Voss  11:09

I don’t know if people need appropriate question for the circumstances. It might be if you ask, first of all, if you asked right away, that would have been a little bit blunt. I mean, you started, you started with a label that sort of softens it, it sounds feels to the side, like you’re being collaborative. What would be a bad question, I can think of other ways, they asked the same question and pitched it out. You know, a bag, if you’d come back with, you know, if you what a lot of businesses do in these circumstances is start bargaining right away, you know, we can’t possibly pay more than x. You know, some sort of posturing nonsense. I mean, I’ve heard, I’ve heard a lot of business executives come back with real stupid posturing nonsense, or immediately making an offer, it’s inappropriate. making an offer that was inappropriate at this point of time, making an offer would be inappropriate, you gotta feel it out, look.

Jodi Daniels  12:03

Okay. Let’s continue on in our negotiation here. So what does it mean, in a negotiation to let no drip out slowly?

Chris Voss  12:12

Yeah, you should always put yourself in a position to be able to say no, the problem is, if you’re too blunt about it, if you say too quickly, and the classic black swan, how am I supposed to do that? Which is we used to put out as the first way of saying no, let out “no” a little at a time, never let the other side get caught off guard by a “no.” We, I recently thought of that as a way to telegraph to the side that knows on its way, you know, the How am I supposed to do that? And when in fact it is implementation question. And you’re in a very deferential way, communicating to the side? Are there implementation issues here? Man, I kinda like to do it, you know, I’ll be collaborative. But if I can’t do it, it puts it out there much more gently, gets the other side thinking about it. So you let out “no” a little at a time. So the other side’s not caught off guard by you beginning to telegraph that there are issues on your side. It’s not, it’s not that you’re being combative. You’re actually being collaborative by letting out “no” a little at a time. It’s one of my phrases “to let out ‘no’ little at a time.” A friend of mine, Ned Colletti, was the general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers. And they were ridiculously successful while Ned was the GM. And we sit around talking about it over, you know, steak and a couple of scotches one night. And he says, yes, I’ve learned that our executive taught me to let out “no” a little at a time. So that’s what it’s about — you’re collaborative. You’re not smacking somebody in the face with “no,” but you’re letting them know, it might be on the way.

Jodi Daniels  13:53

Alright, So Justin, how does this apply in our scenario?

Justin Daniels  13:57

So the way this applies in the ransomware scenario is, within the next, I’d say 36 hours, I find out from the IT team that not only is the network completely encrypted, we have no backup, so we can’t restore any of the data. The IT system is from like 2003. And unlike fine wine, IT systems don’t get better with time. So it’s gonna have to be completely replaced. So what it means is, on top of that, they’re like, Yeah, we only have $100,000 or less to pay the ransom because we need money to rebuild our IT system. So now with that information that we have, what the threat actor does during that 36 hours, Chris is he sends us a communication that says, if you guys don’t pay us in the next 24 hours, there’ll be no decrypt key where you know, we’re done. And what I learned was what we responded and said, “Hey, wait a second. How are we supposed to do this? We’re not senior managers — we don’t have the authority to make that decision.” And so then they would respond, “you have 24 hours.” And they’ll say, “Well, we know that you want to get paid in Bitcoin. How are we supposed to get Bitcoin for you if our company doesn’t have any?” And the point I want to make is about those techniques, because I know it’s a false deadline, the threat actors want to get paid, they really don’t want to keep your data, they want to give you the decrypt key and get the money back. But I needed to stall for time to really get the lay of the land and know what I needed to do. And that’s how we in that context, using email only, were able to let out “no” slowly because I was trying to buy time to figure out what we were going to do. So Chris, do you have any commentary on my approach? Do you see maybe a better way that we might have handled it, I’m happy to have an expert critique what I did.

Chris Voss  15:52

Now, here’s why that was effective. And here’s why that was the correct thing. Right? So yes, it’s a false deadline. But on the other side, they’ve got a timeline in mind. And you need two things, you need to make them work for you, no one wins, the other side’s gonna make a deal when they feel like they’ve gotten everything that came in the how questions are great questions, because it puts the burden of solving the problem back on a person who’s causing it, which begins to exhaust them a little bit. And you want to make them feel like they worked really hard. Like, if you give them what they want, right away, they’re not going to cut the deal, they’re gonna say, you know, that was too easy, I can get more and so they’re not gonna, they’re not gonna let it go, you need, you need to emotionally work them into a position where they feel like they’ve earned every dollar. And you want to take them a little bit out of their game out of the timeline, or take them to the end of their timeline, without making them angry without making them, you know, go ballistic on you. So you’re handling it beautifully at that point of time, and you’re putting up some legitimate issues. You’re not saying now, per se, again, the “how” questions about implementation, and you’re pointing out some implementation problems that you’re gonna have to work your way through. And so then you’re creating, you’ve gone from an adversarial relationship, to forcing it to be a collaborative relationship. And once it’s collaborative, then they feel invested in the process. And it’s more likely that when the time comes to cut the deal, and live up to their word, if you’ve made it feel like they worked hard enough for it, they’re gonna make the deal and they’re gonna move on. That’s the critical issue is once you cut this deal, are they really gonna stick to it? Because what are you gonna do, you gotta assume you’re gonna give them a bad rating on Yelp, you know, you’re gonna give them you’re gonna give them three stars on the left, you got, you got no place to complain here. So you got to get them to the point where they felt like they worked hard enough, and they want to move on.

Justin Daniels  15:54

It’s funny you say that, Chris, because in my world, they now have ransomware as a service where you can go to customer service for the hackers on the dark web, and get their help after they’ve encrypted your network. But that’s just an aside to —

Chris Voss  18:14

It’s a highly entrepreneurial world. Right. You know, this is just entrepreneurs trying to make a living.

Justin Daniels  18:20

You got it.

Chris Voss  18:21

A hater can’t be a hater?

Justin Daniels  18:24

I’m very smart.

Jodi Daniels  18:25

Okay, so Chris, The Black Swan Group has some really particular thoughts when it comes to throwing out numbers and in negotiation, why would you want to propose a number like 69,876?

Chris Voss  18:40

It feels like a lot of effort went into it. It feels to the other side, like it’s a solid number, you start turning out round numbers. It feels like you’re a bargain. And there’s a softness to the position. So when you put out really specific numbers down to the penny, it feels to them like you took a lot of time to come up with a really thoughtful, good, solid number. There’s a lot of reasoning behind it. Once again, then the issue is time. Like if it took you that long to come up with that number. And I do you know, I do have a timeframe in mind. Human nature is along the lines of what I refer to as DPO duration, path and outcome. Every human being in every endeavor thinks about how long it’s going to take them to get what they want duration, path, how am I going to get their outcome? What do I want? You know, ballpark What am I hoping to settle for? DPO and the other side regardless of whether or not they’re artificial deadlines, they’ve got a timeframe that they want to do this kidnapping. Data is a business. Most likely the actor you’re dealing with is not a boss. And the boss wants him to produce in a certain timeframe and move on. So throwing out a very solid number begins to contribute to all the psychological dynamics that are what you need, so that when the deal is cut, they agree they comply, because you’ve got no other way to force them to comply.

Jodi Daniels  20:29

Justin, how did you use this specific approach in your negotiation?

Justin Daniels  20:34

So Jodi, I’m happy to share that, but I can’t do it until you ask Chris the next question, because I had to use a combo of these two to get it done.

Jodi Daniels  20:43

Oh, okay. I didn’t get that memo in our notes. You, Chris, you named your company, black swan. What is a black swan in the context of negotiation?

Chris Voss  20:57

Yeah, The Black Swan Group. Well, in about 2007. I wrote a book by an author who become a very big fan of Nassim Nicholas Taleb. And his book was called The Black Swan. Then he took the board, the metaphor from 16th century Europe where they’d only seen white swans and they never thought a black swan was possible. And then they discovered them in Australia. And it’s like, this changes everything. So in the context of a negotiation, black swans are the little pieces of information to change everything, the subtitle of Nicholas Taleb’s book was the impact of the highly improbable. What are the little things that make all the difference in the world? So it’s a combination of the information that you’re picking up to change everything. And also, the negotiation techniques that are subtle, the tiny little changes to millimeter shifts difference versus opposition. And it makes all the difference in the world.

Jodi Daniels  21:59

All right, Justin, what was your little piece of information that made the difference in the world that allowed you to give a very specific, unique number.

Justin Daniels  22:09

So when I was in the midst of my ransom negotiation, when I first got involved with this company, at the time, I thought it was bad. But there was a trade publication from the industry sniffing around and they published multiple stories about this company and all the economic problems that they were having and whatnot. And initially, it was a real struggle, because I had to prep someone to talk to this reporter because the company made the decision, they needed to talk to this reporter and the first words out of their mouth was ransomware, and cyber event. It was, Chris, an unmitigated disaster. However, if you recall, I said their demand was half a million dollars, the client said we can’t pay more than 100. Because we just don’t have, we just can’t, we have to rebuild our IT network. And so our Star Trek fans out there might be thinking this is the Kobayashi Maru, this is the no win scenario. But like Captain Kirk —

Chris Voss  23:07

I love Star Trek, by the way.

Justin Daniels  23:09

But like Captain Kirk with Chris’ techniques, I don’t believe in the no win scenario. So here’s what we did. The two principles that Chris just talked about was, we took links to the articles about the company that they were having all these economic problems and put them in an email and said to the threat actor, basically, we understand what you’re asking for. However, you’re really trying to get money from a company that simply doesn’t have the economic ability to pay that. What we can offer is $69,876. 20 minutes later, we got an email back, we’ll take it, they gave us the decrypt key. And everybody thought, wow, this is the most amazing result. And the reason that we were able to get there, even though we were under time pressure, Chris, they also had a time period, they were looking to get money. And once I showed them, they thought this was a rich company, and it was really having economic problems. And they saw the articles. They were willing to take the money and run pretty quickly. And that’s something I didn’t even realize at that point. I was using a black swan principle with the article, but that’s what we used. And that’s how it got done. And those are principles straight out of your book.

Chris Voss  24:24

Yeah. Nice. Well done. Well done.

Jodi Daniels  24:28

So, have any other black swan nuggets of information you’d like?

Justin Daniels  24:32

I have a few. But I’m more interested in getting to our next question, because this to me is a key one. Yes, Chris. I may get elbowed for this one, but I’m going to ask it anyway.

Jodi Daniels  24:44

Yes, you might well wait, when are you going to share the other funny story about, you know, the parking ticket?

Justin Daniels  24:49

Do you want me to do that now?

Jodi Daniels  24:50

I don’t know. You were all excited.

Justin Daniels  24:52

I will. So Chris, do you want to talk a little bit about how you use your techniques when it comes to something like a parking ticket or when you go to hotel rooms and get upgrades cause that one works really well too.

Chris Voss  25:03

Yeah, the hotel upgrade thing is great and I use it on a regular basis. And I’ve experimented with a little bit, you know, because as prescribed, it’s pretty much a three-step process. And you know, what it really found is, if you short circuit the process, the impact is not as good. Like, you know, we start out effectively with an accusations audit, and you actually take, do some emotional anchoring, you prepare the person on the other side for our horrific interaction. And then you sort of gently make it better and better and better until you get an ask, you know, “how much trouble do I get you in If I asked for a complimentary upgrade to a suite?” You know, that’s sort of a two part thought constructing question my son, Brandon Voss came up with and I have seen a couple of times try to short circuit the process. And just ask the question right off the bat, and one of the last hotels I was in, I said, you know, “how much of a jerk do I seem like? How much trouble do I get you in, if I asked you for a complimentary upgrade to a suite?” And I saw that it didn’t land as effectively, if I’d taken the time to take them on a journey, which is only a few minutes longer, but it was late, I was tired, and I’m playing around with this. And it made me realize, you know, the emotional journey, you take people on gently and leave them better than you found them. You’ve got to take the time to do it, right takes longer to do it over than it takes to do it. Right. And in point of fact, in this instance, you know, I didn’t get the upgrade, I don’t know that I would have. But often if they don’t get the upgrade, there’s other stuff that I might want. And I cut myself off by by not going through the whole process. So — and the hotel suite upgrade is, you know, take the time, follow the process, follow steps. You’re the only one that it short changes if you know.

Justin Daniels  25:12

As I want to share with our listeners, I use Chris’s technique to call the parking company when I got a ticket because I stayed five minutes over and I said, I know I’m calling I know I’m gonna sound like a pain in the ass and what I’m asking for but I was five minutes over. It’s my wife’s car. It’s a new car. Is there any way you can help me so I don’t have to go home and face the wrath of my wife.

Chris Voss  27:31

The wrath of the titan.

Jodi Daniels  27:33

You didn’t say what we’re gonna say on this podcast.

Justin Daniels  27:37

Hey, but I got out of it. And I did have to get up. I did have to get my co-host upset because it was her car —

Jodi Daniels  27:46

Great.

Chris Voss  27:47

You were the hostage. You’re a hostage and you were looking for the parking ticket person. And for you, you made him the hero. Nice.

Jodi Daniels  27:57

Okay, we’re gonna move on now. You did not warn me. That was my asking. I thought I’m still a reporter.

Justin Daniels  28:02

I want you to ask this question.

Jodi Daniels  28:04

Alright. So, Chris, you are a big proponent of tone in your voice in recognition — see, look at what you did. You laughed, so I got all off track. So now I have to start again. Okay. Justin is very focused on tone, which is why I’m laughing so hard. Because I feel like that’s what we hear with two girls and myself all day — tone is very high in our house. So Chris, you are a big proponent of tone in your voice in a negotiation. So what is the cool late-night DJ voice? And how can negotiators develop better awareness of their tone?

Chris Voss  28:45

Yeah, the late-night FM DJ is just downward reflecting all the way down to the course of what you say. I mean, it lends authority to your voice. I mean, you get there’s a couple of nuances to be careful of — you don’t want to be cold. It’s very close to the analyst’s natural voice. But the analyst tends to come off as cold and distant. So you want to be conscious of being cold. You want to be conscious of being condescending, it is very close to a condescending voice, but their notes in a condescending voice to come out in terms of a flight inflection. Intention is contagious. And if your intention is to be calming and soothing, and reassuring, then that’s what that voice is. And there’s a neural chemical response. an involuntary response while it works with the other side. They don’t make a choice to calm down. They are calmed down. Now we can find it, but you can trick the process into gear regardless. And so that’s the beginning and there are some people Sandy Hein, who is a coach on my team says, well when we gotta be careful sounding seductive, and that that is an issue that men don’t have to face. But women also, if they have a higher voice, all they have to do is drop the chin when they talk, you can force your voice to go down it’s like by dropping your chin as you speak. And it will, it will be a downward inflection in the tonality of the voice. And it has a tendency to be very reassuring, very calming, especially when the other side’s upset. Depending upon the nature of the interaction, people are often anxious, concerned, upset. And the late-night FM DJ voice does a lot to help smooth that out.

Jodi Daniels  29:44

Sometimes people wonder what we talk about at our house around our dinner table, I can tell that you’re going to tell your daughters to try lowering their chin to help their tone of voice. I can see that conversation happening this weekend.

Justin Daniels  31:00

It might but I guess Chris, what I wanted you to give the audience a feel for is another way to use the inflection is for our audience. Chris is, we’ll be negotiating a contract. And one of the clauses that happens often is a concept that says hey, if you have a security interest incident, like a data breach, you’re gonna have unlimited liability, which is a really big potential problem in contract negotiation. So what I did was, as I was playing with it, about how to nicely say, that cold day in hell before that’s happening, and what we what I came up with is is a concept that you have, which is, you say back to the other party, you say, well, in your contracts with your customers, if you were to cause a data breach for them, you wouldn’t take on unlimited liability, would you? And what I’m saying is, I’ve learned through time, it’s the inflection in my voice at the end there, which I think you teach that I asked it as a question. So I’m in a nice way telling them you wouldn’t agree to that. Why are you asking us to and when I did it, the lawyer on the other side, said, I have to plead the fifth when I knew I had them. And then negotiation went away from that. But I just wanted to have you give a feel for how you use that in the context and make what could have been a very tension filled clause. We made it kind of funny into a joke. And that got our point. And we were able to successfully bridge the gap.

Chris Voss  32:27

Yeah, and there actually, there’s more to that too, that’s really good. Because basically, you’re driving for a nobler instead of trying to get somebody to say yes. And it’s, you wouldn’t do that would you? And people feel safer with a “no,” to begin with, they feel a little more protected. So they feel less cornered, they feel less attack. So the word choice is really good. And then again, it would be easy to say, you know, you wouldn’t accept unlimited liability, which you and that would say that tone of voice which you would be tempted by would be saying like you’re an idiot, this is true. But instead the inquisitive tone of voice inquiring, you know, upward inflection and and that lands, it feels deferential. And you can get away with saying stuff that way that the other way just feels like an accusation. It feels like you’ve got to watch out for contempt, disdain. But when you drop it out like that, it’s just laying. And extremely well done on choice of inflection.

Justin Daniels  33:41

And the reason I wanted to point it out to you, Chris, that I’ll share with our audience is in the past, I’d had trouble sometimes — you negotiate with people who, either intentionally or that’s just their negotiating style. They’re tough on a variety of points in a way to where they wear you down. And if you lose your temper, or you make it clear that you’re being disdainful, you really get nothing out of it. And I guess, do you have a sense for how long people have to work at it in general, it’s not like you just read your book and in two weeks while you’re changed, you really have to practice this over time. Do you have a sense from your experience as to how long our viewers would have to be implementing your principles before they could really start to see it sink in for them?

Chris Voss  34:22

Yeah, well, there’s two trigger points. And one that I would refer to as four repetitions and the other ones that are referred to his 63 or 64 repetitions. Now a new skill. Oh, that seems very different from anything that you’ve done. You know, your fear centers, your amygdala fires, you begin to imagine all these ways what won’t work. And what you really need to do is give your supercomputer your intuition, which is a supercomputer, enough experiential data to assess. And if it’s inflection if it’s a no order question, if it’s a label I say look, do it four times, just do it as I prescribed it just four times. Now, after four executions, you’re going to start to give your gut instinct enough data to go like, Oh, wow, this actually does work. And so now you’re encouraged you haven’t you haven’t wired into your brain yet. But you’ve given your supercomputer, your intuition, actual data to assess, and say, Yeah, well, you know, it worked every time. It worked really well, three out of four times and one time it was medium. That’s enough data to be encouraged. Now, how do you build it into your wiring? I listen to a guy named John Foley talk a number of years ago, he’s a former Blue Angel pilot. And he talked about grooving the skill into your brain, the Blue Angels, you know, they’re flying at Mach one, three feet apart, wingtip to wingtip. If they make, if they’re learning skills up in the air, they get killed. So they had to wire the skills into their brain before they went up in the sky. And he said, 63 to 64, repetitions. And perfect practice makes perfect, so you’re not doing it fast. You’re taking your time to make sure you do it as prescribed. And somewhere around 63 to 64 tries. Now it’s wired into the brain. And it’s a much more of an automatic habit. So the two trigger points are four times to give yourself a data 63 to 64 times. Now it’s a habit.

Jodi Daniels  36:41

That’s really very, very interesting. I can’t wait to share that with our daughters tonight.

Justin Daniels  36:47

It took me months of doing this.

Jodi Daniels  36:49

Well then four times that practice and then 63 to 64.

Justin Daniels  36:53

It took a while and you have to stick with it. You adjust anyway. So Chris, what is your best negotiation tip that you might share with our audience of privacy professionals and security pros?

Chris Voss  37:05

Look, if you do the highly inefficient thing to take the time to hear the other side, the net acceleration on a deal is going to be astonishing. And it’s going to save you a lot of time that seems very inefficient and ineffective to make sure you hear other setup fully at the beginning. Why can’t we just get to the point where the answers are obvious? Why waste time? You know, with all this here and each other out nonsense. It just puts an accelerant in the entire relationship that saves you massive amounts of time. So the highly inefficient feeling practice of fully hearing the other side accelerates everything and makes your deals go much more smoothly.

Jodi Daniels  37:58

And Chris, when you are not helping people and companies become better negotiators, what do you like to do for fun?

Chris Voss  38:06

Well, you know, I love spontaneity and travel at some point of time, so you know if I can get on some sort of adventure to an interesting different place. Well, we don’t know quite for sure what’s going to happen, that’s kind of my favorite thing. I used to have a motorcycle — I don’t have one. Now I jump on a bike and take it for a ride not knowing where I was going. But spontaneity and adventure to me is lovely fun.

Jodi Daniels  38:31

So where was your last fun travel trip?

Chris Voss  38:35

Last time I jumped on a bike, I didn’t know where I was going. I ended up in Pennsylvania. At different crossroads. The original plan was to go straight. I’m sitting here at the crossroad. I just went right instead. And I got a great tour of Pennsylvania. Some places I didn’t expect to be.

Jodi Daniels  38:56

And Chris, if people would like to learn more about you and The Black Swan Group, where should they go?

Chris Voss  39:00

Well, what they should do is and I’ll share the link for you to sign up for our newsletter The Edge. Now website is BlackSwanltd.com B L A CK S W A N ltd.com. Our newsletter is complimentary, it’s actionable. It’s kind of the gateway to everything, all the different stuff that we have, and you get an email to your inbox it on a Tuesday morning about 7:30. You know, you’ve got Monday behind you. And it’s complimentary, but it’s valuable because it’s actionable. And they’re negotiating tips that you could use that day. And if you sign up on the link that I’m gonna give you guys what you do is you get a free PDF of our top 10 note-oriented questions and you guys you know us in order to question you wouldn’t do this, would you? I mean, that’s a no-oriented question. And that can be ridiculously effective switching from yes to no and we coach people so much. And now we said well, let’s go. I had given the top 10 most applicable 90 questions across the board so you can get your reps and then, you know, we’ll help you script the 90 questions that you can start. And then on so you get a nice start with us by subscribing via this link. And then we can help you get better along a lot of other fronts as well.

Jodi Daniels  40:21

That is amazing. And thank you and for everyone listening, we’ll make sure that we have that in the show notes. So be sure to come back to the site and check it out. Well, Chris, thank you so very much. Justin, do you have any closing words for us?

Justin Daniels  40:33

I’m a big fan of the YouTube content that you do. I’ve learned a ton from doing it. So obviously, I’m a homer for Chris because I use this stuff and I thought the audience could benefit from it.

Chris Voss  40:46

That’s amazing. I really enjoyed this conversation. It was a lot of fun.

Jodi Daniels  40:49

Thank you again, Chris. We’re so grateful.

Chris Voss  40:52

All right. Have a good day.

Outro  40:59

Thanks for listening to the She Said Privacy/He Said Security Podcast. If you haven’t already, be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes and check us out on LinkedIn. See you next time!