Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


You know what you want.

You just don't know how to get it.

You don't know how to get the upper hand in a negotiation, so that the person you're negotiating with is only too happy with that lower hand.

There are some people who are just good at that sort of thing.

Former FBI kidnapping negotiator Chris Voss wants you to believe that he's one of those people.

These are his three tips for emerging triumphant.

1. Use Your Voice To  Its Fullest Advantage.

In a YouTube video, Voss explains that voice modulation is driven by context. "Your tone of voice will immediately begin to impact somebody's mood and how their brain functions," he says. He wants people to believe there's a smile in his voice. That way, he says, "I'll be able to flip the positive switch." I confess that watching him do it didn't flip my positive switch at all. It wasn't so much his voice. It was that I was looking at his face as he spoke. This is a face that -- for me, at least -- resembles that of certain characters in TV detective shows. It isn't the face of the detective. It's the face of the mobster who's captured the detective and is hanging him upside down over a pit of raging snakes. Still, Voss also talks about upward and downward inflection of your voice. Downward means what you're saying is definitive. So I'm writing this with an upward inflection. Just in case I have to negotiate with him some time, you understand.

2. Learn How To Mirror.

This isn't to be confused with mimicking. Mirroring is to repeat the last few words someone has said, word for word. This gives you not only a better understanding of what the other person wants to say, but it also gives you a little time to do some actual thinking. It keeps the other person talking. As they keep talking, you'll begin to realize how wedded the person is to what they've just said. Some people are all talk, you know.

3. Look Out For The F-Bomb.

No, that one. Nor that one. Nor even that other one. This involves waiting for the moment when the person you're negotiating with says they just want "what's fair." Is it a genuine plea? Have you just been trying to aggressively roll over them by telling them you're giving them a fair offer? If that's what they feel, you're in trouble. Either, says Voss, they're not going to do the deal or -- and this may be worse -- they will make implementation of the deal feel like the worst hemorrhoid you could ever imagine.