Ep 22: Negotiating Rules and Limits
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Chris Voss, the former lead international hostage negotiator for the FBI and author of the bestselling book Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on it, speaks with us about how to win negotiations with your teenager over things like curfew, cell phone usage, and other rules.
Full Show Notes
Parents today know that we’re not supposed to act like complete dictators and that kids do better when they have some say over the household policies and are able to negotiate and talk things through a bit. Sure, sounds good.
But there’s a problem.
What if your teenager is a great negotiator and wins the negotiation? Many parents are getting pushed around by teens in these situations and it leaves you in a tough spot. Yes, confidence and the ability to speak up for yourself are important things for teens to learn. But having firm rules and boundaries is also important.
How do you make sure that when your teen tries to negotiate something you win?
We got some answers from the former Lead International Kidnapping Negotiator for the FBI, Chris Voss. Chris is the author of the hugely popular bestseller Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on it and a leading expert in the science of negotiation.
In this episode, Chris walks step-by-step through how to prepare for and triumph in a negotiation with your teen.
How to use the “Ackerman Model” to end at the exact result you want while making your teen feel like they won
The science behind Tactical Empathy, and how you can use it during negotiations
A simple, 7-word phrase to instantly disarm your teenager and make them feel understood
What most parents get wrong when they try even a simple negotiation
How to use Emotional Labeling or “tagging” effectively
Why it is so hard for parents and teenagers to get along in the first place, according to Chris
Your teen has probably been giving you the “Fake Yes”–learn what to do about it
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Word-for-word examples of WHAT to say to your teen
1. Start by taking away their arguments, rather than fueling the fire:
“Look, I’m sure I seem like a tyrant. I’m sure I seem like a dictator. I’m sure I seem like I don’t care what happens to you and your social standing. I’m sure it looks like I’m completely oblivious if your life is going to be over as a result of this.”
2. A magic label to get your teenager to open up about whatever they just said:
3. After 3 rounds of negotiating about something with your teenager, throw in something you know they don’t care about at all to signify the negotiation is over:
Step-by-step guides for applying the ideas from this interview
1. Take Away Your Teen’s Ammo by Accepting their Judgements:
In addition to creating an Ackerman Plan before every hostage negotiation (see next exercise), Chris told me he also makes something called a One Sheet to prepare for these high stakes encounters. This will help you before your next high stakes talk with your teenager! Your goal when creating a OneSheet should be to write down all of the judgments your teen is probably making about you. According to Chris, and easy way to do this is to think of all the things you would want to deny to your teenager (“I’m not some tyrant who is trying to control you, I’m trying to help you!”). Write these down. Instead of denying these judgments, however, you are going to accept them. Try to list at least 10 judgments below and then circle the top three. These will be the 3 biggest things your teen is probably thinking about you at the start of a delicate conversation. So try to start off your next big talk by accepting all three of these things. Say, “Hey, it probably seems like I’m a complete tyrant. I get that.” When you lead off by accepting their worst judgments, you will take all the wind out of your teen’s sails. He won’t have any ammo left to pepper you with.
2. Prepare an Ackerman Plan to Win Negotiations with Your Teen:
About Chris Voss
These days, Chris Voss runs the Black Swan Group, a company he started train businesses and individuals in his negotiation tactics.
Prior to 2008, Chris was the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the FBI’s hostage negotiation representative for the National Security Council’s Hostage Working Group. During his government career, he also represented the U.S. Government at two (2) international conferences sponsored by the G-8 as an expert in kidnapping.
Prior to becoming the FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator, Christopher served as the lead Crisis Negotiator for the New York City Division of the FBI. Christopher was a member of the New York City Joint Terrorist Task Force for 14 years. He was the case agent on such cases as TERRSTOP (the Blind Sheikh Case – Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman), the TWA Flight 800 catastrophe, and he negotiated the surrender of the first hostage taker to give up in the Chase Manhattan bank robbery hostage taking.
During Chris’s 24 year tenure in the Bureau, he was trained in the art of negotiation by not only the FBI but Scotland Yard and Harvard Law School. He is also a recipient of the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement and the FBI Agents Association Award for Distinguished and Exemplary Service.
Chris has taught business negotiation in the MBA program as an adjunct professor at University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. He has taught business negotiation at Harvard University, guest lectured at The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, The IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland and The Goethe School of Business in Frankfurt, Germany. Since 2009 Christopher has also worked with Insite Security as their Managing Director of Kidnapping Resolution.
His book, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on it, published in 2016, is already considered a classic text in the field of negotiation and sales.