Before getting to yes, get to ‘that’s right’

Consultant Andy Raskin learned something from a book called Never Split the Difference, by 24-year FBI veteran Chris Voss, who served as lead international kidnapping negotiator in the bureau’s Crisis Negotiation Unit.

Voss’s insight is that nearly every hostage release happens only after a negotiator establishes an emotional link with the kidnapper.

In the business scenario Raskin describes, a CEO stepped in and asked a series of questions of his sales guy who wasn’t buying the company’s strategic narrative. After asking the salesman how he would describe the narrative, the CEO said, “Now I’m going to summarize what you told me, and I’d like you to let me know if anything is missing or incorrect. OK?”

The reply “that’s right” signals that your negotiating partner feels heard and acknowledged, which opens the door to solutions.

— Adapted from “To Be a Better Leader, Learn This FBI Hostage Negotiation Tactic,” Andy Raskin, The Mission.