Salary Negotiation Tips from an FBI Hostage Negotiator

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Chris Voss was an FBI agent for 24 years, with four of years spent as lead international hostage negotiator. So he knows how the art of negotiation. Voss, now an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the University of Southern California, is also author of "Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your LIfe Depended On It."

In an interview with Kathryn Tyler of SHRM's HR Magazine, Voss talks about negotiation tactics in the business setting--which have implications for lawyers trying to negotiation salaries, signing bonuses, raises, benefits, equity shares, and other compensation. (Spoiler Alert: "Voss contends that business leaders will get to “yes” faster by being attentive and collaborative instead of brash and confrontational.") In the brief Q&A, he tackles the questions:

  • What's the No. 1 rule in negotiations?
  • Why should negotiators let the other side go first?
  • What behavioral cues should negotiators scrutinize?
  • How can business leaders keep their emotion in check during tense negotiations?

One of my favorite tips is staying flexible: "When we’re focused on a solution, we can wear blinders. The other person may offer treasure we ignore. Never be so certain of what you want that you wouldn’t take something better."