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Listen and Empathize to Reach Agreement, Advises Former FBI Negotiator

Anyone can become a better negotiator if they are willing to listen and learn, according to former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss.

Voss will be a keynote speaker at the DRIVE/ Conference, Feb. 27-28, 2018, in Bellevue, Washington. Voss worked as an FBI hostage negotiator for 24 years. Now retired from the FBI, he is currently CEO of Black Swan Group, a consultancy that specializes in solving business communication problems with hostage negotiation techniques.

Here are three tips from Voss on how to improve your negotiating skills.

  • Understand your alumni/donors. "Most people think empathy is something we use when we can't agree when, in fact, using empathy helps us reach an agreement a lot faster," says Voss.
  • Put yourself in their shoes. Sometimes you need to empathize with your donors to truly address their concerns. "Until you can quiet that inner voice, you won't make progress. It's not that they won't listen. It's that they can't because they're overwhelmed by the inner voice," explains Voss.
  • Be genuine. If you also find yourself getting emotional during a negotiation with a donor or volunteer, be grateful that you're having the conversation at all. This means you are already successful, suggests Voss. Brainstorming the worst-case scenario can also help manage your fears and anxiety, he adds.

Look for the full interview in the January/February issue of Currents, available online in early 2018. Early-bird registration for the DRIVE/ Conference ends Jan. 19, 2018.

This article is from the December 2017 BriefCASE issue.

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