Bring it on Nightmare Negotiators, I’ve Been Black Swan Trained!

negptoation training

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You haven’t been really trained, unless you’ve been Black Swan trained in negotiations. This course is great! So here’s my review.

Negotiation training

Negotiation Training with former FBI Hostage Negotiator and author – Christopher Voss

Well, I’m ready. At least I think I’m ready.  It only took a full day of training, and therefore, I’m ready to start a side gig as a hostage negotiator! Woot Woot!  So feel to DM me if a family member gets kidnapped. Or if your kid puts you in a life or death negotation over ice cream.

Either way, I’ve got cheap rates! But I just can’t guarantee everyone will come out alive, especially when it comes to ice cream negotations.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

I’m starting with the book, since I absolutely LOVED it.  Literally one of my favorite top two over the past 10 years. And I like to read. A lot.

So if you haven’t read it yet, you need to (I’ve got an extra copy)! Second, it’s reason that I decided to take the course (and convinced two of my coworkers to go with me). I still listen to it every night hoping I’ll soak up more of the key learnings in my subconcious after I’ve feel asleep. Can’t hurt right?

Now, the book is a prerequisite to taking the course. But, I would argue after taking the course, that’s it’s not really a make or break to sign up. Don’t get me wrong, it does help reinforce everything you’ve learned, but you might be able to get away without it.

That said, you won’t get as much out of the class, and you could look like an ass if they called on you. It’s on audibles, so there’s really no excuse. Just listen to it.

negotiation training

Negotiation Training – The Day Begins!

So to say I was excited or obsessed, might be a bit of an understatement. And I definitely wasn’t diasppointed. I was enamored by the book and the in person class was A-MAZ-ING! Sometimes you just connect with certain things or people and this was definitely the case for me. I felt like I had a huge school girl crush, all giddy with excitement.

And what I quickly found out, was that not only is there one hostage negotiatior in the Black Swan Group (Christopher Voss), but a total of three – all amazing BTW. It includes Derek Gaunt, author of “Ego, Authority, Failure: Using Emotional Intelligence Like a Hostage Negotiator to Succeed as A Leader” and Isaac R. Betancourt, who is a Veteran and a former negotiator himself for over 20 years.

The group also includes his son (Brandon Voss) and marketer Maya Voss. It seemed his son could have taught the class if he wasn’t there. Not to mention, they were there and happy to chat, answers questions and just willing to help out any way they could.

Not only that, but at any point during the all of the breaks, you could easily approach anyone else (including Chris) on the team. This in itself is a huge selling point. To get this type of access really is invaluable and they were happy and personable. What else could a girl ask for?!

Turning on the Negotiation Heat

Things started to heat up in the training. Literally, the building was super hot by noon. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a heat wave going on in SF, and as you may/may not know there isn’t air conditioning in most buildings in the city. So as the day went on, it did become pretty tough to concentrate.

But, during the day we did get to practcies negotiation exercises that are strewn throughout the book. Which, was I was a bit surprised by, but only because I wanted to push the bar a bit more that what I had already read.

But as I mention before, it really did reinforce what we had read, and practice does help when it comes to these techniques.  It’s not rocket science, but it’s not second nature yet until you get some practice.  So working on our ‘mirroring, accusation audits, etc.’ was extremely useful.

My Other Negotiation Blogs:


Negotiation Donkeys – Link


How Playing Poker can improve your Negotiation Skills – Link


Nightmare IT Negotiations – Link

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negotiation training
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Finding the Black Swan

So little did we realize (as sourcing / procurement) we were the ‘outliers’ of the group.  We were unknowningly surrounding by salespeople who are typically, less than happy to deal with us. *Cue me sinking down into my seat.* I even think Chris even called it ‘the dark side.’ when he signed my book.

But it didn’t matter, we all got the same experience! And the best part of all of this is the follow-up sessions and access to their online systems/training. It’s one thing to teach a day of training, it’s another to make the extra effort to make sure it works.

I haven’t seen this with other groups I’ve had negotiation trainings with *cough, vantage partnerns, cough*. And it’s that personal interaction and follow-up that matters. Becasuse a free drink is nice when seeing you in the airport because I held onto your card, but help with a $10M contract is a bit nicer. And better for my career/company. Just saying – priorities.

Never Splitting the Difference

So if you have noticed by now, I was a fan of the entire course/agenda. And since I haven’t gone into much detail on what the books entails… I figured I would give a brief overview as a final summary! Enjoy!

1. Mirroring – by far the simpiliest, but most effective tactic (an my favorite) of them all. Repeating the last 3 or so words the other person has said.

2. Labeling – validating someone’s emotion by acknowledging it during the negotiation.

3. Counterfit ‘Yes’ – Sometimes people will say anything (and not mean it) to get out of an uncomfortable situation. Therefore, you should aim for ‘no’ as it makes others feel in control.

4. Accusation Audits – Diffuse a tough negotiation by labeling the other parties feeling ahead of time.

5. Bend Their Reality – I call it the “F-bomb.” The use of the word fair can alter any negotiation. Especially since most people have a visceral reaction if they think you are trying to rob them or take advantage of them/or the situation.

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3 thoughts on “Bring it on Nightmare Negotiators, I’ve Been Black Swan Trained!

  1. Hi Dana, read your post I was considering taking the 2 day seminar the price tag is pretty high almost $5K. I would be paying out of pocket. I have read the book and I have completed his online Masterclass so I am not sure if its just running through the extra exercises or you gain significant insights from the training. Based on your experience is worth it.

    1. So for me, it just felt like a in-person training basically mimicking the book. That said, the value is in the feedback and ability to talk to anyone on the team and future calls to support you. That can be invaluable, which you could get with the 1 day course and then save some money.

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