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A Banking Manager and His Colleague Dominate Negotiations Together

After stumbling across a Chris Voss video on YouTube, one manager at a banking institution based in Colorado decided that he needed to read the book to learn more and then eventually signed up for a live negotiation event.

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The manager runs a makeshift book club with some colleagues, and he figured that Chris’ book would be an excellent conversation starter.

It was—to the point that the manager and a colleague decided that they needed to go to one of Black Swan’s live events, which was taking place halfway across the country in New York City.

“Using Black Swan techniques, we were able to get the budget approved.”

While reading the book, the manager was drawn to the concept of tactical empathy—or consciously using empathy in a negotiation to see things from your counterpart’s point of view.

“My strengths are in controlling the outcome and the situation. I can puppeteer and navigate to get the outcomes we’re aiming for,” the manager says. “But I deploy the same skill set over and over again.”

After reading up on tactical empathy, the manager decided it was time to develop a new skill that would help him become an even more effective negotiator.

“Tactical empathy allowed me to get the same results with a different approach—one that was completely focused on our customers and their needs,” he explains.

"Once I understood what their interests were, I could adjust my positioning to make the negotiation a win-win for everyone. We call it blackswanning."

By his own admission, the manager is high-strung by nature. Thanks to Black Swan’s teachings, he’s improved his emotional intelligence— which gives him the upper hand in each negotiation.

“Using Black Swan allows me to have this inner calm. Now, when the other side says something that would normally be a trigger for me, I zero in on it and say something like this: It seems like we were on the same page. Can you take me back to the point where we started to diverge? I’ve got the negotiating leverage because I am wrapped up in the other side’s interests and what they’re talking about.”

During every negotiation, the manager looks for opportunities to use Black Swan’s techniques—like accusation audits™, calibrated questions™, mirrors™, and labels™—to flip the entire negotiation around.

“Instead of diffusing a tense situation with aggression or forcing the other side to act, I’m now diffusing it by shaking my head and saying, 'That’s interesting, tell me more. They work their own problems out and I just guide them toward the outcomes I want.”'

The manager and his colleague have found the most success by using Black Swan techniques together when they’re in the same meeting.

“She’ll say something that indicates she’s going in a Black Swan direction, and then I’ll immediately increase my active listening,” the manager says. “She works down a path, I pick it up, and then we’re constantly trading back and forth.”

Recently, the duo had a really successful meeting in which their use of Black Swan techniques prompted their client to reveal a ton of information. When it was over, the client thanked them for “one of the best meetings they’d ever been a part of.” The budget was approved and both sides walked away with the feeling of winning.

“When you’ve actually experienced a black swan moment, it’s this amazing euphoria,” the manager says. “We walked out of the room and high-fived.”

Any last takeaways?

Read the book first, the manager says. Then be on the lookout for low- stakes opportunities and repeatedly practice what you’ve learned. Over time, it’ll become second nature.

Are You Ready to Sharpen Your Negotiation Skills?

Everything we’ve previously been taught about negotiation is wrong. No one is purely rational and nothing in life is fair. You may have the facts and logic on your side. But all too often, that’s not enough.

By understanding what makes people tick and working diligently to see things from their perspective during every conversation, all areas of your life will improve. In the business realm, you’ll find it easier to guide people toward the outcomes you’re aiming for—and have them say thank you when all is said and done.

Further your training by attending a live event, enrolling in online courses, hiring Black Swan for business training, or signing up for negotiation coaching.