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Black Swan Negotiation Skills Training: Quick 2+1™

By |June 20, 2022

We start every Black Swan live training session with the same exercise: the Quick 2+1™. It’s our foundational skill set. 

At the end of the day, people know how to ask questions, provide summaries, and paraphrase their counterpart’s position. But they struggle with Labels™, Mirrors™, and Dynamic Silence™—the three tools that make up the Quick 2+1.   

These tools are incredibly effective. They’re the fastest way to demonstrate that you’re dialed in and present in the conversation. 

People across the world—regardless of where they come from or what they look like—just want someone to understand them, the circumstances they’re facing, and the pressure they’re under. Using the Quick 2+1 is a great way to demonstrate that level of understanding.

Keep reading to learn more about the three components of the Quick 2+1 to level-up your negotiation skills .


A Label is a verbal observation of the driving forces, emotions, or dynamics coming from your counterpart. It’s your attempt at not only recognizing what the other side is saying but also articulating it.

It sounds like you have a lot on your plate. It seems like there’s a lot riding for you on this deal.

Most people are good at recognizing where the other side is coming from, but they struggle with verbalizing it. However, the articulation of that recognition is critically important.

In every difficult conversation, there’s a latent dynamic or emotion and a presenting dynamic and emotion. For example, imagine a buddy of yours vents to you, saying: I can’t believe she did this to me again! I’m done with her. This is ridiculous! 

In such a scenario, you can Label the presenting dynamic: It sounds like you’re angry and frustrated. And you can Label the latent dynamic: It seems like this is hurting you. 

You know you are “leveling-up” with your use of Labels when you begin to focus on what’s not being said with the words used. 


When you Mirror someone’s words, you repeat the last three to five words they said using an upward or downward inflection. This is an incredibly effective tool because it demonstrates that you’re present in the conversation and paying attention to the other side. It’s impossible to repeat your counterpart’s words back to them and not be fully engaged.

We use Mirrors to prompt the other side to give us more information without saying something like: Tell me more about that. Mirrors help us encourage the other side to continue expressing a poignant thought. 

If you want your Mirror to pose a question, use an upwards inflection: It’s killing you? If you want to make a declarative statement, go in the other direction: It’s killing you.

At a basic level, Mirrors satisfy your counterpart’s need to be understood. Their words coming out of your mouth and back into their ears are more persuasive than you might think.

Dynamic Silence™

The plus-one part of the Quick 2+1 is Dynamic Silence, a tactic in which you intentionally create a void in the conversation to give your counterpart space to fill. 

Although you might think this would be the easiest skill to execute, it is actually the hardest. People have a hard time shutting their mouths because they feel they are losing control.

Most people don’t like awkward silences. Here at Black Swan, we are the opposite. We encourage clients to intentionally create awkward moments in conversations—especially after they hear or say something important.

As uncomfortable as silence might make you, it will make the other side equally uncomfortable. If you’re patient and committed, your counterpart will fill the air and give you more information to break the silence. 

At the end of the day, negotiation is a guided discovery process designed to help you uncover more information. If you’re talking, you’re not learning, and you’re not uncovering information. So when you’re ready to use silence, pause and count in your head: one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. By the time you get to four, your counterpart will almost certainly have filled the space.

Quick 2+1: Final Words

When you use Black Swan tools, you need to be yourself and remain conversational. Otherwise, you’ll come across as a disingenuous robot.

Conversations are like soup, and the Quick 2+1 is a seasoning. Just like you’re not going to use too much salt, pepper, or garlic in your soup, you don’t want to rely on the same tools too much during a conversation.

If you hit me with four Mirrors in a row, I will look at you like you have two heads. You’ll sound disingenuous.

So don’t use the tools to replace the way you communicate. Instead, use them to enhance your message.

Ready to continue your negotiation skills training? Check out our free e-book, Five Ways Your Sales Team is Killing Deals.

5 ways your sales team is killing deals