We rarely ever think about cultivating our negotiating skills, but they’re necessary to setting up fair compromises which allow us to live happy, conflict-free lives.
Negotiation is such a universal skill that everyone can benefit from learning how to negotiate properly.
And mastering the art of negotiation can be the difference between a happy and fulfilled life, and one where you just can’t seem to catch a break.
Enter Chris Voss, former FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator.
Who better to learn the art of negotiation from?
In his MasterClass course, Chris Voss teaches you the strategies and techniques on how to resolve a problem and come to a win-win arrangement for all parties involved.
Here’s my full and honest review — let’s get to it!
Why I Decided To Check Out the Chris Voss MasterClass
I’ve always understood the value of negotiation.
Negotiation is a skill that everyone should have if they want to build healthy relationships, receive better service, or ask for a higher salary.
That being said, I’m also not ashamed to admit that I can be really bad at negotiating.
Maybe my biggest pitfall is lacking the confidence to speak up for myself during a negotiation.
At my first job, I didn’t try to negotiate my salary at all after hearing about the workload — because I didn’t know how to approach the situation.
I also never bargain with shopkeepers or vendors for the price of goods; I tend to pay the first price they quote me for even if they were not always fair.
So when I saw that MasterClass was offering a class on negotiation, I jumped at the chance to try it.
Even though negotiation is most commonly done in the fields of business or crime investigation, I was encouraged by all the promising reviews I saw about the course.
One reviewer mentioned that their entire family participated in this MasterClass and after the lessons, the number of arguments in their household dropped while negotiations increased.
And for such a universal skill that more people should practice, I can’t think of another online course that teaches you the art of negotiation.
It’s a unique and interesting class to take not only because of the skill involved, but also (mainly) because of the instructor.
Chris Voss worked as an FBI negotiator for international hostage cases so I thought it would be great to learn from someone who would have so many cool stories and anecdotes to share from his line of work.
I didn’t think it would be a waste of money to take the class because I was sure it would be entertaining and educational.
I also thought that the course aligned with my values as well.
According to the MasterClass description, you will be equipped with the tools you need to negotiate successfully with the other person.
The course teaches you to focus on understanding, empathizing, and relating to the person you’re negotiating with.
Once you’ve properly connected with them, you can persuade them to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
I appreciate that the goal of negotiation is to make everyone happy with the outcome of the situation, through a peaceful and conflict-free approach.
What Is MasterClass?
Before I continue talking about this course on negotiation, you might be wondering what exactly is MasterClass.
A good way to describe MasterClass is that it’s an educational and inspirational version of Netflix.
It’s a streaming platform where you can learn from the best and most celebrated instructors around the world on various topics like writing, cooking, sports, style, and so much more.
How Much Does MasterClass Cost?
MasterClass offers a $180 annual subscription fee which allows you access to all their courses.
What separates Masterclass from other online education courses isn’t just the famous names. It’s the quality of the videos. They’re incredible.
You can easily binge-watch them all day. They’re easy-to-watch and you can actually learn valuable skills while you’re watching them.
In my opinion, I’ve found MasterClass more engaging and useful for my brain than binge-watching Netflix all day.
What Chris Voss’s MasterClass Is All About
Chris Voss begins the class by explaining how life is really just one long series of negotiations.
Every day, for little things or big things, there is always some kind of ongoing negotiation with the people around you.
On some days, we even negotiate with ourselves (“I will not eat a brownie until I finish this task”).
However, Chris Voss challenges our existing notion of negotiation because we often think it’s a confrontation.
In reality, he says, it’s more of a collaboration than a compromise: both parties should win something.
In order to figure out what the other person wants to win, you have to identify the elements that make them tick.
To do so, Chris Voss teaches you how to employ techniques like:
Mirroring: Mirroring is a behavior where you imitate the other person’s speech pattern, attitude, or gestures to build a bond with them.
It is an effective way to get more information out of someone because you draw them out of their comfort zone and establish a connection.
An example would be repeating the last few words they said so you can prompt them to explain themselves further.
Silence: Knowing when to dole out silence works well in conjunction to mirroring.
While mirroring makes bonding quick, silence allows the other party time to think and talk.
You give them more space to reflect and dig deeper before they say a word.
Labeling: Labeling is a scientifically-proven technique that lets you diffuse negative emotions so you can have a more fruitful conversation.
Saying something like “you seem angry” to someone makes them more aware of what they’re feeling and calms them down.
Labeling positive traits like generosity will also encourage the other party to act generously.
Aside from teaching the techniques, Chris Voss gives more practical instruction through exercises, case studies and mock negotiations.
He reinforces everything he teaches by allowing you to practice with the exercises.
The course also includes clips of the cases Chris Voss worked on during his time with the FBI such as the Jill Carroll hostage negotiation, the Dwight Watson tractor man case, and the Chase Manhattan bank robbery.
Chris Voss pushes the lessons further by using practical mock negotiations like negotiating for your salary, negotiating with a rival, and even negotiating with a teenager.
These lessons are a thousand times more effective because of the demonstrations, giving you a chance to really see his techniques in action.
Overall, you’ll hear plenty of great tips and advice on how to use tone, body language, emotions, speech patterns, and even digital communication to polish your negotiation skills in various settings.
Who Is Chris Voss’s Art of Negotiation MasterClass For?
The Art of Negotiation MasterClass is ideal for almost everyone who needs to learn how to negotiate.
Each lesson is presented in a simple, logical format and you can easily try what you learn right away.
The science behind each technique is explained well and Chris Voss supplements learning by introducing anecdotal examples so you see how everything is applied.
It’s great for people who want to get what they want but at the same time, avoid getting in conflict with other people.
Students who also want to improve their communication skills will benefit from what Chris Voss has to say about authentic engagement.
Aside from learning more methods that increase the chances of succeeding with a deal, you gain a better understanding of what makes human beings tick.
Whether you’re a complete beginner in communication or you’ve taken other classes on the subject, there is plenty to learn and enjoy from this MasterClass.
The Art of Negotiation is a great choice on MasterClass if you’re the kind of person who likes watching action films where someone gets strapped with a bomb and the hero has to negotiate.
It’s an entertaining course because you’ll feel like a fly on the wall during a high stakes negotiation as Chris Voss analyzes news footage and actual recordings of him negotiating with terrorists to cement your understanding of the lesson.
It’s an exciting way to learn a seemingly boring topic.
I have seen comments that suggest the course is a rehash of Chris Voss’s book, Never Split The Difference.
And I do agree that the book combined with the interviews where he discusses his techniques might make the class feel redundant.
However, there is a big difference when reading a 300-page book on your own versus watching engaging clips and footage from real life and death situations.
Even if he does go over similar points from his book, you gain a more complete educational experience by seeing and hearing him use the techniques.
If you’re a visual learner, I would definitely recommend the MasterClass over the book.
Other Classes You May Be Interested In
If you’re not intrigued by the idea of learning how to negotiate, there are similar MasterClasses that might be more fit for you.
Here are some other MasterClasses that I found really interesting:
Robin Roberts – Effective and Authentic Communication: Good Morning, America co-anchor and broadcaster Robin Roberts shares her expertise and teaches you how to communicate effectively for all audiences.
In this course, Robin Roberts guides you on how to build resilience and how to create genuine moments of human connection.
Bob Iger – Business Strategy and Leadership: Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger instructs you on evolving your career and your business.
With 45 years in media, he explains how you can expand your brand, take risks, and negotiate your way to success.
Daniel Pink – Sales and Persuasion: New York Times bestselling author Daniel Pink is your coach on how to do sales and persuasion ethically, using science-backed principles.
He goes through different tactics and tools to help you achieve good outcomes in any interaction.
What Makes Chris Voss the Perfect Mentor?
Chris Voss began his career with New York’s Joint Terrorist Task Force for over a decade until he began working as a lead negotiator in the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Unit.
Here, he handled over 150 international hostage cases where he convinced bank robbers, kidnappers, and terrorists to see things his way for over 20 years.
After retiring from the FBI, he began to delve more into business negotiation and now serves as the CEO of the Black Swan Group Ltd.
Aside from being a businessman and author (Never Split The Difference), Chris Voss also works as an academic.
You will notice how confidently and clearly he teaches throughout the course.
This comes from his experience as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and a lecturer at the Marshall School of Business in the University of Southern California.
Aside from the field-tested strategies he demonstrates, I appreciate how Chris Voss philosophizes negotiation.
Rather than a battle, he perceives true negotiation to be a collaboration that is rooted in empathy.
He doesn’t discount the feelings and needs of the person on the other side of the negotiating table while he continues to stand his ground and assert his own perspective.
Everything You Get With Chris Voss’s MasterClass
Signing up for the Chris Voss MasterClass gets you everything listed below:
A 14-page Workbook: Compared to other MasterClass Workbooks, the one provided with Chris Voss’s course is unusually slim and doesn’t really follow the course flow at all. It works best as a useful, post-course summary you can review.
Access to the Community Hub: Every MasterClass course gives you access to a Community where you can connect with your fellow students and discuss what you have learned. The great thing about the Chris Voss Community is that it is an active space where you can participate in online role plays and practice mock negotiations almost every day. The organizers of the forum have prepared negotiation scenarios for you to try out so you can improve your skills in a low stakes environment.
18 video lessons: In total, the video content will run for over 3 hours. Each video lesson lasts no longer than 15 minutes and you have complete control over how quickly you go through the course.
Here is a break down of the entire class:
Tactical Empathy: Chris Voss guides us through commonly-held misconceptions about negotiation and reframes the situation as the enemy.
Mirroring: As one of the simplest but effective techniques used by negotiators, Chris Moss demonstrates how mirroring and repetition can help you gather more information.
Labeling: Learn how using verbal observations of feelings can help neutralize negative emotions or reinforce positive ones for a better outcome.
Exercise: Mirroring and Labeling: Chris Voss demonstrates with an actor on how mirroring and labeling is done at the negotiation table.
Mastering Delivery: Tone and inflection might matter more than the words you use during negotiation so Chris Voss shares his top communication tips.
Case Study: Chase Manhattan Bank Robbery: Chris Voss shares for the first time the audio recordings of his phone calls with the two men who held three bank employees hostage in 1993.
Body Language and Speech Patterns: Chris Voss teaches you the finer points of looking under the surface based on how people behave.
Creating the Illusion of Control: Chris Voss instructs you how to shift the power dynamics and gain an upper hand in the negotiation.
Mock Negotiation: Teenager: In a roleplay situation, Chris Voss demonstrates how to use negotiation tactics on his teenage daughter.
The Accusations Audit: With this technique, you learn how to identify feelings and spin negatives into positives when you begin negotiations.
The Value of “No”: Chris Voss clarifies that sometimes the word “no” can lead to a better outcome than the word “yes” in a negotiation.
Mock Negotiation: Rival: Opposing views are the most difficult to reconcile; Chris Voss shows you how to handle two competing agendas.
Bending Reality: How you frame perspective and how well you understand emotional drivers can make your case.
Bargaining: Chris Voss walks you through bargaining and how to do it with tact, skill, and diplomacy.
Mock Negotiation: Salary: In another role play, Chris Voss demonstrates the correct way to negotiate a higher salary successfully.
Black Swans: A Black Swan is a seemingly trivial but crucial piece of information that can change the flow of negotiations, as Chris Voss explains with the 2003 Dwight Watson incident.
Mock Negotiation: “60 Seconds or She Dies”: Chris Voss shows you how to deal with a tense, high stakes, and time-bound negotiation through a role play demo.
The Power of Negotiation: Chris Voss closes his MasterClass on a motivational note and explains how negotiating can transform your life.
Is Chris Voss’s MasterClass Worth It?
With a 4.7 rating on MasterClass, I’m sure many of my fellow students were satisfied by how the course helped them learn about negotiation.
Like me, they appreciated how well-structured and genuinely informative the class was.
I also liked how Chris Voss was an engaging instructor who really knew his stuff.
The best part of Chris Voss’s MasterClass is that everyone can find value in it.
Once you become a better negotiator, you can bring your skills and apply them to all kinds of real-life scenarios.
By practicing all the tactical negotiation techniques and principles, you would definitely feel empowered in your personal and professional life — especially if you want to cooperate, rather than engage in conflict.
Despite the many alternative courses and resources about the topic, the Chris Voss MasterClass stands out because it’s easy-to-use and memorable for beginners.
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