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Bending Reality

Chris Voss

Lesson time 11:10 min

A negotiation can succeed or fail depending on how you frame your case. Chris walks you through the subtle art of perspective and how to understand a counterpart’s key emotional drivers in order to make a compelling case.

Chris Voss
Teaches The Art of Negotiation
Former FBI lead hostage negotiator Chris Voss teaches you communication skills and strategies to help you get more of what you want every day.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - I refer to losing something, loss aversion, as bending reality. Fear of loss and what people loss completely distorts their perception so much that it effectively bends their reality. You have to take that into account, and you have to find out how they feel they are losing because that's going to be the single dominating factor in their decision-making. What are they going to lose if they don't make the deal? What are they going to lose if they do make the deal? It's never rational, and it's always bent based on their distortion of reality. Now any given situation can be offered as a gain or loss. For example, you're a company that's going to make them 23% more money. You can say, work with us, and you'll make 23% more money. There will be a 23% gain. The return on your investment will be 23%. Or you can say, choose not to work with us, stay where you are, don't change anything, and it's going to cost you 23% every day. While you sleep not working with us is going to cost you 23% day in and day out. Fear of loss is what keeps people up at night. Nobody loses sleep, nobody gets insomnia because life is good and they're making money and tomorrow is going to be more profitable than today was. They sleep like a baby over gains. Fear of loss is what keeps people up at night because you get a loss in your head, and it burrows into your psyche, and it eats at you, and it keeps you awake. And that's why it's one of the dominating factors in human decision-making. [MUSIC PLAYING] All right, now, I'm going to tell you about the F word-- fair. The F bomb. Fair comes up in nearly every single negotiation. As soon as you look for the word fair and aware of how much it comes up, rarely does it not come up. People use it to manipulate other people. People use it when they're backed into a corner. The concept of fairness is fundamental to what we are as human beings, and that's why it comes up all the time. A classic example is something called the ultimatum game. Let's say two people are walking down the street. $10 falls out of the sky. It's $10 in found money. They have the opportunity to split the $10. One of the two people gets to propose how it's going to be split. The second of the two people gets to only accept or reject. They get to throw out one number. The proposer can only propose a split one time. There's no back and forth. There's no debate. There's no convincing. There's no subsequent rounds of negotiation. This game has been played around the world. One of the things I love about this game is that it drives game theorists crazy. They hate it because people react as human beings. People say 5/5 is the only fair way to do it. And I say, all right, so you wouldn't take 3? You know, I might say to you, what about 2, what about 4? No, that's not fair! Well, how is 0 better than 3? You're saying I, you know, I feel disgusted if I'm asked to take 3. I should get 5. Well, if 3 makes you feel disgusted, how does ...

Take control of the outcome

As an FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss persuaded terrorists, bank robbers, and kidnappers to see things his way. Now he’s teaching you his field-tested strategies to help you in everyday negotiations, whether you’re aiming to improve your salary, the service you receive, or your relationships. Get stronger communication skills, game-changing insights into human nature, and more of what you want out of life.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Absolutely phenomenal class... Great for those keen on improving their negotiation skills!

Honestly, this was one of the most profound lessons in life, communication and self respect I have experienced.

Chris Voss was captivating and insightful. Sad to have this class end!

It has helped me to leverage better work terms and conditions!


Bernardo F.

Again I find it wonderful to change the point of view on things. I read a book on economics and one of the chapters talked about how we feel the loss, and most of the times, losing an amount feels worse as winning the same amount, that has to be in part with the difference in percentages that each one represent.

Francesca M.

Great class. Lots of good, useful information delivered with strategies on how to put it into action in your day-to-day. Loved the role plays - very helpful to see the information in practice.

Fawaz L.

I feel like if you dont hve a stage by stage diagram in mind and deliver the skills accuarately you'll just come over as a nuiasnce or blow your own cover/shake the persons belief in your positive intentions.

Maxime T.

Great concepts exposed in this lesson, althouh i feel like more time could be spent on how to create the fear of loss to your counterpart and if it should be expressed directly or whatsoever. If anybody knows more about it i would apreciate your generosity to share it ;)


I loved this session. There was a lot of reincorporation from previous sessions that pulled together here. Reactions seed the next interaction. That's a big takeaway for me. Curbing an emotional response and finding a way to keep it positive. That's a challenge for me but it's good advice.

Joshua T.

Could a kind soul help break down the "deadlines are meaningless" part of this video? when Chris says that when you focus on the progress the dead lines go away, does this mean literally or just internally the dealines go away? Are we literally removing the deadlines from the negotiation?


Would there be anyone in the community willing/interested in running exercises like Chris does with the actress for each of these techniques? It's harder than I thought to implement and practice these in real-life scenarios.

Meg N.

In contrast to the immediately previous lesson, this lesson rang resonant and truly valuable - the idea of fairness, how to frame potential loss, how to end on a good note to keep the relationship in good standing. Excellent! In real life, usually neither side has identical views of reality, so bringing the other side around, fairly, is necessary. Don't let fast-talking people drag you into a disadvantage, but let them know that to be fair, the situation can be seen two ways. Both sides want to work with a good partner, because "my way or the highway" does not work long-term.


Incredible jewels dropped here..amazingly true how loss distorts people. Mindfulness (being in the present) would stop that I believe if people stuck to it.

Sithembile M.

This has been beyond incredible and insightful... Want to take this lesson, again and again, Chris is engaging and relatable information.. personable