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Chris Voss

Lesson time 11:27 min

Learn how you can use labels—verbal observations of feelings—to neutralize negative emotions in a negotiation or reinforce positive ones to create a better deal.

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] - The amygdala is this little organ in the middle of your head, and it is the nerve center of all the emotions. There were neuroscience experiments that were done where they put people in fMRIs, functional magnetic resonance imaging equipment, so they could watch the electrical activity in people's brains. Then they induced the negative emotion by showing a photo to them. The photo might make them feel sad, angry, lonely, hurt, upset. They knew the photo would trigger some sort of a negative emotion. They showed the people the photo, and they simply said, what are you feeling? They told them to identify it or label it. And every time that the person self-labeled, they saw the electrical activity in the negative part of the amygdala decrease, every time. Now, when we first started on labels in a hostage negotiation, we called them emotion labels, and we used it as a very self-defining skill. You labeled emotions. You heard an emotion, put a label on it. If somebody sounded angry, you said, you sound angry. And if that negative emotion is there, that label will reduce that negative emotion. So in this session, I'm going to teach you about labels. Labels are just verbal observations. When I first came out of hostage negotiation into business negotiation, I actually thought this was the least important skill on our list. Having been involved in business negotiation for quite a while and coaching a lot of people, we found out that labels might be the most important skill, the most innocuous skill, and the most MacGyver skill, the most useful tool with the most different applications to unwind and solve some of the trickiest problems. Don't be fooled by their simplicity. Their simplicity gives them elegance. You'll enjoy learning labels. [MUSIC PLAYING] The steps to labeling. The first step is you simply being aware of the emotion or the dynamic from the other side. Now, this is a lot easier than it sounds because you've got a great gut instinct. Becoming aware of what your gut instinct is picking up is the first step. Then the second step after that is to simply label it. That starts out with it seems like, it sounds like, it looks like, it feels like. Those are the first few words of a label, and then just fill in the blank. If your gut instinct is to say, look, I don't want you to be upset about this, your gut instinct is picking up that they are upset or they will be upset. So take it and make it a label. It seems like you're upset about this. What happens in your brain is you say to yourself, am I upset? It triggers that contemplation. And the mere act of triggering that contemplation deactivates the negative. So my labels are going to do several things simultaneously. They're going to build the relationship, and they're going to help me gather information. And since both of those things are happening, then my influence with you is going to increase. And the great thing about this type of influence, ...

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.

It provided some real insight into, not only major events, but ordinary everyday interactions from a new perspective that is grounded in human nature.

My voice is a tool that I have always used to manage my students. I can make my whole class amp with one word. That works for a couple of months to let them know I am serious. Now I can bring it down and use my voice to get them on my side.

The tone of your voice has more power than any words you use.

This was astounding. I'm going back to work next week not knowing if I'm still going to have a job. These lessons couldn't have come at a better time. Thank you so much!


Bernardo F.

Seems like he's enjoying teaching us. Positive feedback helps a lot. I remember once a teacher told me that when making a procedure I must appreciate the person who was attending me. She told me: they can help you or they can simply say no and you're not going to be able to make that procedure. She knew that some people wer kind of grumpy, but if I treated them as if they were serving me I wouldn't receive anything. Incredibly, this has helped me lots of times, how you can make the others think that you need them so they do their best to show-off.

A fellow student

I really don't like to mirror. My way of negotiating is to create a relevant, forward-thinking response, in context, that shows that already understand what they're saying. Of course, I'm no Chris Voss.


Résumé en français Le ressenti de l'interlocuteur Des neroscientifiques, ont prouvé après des recherches via irm sur le cerveau que dès lors qu'une personne nommée l'émotion qu'elle ressentait qu'elle soit négative où positive, l'amygdale du cerveau étant la partie chargée de la reconnaissance émotionnelle, émet un signal électrique. Cette étude vient corroborer le fait qu'à chaque fois qu'une personne nomme elle-même l'émotion qu'elle ressent dans le cadre d'une discussion qui plus est, une émotion négative cette dernière à tendance à s'atténuer. De ce fait, dès lors qu'on détecte une attitude induite par une émotion non avoué de notre interlocuteur, il est nécessaire de lui faire formellement nommer cette émotion de préférence par une question indirecte employant la troisième personne du singulier, de sorte à ce que l'interlocuteur puisse répondre en nommant lui-même l'émotion de son ressenti. Ce procédé permet de construire une meilleure relation avec l'interlocuteur et mettre en place une influence basée sur la confiance, ce qui est l'un des meilleures moyen d'établir une influence à long terme et qui nécessitant peu d'effort à entretenir. L'une des mauvaises manières de faire nommer le ressenti d'un interlocuteur est d'émettre une question incluant le pronom «je» car cela renvoie le fait que l'on est davantage intéressé par notre point de vu que celui de l'interlocuteur, il est nécessaire après avoir nommé le ressenti de l'autre de laisser un silence pour signifier à l'autre qu'il peut donner aisément son ressenti. Il peut aussi être nécessaire parfois de poser plusieurs questions en essayant d'aller plus en profondeur dans le ressenti de l'autre si l'on a pas réussi à avoir son avis dès la première question. Nommé un ressenti négatif permet de l'atténuer certes en revanche nommée un ressenti positif permet de le renforcer. Pour faire prolonger l'interlocuteur dans l'explication de son ressenti, il peut être aisé d'y inclure la technique de l'effet miroir afin qu'il puisse aller plus en profondeur dans son explication. Prochain résumé à la vidéo suivante ;)


I wonder how much is too much mirroring? Would someone realise you are doing it after a while?

Anthony C.

His take on what to do if there is silence to your label was great information.

Shawn D.

I'm on the 3rd lesson and hooked. Don't start this unless you have time to finish'll not put it down!

Keri M.

I learned a lot of this over the years in sales and it works. We did a lot of mirroring and discovery when I sold timeshares, which was completely a psychological sale. I also learned about letting people talk and being interested in them, that if you do that they will always think your so nice and a great person...reason.... everyone wants to talk about themselves.

Dei A.

"empathy is not the truth, not reality, it is the other sides point of view." Beautiful

dara A.

i wish there was more of a back and forth with mirroring someone here. like if he had someone there with him to go over scenarios.

Lourdes Z.

Question: what if when you label, the other denies it? (e.g. "I'm not upset, you're upset" or something of the like), do you mirror that? Or what do you do?