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The Value of "No"

Chris Voss

Lesson time 11:09 min

Most people think the most important word in a negotiation is “yes.” In fact, the opposite is true. Chris tells you why “no” can be the pivotal word that gets you to your desired outcome.

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] - So join me in a little experiment. Your phone rings. You pick it up and the voice on the other end of the line says, have you got a few minutes to talk? What's your instant gut reaction. Is it yes? Thank god. I said yes. I feel so good to say yes. No, as a matter of fact, your gut reaction is . The first thing that goes through your mind is, who is this? You find out who it is. The next thing that goes through your mind is, how long is a few minutes? And then after that, the next thing that goes through your mind is, how do I get off the phone? All of that is triggered from the simple, have you got a few minutes to talk? It's amazing that any time anybody asks us to say yes, we ask ourselves, what am I letting myself in for? This happens to us so much and all the time that we're always yes battered. So in this chapter, I'm going to teach you about the beauty of the word "no." Not only is "no" not failure, but you're going to find out how valuable it is to get people to say no and how much farther you can get and how much more information you can get and how much it will actually enhance your relationship when you make people feel like not only is it OK to say no, but no is a really good answer. [MUSIC PLAYING] Yeah, yes is horrible. I mean, first of all, there's three kinds of yes's-- commitment, confirmation, and counterfeit. My confirmation yes is if you've asked me a simple question where you're trying to simply confirm that something is true. My confirmation yes is going to be pretty concise. Like, I might say, yeah, and sometimes I might even say, OK. The more concise and the more curt my tone of voice is, the more likely it is that it's a legitimate confirmation yes. But a commitment yes is an agreement. It's I agree. I'll go along with it. I will do this. I have agreed that I will do this, that I'm good with what we're talking about and that I am in agreement with it. And commitment yes is going to be fairly curt and concise as well. But it's really going to be driven by the context and what I've said leading up to that and how our conversation has gone. The counterfeit yes is the yes I'm going to give you when I'm starting to feel trapped by your questioning, I don't trust you, I want to find out how soon this is going to be over. Maybe I want to know more. So I'm going to give you the counterfeit yes because I've already decided that I don't trust you, and it's OK because I feel like you're trying to trap me. So you might say to me, does this is deal look like something that could work for you? The counterfeit yes it's typically not terribly succinct. It's not short. I'll say, yeah or sure or, if my real objective is to get you to go away, I might say yes to get you to go away. But typically a counterfeit yes is not simply yes. Yes, most of the time, is maybe or a no in waiting or rejection in waiting. So at any point in time that in my previous life I might have sought a yes,...

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.

Well I think this episodes changed my mine set about how I deal with peopel! Amayzing!

This class made me more introspective in negotiations within the business world - what do you want out of this scenario? Ask better questions, and try to evoke emotion which leads to a better outcome for both parties.

Excellent class that translates to any industry.

Being in control of the situation. Being empathic as a tool to build relations where people want to make deals with you. It's key to have very strong communication skills to be successful negotiating.


A fellow student

I loved this lesson, it had extremely valuable information and the lesson as well as the course, has important information about human communication and it explains the reason why a lot of different things happen in relationships and it helps how to solve them :)

Ashutosh Z.

This is probably the most powerful technique yet in this class. This is very different than conventional thinking of "getting into yes"

Anna F.

So cool that he is using the "Analyst voice" to convey key messages during important part of his story telling - such as the two sentence email he sent at 5:03. It is in his DNA now and it absolutely works.

Bernardo F.

Again, so the theory behind this is making the other person reverse his way of thinking. Instead of answering "we don't like your work", they are forced to say "we don't dislike all your work", it's also changing an absolute to a relative, and when having the latter it's easier to work a way out.


powerful message, how to ask the questions the other way to get a "no" from the other party but still get the same commitment I expected! Thank you!

Anthony C.

Would it be out of the question to consider reading "Never Split the Difference?"


This lesson has very monotone information. Is feels like he is talking to himself too much and the responses he provides to his own questions are answers that he'd respond to himself other than what happens in real life.

A fellow student

Wow! I am absolutely the “Yes” person. Like many, I tie No to negativity so avoid it. So many examples immediately sprang to mind. Great lesson and guidance for changing my mindset and interactions.

A fellow student

Another fabulous lesson. I used some of Chris's techniques today while discussing something with my husband that was bothering me. The interaction went much better than those in the past.


I feel like we just graduated from the tadpole swimming pool, and got let in to the lake. another example or white board might help me here. But this reminds me of how to never try to teach someone with a "Don't", or "Can't", or a "No". Instead of saying "Don't run with the scissors", it sells better if it is changed to "Please be careful with scissors". And the running around stops.