Ever since I first started researching online negotiation courses, I knew I had to get my hands on “The Art of Negotiation” by Chris Voss. After all, the man’s a legend. He is the most famous FBI negotiator who ever lived, and at this point, he is also the world’s most decorated expert on business negotiation. And his book “Never Split the Difference” has been collectively deemed a goldmine of communication strategies, quickly becoming a New York Times bestseller.
When I finally had enough money to splurge on a MasterClass subscription, I thought I was in for a treat. The prospect of skillfully getting the upper hand in all my communications sounded very useful, exciting, and even a bit mischievous. After all, if I could only harness 10% of his negotiation skills, surely it would be enough to gain the upper hand in both business and day-to-day negotiations.
So, were my high expectations met, or was I simply deceived by brilliant marketing efforts? In this review of the Chris Voss MasterClass, you’ll find out just that.
Table of Contents
What is the Chris Voss MasterClass?
“The Art of Negotiation” is one of the most highly acclaimed online courses on MasterClass. It is led by Chris Voss, one of the worlds leading experts on impactful negotiation.
The class is tailored to teach both the theory and the practical skills needed to master negotiating in all walks of life.
The online course is composed of 18 video lessons that will take 3 hours to finish in full. Each lesson of the class has a duration of approximately 10 minutes. Admittedly, this is a rather short duration. But, rest assured that all the content you do get is packed full of useful learning materials. No minute is wasted in this MasterClass.
In addition to theoretical learning, you will also be treated to case studies, mock negotiations, and exercises. I highlighted some of my personal favorite lessons in this section of my review of the Chris Voss MasterClass.
If you wish to test out your skills immediately, you also have the option of joining the live negotiation practice sessions. These sessions are organized by members of the MasterClass community and are a great way of connecting with like-minded learners. Time and time again, I find that well-functioning learning communities can make or break my entire experience as an online student.
As for delivery of the materials, MasterClass uses a method of slicing content into small chunks that will never overwhelm the students. Learning in short bursts (10 minutes in this case) is a scientifically proven method of effective learning (look into the benefits of spaced learning for further information). It has a high rate of effectiveness for both retaining and applying new information.
To give you another example of this style of teaching, Mindvalley is another highly successful online learning platform using this method.
Who is Chris Voss?
Voss is also the CEO of Black Swan Group. In complex business negotiations, Black Swan Group has become the consulting firm of choice for Fortune 500 companies. You’ll find the meaning behind the name “Black Swan Group” in the course as well if you pay enough attention.
As an author, Voss has penned the best-selling negotiation manual “Never Split the Difference”. The book currently has a 4.39 average rating and more than 37000 five star reviews on Goodreads. Anyone familiar with Goodreads reviews knows that a rating of 4.39 is absolutely remarkable.
And, the impressive credentials don’t end there. Voss has taught the art of negotiation in universities such as Harvard, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and The Goethe School of Business in Frankfurt.
By now, you’re probably thinking: enough about the credentials! I want to see the man’s capabilities, not his CV!
Well, before taking this class I also wondered how a high-stakes negotiator communicates. Is he an engaging orator? Does he try to quietly seduce his listeners into submission? What tone of voice does he use?
Have a look for yourself. In the following TEDx talk, Chris Voss introduces some of the key concepts of his negotiation teachings:
Never Split The Difference | TEDx | Chris Voss
Effective negotiation often boils down to charisma, body language, and great storytelling. It is clear as day that Voss effectively uses all these aspects in his own presentation style as well.
Who is Chris's target audience?
If you are like most people, you associate the word “negotiation” with high-stakes business meetings, hostage crises, and various sales techniques. In reality, negotiation is a very wide term. Your daily communications always include some forms of negotiation. You negotiate with your children, with your partner, with your colleagues. And, even if none of these examples apply to you, you still negotiate with yourself even without realizing it.
What does this mean? Strong negotiation skills can be the difference between mediocrity and a life lived to the full potential. Literally everyone can benefit from increasing their abilities as a negotiator.
But, to be more precise, here are some of the most common examples of people that can instantly benefit from the Chris Voss Masterclass:
- People who feel undervalued at their workplace (low salary, bad relationships with colleagues, etc.). For these people, the course syllabus contains lessons on how to negotiate salaries.
- Salesmen and saleswomen. In the course, Chris Voss covers various sales communication techniques that will prove valuable to any salesperson.
- People with low self-esteem. By going through the course syllabus, you will learn numerous techniques to help you build confidence in your abilities as a speaker.
- People with toxic family relationships. In one the mock negotiation lessons, Chris goes over a father-teenager negotiation step-by-step.
These are only some examples. As you can see, great negotiation skills can improve almost all areas of your life. Some of the skills Chris Voss teaches take time to perfect, while some of them will make an instant impact in your life. Chris Voss gives you the tools of effective communication, but it’s up to you how you decide to use these tools.
What topics does Chris Voss cover in his MasterClass?
Chris Voss has had decades of experience as a high-stakes communicator. This means that his systems and strategies are applicable in a very wide array of situations. Whether you are dealing with a family dispute or a salary negotiation, these tactics can be accommodated to your advantage.
One of the key concepts of the Chris Voss Masterclass is empathy development. You will quickly learn that almost every strategy Voss teaches is rooted in becoming highly aware of the emotional landscape of the other party.
And no, being empathic is not the same as being a pushover and only prioritizing the feelings and desires of your opponent. In fact, tactical empathy is an extremely powerful weapon that can influence even seasoned sociopaths.
Still, I hope that you will only have to use these skills for salary negotiations and the such. Let’s leave bank robbers, terrorists, and kidnappers to Chris Voss.
In addition to helping use empathy as a negotiation strategy, these are some of the other skills that Voss teaches in his masterclass:
- The neuroscience of negotiations
- Developing a persuasive voice tonality and body language
- Decoding the body language and speech patterns of the other party
- Finding the Black Swans (hidden, game-changing information in a negotiation of two parties) and using them to your advantage
In addition to learning about the tactics, you will also see how to properly use them in a variety of scenarios. This will be shown in several mock negotiations, case studies, and exercises.
The mock negotiations and exercises and not only helpful but also very entertaining. As mentioned above, in one of the lessons you will see how Voss negotiates with a stubborn teenager. Plus, there is a practical video example of a classic salary negotiation done right.
Some of my favorite lessons from the Chris Voss MasterClass
In his online course, Chris Voss has done an excellent job at covering a wide range of negotiation situations. There are too many fantastic lessons to count, but here are a few of my personal favorites.
Case Study: Chase Manhattan Bank Robbery
This negotiation case study kept me on the edge of my seat unlike any online course lesson I’ve ever taken. In this lesson, Chris Voss goes over his entire thought process during when he had to negotiate with kidnappers in a 1993 bank robbery in Manhattan. The lesson even contains original phone recordings of the entire negotiation as it took place.
While most of us will hopefully never be put in a situation where we have to talk through the phone with kidnappers, we can still learn from the negotiation strategies that Chris used throughout the whole ordeal.
Mock Negotiation: Salary
In this lesson, Chris Voss goes through a mock negotiation where he demonstrates how to negotiate a salary increase by showing empathy towards the employer. Chris demonstrates that you should never focus the conversation on money. Instead, you should focus on something else that is much more important to the employer.
Body Language & Speech Patterns
In this lesson, Chris Voss explains the importance of body language and speech patterns in a negotiation situation. Instead of focusing on what others say, it’s often more important to focus on how they said it. And, Chris also goes over using the 7/38/55 rule effectively (I must admit, I had also never heard of this rule before taking the course).
Mock Negotiation: Teenager
We’ve all been teenagers. And we all know how stubborn teenagers can be.
In this lesson, Chris explains tried-and-tested techniques for negotiating with a teenager. The setting of the mock negotiation? A teenage daughter wanting to go to her boyfriends’ parents’ vacation home for the weekend. A boyfriend that the negotiator father doesn’t trust. Here, Chris will go over techniques to help the father get the daughter back on his side.
How much does the Chris Voss MasterClass cost?
As of right now, Masterclass does not offer an option of purchasing their classes individually. Thus, in order to buy the Chris Voss MasterClass, you’ll have to buy a full yearly subscription to MasterClass.
The annual subscription to Masterclass costs $180 per year, or just about $15 per month. The subscription will give you unlimited access to a large catalog of 100+ expert-produced classes on the platform. It’s an excellent deal, but it’s not ideal for someone who is interested only in the course from Chris Voss and nothing else.
The subscription will also give you access to the Masterclass community. As I discovered, this dynamic community can be very helpful for progressing on a course. The student discussions can be very interesting when you’re going through the same materials. And it helps remove some of the feelings of social isolation that tend to come included with online learning.
For those still on the fence about the purchase, Masterclass also offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. Should you be unsatisfied with your learning experience, contact the customer service of Masterclass. You will then be offered a no-questions-asked full refund.
What I liked about the Chris Voss MasterClass
Overall, my experience with the Chris Voss MasterClass was very positive. The following are the aspects I enjoyed the most about his online class.
Instructor is a leading authority
The instructor of this course, Chris Voss, is undoubtedly an expert at his craft. His experience shows itself throughout the course, and there are very few people in the world as capable as him when it comes to negotiation.
Covers a wide range of situations
Despite his background as an FBI lead negotiator, Chris does not shy away from covering more day-to-day situations such as arguments with teenagers and salary negotiations.
Excellent production value
The Chris Voss MasterClass has some of the best production value I’ve ever seen in an online course. All the video lessons are captivating, beautifully shot, and I could not find a single flaw in the entire production process. At times the whole thing feels more like a movie than an online course.
Captivating case studies
Chris Voss is a one-of-a-kind individual who has lived through some of the most stressful situations imaginable. In his MasterClass, he not only mentions these situations, but he also explains his entire thought processes from start to finish. This is why his case studies were some of the biggest highlights for me from the entire syllabus.
What I didn't like about the Chris Voss MasterClass
There are not many things to complain about when it comes to this course. However, I do believe that one factor deserves a mention.
Relatively short duration
I thoroughly enjoyed the content in this online class and the 3 hours seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye. There are many successful online course that are even shorter than this, but I still felt like more content added into the syllabus would’ve made the package even more appealing to students. At least they managed to pack a ton of useful content into the short duration.
Review conclusion: is the Chris Voss MasterClass worth it?
Yes, the Chris Voss MasterClass is worth every penny. All in all, I was very impressed with the instructor, course syllabus, and production quality. This is not the first negotiation class I have taken, but it is by far the best of the bunch.
Chris Voss has based all his tactics on neurobiology and personal experiences. His personal experiences are truly a sight to behold, and his reliance on common human nature means that the course is relevant to all cultures and societies.
So, if something works on a psychopathic maniac, it will surely also work on a temperamental supervisor. You can apply these negotiation skills in all aspects of your life. And, this is precisely what makes the Chris Voss MasterClass so impressive.
I have already tested some of my newly acquired tactics in real life. I tested some negotiation hacks in low-stakes scenarios such as pushing for a great broadband deal and requesting a late check-out at a hotel. And, despite feeling awkward at first, I pushed through and achieved my set goals without even resorting to bargaining. Was it because of Chris Voss? Maybe, maybe not – but I sure as hell felt like an FBI negotiator while doing so.
I consider myself an introvert, so these small negotiation victories are huge to me. I am looking forward to testing my newly learned skills in more demanding scenarios. And, something tells me that with further confidence, my negotiation abilities will improve even more.