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Chris Voss pulls power moves and Jordan B. Peterson hits back

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Interesting interview between Chris Voss and the Petersons.

It all started with Voss's first power move:

Power Move 1: Disempowering the Petersons

Chris Voss: "We gotta raise the level of your skills, we gotta get you guys more money. I...you know, we'll go offline and give you some coaching."

Jordan B. Peterson: [maintains a straight face]

Mikhaila Peterson: [smiling and nodding]

Chris Voss: "Next time, next time, you'll be...you'll be in one of five house that you wanted to be in, you'll have studios all over the planet."

Mikhaila Peterson: (muffled) "Sounds good."

Chris Voss: "You'll bee in Fuji, you'll be in Australia..."

*Click the blockquote above to expand it.

A few power moves there:

  • Power scalping: setting a student/teacher frame of "I'm competent enough to coach you on how to be better" which uses the Petersons as social pegs to look more powerful, high-status, and dominant.
  • Credit presupposing: "We gotta get you guys more money," assumes that the Petersons care about making more money (and owning/living in multiple houses and studios). But, does he know that? Maybe they don't care about making more money. Or, maybe they prefer their current studios since it's already taken them so far.
  • (Potential) insulting: Voss's message implies that the Petersons care a lot about money. That's a disempowering assumption for either wealthy folks or folks who consider money issues a secondary issue in life. (See this WIIFT fail.)

Why it fails: This might work with those who are less power-aware, those who prefer to ignore power moves (such as to avoid getting dragged down into them), or those who simply prefer to prioritize showing warmth and friendliness over addressing power moves. But, it can be annoying for high-quality individuals who hold assertiveness beliefs. If they have the power to communicate that they prefer a more fair and respectful communication, they'll be more likely to do that (whether verbally or nonverbally), rather than reward the value-taking behavior with more warmth and friendliness.

Power Move 2: Verbal Aggression & More Disempowering

Jordan B. Peterson: [Begins sharing his opinion on when it is, in fact, OK to split the difference and compromise]

Chris Voss: [Jokingly speaks over Peterson] "No! How dare you! How dare you! No! No! No! No! No!"

Jordan B. Peterson: "Let me develop that [opinion] out for a moment because there is something about negotiation that is, that is...it's inextricably associated with compromise. I don't think that's the best way of conceptualizing negotiation as such though. See, because people are going to listen to this podcast and they're going to think, no, no, no, sometimes you have to split the difference. So..."

Chris Voss: (immediately and abruply, with an attitude that says, "Absolutely not, no way," and seemingly without realizing Peterson wasn't finished speaking) "No."

Jordan B. Peterson: "OK, I..."

Mikhaila Peterson: (laughing and smiling) "I knew this was going to be a..."

Jordan B. Peterson: "I want to push you on that because..."

Chris Voss: (interrupting Jordan B. Peterson again) "Push me? Hu...don't push me, hug me. Give me a hug." (albeit jokingly, he frames Peterson as being "uncivilized")

Jordan B. Peterson: (laughing) "Ha, no, no, I'm going to go with the push, I think (holds his frame that a push is OK). We can hug at the end if it all goes well (gives a smile) (also joking, a covert threat that "if things don't go well, we may end up as enemies")."

Jordan B. Peterson: [Gives an analogy and asks what's wrong with splitting the difference in that case.]

Chris Voss: (laughs, and looks up, seemingly stumped, but without having fully bought into Jordan Peterson's opinion yet) "Ah, OK."

Mikhaila Peterson: (laughs)

Jordan B. Peterson: "See I'm, see I'm, I'm just...I don't think it's reasonable to throw out the idea that compromise is sometimes..."

Chris Voss: (speaks over Jordan Peterson again) (makes it clear that his verbal aggression is a pattern of behavior) "Oh, I'm unreasonable, now you, now you're name-calling. How dare you, what are you calling me names now?" (again, frames Peterson as being uncollaborative)

Jordan B. Peterson: "Well, I'm, maybe I'm just thinking...maybe I'm just thinking up the reasons for the [your] marriage collapse." (gives a one-up to "hit back" and draw boundaries against the verbal aggression)

Mikhaila Peterson: (smiles surprised)

Chris Voss: (smiles and remains silent with a look that says, "OK, you got me there" 🙂 )

Jordan B. Peterson: (looks down and backpedals) "No, sorry..." (has already shown that he has the power to hit back when he wants to and now moves to set a more collaborative frame from his new position of power — commanding a more respectful/fair communication)

Mikhaila Peterson: (helping facilitate moving the conversation forward) "Anyway."

(...)

[Voss responds like a good sport and they move on with the conversation.]

*Click the blockquote above to expand it.

And, guess what? Voss didn't interrupt or speak over Jordan Peterson for the rest of the interview.


Being a good negotiator is not the same as being a good conversationalist or an effective, win-win social strategist.

On a site like TPM where advanced social skills are taught, that might seem obvious to you if you've been here for a while. And yet, starting out as a beginner, I was desperate to learn from anyone who seemed to have some authority in communication and probably made some similar mistakes (see "negotiation techniques as possible shit-tests!").

If you want to, let me know what you think of this case study (anything you agree or disagree with) because I'm always eager to learn.

Lucio Buffalmano, jjay1010125@gmail.com and 4 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmanojjay1010125@gmail.comlilsimMats GBelleaderoffun

Great case study, Ali.

May I be frank here?

I never had a good impression of Voss.
To the point that when I saw the quote "everything in life is a negotiation" in TPM's book there was part of me that wanted to delete it and/or distance myself from that.

So I'm very biased here, and make no effort to hide it -and that doesn't make me a good commentator on this case study-.

Even the book "Never Split the Difference" seems to me to be hugely overblown.
The guy was good at framing his career as "former FBI negotiator" in a way that gave him extra authority boost.
It's a very effective technique, as most people tend to believe that "whoever has done something that sounds more extreme and/or unique than more common everyday situations must then be playing on easy mode in the more common everyday situations".

I may listen to the full interview eventually to get a better idea -and I should probably rid myself of the bias to make the most out of it :)-.
I'll try that and then I may update here.

Ali Scarlett has reacted to this post.
Ali Scarlett
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Listening to it now.

More power moves from that interview:

Peterson: (...) he was unbelievably stubborn little kid and I  was trying to get him to do something just to interact with me and I offered him a bunch of different um enticements
Voss: Wait, you as a psychologist is having trouble getting a two-year-old to cooperate? Come on!

Sub-communication being:

You're a poor negotiator of relationships (and I'm so much better than you)

It's a technique similar to his own marketing, which we might dub something like "argument ad absurdum" (or "argument ad extremum").

In his marketing it's: I negotiate and win with hostage takers ready to kill and die, imagine how good I am in "normal" negotiations".

In this case it's: you can't negotiate and win with a 2 years old, imagine how bad you must be.

Both cases are fallacies since negotiating with a 2 years old can be much tougher than with an adult.
And negotiating with hostage-takers is simply different than other negotiations, not (necessarily) harder.

In any case:

What a dick move.

As I think about it, one of the most helpful real-life skills of power awareness is in being able to read and classify people from these little power moves.

jjay1010125@gmail.com, Ali Scarlett and 3 other users have reacted to this post.
jjay1010125@gmail.comAli ScarlettlilsimMats GBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Later:

Mikhaila: is there any difference between negotiating just across the board with women versus men
Voss: (straight face, high power voice) well that's a loaded question, that's for sure (laughs in a slightly dismissive tone)
Mikhaila: (defensive now, felt the "hit", turns towards father, looking for support) I didn't mean that, I just... (takes a better, higher-power stance now, turns back towards camera, gestures as if to say "well, OK, whatever"... )

This one wasn't nearly as big as the previous ones.

But it's also a small indicator that Voss wasn't there to talk openly and share his full self, but more approaching it strategically -which is OK unless that strategic approach disempowers you-.

But still not how a friendly, more collaborative person would have answered.
Yet another small flag.

Also a bit of a judge power remove, since he's labeling and judging the question as "inappropriate".

But the fact he says right after "I would love to talk about that... " shows that he didn't really think it was inappropriate.
It was just a power move.

jjay1010125@gmail.com, Ali Scarlett and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
jjay1010125@gmail.comAli ScarlettMats GBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Yes, agreed, my impression of Voss is slowly declining as well.

Though — and I've said this about other gurus — their personality is (to an extent) separate from their knowledgeability, in my opinion.

His attitude might not be the best, but (most of) his teachings are quite good, and there's still a lot one can learn from his skills as a negotiator, even if we're setting aside his skills as a charmer (or lack thereof).

And, as a matter a fact, I think it's because we're sharing this information on TPM that it's OK. On an underdeveloped site like mine, people might see content on Voss and think, "Oh, wow, it looks like Voss is Ali's favorite negotiator, maybe I should learn from him and his communication skills too." And then they might adopt Voss' mistakes accidentally. But, on a site like TPM, many of the driven, high-flyers here will know what's up, know something's off, and get the gut feeling to walk away. (Especially those of us who are already naturally more power-aware.)

My only hope is that that gut feeling doesn't lead to a loss of otherwise high-quality negotiation information and insights. One's lack of knowledge in one area (how to be a high-quality eagle) doesn't always mean a complete, total lack of knowledge in another (how to be an effective negotiator).

Lucio Buffalmano, jjay1010125@gmail.com and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmanojjay1010125@gmail.comMats GBel
Quote from Ali Scarlett on April 3, 2022, 12:42 pm

Though — and I've said this about other gurus — their personality is (to an extent) separate from their knowledgeability, in my opinion.

Agreed.
And especially on that "to an extent".
There are important caveats to add there, interesting topic albeit not super practical, but maybe interesting for a new thread (where's Matthew when we need him :).

Ali Scarlett has reacted to this post.
Ali Scarlett
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Here:

Peterson: would you regard that offering as a range as manipulative?
Voss: (thinks it over, then high power tonality) No! I'm not manipulative I mean I'm a nice guy what are you guys talking about

Jordan was referring to a technique Vossa shared.
But, obviously, Jordan didn't say "YOU are...", so it was entirely possible to answer that question about the technique without making the jump that Voss was manipulative.

As a matter of fact, I'd say that most people would have answered that question without taking it personally.

But somehow Voss did make that jump from potentially manipulative technique, to manipulative teacher.
He felt under attack and he took it personally.

It feels like Voss mind space across the whole interview is quite defensive, taking things personally and being "out for power".
More the approach of someone with a mindset of "your win is my loss and your loss is my win", rather than the approach of someone who sees the possibility of a bigger pie through collaboration.

Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

And here:

Jordan: so we could talk about the anchoring technique as well
Voss: we could I mean it's you guys' show, we'll talk about whatever you guys make me, you got me a hostage here I'm your hostage
Mikhaila
: (scratches her arm, possibly a self-soothing movement as she feels the situation is tense / weird)
Jordan:
it sounds like you feel like you're a hostage
Voss: (big laugh, not necessarily a genuine one) I'll take it all day long

All said in jest.

But, we know here that "jokes" are often the door to deeper meaning and power moves.

This is another small thing.
But, to me, it's a small red flag.

His comment is all about power and the power dynamics of dominance/submission.

Why it's a red flag

This is important to understand.

Why do I consider this a red flag, in spite of the fact it's not a huge power move and it's, on paper, empowering to the Petersons?

Because most people with cordial, collaborative, or "good" predisposition do NOT make those types of comments.

Why would anyone make a comment about being someone's hostage?
You don't make those comments if you feel like you're having a nice talk.

If you feel you're having a nice talk, your mind simply doesn't come up with jokes that are all about dominance and coercion.

Usually, it's people with a dog-eat-dog, confrontational mindset and attitude who make those comments because they think in those terms.

There are real-life examples in PU and in the private section of the forum where one guy's read of social situations was all about who was taking from others -and him boasting for taking-.
Those were also all small red flags of a taker, and all confirmed over time -got more examples from that person as well together with how someone else eventually caught up to his power moves. Will update PU as I re-go through it-.


Curious to hear your opinion!

I'd be curious to hear other people's opinions as well.

Mats G and Bel have reacted to this post.
Mats GBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on April 3, 2022, 10:42 pm

Here:

Peterson: would you regard that offering as a range as manipulative?
Voss: (thinks it over, then high power tonality) No! I'm not manipulative I mean I'm a nice guy what are you guys talking about

Jordan was referring to a technique Voss shared.
But, obviously, Jordan didn't say "YOU are...", so it was entirely possible to answer that question about the technique without making the jump that Voss was manipulative.

As a matter of fact, I'd say that most people would have answered that question without taking it personally.

But somehow Voss did make that jump from potentially manipulative technique, to manipulative teacher.
He felt under attack and he took it personally.

It feels like Voss mind space across the whole interview is quite defensive, taking things personally and being "out for power".
More the approach of someone with a mindset of "your win is my loss and your loss is my win", rather than the approach of someone who sees the possibility of a bigger pie through collaboration.

Yes, in his MasterClass, there were quite a few mock negotiations.

And, before each negotiation, Voss would speak a lot about maintaining a collaborative attitude and leveraging deferential communication in order to give the other side more power so they'll feel more comfortable "giving you your deal". (The idea is that by presenting yourself as weak/low-power, they'll feel like they're still coming out on top giving you what you want).

However, during the actual mock negotiations, it sometimes felt like he had an attitude of, "I'm better than you and I'm going to show you why I'm so great, the more we talk, the more opportunity I have to show how much of a better negotiator I am."

In other words, in a course where he was instructing his students to give the other side more power, it felt like he was the one out for power. (He still used his deferential communication, but the look in his eyes and face of "you're not going to beat me" felt off-putting to me as a student.)

So, with all of that said, being relatively new to negotiation at the time, I wondered back then if it was a strategy to show confidence to the other side. But, now, having seen more of Voss's personality, I'm leaning more to the idea that it's a personality/character trait more than anything else.

Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on April 3, 2022, 10:42 pm

Here:

Peterson: would you regard that offering as a range as manipulative?
Voss: (thinks it over, then high power tonality) No! I'm not manipulative I mean I'm a nice guy what are you guys talking about

Jordan was referring to a technique Vossa shared.
But, obviously, Jordan didn't say "YOU are...", so it was entirely possible to answer that question about the technique without making the jump that Voss was manipulative.

As a matter of fact, I'd say that most people would have answered that question without taking it personally.

But somehow Voss did make that jump from potentially manipulative technique, to manipulative teacher.
He felt under attack and he took it personally.

It feels like Voss mind space across the whole interview is quite defensive, taking things personally and being "out for power".
More the approach of someone with a mindset of "your win is my loss and your loss is my win", rather than the approach of someone who sees the possibility of a bigger pie through collaboration.

Yeah, listening to that part, it felt like an unneeded joke (and I didn't understand why he was making it).

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on April 3, 2022, 10:59 pm

And here:

Jordan: so we could talk about the anchoring technique as well
Voss: we could I mean it's you guys' show, we'll talk about whatever you guys make me, you got me a hostage here I'm your hostage
Mikhaila
: (scratches her arm, possibly a self-soothing movement as she feels the situation is tense / weird)
Jordan:
it sounds like you feel like you're a hostage
Voss: (big laugh, not necessarily a genuine one) I'll take it all day long

All said in jest.

But, we know here that "jokes" are often the door to deeper meaning and power moves.

This is another small thing.
But, to me, it's a small red flag.

His comment is all about power and the power dynamics of dominance/submission.

Why it's a red flag

This is important to understand.

Why do I consider this a red flag, in spite of the fact it's not a huge power move and it's, on paper, empowering to the Petersons?

Because most people with cordial, collaborative, or "good" predisposition do NOT make those types of comments.

Why would anyone make a comment about being someone's hostage?
You don't make those comments if you feel like you're having a nice talk.

If you feel you're having a nice talk, your mind simply doesn't come up with jokes that are all about dominance and coercion.

Usually, it's people with a dog-eat-dog, confrontational mindset and attitude who make those comments because they think in those terms.

There are real-life examples in PU and in the private section of the forum where one guy's read of social situations was all about who was taking from others -and him boasting for taking-.
Those were also all small red flags of a taker, and all confirmed over time -got more examples from that person as well together with how someone else eventually caught up to his power moves. Will update PU as I re-go through it-.


Curious to hear your opinion!

I'd be curious to hear other people's opinions as well.

Agree with you here as well, Lucio.

For me, this joke that Voss made felt a bit odd (and maybe out of place), but not necessarily "bad" or "wrong".

Then, when JP said, "It sounds like you feel like you're a hostage," I laughed thinking, "Man, what a way to flatter a guy, using his own technique on him (showing you learned and studied his work), making sure to use a positive technique of his (Voss recommends it as a tactical empathy maneuver to neutralize negative emotions, showing that you know how to use his techniques correctly/well when you want to), and turned what might've been a poor joke into a great laugh."

What made me feel a bit awkward/a distaste for Voss's sense of humor after that was when he didn't simply laugh and let JP's joke be the awesome turnaround it needed to be. When he added at the end, "I'll take it all day long," I thought to myself, "What? Take what all day long, being held hostage? (Are you still pressing that joke?) What do you mean by that?"

Again, Voss's personality and character may not be the George Clooney we'd all like to see, but there still might be plenty to learn from him in the negotiation department.

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