LifestyleChris Voss: emotional intelligence tactics from an FBI negotiator

Chris Voss: emotional intelligence tactics from an FBI negotiator

These three behaviours may indicate high emotional intelligence
These three behaviours may indicate high emotional intelligence
Images source: © Adobe Stock | NATHANAEL KIEFER

21 June 2024 16:21

Chris Voss is a former FBI agent renowned for his serious discussions with criminals. Thanks to his emotional intelligence, he excelled in conversations as a negotiator. What techniques did he employ?

Polina Marinova Pompliano's book referenced Chris Voss, an FBI negotiator with 24 years of experience. The author highlighted that the former agent had mastered the art of emotional intelligence, which was invaluable in his line of work.

Pompliano described Voss's role as a negotiator in 1993. He spoke on the phone with one of the robbers who held employees of Chase Manhattan Bank in Brooklyn, New York. Three specific actions he took are perfect examples of the conduct of a person with high emotional intelligence.

The FBI agent used these techniques in his work as a negotiator. Three actions

Soothing voice

The first important factor during conversations with criminals in a crisis situation is the appropriate tone of voice: soothing and declarative. We should also lower our tone. All of this will trigger a neurochemical response in the brain of the interlocutor, which will calm them down.


The next action is the technique known as mirroring. This is an effective method for gathering information and building rapport during the conversation.

"I had a really hard day because of all the stress I’m under. Response: The stress you’re under?) It’s a useful tool because it keeps you emotionally sober while allowing the other person to continue talking" - explains Polina Marinova Pompliano, referring to the methods of the former FBI agent.

Pay attention to the other side's emotions

The third indicator of emotional intelligence is the so-called labelling of emotions. During his conversations with the robbers, Agent Voss led them to express their feelings by using sentences like "It wasn’t your fault, was it?" and "You regret this happened, don’t you?"

One rule above all

The author of the book "Hidden Genius" noted that Chris Voss did something during negotiations with criminals that most people cannot do. He truly listened to what the robbers had to say.

As Polina Marinova Pompliano adds in the quoted excerpt from her book, posted on, the art of emotional intelligence can be helpful in our daily lives, for example, during an argument with a partner or resolving a conflict with a colleague.

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