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Former FBI Hostage Negotiator Explains What To Do If You’ve Been Ghosted

Jake Massey

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Former FBI Hostage Negotiator Explains What To Do If You’ve Been Ghosted

The FBI's former chief international hostage negotiator has explained what you should do if you've been ghosted. Watch here:


It's never nice being ghosted/pied/blanked - whatever you want to call it. Whether it's a flirtatious Tinder exchange that has fizzled into thin air, or a promising work opportunity that has hit a brick wall, it can be dispiriting and frustrating.

But there's a way to resurrect your ghost, according to Chris Voss.


Having spent 24 years working for the FBI, spending his days negotiating with terrorists and kidnappers, he knows a thing or two about opening up a dialogue with an uncooperative counterpart.

So, the first thing to do is acknowledge that however you were conversing before got you to where you are - and insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results (to use a quote often attributed to Albert Einstein).

Where did they go? Credit: Pexels/Monstera
Where did they go? Credit: Pexels/Monstera

"If somebody is not reacting to you, then you've got a system of communication, up to that point, that's perfectly designed to get you the outcome that you've attained," Voss tells LADbible.


"Your approach has contributed to them ghosting you, which means when you get this jump-started, you cannot go back to the approach that led up to this.

"You were probably explaining, you were arguing, you were sending long emails, you weren't listening.

"Nobody cuts off communication that's effective. So there was something about your approach that was ineffective that contributed to the problem."

But how exactly we do get this chat jump-started?


Well a lot of Voss' teachings - as an author, academic and business consultant - centre around the importance of 'no-oriented questions'.

The crux of it is that people are far less willing to say 'yes', as they're fearful of what they may expose themselves to. Conversely, people are far happier to say 'no' - if you give them the opportunity to do so, they feel safer and are more likely to relax and engage in conversation.

Voss explains: "When you ask the 'no-oriented question', that literally 999 times out of out of 1,000 will get an immediate response.

"You cannot go back to the explaining, value proposition, arguing - whatever you were doing - because this is a one-shot reset: 'Have you given up on X?'


"Whatever the X is, word for word, send that in a one-line text, send it in an email with only that in the subject, and only that in the body, nothing else."

Voss teaches the importance of 'no-oriented' questions in negotiating. Credit: The Black Swan Group
Voss teaches the importance of 'no-oriented' questions in negotiating. Credit: The Black Swan Group

After you've sent that message, it's time to start afresh - either by responding in a different fashion or cutting your losses.

Voss says: "You're gonna get a response. Now, the one time that you don't get a response, the answer is 'yes'.


"Remember I said before, people don't like to say 'yes', even when they should. Nobody. If you get silenced from that the answer is 'yes'.

"You have to accept that they've given up on talking to you. It's time to move on. Stop spinning your wheels.

"The 999 other times they get back to you. You've now got to summarise a situation to show them that you've been paying attention - so far this is what's happened, this is the impact that it had on you.

"You're looking to trigger a 'that's right' out of them."

You can learn much more about negotiating in Voss' book, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, which you can buy here.

You can also learn more about his negotiation training company The Black Swan Group and access free materials here.

Featured Image Credit: The Black Swan Group

Topics: Interesting, Community

Jake Massey
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