Image is taken from www.masterclass.com
It's a social gathering. You walk up to a bunch of strangers and introduce yourself. You let them do most of the talking. Your words might be few and far between, but they are the right words that leave them thinking…
….this person is such an enigma!
By the end of the conversation, there's something about you that made them they love you so much that they invite you for an after-hours drink. A few offers to exchange LinkedIn details because they have some potential clients for you. Another few members of the opposite gender have secretly fallen in love with you. They are busy jockeying for your attention.
At the office, your previously dreaded talk with your boss on a promotion became a collaborative discussion that ends up you walking out of his/her office with more than what you wanted. At the bazaar, you walk away with a beautiful piece of furniture at a price that will make your mum's eye pop.
How much do you think your life can be transformed if you take up Chris Voss's Negotiation Masterclass?
Sorry to say, you probably may not be able to negotiate with a bunch of kidnappers that would inspire an action blockbuster starring Vin Diesel and John Cena. (Honestly, you wouldn't want to be dealing with kidnappers in real life, unless you're in the FBI, which they would probably provide the negotiation training for you already.)
However, with this Masterclass, you might walk away with the necessary verbal gymnastics that will slightly help to improve your life.
I've seen a couple of Masterclass Ads popping up right before my YouTube videos, with celebrities showing their expertise. However, it was until the ad from a non-celebrity (at least by general perception), Chris Voss, that caught my attention.
See, years ago, as a freelancer, I had issues dealing with clients who owe me money. Out of desperation, I typed in "How to get money back from someone who owes you" on the YouTube search bar. Within seconds Chris Voss's video appeared on the coveted numero uno spot of the search results. The 99 seconds helped me a lot.
Hence, I decided to take the leap into investing $180 (SGD 252) in this Masterclass, alongside a range of other Masterclasses.
How Is This Class Worth It?
Great and Clear Explanation of Techniques
Let me get this clear. There is a fine line between teaching and sharing. Being an educator for the past 10 years, I confidently proclaim that teaching is a whole different ball game altogether. It's definitely a skill when it comes to deconstructing big pieces of concepts into small bites for people of all levels to understand and apply.
As I started with Chris's Masterclass, I also skimmed through several performing-related Masterclass. Most Masterclasses, in fact, all are taught by people who are at the top of their game. Some of them are either already blessed with an innate talent, while some are far ahead in their expertise. That makes it difficult for them to deconstruct their thought process and connect cognitively with beginners.
Don't get me wrong. All of the instructors appear genuine and friendly. Yet, without any disrespect I feel that some of the instructors were sharing their thoughts off their heads without much preparation. You must have the knowledge inside. But it's even more crucial that you know how to transfer your knowledge into their brains. Most of these instructors devote their time mostly to their craft, but not the craft of teaching.
Chris has no issues with this. He is a lecturer at Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. Chris also runs The Black Swan Group, where he conducts negotiation training.
He makes his concepts clear and easy to apply immediately right after you complete a lesson. Speaking of which, most of the modules are short, and usually contains only one fundamental concept, which reduces the risk of feeling overwhelmed by novices.
The Use of Roleplays to Boost Understanding
Negotiation is not a module where you can listen and copy notes from the whiteboard, hoping that the information will be drilled into your brain. It requires observation and practice.
Chris's negotiation class consists of several roleplay scenarios, where you can learn how to apply in your day-to-day situations. These scenarios include a diverse range of situations. From negotiating between family members to winning a rival over. From asking for a pay raise to a scene where he struts his claim-to-fame skill in hostage negotiation.
His roleplay partner, Pam, is a convincing actress, who can morph from a naïve teenager into a by-the-books politician and a bank robber who's on the verge of a severe breakdown.
Online Support Community
Masterclass hosts live class discussion and practise sessions for students around the world to practice what they have learnt from Chris. This is very important, especially when this is the kind of skill where we live practice.
Additionally, the Online Support Community is strong as people are frequently replying to questions posted on the board. You will meet with people who are even more familiar with Chris Voss than you.
In the forum, I discovered something new someone who has read Chris Voss's book - Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended on It. He (I presume from his username) shared some useful information in Chris's book that was not shared in the Masterclass. Therefore, you are getting more knowledge, as well.
How Is This Class NOT Worth It?
There are a total of 18 lessons. The shortest lesson lasts for 3 minutes and 25 seconds, while the longest lasts for 16 minutes and 16 seconds. As mentioned above, most of the lessons are short, and usually contains only one key concept. Hence, it would be easy for anyone to learn and follow up.
Yet, there are specific lessons which I wished it could have been longer. For example, in the Black Swan module, Chris provides a simplified outline of what Black Swans are, but there isn't enough information to tell me how to spot a Black Swan. After all, Black Swans are pieces of information that may cause the entire negotiation game to change. How do we get sieve out that piece of data from the other party, especially when we don't know what we don't know and vice versa?
Hmm…maybe that's where we have to sign up for further training at The Black Swan Group.
Nevertheless, for what it's worth, I would not blame Chris or Masterclass for that. Though I personally feel that the Black Swan lesson was more of an appetite-wetter than something tangible enough for me to grasp.
To Whom Would This Class Be Worth It?
This class is perfect for anyone new to the world of negotiation. If you are someone who continually feels overlooked at work. If you are frequently exploited by clients and have no idea what to do other than to keep your head down and work due to opportunity cause. This course could be your saviour.
With that being said, no class is a miracle pill. You have to put in the effort to practice.
This brings me to my next point.
How Can One Apply After The Class?
As mentioned, no class is a miracle pill. You have to put in the effort to practice, which leads to how.
Based on my experience, I would suggest that you do not overwhelm yourself with too many concepts and expect yourself to practice and perfect it on the spot. That is a recipe for failure. Instead, you might want to consider spreading out your learning. Study one or two concepts first and practice it for the entire week.
Practice on people that Chris mentions are "low stakes". People like clerks in your grocery store, people like your best students, etc. Basically choose people and situations where in the event your negotiation practice tanks, you will not get into trouble.
Once you are getting the hang of it, move onto the next few concepts.
Remember, negotiation involves the emotions of a human. What Chris taught may be applicable for almost all people and situations, yet, don't be discouraged when there's an outlier whom you would fail with. If such a case happens, post your experience on the Online Support Forum to get more perspectives on how could you have done better.
Additionally, to help you further understand Chri's methodology, you can also watch his videos on YouTube and read his book, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It.
So, Is It Really Worth It?
Without a doubt, yes. Chris Voss's Negotiation Masterclass has equipped me with a couple of techniques that I have used it successfully in my day-to-day situations. I felt I did get my money's worth.
If $180 could possibly land you a job or a client that pays you more than that, would you consider Chris's class worth it? You decide. If it's not worth it, you have 30 days to get your refund.
Overall, I would rate Chris's class **** out of ***** stars.