Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

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CHAPTER 2: BE A MIRROR, September 30, 1993

A brisk autumn morning, around eight-thirty. Two masked bank robbers trigger an alarm as they storm into the Chase Manhattan Bank at Seventh Avenue and Carroll Street in Brooklyn.

There are only two female tellers and a male security guard inside. The robbers cracked the unarmed sixty-year-old security guard across the skull with a, drag him to the men’s room, and lock him inside.

One of the tellers gets the same pistol-whipping treatment. Then one of the robbers turns to the other teller, puts the barrel in her mouth, and pulls the trigger-click, goes the empty chamber.

“Next one is real,” says the robber. “Now open the vault.” A bank robbery, with hostages.

Happens all the time in the movies, but it had been almost twenty years since there’d been one of these standoffs in New York, the city with more hostage negotiation jobs than any other jurisdiction in the country.

And this happened to be my very first feet-to-the-fire, in your-face hostage job.

I had been training for about a year and a half in hostage negotiations, but I hadn’t had a chance to use my new skills. For me, 1993 had already been a very busy and incredible ride.

Working on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, I had been the co-case agent in an investigation that thwarted a plot to set off bombs in the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, the United Nations,

and 26 Federal Plaza, the home of the FBI in New York City. We broke it up just as terrorists were mixing bombs in a safe house.

The plotters were associated with an Egyptian cell that had ties to the “Blind Sheikh,” who later would be found guilty of masterminding the plot that we uncovered.

You might think a bank robbery would be small potatoes after we busted up a terrorist plot, but by then I had already come to realize that negotiation would be my lifelong passion.

WriterChris Voss
Pdf Size1.32 MB


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