As parents we spend a great deal of time negotiating with our kids, to get them to brush their teeth, clean up their toys, and finish their homework. And while we may have figured out how to bribe or otherwise entice our kids to eat dinner, former FBI negotiator Chris Voss thinks he can help parents learn how to navigate their toughest opponents.
As the former lead kidnapping negotiator for the FBI, Voss knows that using certain language when negotiating can be more effective. “You want to wear them out the same way they wear you out, by asking open-ended questions,” says Voss. “”How’ questions are a great way to give the other side the illusion of control while you hold on to the upper hand. It also makes them think.”
So when your kid is dragging their feet about going to bed on time, he suggests asking, “How am I supposed to let you stay up late and watch TV when I need you to get good grades in school?” Voss also advises repeating the last three words of what your kid says because it “keeps them talking and wears them out.”
He also has good advice for some of the fiercest terrorists we’re faced with as parents: toddlers. Voss suggests getting them off their feet by putting them up on a countertop or shelf, where they’re completely safe, but still feel a bit uncomfortable and threatened. Hey, whatever works, right?