Ask the right questions, and influence people
"The dynamic between hostage-takers and bosses is the same on several levels. When you walk into your boss' office and ask him for a raise, you're going to feel tension and anxiety. Any time you feel tension, you've been taken hostage on some level. You are afraid of losing something, and that feeling has taken you hostage. So, you need some hostage-survival technique: make sure the other side sees you as a human being. The more they recognize you as a human being, the more likely they are to treat you well," Voss detailed.
"You need to tie everything back into the company's future, and how you personally will assist its prosperity -- do this by asking 'how' and 'why' questions. An excellent 'how' question is 'How can I become more valuable to you and the company? How can I put you in the position to make the company more successful?' Basically -- you're saying, 'how can I make you pay me more money,' without outright saying it. Or, asking something like 'How do you think I've helped the company grow over the last quarter?' Immediately, your boss will be recalling all of the positive things you've done. This will subconsciously put you in a positive light, in your boss' mind."
Voss refers to these types of question as loaded: they make the listener feel powerful, and it burdens the other side to make a decision and give out some insight... but they don't perceive it as giving up any semblance of power. More often than not, the listener will play along.
This method is akin to the Ben Franklin effect -- by asking someone to do you a favor, you give them a little slice of control and empowerment. People will like you better, because they feel like they did you the favor because they like you, even if that's not the case. It's a mind trick, for sure, and another instance of humanizing yourself.
"This makes people forget you are the actual source of the power, it gives them the illusion that they are the source. There's great power in deference. The first thing hostage-takers want to do is have control, and they are mostly used to having to struggle to maintain that control. When we would come into a hostile situation, and give the illusion that we're just 'giving them control,' it catches them off guard. It throws them off their game. It would be easy to use a similar tactic when dealing with an employer in that type of a situation. This empowers the other person: it makes them want to talk to you, in real human terms."
Focusing too much on "yes questions" is another crucial error people commonly make, according to Voss.
"If you go into your boss' office and say something like, 'Haven't I been a good employee?' they'll immediately put up their guard -- again, rely on the 'how' and 'why' questions. Put the ball in their court, make them come to their own conclusions. Also, if you have any 'land mines' -- problems your superiors have with you that you might not know about -- this will draw those out. These are things you need to know about if you are trying to secure a raise. You're better off, you're smarter. You are in a better position to negotiate because you have more info."