Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss: Summary and Notes

 Never Split The Difference “Negotiation is not an act of battle; it’s a process of discovery. The goal is to uncover as much information as possible.“

Rating: 9/10

Related Books: Thinking Fast and SlowThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective PeopleExtreme OwnershipInfluence: The Psychology of Persuasion

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Never Split The Difference Short Summary 

In Never Split the Difference, Chris Voss—a former international hostage negotiator for the FBI—shares powerful negotiation techniques. They say that the quality of your life depends on your negotiation skills. The skills that you get from reading this book can change your life forever. The best book I’ve read about negotiation.

The New Rules

Open-ended questions are one of the most potent negotiating tools available.

Cognitive Bias: unconscious and irrational brain processes that can distort the way we see the world. By properly framing your questions and statements, you can influence your counterpart’s animalistic desire-driven thinking, and guide their logical thinking to generate great responses.

Life is a negotiation. Get over your aversion to negotiating. Claim your prerogative to ask for what you think is right.

Be A Mirror

Surprises are a part of negotiations. Good negotiators expect them, and great negotiators use their skills to reveal them. Smart people often have trouble negotiating because they don’t think they have anything to discover.

Instead of prioritizing your argument, make your focus on the other person and what they have to say. True listening disarms your counterpart. It causes them to feel safe and the voice in their head begins to quiet down. The goal is to identify what your counterparts need and get them to continually talk about it.

Going too fast is one mistake that many negotiators are prone to making. Mirroring, when practiced consciously, is the art of insinuating similarity. Here are four simple steps to a successful confrontation:

  • Use the late-night FM Dj voice
  • Start with “I’m sorry…”
  • Mirror your counterpart’s words and behavior
  • Allow at least four seconds of silence, to allow your counterpart to be affected by the influence of your mirrored behavior
  • Repeat

The language of negotiation is that of conversation and rapport. People who are in a positive frame of mind think more quickly and are more likely to collaborate and problem solve.

Don’t Feel Their Pain, Label It

never split the difference - don't feel their pain, label it Instead of denying or ignoring emotions, good negotiators identify or influence them.

Tactical Empathy: understanding the feelings and mindset of another person at the moment, and hearing what is behind those feelings.

Labeling is a technique used to acknowledge a counterpart’s emotion, leaving them feeling validated. The steps to labeling emotions are:

  1. Detect the other person’s emotional state
  2. After spotting an emotion you want to highlight, label it aloud without using “I” statements
  3. After throwing out a label, be quiet and listen

Neutralize the negative, reinforce the positive.

Labeling is a tactic, not a strategy. How you use it will greatly determine your success. Acknowledge your counterpart’s emotions in a nonjudgmental way. Clear the road before advertising the destination. List the worst things that the other person could say about you and say them before they can. Appreciate and understand your counterpart.

Beware “Yes”—“Master No”

Pushing hard for a ‘yes’ doesn’t get a negotiator any closer to a win. It just angers the other side. You have to train yourself to see “no” as something other than rejection. Everyone is driven by two primal urges:

  • The need to feel in control
  • And the need to feel safe and secure

Meeting these needs in your counterpart brings fruitful results in negotiation. Here are some of the advantages of “no” in a negotiation:

  • Allows real issues to surface
  • Protects people from making or helps people correct their ineffective decisions
  • Causes people to freely embrace their decisions and the agreements they enter into by slowing the conversation down
  • Helps people feel safe, secure, emotionally comfortable, and in control of their decisions
  • It moves everyone’s efforts forward

Trigger The Two Words That Immediately Transform Any Negotiation

The two words are: That’s right. The “that’s right” breakthrough usually doesn’t come at the beginning of a conversation.

Paraphrasing (re-articulating what has been said) + Labeling emotions = Summary. A summary is a very powerful negotiating tool. “That’s right” is better than “yes”.

Bend Their Reality

To get real leverage in a negotiation, you’ve got to influence your counterpart that they need something concrete to lose if the deal falls through. Anchor your counterpart’s emotions. Let the opposite guy go first… most of the time. Establish a variety and pivot to non-monetary terms. Once you do use numbers, use odd ones.

Create The Illusion of Control

Avoid a showdown. Don’t attempt to force your opponent to admit that you’re right. Avoid questions that will be answered with a “yes” or a tiny piece of data.

Ask calibrated questions that start with “how” or “what”. Don’t ask questions that start with “why”. Calibrate your inquiries to point your counterpart toward solving your problem. When you’re attacked during a negotiation, avoid angry emotional reactions.

Guarantee Execution

Humanize yourself by introducing yourself using your name. Use “how” inquiries to shape the negotiating environment.

Bargain Hard

Identify your counterpart’s negotiating style (accommodate, assertive, or analyst). Always be prepared. Prepare to require a punch. Set boundaries and punch back without anger.

Find The Black Swan

Types of Leverage:

  • Positive Leverage: Your ability as a negotiator to supply or withhold things that your counterpart
  • Negative Leverage: A negotiator’s ability to form his counterpart suffer
  • Normative Leverage: Using the opposite party’s norms to advance your position

Review everything you hear. Use backup listeners whose only job is to concentrate between the lines. Observe unguarded moments.