Never Split the Difference – After a stint policing the rough streets of Kansas City, Missouri, Chris Voss joined the FBI, where his career as a hostage negotiator brought him face-to-face with a range of criminals, including bank robbers and terrorists. Reaching the pinnacle of his profession, he became the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss PDF
I was terrified.
I’d worked with the FBI for more than two decades, including fifteen years resolving hostage crises from New York to the Philippines and the Middle East, and I was at the top of my game. There are ten thousand FBI agents on the job at any given moment, but only one chief international kidnapping negotiator. I was the one who said that.
But I’d never been in such a stressful, intimate hostage scenario before.
“Voss, we’ve got your son.” If you don’t give us a million dollars, he’ll die.”
Pause. Blink. Encourage your heart rate to return to normal.
Sure, I’d been in situations like this before. They’re in large numbers. Money is exchanged for lives. But not in this way. Not with my son on the other end of the call. It’s not a million dollars. And certainly not against folks with advanced degrees and decades of bargaining experience.
The folks on the other side of the table, my negotiators, were Harvard Law School negotiating professors.
I was frightened.
I’d spent more than two decades with the FBI, including fifteen years resolving hostage crises all over the world, from New York to the Philippines and the Middle East, and I was at the top of my game. At any given time, the FBI has ten thousand agents on the job, but only one chief international kidnapping negotiator. That was something I said.
But it was the first time I’d ever been in such a tense, personal hostage situation.
“Voss, we have your son; unless you pay us a million dollars, he will die.”
Pause. Blink. Allow your heart rate to restore to its normal level.
Sure, I’d been in similar circumstances before. There are a lot of them. Lives are exchanged for money. However, not in this manner. With my son on the other end of the line, no way. This isn’t a million-dollar deal. Not against people with advanced degrees and decades of negotiating experience.
My negotiators were Harvard Law School negotiating professors on the other side of the table.
Summary of Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss PDF
A good negotiator understands that he or she must always be prepared for the unexpected. A great negotiator, on the other hand, employs a set of talents to uncover the surprises that are almost certain to be present.
Great negotiators challenge assumptions and are thus more open to all alternatives and intellectually adaptable in changing situations.
The voices in their heads overpower people who see negotiation as a fight of arguments. Negotiation, on the other hand, isn’t a struggle; it’s an act of discovery. The goal is to collect as much information as possible.
Make the other party and what they have to say your sole focus to overcome the voices in your head. You must first determine what the other person truly need and then create a safe environment for them to express their true desires. Listening to the other party, acknowledging their fears and feelings, building trust, and creating a safety net that allows for actual dialogues are all part of the negotiation process.
Many negotiators make the mistake of attempting to speed up the process. The problem with this is that if you’re in a rush, you risk making the other party feel as if they’re not being heard, and you risk jeopardizing the rapport and trust you’ve worked so hard to establish.
There are three types of voices available to negotiators, according to Chris Voss:
Keep it cool and slow, in the words of a late-night FM DJ. To make a point, use this sparingly. When used correctly, the voice of a late-night FM DJ can exude authority and trust without making the other side defensive.
This should be your default voice because it is lively and upbeat. It’s the voice of a laid-back, kind individual. Your demeanor is light and upbeat.
The direct/assertive voice should be used as little as possible because it has the potential to provoke retaliation.
People who are in a good mindset are more likely to think fast, collaborate, and solve problems. Both you and the other party gain mental agility as a result of positivity.
Mirroring has a magical effect. We fear difference and seek comfort in similarity, so we repeat the last three words (or the critical one to three words) of what someone has just said. Mirroring encourages the other party to empathize and identify with you, keeps people talking, buys time for your party, and eventually reveals their approach.
According to a research conducted by psychologist Richard Wiseman on two groups of waiters, those who reflected received a 70 percent higher tip than those who utilized positive reinforcement.
According to the author, there are five steps to owning any negotiating process:
Use a late-night FM DJ’s voice; begin with phrases like “I’m sorry…”; mirror; skillfully use quiet; and repeat.
Chapter 3: Label Their Pain Instead of Feeling It
Tactical Empathy: How to Build Trust
To be effective in a negotiation, there must be specific and meticulous planning for how to proceed with the opposing party, taking into account all available prior information.
Tactical empathy is comprehending the other party’s current thoughts and thinking, as well as hearing what lies beneath those feelings, in order to maximize your impact in subsequent situations. When you pay close attention to a person’s face, gestures, and voice tone, your brain begins to align with theirs in a process known as neural resonance, giving you insight into what they think and feel.
Labeling is a way of recognising and affirming someone’s emotion. The first stage in labeling is determining the emotional state of the other party. The key to identifying emotions is to pay attention to the changes people go through as a result of external circumstances. These external events are, more often than not, your words in a negotiating setting. After you’ve identified a feeling you want to emphasize, say its name loudly. Labels can be stated or posed as questions. Almost all labels start with the following phrases:
“It appears that…”
“It appears to be…”
“It appears that…”
People’s emotions are divided into two categories. A “presenting” conduct, which is the visible and audible portion; and a “underlying” sentiment, which is the motivation behind the behavior.
By labeling, great negotiators target the underlying emotions. Negative labels dissipate them, while positive labels intensify them. Labeling helps to de-escalate situations by acknowledging the feelings of the other side rather than continuing to act them out.
Understanding that you’re dealing with a human who wants to be loved and understood is the golden rule. Positive views and dynamics can be reinforced through labels.
Chapter 4: Watch out for “Yes”—master “No”
How to Build Momentum and Feel Safe Enough to Reveal the Real Stakes
When it uncovers previously undiscovered sources of conflict, “no” can be a valuable tool in a negotiation.
Pushing for a resounding “Yes” will not bring you any closer to victory. It merely irritates the opposing party. Contrary to popular assumption, “No” is the beginning, not the conclusion, of a negotiation.
In a negotiation, saying “No” gives you and the other party a chance to clarify what you really want by removing what you don’t want.
“No” can indicate a variety of things.
I’m not ready to agree; you make me feel uneasy; I’m not sure; I can’t afford it; I need more information; I’d rather speak with someone else.
There are three different types of “Yes”:
Counterfeit: This occurs when one side intends to say “No,” but believes that saying “Yes” is a better way out.
Confirmation: This is a common, unintentional reaction to a black-and-white question.
Commitment: This is the real deal, and it almost always results in a concrete result, such as the signing of a contract. However, because these three words sound so similar, you’ll have to learn to tell which one is being used.
Start with “Do you have a few minutes to talk?” if you’re trying to sell something. “Is now a poor time to talk?” instead. “Yes, it is a poor moment,” followed by a good time or a request to leave, or “No, it is not,” followed by total focus.
As you can see, a simple “No” may accomplish a lot:
It has the potential to bring up the real concerns.
It guards you against making bad decisions and allows you to repair ineffective ones.
It slows down the process, giving you more time to consider your options and reach agreements.
It makes you feel safe, secure, and at ease emotionally.
It advances everyone’s efforts.
Saying “No” gives the speaker a sense of safety, security, and control, therefore use it. That’s why “Do you have a few minutes to talk?” is always preferable to “Is now a poor time to talk?”
If a possible business partner ignores you, send them a clear and straightforward “No”-oriented query, implying that you are prepared to walk away. “Have you given up on this project?” is a great question to ask.
Chapter 5: Activate the Two Words That Instantly Change Any Negotiation
How to Get Permission to Convince
The greatest technique to encourage the other party in a negotiation to agree to a solution is to summarize and reiterate their issues.
“That’s right”—two words that have the power to change the course of any conversation. “That’s correct” is preferable to “yes.” Make an effort to achieve it. In a negotiation, getting to “that’s right” promotes breakthroughs.
To get a “that’s right,” use a summary. A label mixed with paraphrasing are the foundations of a successful summary.
Bend Their Reality (Chapter 6)
What Is the Best Way to Shape What Is Fair?
Starting with a very low or high offer, using offers with specific and odd numbers, or other arbitrary elements will sway parties to compromise or accept an offer during a negotiation.
In any bargaining situation, the word “fair” is the most potent. You must develop the reputation of being a fair negotiator in order to become a great one.
You must persuade the opposing side that they have something to lose if the transaction falls through in order to gain real power in a difficult negotiation.
Here’s how to go about it:
Anchor their emotions: To sway the other party’s perception of reality, you must first master the fundamentals of empathy. You must be able to assess and acknowledge their anxieties. You inflame the other party’s loss aversion by anchoring their emotions fire anticipation of a loss, so they’ll rush at the chance to escape it.
Allow the other person to go first: When it comes to negotiating a price, going first isn’t always the greatest option. Allow the other party to lead the monetary talks. You might also get lucky if you let them anchor: Chris, for example, has had several negotiation encounters where the opposing party’s first offer was greater than the closing price he had in mind. They would have agreed if he had gone first, and he would have been left with either the winner’s curse or buyer’s regret. This, however, may have the opposite consequence. You must be physically capable of withstanding the first offer. If the other party is tough, they might be able to distort your reality view.
Decide on a range: Establish a ballpark figure and back it up with reputable references. Instead of saying, “I’m worth $110,000,” instead, “People in this job make between $130,000 and $170,000 at top companies like Acme Corp.” That makes your argument without putting the other side on the defensive.
Shift your thinking to non-monetary terms: Offer items that aren’t important to you but could be important to them to make your offer look acceptable. If their offer is poor, you could ask for something that is more important to you than it is to them.
Use odd numbers when talking about numbers: Numbers that conclude in a ‘0’ have the impression of being placeholders. Any arbitrary number you give out that sounds less rounded—for example, $78,435—feels like a figure you arrived at after careful consideration.
Give them a gift that they won’t expect: Make the other person feel generous by staking an extreme anchor and then surprising them with a completely unrelated gift following their clear refusal.
People will take greater risks to avoid losing money than to get money. Ascertain that the other party understands that inaction has a cost.
Create the Illusion of Control in Chapter 7
How to Use Question Calibration to Turn Conflict into Collaboration
Using queries that begin with “what” or “how,” negotiators might persuade the other party to solve common difficulties.
Instead than provoking conflict by informing the other party what the problem is, calibrated inquiries have the power to educate them on the issue.
Depending on the situation, Chris asks the following calibrated questions in practically every negotiation:
What is the most essential aspect of this to you?
What can I do to make this situation better for us?
What do you want me to do next?
What is it that has landed us in this predicament?
What are our options for resolving this issue?
What exactly are we attempting to achieve here?
I’m not sure how I’m going to do it.
Calibrated questions provide the impression that the other party is in charge, while the conversation is actually being driven by you.
Guaranteed Execution (Chapter 8)
How to Recognize Liars and Ensure Everyone Else Follows Through
Because the majority of communication is nonverbal, negotiators should learn to read body language and voice tone.
Decisions are made by negotiators. As a negotiator, you must construct every aspect of the negotiation dynamically and adaptively in order to obtain both permission and execution.
Here are some tactics, tools, and ways for understanding and modifying the mental states of the other party through subtle verbal and nonverbal forms of communication:
According to Albert Mehrabian’s 7-38-55 Percent Rule, words account for only 7% of a communication, while tone of voice accounts for 38%, and body language and facial expressions account for 55%.
Pay close attention to the other person’s tone and body language to see if it corresponds to the actual meaning of the words they’re attempting to communicate. If they don’t line up, it’s clear that they’re lying.
The Three-fold Rule
Getting the other side to agree to the same thing three times in the same conversation is the Rule of Three.
The first time they agree to something is the first time they agree. You can categorize or summarize what they stated in the second case so they respond, “That’s right.” A calibrated “How” or “What” inquiry about implementation, such as “What do you perceive as the most difficult item to get around?” could be the third example.
According to a Harvard Business School study led by professor Deepak Malhotra and his colleagues, liars use more words on average than those who speak the truth. They also tend to utilize third-person pronouns more frequently.
People become tired of hearing their own names all the time. Instead of using your name, change the track. This induces “forced empathy” and allows the other party to see you as a person.
Chapter 9: Strike a Deal
How to Get a Quote
When it comes to bargaining, negotiators might be analytical, conciliatory, or even pushy. Each style can benefit from progressive offers. TO TWEET, CLICK HERE
When you feel dragged into a hard bargain, shift your focus to non-monetary variables that influence your final pricing. For example, if you’re wanting to clinch a deal, you could ask, “Let’s set price aside for a moment and speak about what would make this a good bargain?” in a positive tone of voice. “What else could you provide to make that a good price for me?” or “What else could you offer to make that a good price for me?”
When things get tough, it’s time to mix things up and shake the other party out of their rut.
If you’re trying to persuade your competitors to conduct business with you, make statements like “Why would you ever do business with me?” Your current service provider appears to be excellent!” The “why” can persuade the other party to collaborate with you.
It’s also a good idea to use the term “I” to avoid getting into a fight. If you say, “I’m sorry that doesn’t work for me,” for example, the word “I” draws the other party’s attention back to you.
The idea is to never be in a position of need. Remember that it is the unsolvable deal, not the person across the table, that is the issue.
The Ackerman Model is a strategy for making offers and counteroffers. The six-step procedure is as follows:
Set a price objective for yourself (your goal).
Set your first offer at 65 percent of the price you want to achieve.
Calculate three successive increases in decreasing increments (to 85, 95, and 100 percent).
To get the other side to counter, use a lot of empathy and numerous ways of expressing “No” before increasing your offer.
Use specific, non-round numbers like $37,893 instead of $38,000 when computing the final price. It lends legitimacy and weight to the number.
Include a non-monetary item (something they are unlikely to want) in your final figure to demonstrate that you’ve reached your limit.
Prepare your Ackerman strategy carefully before entering a negotiation. This should assist you get the best deal possible while also preventing the opposing party from trying to get the most out of your deal.
Find the Black Swan in Chapter 10
Revealing the Unknown Unknowns: How to Make Breakthroughs
Black Swans are unseen aspects that, if discovered and employed, can completely transform the negotiation.
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In his book “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable,” Nassim Nicholas Taleb notes, “Remember that you are a Black Swan.” The book focuses on the enormous impact of some types of uncommon and unpredictable events (outliers), as well as humans’ desire to retroactively find simple explanations for these events. The Black Swan theory is the name given to this notion.
the black swan cover
As a negotiator, you must inspire fear in the opposing party, making them feel as if they stand to lose everything if the transaction goes through. Positive, Negative, and Normative leverage are the three sorts of leverage, according to Chris.
When you have positive leverage as a negotiator, you can withhold or offer what the other party wants.
Negative leverage refers to your power to make the other party suffer as a negotiator.
Normative leverage is when you examine the other party’s position and exploit it to your advantage.
Leverage multipliers are black swans. It’s as simple as questioning the other party’s beliefs and actively listening to find Black Swans that give you normative leverage. You want to take in what they say and reflect it back to them.
Allow your known knowns to lead you, but don’t let them obscure what you don’t know. Be open, flexible, and adaptive in any scenario.
Move the conversation away from the deal and into the realm of worldviews. Take the conversation away from the negotiating table and into the other party’s emotions and lives. That’s where you’ll find Black Swans. Similarity provides comfort to people. They are more prone to give in to someone with whom they share similar ideas. You should try to discover some common ground.
Never Split the Difference takes you inside the world of high-stakes negotiations and into Voss’s head, revealing the skills that helped him and his colleagues succeed where it mattered most: saving lives. In this practical guide, he shares the nine effective principles—counterintuitive tactics and strategies—you too can use to become more persuasive in both your professional and personal life.
Life is a series of negotiations you should be prepared for: buying a car, negotiating a salary, buying a home, renegotiating rent, deliberating with your partner. Taking emotional intelligence and intuition to the next level, Never Split the Difference gives you the competitive edge in any discussion.
Review – Never Split the Difference
Former FBI Hostage Negotiator Chris Voss has few equals when it comes to high stakes negotiations. Whether for your business or your personal life, his techniques work.” (Joe Navarro, FBI Special Agent (Ret.) and author of the international bestseller, What Every Body is Saying.)
Chatty and friendly and packed with helpful resources, this is an intriguing approach to business and personal negotiations. (Publishers Weekly)
From the Back Cover
A field-tested, game-changing approach to high-stakes negotiations—whether in the boardroom or at home.
Never Split the Difference is a riveting, indispensable handbook of negotiation principles culled and perfected from Chris Voss’s remarkable career as a hostage negotiator and later as an award-winning teacher in the world’s most prestigious business schools. From policing the rough streets of Kansas City, Missouri, to becoming the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator to teaching negotiation at leading universities, Voss has tested these techniques across the full spectrum of human endeavor and proved their effectiveness. Those who have benefited from these techniques include business clients generating millions in additional profits, MBA students getting better jobs, and even parents dealing with their kids.
Never Split the Difference provides a gripping, behind-the-scenes recounting of dramatic scenarios from the gang-infested streets of Haiti to a Brooklyn bank robbery gone horribly wrong, revealing the negotiation strategies that helped Voss and his colleagues succeed where it mattered most: saving lives. As a world-class negotiator, Voss shows you how to use these skills in the workplace and in every other realm of your life.
Life is a series of negotiations: whether buying a car, getting a better raise, buying a home, renegotiating rent, or deliberating with your partner, Never Split the Difference gives you the competitive edge in any discussion.
Advance praise for Never Split The Difference
“This book blew my mind. It’s a riveting read, full of instantly actionable advice—not just for high-stakes negotiations, but also for handling everyday conflicts at work and at home.”—Adam Grant, Wharton Professor and New York Times bestselling author of originals and give and take
“Emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence without sacrificing deal-making power. From the pen of a former hostage negotiator—someone who couldn’t take no for an answer—which makes it fascinating reading. But it’s also eminently practical. In these pages, you will find the techniques for getting the deal you want.”—Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of To Sell Is Human and Drive
“Former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss has few equals when it comes to high-stakes negotiations. Whether for your business or your personal life, his techniques work.”—Joe Navarro, FBI Special Agent (Ret.) and author of the international bestseller What Every Body Is Saying
“Your business—basically your entire life—comes down to your performance in crucial conversations, and these tools will give you the edge you need. . . .It’s required reading for my employees because I use the lessons in this book every single day, and I want them to, too.”—Jason McCarthy, CEO of GORUCK