Never Split the Difference Summary

Negotiation is a part of everyday life. It's about getting a specific goal or result happen by means of communication.
✓ we negotiate our salary
✓ negotiate time with our spouses
✓ parents negotiate with their kids
This book reveals the techniques and logic behind a successful negotiation. Using decades of experience as the FBI's top negotiation expert, Chris Voss shares both basic and advanced methods to tip the scales in your favor.

Who should read this?

✓ People who want to beef up their persuasion skills.
✓ For those who want to understand the underlying stuff that happens during negotiations and arguments.
✓ Those who want to learn negotiation tactics for winning arguments.

Never Split the Difference Main Ideas

  • Emotions  play a huge part during the negotiation process.
  • Obtaining information from the hostage takers (other party) is your number one goal.
  • You do this by gaining their trust and building rapport.
  • Active listening and other similar tactics can be used to connect with the other party.
  • No matter what happens, never split the difference (give in or compromise)

Quick Summary of Never Split the Difference

Negotiation goes beyond logic and reason, hence it's never a straight forward solution.

Humans are prone to cognitive bias, which what makes us lead to irrational reasoning
There are 150 types of cognitive biases, one of which includes the Framing Effect, a useful negotiation technique that allows negotiators to eke out a favorable response from the hostage taker by providing alternative ways of presenting options
A successful negotiation involves using a combination of persuasion skills and knowing how the human mind works

Getting as much information as you can is the first step to a successful negotiation
 Building trust and rapport leads the way to getting what you need from the hostage taker
 Negotiators should be ready for any new complications or events that may pop up from new information being provided.

Active listening shows that you are 100% engaged and listening to what the hostage takers are saying. This will give the impression that you care, helping you build trust and rapport.

Mirroring is a technique used to get more information by repeating what the hostage taker said but in an inquisitive tone.

By repeating what they said (you'll show you are actively listening) and at the same time verifying it (via inquisitive tone), the person on the other end will likely explain themselves further and reveal more information.

The author shared an experience using this technique during a bank robbery.

When the hostage taker said demanded for a vehicle saying his driver left him, Voss responded, "Your driver was chased away?"

That lead to an explanation from the hostage taker saying his driver fled when the police arrived.

This continuous mirroring helps squeeze out tiny bits of information that help negotiators connect the pieces of the puzzle and at the same time build trust and rapport with the hostage taker.

Using the "Late-night DJ voice" helps lessen tension
✓ A calm and modulated voice is soothing to the ears
✓ Helps build trust as the negotiator sounds more caring
✓ How we way things have a huge effect on how they are perceived

Tactical Empathy refers to the strategic use of empathy to put yourself in the hostage takers position in order to have a deeper understanding of their perspective.

Labeling is one way of doing this.

To label, one must identify correctly what the hostage taker is feeling. Then, he acknowledges it and states it back to the other party.

"I understand that you are afraid and don't want to leave the apartment and afraid that you will get shot if you open the door", shared the author on one of his experiences.

The hostage takers ended up surrendering, saying the author's voice and words calmed them down.

Never split the difference means not being OK with accepting only a part of what you originally wanted. To not compromise and give in to demands.

When you're pressed for time, you're likely to make hasty decisions, you're decision-making won't be up to par.

Even when hostage takers set a deadline, keep in mind that there are no guarantees so better to stick to your game plan of knowing as much as you can from them.

Lessons from Never Split the Difference

Emotions play a huge part in the negotiation process. Knowing how to connect and bond with the other party is your primary goal.

Use the tips and tricks mentioned in this book to get to your primary goal (active listening, labeling, late night DJ voice, etc.,)

Never split the difference, don't easily give in to demands and maintain your cool.


My Favorite Quotes Never Split the Difference

Creative solutions are almost always preceded by some degree of risk, annoyance, confusion, and conflict.

You’ve got to embrace the hard stuff. That’s where the great deals are. And that’s what great negotiators do

Saying “No” makes the speaker feel safe, secure, and in control, so trigger it. By saying what they don’t want, your counterpart defines their space and gains the confidence and comfort to listen to you. That’s why “Is now a bad time to talk?” is always better than “Do you have a few minutes to talk?”

“No”—or the lack thereof—also serves as a warning, the canary in the coal mine. If despite all your efforts, the other party won’t say “No,” you’re dealing with people who are indecisive or confused or who have a hidden agenda. In cases like that you have to end the negotiation and walk away.

That’s why I tell my students that, if you’re trying to sell something, don’t start with “Do you have a few minutes to talk?” Instead ask, “Is now a bad time to talk?” Either you get “Yes, it is a bad time” followed by a good time or a request to go away, or you get “No, it’s not” and total focus.

Tactical empathy is understanding the feelings and mindset of another in the moment and also hearing what is behind those feelings so you increase your influence in all the moments that follow. It’s bringing our attention to both the emotional obstacles and the potential pathways to getting an agreement done.

Your goal at the outset is to extract and observe as much information as possible

The Rule of Three is simply getting the other guy to agree to the same thing three times in the same conversation. It’s tripling the strength of whatever dynamic you’re trying to drill into at the moment. In doing so, it uncovers problems before they happen. It’s really hard to repeatedly lie or fake conviction.

Psychotherapy research shows that when individuals feel listened to, they tend to listen to themselves more carefully and to openly evaluate and clarify their own thoughts and feelings

Research shows that the best way to deal with negativity is to observe it, without reaction and without judgment. Then consciously label each negative feeling and replace it with positive, compassionate, and solution-based thoughts.

Life is negotiation. The majority of the interactions we have at work and at home are negotiations that boil down to the expression of a simple animalistic urge: I want.

Going too fast is one of the mistakes all negotiators are prone to making.

Being pushed for yes makes other people feel defensive.

Deadlines are the Boogeyman of negotiation--almost exclusively self inflicted figments of our imagination, unnecessarily unsettling us for no good reason.

No deal is better than a bad deal.

The secret to gaining the upper hand in a negotiation is to give the other side the illusion of control

To get leverage, you have to persuade your counterpart that they have something real to lose if the deal falls through.

About the author Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

Chris Voss is the founder of The Black Swan Group, a consulting firm that provides training and advises Fortune 500 companies during complex negotiations. He served 24 years in the the FBI and was its top negotiator during his prime years.

Tahl Raz is journalist and best-selling author who focuses on business and technology.

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