Book Review: Never Split The Difference By Chris Voss
Published on February 8, 2021 by Sushant Shekhar
Author Chris Voss, the former international FBI hostage negotiator, shares his tried and tested tactics and strategies for high-stakes negotiations and being more persuasive in life. The best part about the book, Never Split the Difference, is its actionable insights that you can follow for the average day-to-day P/negotiations you face.
The 5 Major Pinpoints
1. Tactical Empathy
Chriss Voss in his book, Never Split the Difference, explains tactical empathy as an act of sincerely empathizing with a prospect’s emotions to crack deals.
It helps you learn where the other side is coming from, why their actions make sense to them, and what might move them to see things your way.
Never Split the Difference states the principle of mirroring as the process of reiterating and improvising upon the important keywords the prospect or the party in consideration said.
This concept is helpful in sales and negotiations, as it will give you the power to understand what’s going in your prospect’s mind so you can help them. This is a class A negotiating and closing tactic.
It is a technique to validate someone’s emotions by verbally acknowledging them. With labeling, we can turn someone’s feelings into words, and then very smoothly and politely repeat their emotions back to them. This shows that we understand and respect their emotions.
4. Get to a ‘NO’
People get defensive when someone is pushing them to say yes. The potential customer doesn’t feel safe in these kinds of situations. Saying ‘NO’ makes people feel safe, secure and in control. It’s good to get a ‘NO’ at the beginning of the conversation.
5. Powerful Word Starting With F
There will be times when you are stuck in a negotiation, and all other things are failing. That time you need to use the word called ‘FAIR’. Like ‘Is it fair’?
As a negotiator, you should strive for a reputation of being fair. Your reputation precedes you. Let it precede you in a way that paves success.
Buy the book: Never Split the Difference
SUMMARY: Never Split The Difference
It’s a riveting read. It emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence and gives us a practical approach towards business and personal life. It is especially an important for someone who wants a smooth sales process.
We will uncover some of the major learnings from Never Split the Difference, chapter by chapter to have a better understanding.
Chapter 1: The New Rules
How do you convince people in your life for what you want?
The answer is easy, you negotiate!
Effective negotiation is sizing someone up, influencing their sizing up of you, and using that knowledge to get what you want.
By setting the right context, you can get the reaction you are looking for.
The goal of negotiation is to gather information and influence behavior and includes almost any interaction where someone wants something from somebody else.
Chapter 2: Be a Mirror
Listening is a critical key to communication.
It might sound easy. But no, it’s not that easy.
Most negotiators are so preoccupied with their arguments that they do not listen attentively to what the other person is saying. It breaks the connection between two individuals and the other person gets frustrated because they are not being heard.
The goal of listening is to make prospects feel safe enough to express what they want and build the trust to begin a real conversation.
Chris Voss in his book, Never Split the Difference, has come up with a great tactic of listening i.e repeating the last three words that counterpart ended with. This helps to put people in a positive frame of mind where people are more likely to collaborate and push the solution ahead.
The above-mentioned tactic is called Mirroring. Mirroring is the behavior in which one person unconsciously imitates the other, to comfort each other, building a kind of rapport that leads to trust.
Chapter 3: Don’t Feel Their Pain, Label It
We often hear back from negotiators that separate people from the problem, but that’s hard when their emotions are the problem.
Here, Tactical Empathy comes into the picture. Tactical empathy means to imagine yourself in your prospect’s situation and recognize their perspective and vocalize that recognition. Understanding their feelings at the very moment can help you influence all the following moments.
Let’s understand how we can validate someone’s emotion by acknowledging it.
Labeling or identifying the emotions of the opponent shows that you are understanding the position they are in. Labeling is one of the most powerful skills available to understand the factors driving their behavior.
The primary step to labeling is discovering the other person’s emotional state, usually by examining their words, tone, and body language. Once you have identified the emotion, the next step is to label it aloud with It seems/sounds/looks like…” Don’t use “I,” which presents you with your self-interest.
The last step in labeling is to be silent and to listen.
Chapter 4: Beware “Yes”, Master “No”
This emphasizes the power of “NO”.
How do you feel when you listen to a NO?
Most people think it’s an end to the negotiation. I am sure every negotiator feels the same.
But Chris Voss in Never Split the Difference, explains that No is the most powerful word because it provides us an opportunity to clarify what they want. This helps them to get comfortable and then we can start the real negotiation.
Eventually, they might give in and say yes. So, NO might seem an end but it opens an opportunity to know your counterpart more and starts the real negotiation.
Chapter 5: Trigger The Two Words That Immediately Transform Any Negotiation
While being in a conversation with the opponent, you need to convince him to that level where he comes out with “That’s Right”. Once you reach this position, you have unlocked the key.
Now, you can further direct the mind of the opponent according to the situation.
Chapter 6: Bend Their Reality
We all must have heard the word called Fair but we are not aware of the usage of this powerful word in negotiations.
The word fair is used in negotiations in three ways:-
- The defensive Tone- We just want what’s fair
Instead of conceding irrationally, apologize, and offer to go back to where the unfairness began and fix things.
- Nefarious accusation: We’ve given you a fair offer.
In this situation, label with “It seems like you’re ready to present evidence to support that.”
- The positive tone: I want you to feel like you are being treated fairly at all times. So please stop me at any time if you feel I’m being unfair and we’ll address it.
Loss Aversion: People will take greater risks to avoid losses than to achieve gains.
When it comes to decision making, humans are always found to be irrational and emotional.
Following are the 8 steps to bend the reality:-
- Make them solve
- Ask for fairness.
- Anchor their emotions with low expectations.
- Let them go first
- Establish a range
- Pivot to non-monetary terms.
- With numbers- use odd numbers
- Surprise with a gift.
With all these tactics, try to bend reality in your favor. Use these tactics to be a better negotiator.
Chapter 7: Create the Illusion of Control
Successful negotiation involves the illusion of control. What if your opponent does the work for you and suggests the solution which you wanted? The deal is done. But how to reach there?
Ask calibrated or open-ended questions to acknowledge the other person and their ideas. Such questions help the other person to think and solve the problem.
Questions like “How am I supposed to do that?” leads to a problem-solving session where you can actively come to a solution. Ask questions that start with a “How” or ”What” with the tone of requesting help.
Avoid questions that can be answered with a ‘Yes’ or a tiny piece of information.
Chapter 8: Guarantee Execution
Guaranteed execution is all about detecting liars. Your job in negotiation is to get the deal cracked. Yes is of no use till we get the answer of how. The different phrases to ask such questions are-How am I supposed to do that? How will we know we’re on track? How will we address things if we find we’re off track? If you want your deal converted, you have to discover every possible way to get the deal done. A real negotiator should have an effective line of communication.
The different rules to consider at the time of communication are-
- The 7-38-55 rule says 7 percent of a message is based on words, 38 percent from the tone of voice, and 55 percent from body language and facial expressions.
- The Rule of Three is getting the other party to conform to the same thing three times.
- The Pinocchio Effect says that liars use extra words, converse in more complex sentences, and practice far more third-person pronouns.
The art of the closing deal is to remain focused till the deal is cracked.
Chapter 9: Bargain Hard
How to bargain with people who are experts in negotiation?
The golden rule states that treat others the way they want to be treated. You need to identify your prospect’’s dominant negotiating style. It is all about understanding the person.
Never Split the Difference talks about three different negotiating styles i.e an accommodator, an assertive, or an analyst.
Analyst: Their Dominant Optimization strategy is to get the right solution, no matter how long it takes.
Assertive: They want to get things done as quickly as possible.
Accommodator: The key optimization function of accommodators is to build relations and have friendly discussions.
Chapter 10: Find The Black Swan
Black Swan is a theory that tells us things happen which were previously thought to be impossible, or never thought of at all. It helps us to change the outcome of the situation.
How to find the black swan?
1)Having a mind that is open and flexible.
2) Remembering that everybody with whom you are negotiating has a world view and black swan can lie in emotional places too.
3) Read between the lines and review your notes.
While you are patiently listening to the conversation, try to uncover those things where black swan can be present.
You need to keep a few things in mind while you are in the conversation.
Similarity Principle– People will like and trust you when they find something common or similar. They tend to be more aligned when you share common experiences with them.
Black Swans are leverage multipliers. Building leverage is all through information. Leverage is further categorized as positive leverage, negative leverage, and normative leverage.
Positive leverage is when you can give something to deal with while negative leverage is when you can take to make the deal worse. Normative leverage on the other side is that every person has a set of rules and moral frameworks.
The book, Never Split the Difference, offers the first-hand experience of negotiation through the author’s application of these skills in real-life situations. Chris believes in the importance of psychological skills to build an agreement, gain faith, and win their control while maintaining good relationships with our counterparts.
We feel this book is sure to give you a competitive edge in life. The use of examples to support the statement is an added advantage that keeps the reader hooked. A well-structured book that you would love to revisit from time-to-time to gain its timeless wisdom.