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Adults: Never Split the Difference

By: Chris Voss

Review By: Dilan Mehta

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if your life depended on it

Chris Voss is the former lead hostage negotiator for the FBI. With dozens of high-stakes negotiations around the world, Chris shares some of his expertise and techniques in this book.


*What I learned is that the key to getting what you want is to never split the difference, while at the same time, make sure your counterpart feels like they are being treated fairly. This means to not compromise. A lot of people think this is a good idea, but in reality, it is terrible and almost always ends in a disaster. So how do you get exactly what you wanted in the beginning? I found the strategies in this book very helpful.

*Tactical Empathy: At first, don't focus on logic and problem-solving. Humans are wild, irrational animals, driven by emotion. The book teaches that we should empathize with their situation because there is always some factor that makes us do what we do, and understand them, that way we can get to the problem-solving stage and they can empathize and understand us. This is critical for the best possible outcome.

*They want to be heard and want attention. And that is why your counterpart will resist until you do this.

*Slow things down and speak deep and soft, sometimes playful, inflecting your voice downwards. You can also use an aggressive tone, but rarely. Be open to all ideas and possible outcomes, no assumptions.

*Smile warmly.

*Mirroring is big. It shows you are listening. Repeat the last three words they say, because people are drawn to what is similar. It's all about your interactions.

*Label pain and get rid of it, by pushing away the negative first. Once people hear their pain out loud, it's more likely they will become at ease because you are putting words to their feelings. Label by saying: It seems like_____ or it sounds like____.

*Controlling or manipulating our emotional system influences the thinking system, and they will help you get what you want. Listen first and then talk, active listening. Another trick is to paraphrase words they say. Break the barrier and see into their world and vision. Get on the same page.

*Before you get to "yes", seek "No" and "That's right." No is powerful because it creates the illusion that they are in control. Ask a question that you know they will say no to, such as "Are you going to let that happen?" or Have you given up on this?"

*That's right shows you care and understand. If you paraphrase, label, mirror, and create a summary, and they say "That's right", you have scored big time. They know think and know that you know what they feel or what is happening.

*"You're right" just means they are annoyed and want to leave)

*Deadlines and time pressure make people say and do impulsive things.

*When the negotiation is over for one side, it's over for the other side, too. It works both ways.

*Fair is a powerful word. People want everything to be fair. A good way to use it is at the beginning of a negotiation, say "I want you to feel like you are being treated fairly."

*If something is fair, people will agree to it. They will also agree to things that are consistent and have authority.

*Perspective makes a big difference. Set an anchor. If you want to get paid more, initially give a ridiculously high number. When whoever you are talking to says no, then throw out what you actually want. It will seem so little compared to that big number, and they are more likely to agree.

*People are drawn to sure things more than probability, even when the probability is a better choice. You have to persuade them that they are missing out. Instead of saying all the benefits, say what they would lose if they didn't do _______.

*Loss aversion.

*Make your product seem unique and scarce.

*Tactics of prospect theory: Anchoring, let them go first on the statement, establish a range, and the lowest number is what you desire, sometimes speak non-monetary terms, or giving a non-monetary item, use odd numbers to sound exact, and surprise with a gift, which is reciprocity.

*There are some cases to use reciprocity and others to not.

*If a person gives you advice, they will follow you and pay attention to you. They will become interested in your work because they want to see how you did with their recommendation and to see if it worked.

*Calibrated or open-ended questions remove aggression from conversations by acknowledging the other side openly, without resistance.

*They get the other side thinking about your problems and how they can solve them. They will say your solution.

*Allows you to nudge and creates the illusion of control because they are answering questions

*It is a way to say no without saying no, and the other side will offer the solution that you want. It will also cause them to work hard to get an answer.

*These questions are not yes or nos, they are open.

*Examples: What do you hope to achieve by doing this?, How am I supposed to do that?, What about this is important?, What is the objective?, Why would you switch from something you have always done?

*Be a listener first, then be a talker.

* You don't just want to come to an agreement, a negotiation is nothing without execution. Pay close attention to other people who may be involved, body language, and tone of voice so you get it right the first time.

*Keep using calibrated questions, yes is nothing without how; get to the final agreement or solution. They will be forced to contemplate your problems when making their demands. *Analyze the entire negotiating field, and ask yourself how does this affect other people, and how will they react, in order to guarantee execution.

*Learn how to spot liars and deal with jerks, and interpret both non-verbal and verbal communication.

*Calibrated questions are one way, of course, they are very useful. Another is knowing the 7-38-55 percent rule. 7 percent of a message is based on words, 38 is the tone of voice, and 55 percent is body language. If the body language does not match with the words, your counterpart may be lying or unconvinced. When that happens, use labels to discover the source: "It seems you are hesitant on making this deal."Do this, because a yes may be turned into a no later. *There are three kinds of yes: Commitment, Confirmation, and Counterfeit. Strive for a commitment yes. To do this, get them to agree to the same thing three times. This will tell you if they are really on board. The first is 1, the second could be a label, and the third a calibrated question. *There are obvious telltale signs if someone is lying. Usually, they will start using a lot more third-person nouns in order to distance themselves from a lie. They also speak more complex sentences for you to buy whatever they are saying. Similarly, those who speak with a lot of I's and Me's are less important, but the less someone uses them, the more important they are. *Use the person's name, but also use your own name to humanize yourself, to make it seem like you are just another person, not the bad guy. Say it in a fun, friendly way. *Again, indirect ways of saying no are crucial. They get your counterpart to lower their demand and bid against themselves. Examples: How am I supposed to do that?, Sorry, but that doesn't work., Your offer is very generous, but I just can accept. *Bargaining time: Use tactics that make up the bargaining process. There are three types of negotiators, and you have to negotiate differently with each one: Analysts: Analysts hate surprises and like to stick to the facts, not missing any details. For them, use clear data and focus on the facts, not ad-libbing. Accommodator: They want to build a good relationship, they love the win-win. For them, be sociable and friendly. Assertive: They want to be heard. They are fiery and want a fast solution. For them, listen to what they have to say, understanding their point is even more important now. *If your emotions well up, control them when taking a "punch" or a "blow", remain calm, and detour the conversation. * Try to channel your anger into a tool that will wake your counterpart to the problem. Anchor: Ask what they think is the usual price. Also, no neediness. Walk away if you have to. No deal is better than a bad deal. Use these techniques for someone who won't budge: Set your target price, then give your first offer 65 percent. Use your target price and increase, also getting to 85, 95, and 100. By that time they will think they have gotten everything they could. *Find Black Swans- hidden pieces of unexpected information. When uncovered, they will provide very useful and create negotiation breakthroughs. These can be things that happen that were previously thought impossible or unlikely. Scan the entire area, Black Swans sit outside our regular expectations. To get these game-changing unknown unknowns, don't let what you know guide you. Listen carefully and connect the dots. Leverage has a lot of inputs. If you have a black swan, you may have real leverage. There are two good types of leverage: Positive Leverage: You have and can provide something your counterpart wants. Negative: You will have this leverage when you find Black Swans. Ask yourself what is their reputation? Beliefs? Background? Worries? Wants? Needs? How does this affect them? Normative leverage: Someone's actions go against their beliefs or morals. *If you share the same idea and claim you know and understand them, you will be more effective. People are drawn to others like them. What are their goals or passions? How can you help? Because is a powerful word. Even if you have a stupid reason, your claim or statement will sound backed up. If you think someone is acting irrational, it may be because: They are ill-informed or have the wrong info, they are constrained, something holds them back, or they have other interests than what you think. These are Black Swans. If you find them, you will have the upper hand. *More tips: -Go face to face -Observe the unguarded moments where Black Swans might slip *Closing: Avoid fear and learn to get what you want out of life. People too often avoid useful arguments. Don't be afraid of the other person. Because every moment is a negotiation and can be turned into something special. Embrace it. 😜😃🖐️

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