Never Split the Difference

Top learnings from Never Split the difference by Chris Voss & Tahl Raz

January 4, 2021

Negotiation & bargaining always seemed like a bare knuckle gritty exchange between 2 sides, the one with the toughest nerve coming out on top. This perspective was recently shattered, and replaced with an idea of empathy, listening and understanding. 

This may seem like a softer approach to working towards your goal, however it’s an approach where one can better understand your counterpart’s perspective before working out how to move forward to reaching your goal. This is not to say avoid honest and clear conflicts, but rather learn to embrace them no matter how uncomfortable they are.

As an introverted person this seems intimidating, engaging a problem head on working towards the best possible outcome. There are small yet significant methods that can help achieve your goal, master these and there will be no need to find a ‘wimp-win’ solution, instead negotiate with confidence for the favourable outcome. 

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss & Tahl Raz is a masterfully written book that uncovers practical steps to negotiation with real world examples and insight as to how it can be used in everyday life. Here are my top learnings:

  1. Mirroring - Imitate and copy your counterpart’s actions, words, tone of voice and body language in order to comfort each other. Effective mirroring can create a bond, and even develop a layer of trust that had never existed before.

  1. Labeling - Show that you’re listening properly and recognise the point of view of your counterpart and articulate that understanding back to them. Labelling allows you to reinforce a positive idea, as well as, diffusing a negative situation. A key, yet difficult part of the label is holding the silence that follows. 

  1. Embrace ‘No’ - Yes is non-commital, “No” gets the ball rolling. Break down misconceptions of this word, turn it into a tool for clarity as opposed to seeing it as a barrier. Provide your counterpart the opportunity to say “No” early on, it creates a sense of security & control, learn to use that comfort as a gateway to the “Yes” you are looking for.

  1. Calibrated questions - How do you get your counterpart to do your work for you, and suggest the solution themselves? We are too quick to ask questions with single-fact responses to reaffirm what we already know, preventing the conversation from moving forward. Asking your counterpart "How…" questions to unearth new information and subtly forces them to show their insight.

  1. Find the Black Swan - Unknown unknowns are what blindside us in any negotiation, we don’t know what we don’t know. Information is valuable, take each piece that is presented to you as it may lead to why someone is communicating what they’re communicating at this point in time.

There’s so much valuable insight to this book, before I started I feared what I didn't know, and allowed this information to have leverage over me. Even during the book, I felt intimidated by the techniques as if they were a rigid playbook to memorise. Rather it has become an eye opener, an encouragement to practice the tools to build the confidence to talk people into just about anything.

See More Posts

Find this Book online

Never Split the Difference