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Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It Hardcover – May 17, 2016
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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
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Rather than spending your money and time on this book, I would suggest taking a look at Voss's YouTube videos, he says everything in the book in less than 10 min across a few different vids, minus all the war stories, and you get more out of it, because you hear his tone and the way he puts things.
Read the whole thing, was a bit disappointed, promises the world until the last page, but doesn't really deliver.
My rating: This is one of the two best books anyone can read on negotiation. The other is Cialdini's famous, "Influence: The Art and Science of Persuasion." While there are many good books on the subject, I can't think of any others that are as complete and useful as these.
Advice: Remember that negotiation is a practice. You will be best aided by these books by taking a chapter at a time and practice the ideas and techniques. Practice them on your family, on your colleagues and on your friends. (Forget pets. Dogs are too obliging and cats too indifferent.)
I thought I’d learned what I needed to know about negotiation. I went to a prestigious business school and took their negotiation class, learning all about Getting Yes, BATNA, and other fancy acronyms. I’d also had to bargain my share in both work and personal life. Yet, I felt like the tools I’d been given were meant for some alternate reality where people are totally dispassionate, rational robots, doing math in their heads to get to logical outcomes. The negotiations I’d been in with were instead with passionate, irrational (including myself) humans, sometimes getting angry or sad, often making decisions that didn’t “make any sense” (to me). I was pretty sure the negotiation outcomes we were getting to were subpar, both for me and for them: a lot of splitting the difference, mostly to make the negotiations — which felt uncomfortable for all parties — stop.
Note, when I mean “negotiation”, I’m speaking pretty broadly: from “negotiating" with my fiancée on who should walk the dog tonight, to negotiating with an employee on why this feature needed to be built urgently, to negotiating with an angry customer who’d called me angry about something, to negotiating with my parents on wedding plans, the list goes on. Each negotiation tougher and more emotional than the next, yet with tools that told me emotions didn’t matter. Huh?
I don’t remember how I came across Never Split the Difference, but man, am I glad I did. The book exposed me to a whole different way of negotiating, questioning the rational toolkit I’d been given in business school and replacing it with a more human set of tools. This set based on psychology and understanding of normal human emotions. It builds on empathy and active listening skills, layers on ways to label emotions and ask open-ended calibrated questions. It includes polite ways to say “no” without offending the other party, and many more. Most importantly it builds a framework that lets you deeply understand what the other party needs, wants, and desires, and work with them to achieve an outcome where you get your goals met — without ever “splitting the difference” again.
And it has worked wonders. Since reading this book, I have:
- Forged a better relationship with my fiancée by actively listening to her before jointly finding solutions
- Negotiated successful resolutions to emotionally charged topics with parents and friends
- Brought angry customers — who felt we had failed them — back from the brink to trusting us again
- Forged a better relationship with my business partners by understanding how they value time, silence, relationships, surprises, etc…
- Gotten discounts on things that I didn’t think could be discounted, just by using my name
- Gotten to the front of the waiting line at busy restaurants
- Said no to bad deals, because no deal is better than a bad one
- the list goes on.
I warn you that this book is the start of a rabbit hole that you might want to keep digging down. I’ve recommended this book to anyone who will listen, personally bought it 29 times as a gift for friends & coworkers alike, taken an online class (taught by the author’s son, a brilliant negotiator in his own right), etc...
Negotiation, in the broadest sense as described above, is something I want to become an expert in, because I now understand that every conversation is a negotiation. This is likely the most useful skill you can learn and apply.
It all started with this book. Are you too busy to read it?
Top international reviews
This stuff works a treat if, and only if you are willing to put the methods into practice
on a daily basis. I am using it constantly every single day and it has produced amazing results.
As Chris Voss said "everything is a negotiation" and I would agree 100% it's just i've never noticed it before..but i do now.
Try it out for yourself, you will be surprised at how effective it is.
Just be prepared to put in the work required to learn a new skill. I really had to laugh at one of the negative reviews that implied they should
now be a skilled negotiator as if reading the book once worked like some sort of osmosis straight from Chris Voss.
Yeah...get real mate.
A couple of weeks after starting the book I negotiated a vendor at work from a 'list price' of about £68,000 for some equipment down to about £22,000*, partly by applying techniques from this book. Given that I spent £4.45 on the book, I think it's paid for itself by now.
*Obviously, having read the book my final offer was not a rounded number. Read it yourself, and you'll see what I mean.
I am half way through the book, it took a while to read as I have decided to digest the techniques and to see how effective they are.
I have applied mirroring, showing empathy labelling techniques when I communicating with my daughter and I found I have stopped saying no to her automatically and the relationship has improved since.
The poor printing is not the whole book and only on a dozen pages. But still, very disappointing.
I could end the review there, it accurately summarises the book in its entirety. The skills gained are actually workable, with some being common sense.
The downside, in my opinion, is how the author makes himself the hero of most of the stories. A general pattern of his anecdotes is "these skilled guys spent ages trying to persuade the negotiator to give up. I walked in, said a few words, and the terrorist gave up". I'd rate it down for stuff like that, but the tricks he recommends actually work, and in all honesty, we wouldn't be reading the book otherwise...
Fundamental message of Mr. Voss is that human beings are emotional and irrational. Decision making is at the end of the say an emotional decision. The historical theories on negotiations are built on human beings rational and both the sides developing "win win" solutions. However, in a hostage crisis, it may not be possible to have a win win outcome. And therefore the title of the book -- never split the difference.
Mr. Voss's negotiation approach is roughly as follows:
1. Listen to the other party carefully. Mr. Voss believes that people wish to be understood and accepted and listening is the best way to do that.
2. Second thing that he emphasises is to spot the emotion in the other party, summarise/ paraphrase what the other person is saying. Summarising may not be by accepting what the other person is saying but by "labelling it". This way the counter party feels safe, understood and develops trust. This makes the other person more open to ideas.
3. People like autonomy and control. Allowing them to say no is often a great way to understand their reservations and also gives them the feeling that they are in control. Understanding their resistance can open up things.
4. Watch out for the phrase "That's right". Human beings like to be understood and positively affirmed. Once that happens, it is possible to get a positive breakthrough.
5. Importance of asking callibrative questions by using words such as "What/ When/ How/ Who". As the author says, this a way of saying no, without saying no and giving the other person the illusion of control.
6. Importance of the parties feeling that they have been accorded "Fair Treatment"
7. Anchoring proposals to get the desired outcome.
At the end, the author emphasises the importance of self control and emotional regulation and using the same tools that are needed in any relationship of understanding the other party, building trust and rapport, making the other party feel our empathy and then getting them to do things that we want them to do.
The real life examples make this a fun and engaging book to read. It is well written and easy to read. I give it my highest recommendation.
Some of my favorite tips for improving your negotiation skills are:
* Keep asking (the right) questions in order to lead the negotiation to the outcome you desire.
* Focus on open-ended questions instead of those that only allow a bipolar - yes or no - answer.
* Slow the negotiation process down.
* Make your counterpart feel safe enough to reveal themselves and their deepest needs / motivations.
* Mirror someone else's behavior if you want them to rethink their position.
* Convey that you are listening. Show empathy by describing to someone how they really feel.
* Make a list of the worst things the other party can say about you and revert those accusations in your favor.
* Do not fear hearing the word "no" and do not stay away from conflict. Conflict is what triggers the actual negotiation.
* While negotiating, look for the magical words "that's right". At that moment, you know you have the full attention of your counterpart.
* Be mindful of the adjective "fair" and cautious when dealing with abstract deadlines.
* Ask "how" and "what". Use "why" sparingly.
* Choose to ignore provocations and emotion-based attacks.
* Prepare well for any negotiation and try to identify your counterpart's negotiation style.
* Exploit any similarity between you and your counterpart.
* Review everything you hear from your counterpart and try to gather any relevant piece of information that might change the course of the negotiation.
So many valuable tips in such a concise book! Besides being easy to read, this book is indeed a must-have, because the author, Chris Voss, spent several decades in the FBI. He definitely practised what he preaches and specialized in negotiating hostage situations.
To wrap things up, I cannot recommend you this book enough. Please read it! You will get techniques that actually work and are endorsed by authentic examples from the daily life of an FBI agent.
Finally, in the appendix, you will get a negotiation preparation 101 to help you with your "one sheet", a file you should have with you to every negotiation that might occur.
So sehr ich das Harvard-Konzept schätze, haftet dem Buch doch etwas akademischer Staub an. Wer schon mal mit Leuten verhandelt hat, die Fairplay für ein Schimpfwort halten oder vielleicht sogar narzisstisch sind, der weiß, wie unberechenbar und skurril solche Verhandlungen ablaufen können. Genau an diesem Punkt setzt das Buch von Chris Voss an. Als ehemaliger FBI-Negotiator ging es bei seinen Verhandlungen meistens um Leben oder Tod, denn seine Verhandlungspartner waren meistens Kriminelle oder Wahnsinnige. In diesem Kontext sind seine "Techniken" und Konzepte entstanden. Manche der Techniken dürften NLPlern von der Theorie her übrigens bekannt sein. Dies ist eines der Bücher, das ich immer wieder gerne verschenke, weil es "streetwise" UND sehr unterhaltsam geschrieben ist.
The book is a great mix of his experiences as a negotiator and simple, very practical tips for all levels of negotiation - from negotiating a real or fake Christmas Tree with your wife to the ultimate negotiation when lives are at stake. Despite what some feedback on amazon that there should be more real life examples of his concepts, theres a certain thrill in reading about real world hostage negotiation from an experienced FBI agent. It seems like Chris is using his real-world examples to make his points. Can't ask for more real world that that!
The book is delivered in a very easy to read format, with a key lessons section for each chapter and some worksheets for practical use towards the end. The books ideas and concepts range from (what some might call popular-phycology) ‘mirroring’ and ‘labeling’ techniques to counter-intuitive negotiation principles such as “Beware YES – Master No”. There is a natural flow to the book that allows the reader to enjoy the content while absorbing the concepts in a step by step manner.
There’s even a practical example of how to ask for a pay rise from your boss.
Finally, I think this book carries some great examples of Emotional Intelligence attributes, such as self-awareness, self-regulation and empathy that are invaluable skills for all to learn.
Great read, recommend to all interested in this genre.
I agree with Felix Dennis when he says that in negotiations, usually the weaker side loses. Everyone is pretty much just as smart as everyone else when they concentrate or it relates to their self interest. Most negotiations are unnecessary, most of us are bad at it and even if we outperform our opponent you only improve your odds a tiny bit because the overriding factor is who holds the power to decide what happens. People resent being forced to negotiate, it's uncomfortable and it's often best avoided rather than engaging at this level.
I've given the book 2 stars because if you're socially inept or have never read anything like this it would have some value.
Chris weaves a riveting tale of tested, bare-knuckle negotiation principles among his unbelievable first-hand stories of high stakes hostage negotiations across the globe. You feel like you're there beside him, reading his thoughts and seeing the every move of the other side. Chris takes the mysterious process and emotions of negotiation and opens them up like a surgeon, dissecting each interaction and guiding a path through to the resolution you want.
Do you enjoy leaving money on the table?
Then you probably don't need this book.
Want to get the deal done?
Buy the book.
While remaining largely accessible for any general reader, he makes use of his own findings as well as the results from numerous academic and practical studies to convey the techniques and trips that aided him as an FBI negotiator, and later in the world of business.
From using mirroring and calibrated questioning to build rapport and open up counterparts, to uncovering "Black Swan" game chargers that can turn a negotiation on its head, Voss takes the time to explain and provide examples and frameworks for how everything can work to your advantage.
Less confrontational than I was expecting, Voss emphasizes viewing the person you are negotiating with as a counterpart rather than an adversary that must be destroyed or humiliated, creating a more constructive and ethical feeling to his approach.
Yes, I did occasionally spot a little humble-bragging by my own standards (along the lines of what you might expect from somebody who wanted to tell a few FBI war stories), but you can easily forgive it as from all accounts Voss earned the right to his stories in saved lives, and the each story he tells comes with a valuable lesson.
Recommend for anyone looking to up their sales game, deal with an overly assertive bully in their personal or business life, or gain greater mastery over their everyday interactions.