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Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It Hardcover – May 17, 2016
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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.)
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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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?
MAIN CONCEPT: Tactical empathy: “This is listening as a martial art, balancing the subtle behaviors of emotional intelligence and the assertive skills of influence, to gain access to the mind of another person.”
IS IT FUN TO READ: Finished it in a day. The book’s full of riveting life-and-death hostage negotiations, and Voss spins a damn good yarn.
OKAY, BUT IS IT USEFUL?: I highlighted 109 passages and took 20pp of single-spaced notes. There is so much crazy useful stuff in this book that it would be a bargain at 100x the price. For example, Voss advocates getting to “No” before getting to “Yes.” To those schooled in academic negotiation, this may seem heretical. But it makes all kinds of sense: letting your adversary say a solid “no” gives them a feeling of safety, security and control -- a great starting point to a negotiation. The technique of asking calibrated open-ended questions is pure gold (e.g. “How do I do that?” or “What’s important to you about that?”) Funny thing is that I’ve been teaching that technique for years, but only now understand *why* it works so well (thanks, Chris!).
Then there’s the step-by-step protocol for negotiating your salary and the 6-step Ackerman bargaining model. There’s mirroring: you repeat people’s words verbatim, so they feel understood. There’s labeling, where you identify the emotion behind what people are saying, thereby deepening empathy. Great quote: “Good negotiators, going in, know they have to be ready for possible surprises; great negotiators aim to use their skills to reveal the surprises they are certain exist.”
What I really like about this book was that its techniques were honed by real-life negotiations with actual bad guys. During his 24 years as FBI Lead Hostage Negotiator, time and time again Voss got people released from the grips of determined terrorists and kidnappers. If the techniques work in those critical situations, surely they’re good enough to help you negotiate a raise.
In the end, this is a book about not just being good at negotiation, but being great at life. “Never Split the Difference” is serious wisdom, every bit of it earned, conveyed with great humor, storytelling and insight. Read it to be a more effective human.
-- Ali Binazir, M.D., M.Phil., Happiness Engineer; Speaking Coach, KNP Communications; author, The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman's Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible