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Chris Voss

Never Split the Difference

# Chapter 1 - Story-based Introduction

# Chapter 2 - Be a Mirror

  • You need to hold multiple hypotheses in your head at the same time.
  • Look for information to disqualify them and create new ones.
  • Use a discovery mindset; don't fixate on what you believe to be true.
  • Use active listening vs. arguments to support your position.
  • Avoid crowding out the other voice (by either talking or listening to the voice in your head plan arguments) by making your sole focus the other person and what they are trying to say.
  • The goal is to identify your counterpart's actual need; make them feel safe enough to talk about it.
  • Wants over Needs: wants are aspirational and imply getting your way vs. just surviving which makes us vulnerable.
  • Slow Down. Don't rush to solve problems. You need time to move a person's position.

# 3 Voices to Employ

  1. Late night DJ voice: calm and reasonable with downward inflection. Uses Statements of fact and confidence.
  2. The positive/playful voice: The default of easy going, good-natured and upward inflection. Take time to relax and smile.
  3. The direct and assertive: Signals dominance and the response will be aggressive or passive-aggressive.

# Mirroring: Isopraxism (Imitation)

  • Copy to comfort: use speech patterns, body language, vocabulary, tempo, tone.
  • We fear what's different and are drawn to the familiar.
  • Insinuate similarity with the other party.

# Strategy

  1. Use the late-night FM DH voice.
  2. Start with "I'm sorry..."
  3. Mirror with last ~3 words.
  4. Silence of at least 4 seconds.
  5. Repeat.

# Chapter 3 - Don't Feel Their Pain; Label It

  • Tactical Empathy: learn the motivation behind the wants.
  • This is the opposite of ignoring the other party's position.
  • Understanding a perspective is NOT agreeing with it.
  • Labeling: validate an emotion by acknowledging it and giving it a name.
  • Exposing negative thoughts makes them less frightening.
  1. Detect emotional state. Monitor them as you speak; identify emotions to highlight.
  2. Label it. This can be statements or questions: It seems like..., It sounds like..., It looks like... Not "I'm hearing" or "I think". Neutral phrasing encourages longer answers than yes/no and allows you to back-track.
  3. Silence. Do not expand or elaborate. Wait.
  • Clear the barriers to an agreement as they are often more powerful than the motivations for agreeing.
  • Safety and trust come from interrupting our automatic response to real or imaginary threats.
  • Take The Sting Out: preemptively go through all the bad things the other party will bring up. This will use up their evidence.
  • Pause... after you label or mirror to let it sink in.
  • Label your counterpart's fears to diffuse their power.
  • Remember you're dealing with a person who wants to be appreciated and understood. Use labels to reinforce and encourage positive perceptions and dynamics.

# Chapter 4 - Beware "Yes" - Master "No"

  • Pushing for yes makes people defensive.
  • "No" should be the start of negotiation. Yes is the final goal. "Have you given up on this project?" type questions connect with partners & teammates and give you a positive "No" from which to start.

# Chapter 5 - Trigger the Two Words

  • If someone feels understood they are more likely to respond to constructive behaviours.
  • "That's Right" is better than yes. Use a summary by labeling, paraphrasing, identifying, rearticulate and emotional affirmation.

# Chapter 6 - Bend Their Reality

  • Desires and Needs form negotiation. Don't be fooled by the surface.
  • Splitting the difference is often a bad deal for both sides (wear one black and one brown shoe).
  • Deadlines entice people to rush the negotiating process and do impulsive things against their best interest.
  • "Fair" is an emotional trigger used to exploit and place on the defensive. Respond by inquiring into how you are mistreating them.
  • Anchor the starting point of negotiation by stating how bad your offer is going to be. Set an extreme number anchor to make a real offer seem reasonable, or use a range.
  • People take more risks to avoid loss than to realize gains. Make inaction lead to loss.

# Chapter 7 - Create the Illusion of Control

  • Aggressive confrontation is the enemy of constructive negotiation. Winning is more important than being right.
  • Avoid closed questions that provide little information like "Yes". They trigger the expectation of reciprocity.
  • Ask calibrated questions starting with "How" and "What". These implicitly ask for help which gives the illusion of control.
  • Don't use "Why" unless you want your counterpart to defend a goal that serves your interests.
  • Pauses and silence allow for your counterpart to talk at length.
  • Understand the team behind the table. You need to influence the hidden decision makers.

# Chapter 8 - Guarantee Execution

  • Ask repeated "How" questions to keep your counterpart engaged but off balance. Gives the illusion of control.
  • "How can I do that" is a subtle "No" that pushes for solutions by both sides.
  • Identify the motivations of players not directly negotiating. Ask about the deal's impact on the rest of the team, if they are on board, etc.
  • Communication involves:
    • 7% voice
    • 38% tone
    • 55% non-verbal communication
  • Use calibrated questions, summaries and labels to get "Yes" confirmed at least three times.
  • "I, me and my" indicate power is elsewhere. "we, they and them" indicates you are dealing with the decision maker.
  • Personalize your offer by using your own name. Humour and humanity break the ice and build relationships.

# Chapter 9 - Bargain Hard

# Identify your Counterpart's Style

  1. Accommodator: relationship over the deal
  2. Assertive: time pressure, wants to be heard
  3. Analyst: distinct, cold, numbers-focused
  • Prepare for a punch in the form of an extreme anchor. Set boundaries, take a punch or punch back without anger. Focus on the situation not the negotiator.

# The Ackerman Plan

  1. Define your acceptable price
  2. Set an extreme anchor at 65%
  3. Use calibrated questions and secure concessions as you move to 85% (+20%), 95% (+10%), 100% (+5%) of your acceptable price
  4. Use a non-round, precise number as your final offer

# Chapter 10 - Find the Black Swan

  • Let things you know guide but not blind you.
  • Recognize the things you know you don't know.
  • Beware the unknown facts of which you are unaware.

# Leverage Multipliers

  1. Positive (give something)
  2. Negative (hurt someone)
  3. Normative (use a counterpart's norms to bring them around)
  • Understand other side's world view.
  • Review what you hear from your counterpart. Double check.
  • People are more likely to concede to someone with which they share a cultural similarity.Look for shared common ground.
  • Explain irrational or crazy behaviours with constraints, hidden desires or bad information.
  • Face time is hard to replace with research. Pay attention to unguarded moments at the start or end of a session.

# Prepare a Negotiation One Sheet

  1. The specific goal
    • Extremes: best & worst
    • Carry your written goal into the negotiation.
  2. Summary
    • Write out in a couple of sentences of the facts leading up to the negotiation.
    • Get your counterpart to "That's Right"
  3. Labels and Accusation Audit
    • prepare 3-5 labels:
      • It seems like XXX is important to you.
      • It seems like you don't like XXX
      • It seems like XXX makes it easier
      • It seems like you're reluctant to XXX
  4. Calibrated Questions
    • Prepare 3-5 calibrated questions to reveal value to both parties and overcome potential deal killers.
      • What is the core issue here?
      • How does that affect things?
      • What is worthwhile here?
      • How does this fit into the overall objective?
      • How does this affect the rest of your team?
      • What do your colleagues see as their main challenge in this area?
      • What's the biggest challenge you face?
      • What does doing nothing cost you?
  5. Non-cash Offers
    • prepare a list of non-cash items possessed by your counterpart that are valuable.
    • What could they give you to make you almost do it for free?