Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss


International hostage negotiator Chris Voss provides a practical guide and set of principles to improve your effectiveness in getting what you want. You’ll learn that being a good negotiator is about being an effective communicator, understanding what drives people’s decisions, and using counterintuitive techniques, such as asking calibrated questions, beginning with “no”, and listening actively and empathetically.

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Key Takeaways

Disagree without being disagreeable

“He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of negotiation.”

Being an asshole never wins you a good outcome. But if you can learn to convey your position without inciting a strong emotional response within the other party, you will be more effective in your negotiations.

It’s not about you

“Negotiate in their world. Persuasion is not about how bright or smooth or forceful you are. It’s about the other party convincing themselves that the solution you want is their own idea. So don’t beat them with logic or brute force. Ask them questions that open paths to your goals. It’s not about you.”

“If you approach a negotiation thinking the other guy thinks like you, you are wrong. That’s not empathy, that’s a projection.”

Negotiate with the other person’s perspective in mind. When you can convince the other party that the idea you want is their idea, then you will be much more effective in your negotiation.

Calibrated queries

Calibrated queries are open-ended questions designed to buy you time, get more information from the other party, and make the other person feel in control. They are often “how” questions, such as “How did you arrive at that conclusion?” These types of questions can be powerful in getting information and communicating successfully in a negotiation.

Make the other person the center of attention

To formulate a compelling case, you’ll need to discover the monetary, emotional, and other needs of the party that you are negotiating with. So kick things off by focusing on the other person’s needs and getting them to speak about those needs. Drop the tendency to lead with your own arguments.

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