Book Review on Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss


Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss is a book on Negotiation. Chris Voss is a former FBI hostage negotiator and now the CEO of The Black Swan Group Ltd shares with us on using his tips gained from his days with FBI to negotiate our way in the modern society.

I have provided a summary of his tips he shared with his readers below. Do let me know if you find it useful and if you have tried any of it!

1. Be a Winner

– How to quickly establish rapport

– use the late- night FM DJ voice

– start with “I’m sorry…”

– Mirror – use the last 3 words of what someone just said

– Silence for at least 4 seconds. to let the counterpart reveal their intentions when you stay silent

– Repeat

– Don’t commit to assumptions. Instead, view them as hypothesis and use the negotiation to test them rigorously

– put a smile on your face

2. Don’t feel the pain. Label it

“it seems like…”

“it sounds like…”

“it looks like…”

– use labels to encourage them to be responsive

– if they disagree with the label, it’s OK

– step back and say, “I didn’t say that was what it was. I just said it seems like that.”

– they need to feel understood and appreciated

– Do an accusation audit

– list every terrible thing your counterpart could say about you

– acknowledge counterpart’s situation while simultaneously shifting the onus of offering a solution to the counter party.

3. Beware “Yes”. Matter “No”

– “No” starts the negotiation

– people need to feel in control

– give them permission to say “no” to your ideas

– when someone says “no” – re- think the alternative meaning

– I am not yet ready to agree

– you are making me uncomfortable

– I do not understand

– I don’t think I can afford it

– I want something else

– I need more information

– I want to talk it over with someone else

Ask them, “what about this that doesn’t work for you?”

“what would you need to make it work?”

“it seems like there’s something here that bothers you.”

Persuade them from their perspective to say “yes”, not ours.

Everyone you meet is driven by 2 primal urges – the need to feel safe and secure; the need to feel in control.

“Is now a bad time to talk?”

How never to be ignored – Provoke “no” with – “have you given up on this project?”

4. Trigger the 2 words that immediately transform any negotiation

“that’s right” –> trigger the couterparty to say these 2 words with a summary

– Effective pauses – use for emphasis

– Minimal encouragers – yes, ok, uh- huh, i see

– Mirroring – listen and repeat back what CP has said

– Labelling – label his feelings, identify with how he feels.

e.g “it all seems so unfair. I can see why you’re so angry”

– Paraphrase what couterparty said

– Summarise

If counterparty says “you’re right” –> means the counterparty is not convinced.

5. Bend their Reality

– Don’t compromise. No deal is better than a bad deal.

– The “fair” word – when to use and how to use

“we just want what’s fair”

IF – “we have give you a fair offer”


“it seems like you are ready to provide the evidence to support that”

– anchor their emotions

– accusation audit by acknowledging all their fears

– by anchoring their emotions in preparation for a loss, you inflame their loss aversion so they will jump at the chance to avoid it

– let the couterparty go first… most of the time

– establish a range.

– the actual amount you want is the lower range.

– pivot to non- monetary terms

– anything cheap to them but is valuable to me

– when you talk numbers, use odd ones

e.g. $37,643 sounds more thoughtful than a rounded figure

6. Create the illusion of control

– Summarise the situation followed by “How am I supposed to do that?”

– Asking calibrated questions.

– “how can I help to make this better for us?”

– “how would you like me to proceed?”

– “how can we solve this problem?”

– “how am I supposed to do that?”

Are the tips provided by Chris Voss useful? Do comment so that I know what you think!

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