Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
Chris Voss, Tahl Raz
A former international hostage negotiator for the FBI offers a new, field-tested approach to high-stakes negotiations—whether in the boardroom or at home.
After a stint policing the rough streets of Kansas City, Missouri, Chris Voss joined the FBI, where his career as a hostage negotiator brought him face-to-face with a range of criminals, including bank robbers and terrorists. Reaching the pinnacle of his profession, he became the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator. Never Split the Difference takes you inside the world of high-stakes negotiations and into Voss’s head, revealing the skills that helped him and his colleagues succeed where it mattered most: saving lives. In this practical guide, he shares the nine effective principles—counterintuitive tactics and strategies—you too can use to become more persuasive in both your professional and personal life.
Life is a series of negotiations you should be prepared for: buying a car, negotiating a salary, buying a home, renegotiating rent, deliberating with your partner. Taking emotional intelligence and intuition to the next level, Never Split the Difference gives you the competitive edge in any discussion.
Labeling is a helpful tactic in de-escalating angry confrontations, because it makes the person acknowledge their feelings rather than continuing to act out. Early on in my hostage negotiation career, I learned how important it was to go directly at negative dynamics in a fearless but deferential manner. It was to fix a situation I’d created myself. I’d angered the top FBI official in Canada when I entered the country without first alerting him (so he could notify the Department of State), a
effectively convey that Benjie was now paying full attention to Sabaya and all he had to say. 3. Mirroring: Rather than argue with Sabaya and try to separate Schilling from the “war damages,” Benjie would listen and repeat back what Sabaya said. 4. Labeling: Benjie should give Sabaya’s feelings a name and identify with how he felt. “It all seems so tragically unfair, I can now see why you sound so angry.” 5. Paraphrase: Benjie should repeat what Sabaya is saying back to him in
negotiators barely stop themselves from slugging the guy before they tear off to the jail to have the first inmate call in. Crisis averted, but barely. The point here is that your job as a negotiator isn’t just to get to an agreement. It’s getting to one that can be implemented and making sure that happens. Negotiators have to be decision architects: they have to dynamically and adaptively design the verbal and nonverbal elements of the negotiation to gain both consent and execution. “Yes” is
be worried about cutting yourself off from an essential source of data, your counterpart. The single biggest thing you can do is to smile when you speak. People will be more forthcoming with information to you as a result. Smiling can also become a habit that makes it easy for you to mask any moments you’ve been caught off guard. ACCOMMODATOR The most important thing to this type of negotiator is the time spent building the relationship. Accommodators think as long as there is a free-flowing
that falls short. Decades of goal-setting research is clear that people who set specific, challenging, but realistic goals end up getting better deals than those who don’t set goals or simply strive to do their best. Bottom line: People who expect more (and articulate it) get more. Here are the four steps for setting your goal: ■ Set an optimistic but reasonable goal and define it clearly. ■ Write it down. ■ Discuss your goal with a colleague (this makes it harder to wimp out).