Lessons from “Never Split the Difference.”

Never Split the Difference is probably the best negotiating book I’ve ever read. I’d highly recommend it. The author Chris Voss is an ex-FBI hostage negotiator. He worked out of the office in Washington D.C. and flew all over the world negotiating with everyone from terrorists to bank robbers. I think you’ll find it incredibly useful in your day to day life.

Unfortunately a lot of these seem highly manipulative, but I suppose negotiating on your own behalf always has to involve some manipulation. I’d be okay using these as long as it doesn’t involve lying.

Some of the key points:

  • Use ‘how’ questions when engaged in a negotiation. So if someone gives you a price, you might ask “How am I supposed to do that?” This is brilliant because it frames the negotiation as a problem that you have, which the other person will naturally work to solve.
  • Use anchors. An anchor is just a price way over or way under what your target is. If you start by asking for an outrageous figure, you’re more likely to bring the other person to the edge of their negotiating range quickly.
  • Verbally call-out ‘elephants in the room.’ Start by labelling all the negative things a person might be thinking about you. Something like ‘This is probably going to make you think that I’m completely outrageous and incompetent.’ i.e. if you have to deliver bad news to a client. Labelling helps show that you’re empathetic with the person’s plight.