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Preview — Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
by Chris Voss
Read between June 17 - June 17, 2018
hotshot students from other top Boston universities like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts.
In my short stay I realized that without a deep understanding
my short stay I realized that without a deep understanding of human psychology, without the acceptance that we are all crazy, irrational, impulsive, emotionally driven animals, all the raw intelligence and mathematical logic in the world is little help in the fraught, shifting interplay of two people negotiating. Yes, perhaps we are the only animal that haggles—a monkey does not exchange a portion of his banana for another’s nuts—but no matter how we dress up our negotiations in mathematical theories, we are always an animal, always acting and reacting first and foremost from our deeply held ...more
all starts with the universally applicable premise that people want to be understood and accepted. Listening is the cheapest, yet most effective concession we can make to get there. By listening intensely, a negotiator demonstrates empathy and shows a sincere desire to better understand what the other side is experiencing.
Negotiation serves two distinct, vital life functions—information gathering and behavior influencing—and includes almost any interaction where each party wants something from the other side.
Effective negotiation is applied people smarts, a psychological edge in every domain of life: how to size someone up, how to influence their sizing up of you, and how to use that knowledge to get what you want.
Most important to me is that you understand how urgent, essential, and even beautiful negotiation can be. When we embrace negotiating’s transformative possibilities, we learn how to get what we want and how to move others to a better place.
Experience will have taught them that they are best served by holding multiple hypotheses—about the situation, about the counterpart’s wants, about a whole array of variables—in their mind at the same time. Present and alert in the moment, they use all the new information that comes their way to test and winnow true hypotheses from false ones.
You should engage the process with a mindset of discovery. Your goal at the outset is to extract and observe as much information as possible. Which, by the way, is one of the reasons that really smart people often have trouble being negotiators—they’re so smart they think they don’t have anything to discover.
I hadn’t yet learned to be aware of a counterpart’s overuse of personal pronouns—we/they or me/I. The less important he makes himself, the more important he probably is (and vice versa).
There’s one powerful way to quiet the voice in your head and the voice in their head at the same time: treat two schizophrenics with just one pill. Instead of prioritizing your argument—in fact, instead of doing any thinking at all in the early goings about what you’re going to say—make your sole and all-encompassing focus the other person and what they have to say. In that mode of true active listening—aided by the tactics you’ll learn in the following chapters—you’ll disarm your counterpart. You’ll make them feel safe. The voice in their head will begin to quiet down.
The goal is to identify what your counterparts actually need (monetarily, emotionally, or otherwise) and get them feeling safe enough to talk and talk and talk some more about what they want.
But neither wants nor needs are where we start; it begins with listening, making it about the other people, validating their emotions, and creating enough trust and safety for a real conversation to begin.
Going too fast is one of the mistakes all negotiators are prone to making.
When we radiate warmth and acceptance, conversations just seem to flow. When we enter a room with a level of comfort and enthusiasm, we attract people toward us.
That’s why your most powerful tool in any verbal communication is your voice. You can use your voice to intentionally reach into someone’s brain and flip an emotional switch. Distrusting to trusting. Nervous to calm. In an instant, the switch will flip just like that with the right delivery.
One group of waiters, using positive reinforcement, lavished praise and encouragement on patrons using words such as “great,” “no problem,” and “sure” in response to each order. The other group of waiters mirrored their customers simply by repeating their orders back to them. The results were stunning: the average tip of the waiters who mirrored was 70 percent more than of those who used positive reinforcement.
1. Use the late-night FM DJ voice. 2. Start with “I’m sorry . . .” 3. Mirror. 4. Silence. At least four seconds, to let the mirror work its magic on your counterpart. 5. Repeat.
Ask someone, “What do you mean by that?” and you’re likely to incite irritation or defensiveness. A mirror, however, will get you the clarity you want while signaling respect and concern for what the other person is saying.
“It’s fine. You can store it anywhere,” he said, slightly perturbed now. “Anywhere?” she mirrored again, with calm concern. When another person’s tone of voice or body language is inconsistent with his words, a good mirror can be particularly useful.
Mirroring will make you feel awkward as heck when you first try it. That’s the only hard part about it; the technique takes a little practice. Once you get the hang of it, though, it’ll become a conversational Swiss Army knife valuable in just about every professional and social setting.
a great negotiator aims to use her skills to reveal the surprises she is certain to find.
Don’t commit to assumptions; instead, view them as hypotheses and use the negotiation to test them rigorously.
Negotiation is not an act of battle; it’s a process of discovery. The goal is to uncover as much information as possible.
To quiet the voices in your head, make your sole and all-encompassing focus the other person and what they have to say.
Mirrors work magic. Repeat the last three words (or the critical one to three words) of what someone has just said.
You can learn almost everything you need—and a lot more than other people would like you to know—simply by watching and listening, keeping your eyes peeled and your ears open, and your mouth shut.
There is nothing more frustrating or disruptive to any negotiation than to get the feeling you are talking to someone who isn’t listening.
“I don’t understand” is a legitimate response. But ignoring the other party’s position only builds up frustration and makes them less likely to do what you want. The opposite of that is tactical empathy.
For most people, it’s one of the most awkward negotiating tools to use. Before they try it the first time, my students almost always tell me they expect their counterpart to jump up and shout, “Don’t you dare tell me how I feel!”
It seems like . . . It sounds like . . . It looks like . . .
Notice we said “It sounds like . . .” and not “I’m hearing that . . .” That’s because the word “I” gets people’s guard up.
If you’ll trust me for a second, take a break now and try it out: Strike up a conversation and put a label on one of the other person’s emotions—it doesn’t matter if you’re talking to the mailman or your ten-year-old daughter—and then go silent. Let the label do its work.
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.
I’ve found the phrase “Look, I’m an asshole” to be an amazingly effective way to make problems go away. That approach has never failed me.
Research shows that the best way to deal with negativity is to observe it, without reaction and without judgment. Then consciously label each negative feeling and replace it with positive, compassionate, and solution-based thoughts.
The road is not always cleared so easily, so don’t be demoralized if this process seems to go slowly. The Harlem high-rise negotiation took six hours. Many of us wear fears upon fears, like layers against the cold, so getting to safety takes time.
Or you’ll say, “I don’t want to seem like an asshole . . .” hoping your counterpart will tell you a few sentences later that you’re not that bad. The small but critical mistake this commits is denying the negative. That actually gives it credence.
They trained in front of an observer, honing their pacing; deciding at what point they would label each fear; and planning when to include meaningful pauses. It was theater.
Following on the heels of an argument is a great position for a negotiator, because your counterpart is desperate for an empathetic connection. Smile, and you’re already an improvement.
Now let’s pause. Up to this point, Ryan has been using labels and mirrors to build a relationship with Wendy. To her it must seem like idle chatter, though, because he hasn’t asked for anything. Unlike the angry couple, Ryan is acknowledging her situation. His words ping-pong between “What’s that?” and “I hear you,” both of which invite her to elaborate.
I promise they won’t scream, “Don’t try to control me!” and burst into flames—and you might walk away with a little more than you expected.
When someone tells you “No,” you need to rethink the word in one of its alternative—and much more real—meanings: ■ I am not yet ready to agree; ■ You are making me feel uncomfortable; ■ I do not understand; ■ I don’t think I can afford it; ■ I want something else; ■ I need more information; or ■ I want to talk it over with someone else.
Then, after pausing, ask solution-based questions or simply label their effect: “What about this doesn’t work for you?” “What would you need to make it work?” “It seems like there’s something here that bothers you.” People have a need to say, “No.” So don’t just hope to hear it at some point; get them to say it early.
I tell my students that, if you’re trying to sell something, don’t start with “Do you have a few minutes to talk?” Instead ask, “Is now a bad time to talk?” Either you get “Yes, it is a bad time” followed by a good time or a request to go away, or you get “No, it’s not” and total focus.
Since I’ve demystified “No” for myself, I’ve found the ideas, perceptions, and baggage that people have with that two-letter word to be fascinating. To me, it’s like watching a movie or a music video from the 1980s for the umpteenth time. You can identify with the experience—while simultaneously being conscious of the fact that the world, and you, have moved on.
The origins of the model can be traced back to the great American psychologist Carl Rogers, who proposed that real change can only come when a therapist accepts the client as he or she is—an approach known as unconditional positive regard.
Before you convince them to see what you’re trying to accomplish, you have to say the things to them that will get them to say, “That’s right.”
And corporate salespeople work on a quarterly basis and are most vulnerable as the quarter comes to a close.
And then I push it even further: Why, I ask, did none of the proposers offer $1, which is the best rational offer for them and logically unrejectable for the accepter? And if they did and they got rejected—which happens—why did the accepter turn them down? “Anyone who made any offer other than $1 made an emotional choice” I say. “And for you accepters who turned down $1, since when is getting $0 better than getting $1? Did the rules of finance suddenly change?”