Book review: Never Split the Difference av Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

Just finished the book "Never split the difference" av Chris Voss. Voss is a former FBI Negotiator who has dealt with everything from bank robbers to terrorists. In the book you get to learn more about some high-stakes negotiations and the skills that have helped Ross save both money and people's lives. The book consists of nine different skill set that you can use in negotiations. Here is a summary of the different parts:

1) Become an active listener

Being an active listener is the most effective way to gain someone'e trust. Voss cites Oprah as the perfect example of someone who listens proactively.

2) Use mirroring

Mirroring another person, i.e imitating the gesture, speech pattern or attitude of another is one of the most effective ways to establish rapport.

A study by psychologist Richard Wiseman on two groups of waiters concluded that the average tip of the waiters who mirrored was 70 percent more than of those who used positive reinforcement. One easy way of mirroring is to repeat the last 1-3 words in a sentence of the other party.

3) Label their pain.

Detect the other party's emotional state. One way is to detect changes people undergo when reacting to external events, such as a question from you. If they are happy and you see them become less happy when asked about a friend, you can come to the conclusion that there is something that bothers them in that area. Use "It seems like..." instead of the subjective "I feel that..." in this case since it makes the situation less emotionally charged. Labeling negatives diffuse them and labeling positives reinforce them.

4) Beware Yes - Master No

Contrary to popular belief, “No” is the start of the negotiation, not the end of it.

There are three types of yes:

1) Counterfeit: When the party feels like saying no but Yes is an easier escape route.
2) Confirmation: A reflexive response to a yes or no question.
3) Commitment: The real Yes which leads to a real outcome such as the signing of a contract. Given that these three sound almost the same, you’ll have to learn to recognize which one is being used.

When you are selling something, ask "
Is now a bad time to talk?” instead of “Do you have a few minutes to talk?”. With the first question, you either get “Yes, it is a bad time” usually followed by a good time or you get “No, it’s not” and their full focus.

5) Strive for "That's right".

These are the magical words in a negotiation and are even better than getting a Yes.
Summarizing the concerns of the other party in a negotiation is the best way to get them to agree to a solution. By using a summary of their concerns you will trigger a "That's right". Quite the opposite is "You're right" which often means that the other person just wants to end the conversation.

6) Bend the reality

"Fair" is the most important word in a negotiation. A great negotiator always has a reputation of being fair. By persuading the other party that they have something to lose if the deal falls through you will get leverage in the deal.

7) Create the Illusion of Control

Negotiators can convince the other party to solve shared problems by using questions that start with “what” or “how”. Do not use "Why" which has an accusing tone.

Here are some questions you can use. These will make the other person feel like they are in charge but in reality you are driving the conversation.

- What about this is important to you?

- How can I help make this better for us?

- How would you like me to proceed?

- What is it that brought us into this situation?

- How can we solve this problem?

- What are we trying to accomplish here?

- How am I supposed to do that?

8) Guarantee execution

Negotiators should develop the ability to interpret body language and tone of voice. There is a rule called the 7-38-55 Percent Rule created by Albert Mehrabian. It states that only 7 percent of a message is based on the words while 38 percent comes from the tone of voice and 55 percent from the speaker’s body language and face. You should therefore be aware of the majority of the conversation which is through your voice and body language.

9) Bargain Hard

Try non-monetary issues to get to your final price. You could for example say “Let’s put price off to the side for a moment and talk about what would make this a good deal?” Or “What else would you be able to offer to make that a good price for me?” You don't always have to change the amount of money that is involved in the deal.

I really liked the book and it was fascinating to learn about the different real world negotiations where the techniques were used!