Never Split The Difference Book Summary by Chris Voss

1. Use late night FM DJ voice

2. I’m sorry

3. Mirror

4. 4 seconds silence

5. Repeat

3 Types of Voices

Late night DJ

Positive playful voice — default. relax and smile while you’re talking

Direct/assertive — use rarely


Use last 3 words or the critical 3 words

Use mirrors to encourage other side to keep talking


It sounds like, It seems like

Never say “I”

Use silence

Neutralize the Negative, Reinforce the Positive

Labeling is a tactic, not a strategy

Anger is rarely productive. It’s blinding. 

Acknowledge the negative and then defuse it. 

Accusation Audit 

-Listing every terrible thing your counter part could say about you

Everyone of us has an inherent need to be understood

“No” — temporary certainty

Deep human need for autonomy

People have a need to say no. Get them to say it early. Beware “yes”, master “no”

Persuade in their world. 

3 Kinds of Yes:




Getting to the “No’s” –> trigger the “No”

-Mislabel emotion or desire

-What they don’t want

-End negotiation where there are no “no’s”

Is now a bad time to talk is always better than do you have a few minutes to talk

Email Magic

Provoke a no in the email:

“Have you given up on this project?”

-indicates that you’re willing to walk away

The best thing to hear is not “Yes” but “That’s Right”

Trigger “That’s Right” with a Summary

1. Effective Pauses

2. Minimal Encourages (yes, okay, I see)

3. Mirroring

4. Labeling

5. Paraphrase

6. Summarize

Hearing “You’re right” is a disaster

Reaffirm the world according to X person

Compromise is a bad deal. No deal is better than a bad deal

Time is a crucial element in a negotiation.

Deadline causes anxiety. Deadlines are arbitrary and rarely actually have consequences.

Never hide the deadline. Reveal the cutoff. Deadlines are never ironclad. 

1. Anchor their emotions — acknowledge all of their fears. Accusation audit. Loss aversion. 

2. Let the other guy go first most of the time. Anchor and adjustment effect

3. Establish a range

4. Pivot to non monetary terms

5. When using numbers, use odd ones. Numbers that end in 0 feel like place holders.

6. Surprise with a gift. Unrelated. Reciprocity.

Salary Negotiations

Pleasant persistence on non salary terms

Define success for terms

Spark interest in your success — have boss have a stake in your success

What does it take to be successful here?

1. All negotiations are defined by subterranean desires and needs. Don’t be fooled by the surface

2. Splitting the difference is wearing one black and one brown shoes. Don’t compromise

3. Approaching deadlines causes impulsiveness

4. Fair is an emotional term to put the other in defensive and getting concessions. Ask to explain how you’re mistreating them

5. Emotional anchor by saying how bad it will be. When you get to numbers, set an extreme anchor to make real offer reasonable or use a range to seem less aggressive

6. People will take more risk to avoid a loss than gain. Make sure they seem how much they have to lose from inaction.

“How” engages because how asks for help

“How am I suppose to do that?”

Calibrated open ended questions 

  • Avoid verbs such as can, is, are, do, does
  • These are closed ended
  • Use who, what, when, how —> think, to speak expansively
  • Best to start with what, how and sometimes why (because it sounds accusatory)
  • Use it early and often 
  • What is the biggest challenge you face? –> this gets the other side to reveal something about themselves to you 
  • What about this is important to you
  • How can I help to 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’s the objective/what are we trying to accomplish here 
  • How am I suppose to do that

All negotiation is an information gathering process

The key is not to confront them on their ideas (e.g. you can’t leave), but to acknowledge their ideas openly (e.g. I understand why you’re pissed off, what do you hope to accomplish by leaving?)

Give the other person the illusion of control. You frame the conversation.

Importance of Self Control

  1. A no oriented email question to initiate contact — have you given up on settling this amicably?
  2. A statement that only leaves for “that’s right” to form a dynamic of agreement — it seems that you feel my bill is not justified
  3. Calibrated questions about the problem to reveal thoughts — how does this bill violate our agreement?
  4. More no oriented questions to remove unspoken barriers — are you saying i misled you? are you saying i didn’t do as asked? are you saying i reneged on our agreement? are you saying i failed you?
  5. Labeling and mirroring the essence of the answers — it seems that you feel my work is subpar. or my work is subpar? 
  6. A calibrated question to offer full solution— how am i suppose to accept that?
  7. Flattery
  8. Long pause
  9. “No” oriented question

Avoid knee jerk reactions. Pause. Think. Let emotions dissipate. It also lowers your chance of saying more than you have to

The Japanese use a translator to step back, think and frame a response

When verbally assaulted, don’t counter attack. Use a calibrated question. When people are not in control, they adopt a hostage mentally by being extremely defensive or lashing out. Overreaction. Train ourselves against this.

Who has control? The talker or the listener? The talker is revealing information. Listener tools. Use talker’s energy. 

Don’t force opponent to admit that you’re right. Avoid yes/no or tiny information.

“Yes” is nothing without how.

 “Hey, how are we suppose to know X is okay” over and over again

Always answer with questions. 

“How am I suppose to do that?”

The art of letting someone else have your way

2 Things to Let Counterpart Think They’re Defining Success Their Way

  • How will we know we’re on track?
  • How will we address things if we find that we’re off track?

Summarize their answers until you get a “That’s Right”

Beware of 2 signs that they don’t believe idea is theirs:

  • You’re right
  • I’ll try

Dive back in with calibrated “how” questions if you see these things.

Level 2

  • How does this affect everybody else?
  • How onboard is the rest of your team?
  • How do we make sure that we deliver the right material to the right team?

How am I suppose to? How do we know? How can we?

When/What —> overcome aggressors

7/38/55 Rule —> 7% of message is based on words, 38 tone, 55 body language and face

Look for incongruence

Is the Yes real?

Rule of 3 —> get someone to agree to something 3 times. 

Encounter problems before they happen. Vary the tactics. Hard to repeatedly lie

  1. No 2 label or summarize what they said so they say that’s right
  2. How/What question — implementation question about what we do if we get off track 
  3. Or same thing phrased 3 different ways

The Pinocchio Effect

Liars use more words than truth tellers and use more 3rd person pronouns — him/her/it/when/there instead of “I” to put distance between them and the lie

They work too hard at being believable

Use of pronouns indicate importance. The harder it is to get a 1st person pronoun, the more important that person is. We, they, and them.

If you hear a lot of I, me, and my, the real power to decide probably lies elsewhere

The Chris Discount

Use your own name creates dynamic of forced empathy

Humanize yourself. Do it in a fun friendly way

Say no using how questions — express no 4 times before actually using the word

Deferential way so that it becomes a request for help

  1. Your offer is very generous. I’m sorry that just doesn’t work for me
  2. I’m sorry but I’m afraid I just can’t do that
  3. I’m sorry, no
  4. No. (Use with a downward inflection)

Negotiating/Bargaining Styles

  1. Accommodators. Time = relationship. Silence = anger
  2. Assertive. Time = money. Silence = invitation to speak
  3. Data loving Analyst. Time = preparation. Silence = time to think

Most effective uses elements of all 3.

If you’re pushed first to name a price, allude to what someone else would charge

Assert Smartly

Real Anger

Expressions of Anger increase a negotiator’s advantage and final take. Unfelt anger backfires.

Take a deep breath, allow little anger and channel it at the proposal, not the person, and say “I don’t see how that would ever work”

Strategic Umbrage 

Threats Delivered without Anger. “I’m sorry that just doesn’t work for me”

Why would you do that 

I messages.

Time out —>  I feel __ when you __ because ___ 

No neediness —> must be wiling to walk away

Never look at counterpart as enemy.

Ackerman Model

Offer-Counter Offer Model

  1. Set target price (goal)
  2. Set first offer at 65% of goal —> extreme anchor
  3. Calculate 3 raises of decreasing increments 85, 95, 100% —> drop sparingly (reciprocity)
  4. Use lots of empathy and different ways of saying no to get other side to counter 
  5. When calculating final number, use precise non round numbers 
  6. Throw in a non monetary item that they don’t want on final offer to show that you’re at your limit

Black Swans

Unknown unknowns —> black swans

3 Types of Leverage

Who has leverage? Who has the most to lose?

  1. Positive
    1. Ability to provide or withhold what they want. You can make their desire come true
    2. You control what they want
  2. Negative
    1. Make counterparty suffer. Based on threats. I will destroy your reputation. Loss aversion. Stronger motivation. Who’s their audience? Threats can be like nuclear bombs. Use subtle. 
  3. Normative
    1. Use other person’s norms and standards. Show inconsistencies between beliefs and actions. No one likes to be a hypocrite
    2. Work to Know their religion

Review everything you hear. Use back up listeners. 

Similarity Principle.

Religion as a reason. “Because”

“They’re crazy” —> we don’t like to deal with unknowns

Negotiation Genius Book Reasons for “Crazy”

  1. Ill informed & Acting on Bad Information 
  2. Constrained
  3. Other interests

Uncover BlackSwans

  1. Get Face Time
  2. Observe unguarded moments (beg, end, when they say something out of line)
  3. When it doesn’t make sense, there’s cents

Let known knowns guide you, not blind you

Black swans are leverage multipliers

Typed from iPhone

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