Never Split The Difference Summary And Review


Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss is a guide to mastering high-stakes negotiations with practical techniques that anybody can master with practice and apply in real life scenarios.

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Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
  • Hardcover Book
  • Voss, Chris (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages – 05/17/2016 (Publication Date) – Harper Business (Publisher)

Last update on 2024-05-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon

Never Split The Difference Summary

Looking for the best book summary of Never Split The Difference?

You have come to the right place.

I’ve read this book multiple times, and discovered valuable insights that anybody can use to steer negotiations towards an agreement.

And I’ll share the same with you in this article.

Before you dive in, please understand that this book summary is not intended to replace the original book. Instead, it presents or elaborates the ideas with my unique style and perspective.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

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Lesson #1: Negotiations are more common than we think they are.

Whether you believe it or not, you are always negotiating.

We are always pitching our ideas to others.

For example, when you are bargaining with a seller while buying vegetables, you are negotiating.

When you are asking your boss to raise your salary, you are negotiating.

When you are trying to convince your friend why he shouldn’t choose a specific career path, you are pitching your idea and negotiating.

Pitching is the same as negotiation.

No conversation can happen without negotiation.

But we don’t see it that way, right?

And that’s why not all people are good negotiators.

This doesn’t mean that you have to see every conversation as a battle of ideas.

Just realize that negotiations are bound to happen.

Logically, if they are they inevitable, we must understand the strategies that would help us win eventually.

Countless books have been written on negotiation.

A few months ago, I also summarized Getting To Yes. If you are interested in reading that, read its book summary here.

Is it necessary to learn all these strategies?

We all should ask this question.

Why? That’s because many strategies fail in the real-world scenario.

Sometimes, you don’t get to apply any strategy, the outcomes are inevitable.

Sometimes, the counterparty is fixated on disagreeing with all your ideas.

Often, negotiators find themselves out of options.

Fortunately, the author has addressed these types of issues in the book.

He has been an FBI hostage negotiator, so he knows what works in the real-life tight situations when the stakes are high.

The next lessons will give you insights on the tactics you should implement while doing high-stakes negotiations.

Keep reading.

Related read: Getting To Yes Book Summary

Lesson #2: Emotions govern our decisions more than logic.

Many negotiators fail to win because they try to be rational.

You might ask, “what’s wrong in being rational?”

It’s natural to think that we are rational human beings.

The truth is:

We are not as rational as we think.

If you read researches or books on sales and persuasion, you’ll realize that we are highly emotional.

And most of our decisions are governed by emotions more than logic.

More often than not, we think emotionally, and justify our emotional decisions with logic to avoid triggering any guilt feelings.

Nobody likes to label himself irrational, right?

Okay, so how does this information help negotiators to win negotiations?

When you are negotiating with anybody, don’t ignore emotions.

If you are not considering emotions while making decisions, you are shooting in the dark.

You might use all the tactics perfectly, but still lose and get a “NO” from your counterpart.

Remember, negotiations don’t happen between two machines.

You always talk to human beings.

It doesn’t matter how scientific a person is, emotions are always there.

And whether you like it or not, they’ll play an important in deciding how the negotiation goes.

Perhaps, they’ll make you angry and left you wondering, “why is the counterpart not interesting in your offer?”

So far, we only discussed the problem and understood why emotions are something that can’t be ignored.

The question is:

How do we deal with this strategically?

Let’s discuss in the next lesson.

Lesson #3: Address the deep-rooted fears and objections of the other party by labelling them.

More often than not, during negotiation, we get too focused on what we want to achieve.

The author suggests that empathy plays a key role in building trust.

If you can make your counterpart comfortable and build rapport, it’s much easier to come to an agreement where you win.

And it’s impossible to make the other person trust you if you are too focused on your selfish goals.

Instead of doing that, shift your attention from your thoughts to your counterpart.

Address their deep-rooted fears.

Those fears are the objections.

If you study neuroscience, it’s often our amygdala that triggers the fight or flight response. (Learn more about the role of amygdala in this book summary)

Your goal should be to address all those thoughts or feelings that are triggering the function of amygdala.

Otherwise, there is no point of negotiation.

It’s difficult to win the negotiation without this.

The author recommends that you should label those fears and objection.

You see, when those feelings are inside the mind of your counterpart, they tend to glorify them for some reason.

When you label them by using phrases like “so you fear that this will happen…” you bring them out and make the counterpart see that those fears or threats are not that big.

This reduces friction between you and your counterpart.

This requires you to listen and pay attention.

Most people don’t listen.

They wait for their chance to speak.

And when they speak, they speak.

That’s why they fail to have a successful negotiation in numerous instances.

Kindly note that I’m talking about high-stakes negotiations here.

Normal negotiations require no such tactics or attention to detail.

But still, it’s a nice practice to listen more than you speak.

It’s irritating when you realize that the other person is not listening to you. 

And why shouldn’t you get irritated? If the other person is not listening to you, it only means that he doesn’t value your time and energy.

Fears are hard to figure out and might require various techniques to figure out the hidden deeper fears of a person.

Most people don’t go around telling what they fear, or do they?

As a negotiator, it’s your job to make your counterpart comfortable enough and bring the objections into the light, and finally destroy them like a pro.

You can use phrases like “Yes, I understand what you are trying to say” to build rapport.

Also read: The Art Of Communicating Book Summary

Please note that, building rapport doesn’t mean that you have to agree with all the ideas of your counterpart.

Does this sound strange?

After all, shouldn’t we agree more so that finally the counterpart says yes?

Yes, it does.

And I was surprised too when I read about this technique.

Keep reading to learn why always agreeing in a negotiation is a bad idea.

Lesson #4: Sometimes, triggering “No” can help you get “YES” from your counterpart.

The author talks about a brilliant strategy used by negotiators.

A lot of the times, what happens is, people hide their true thoughts, by agreeing and saying “Yes.”

But when the final moment of decision comes, they say “No.”

We all have heard about this common technique:

Get affirmative responses multiple times, and when you pitch the final idea, the counterpart is bound to give an affirmative response.

This might have worked in the past for some people. However, today, people don’t like to be sold anything.

They want to feel that they are controlling their decisions.

And also this technique has been overused by people.

So, it’s easy to catch a person while using this technique.

You can’t control what people will say.

But you can always influence their decisions.

And that’s why the author suggests that getting your counterpart to say no can work wonders in a negotiation.

Unfortunately, “No” is the last word any negotiator wants to hear.

Smart negotiators understand the importance of disagreement in any high-stake negotiation.

They deliberately calibrate their questions in such a way that the counterpart is forced to think and come to a disagreement.

Doing this give the other person a sense of control.

The counterpart feels as if his ideas are his own.

The key here is to use simple questions whose answers are obvious.

For instance, “Do you want to suffer a loss?”

Obviously, nobody wants that. So, the answer would be “No, never.”

The thing is:

We all suffer from loss-aversion.

Learn how loss-aversion impacts our behavior while investing: The behavioral investor book summary

Humans go to extreme lengths to protect what they possess, even if it’s not much of value practically.

Remember, our emotions are behind this phenomenon.

We attach our emotions to objects, ideas, or other intangible things that carry value.

If you frame your pitches in such a way that the counterpart sees a clear loss in not accepting it, you can win any negotiation easily.

Of course, there are other factors playing their roles here. 

And there will always be factors that will not be in your control.

But this doesn’t mean that you can’t do your best as a negotiator.

Lesson #5: Keep your emotions in check during negotiation.

Just because you are learning how to become a better negotiator, it doesn’t mean that these principles won’t apply to you.

We can talk for hours on how addressing emotions in important.

The harsh truth is:

It’s very hard to manage emotion.

Negotiations can go terribly wrong, and it’s very difficult to apply all these tricks.

Great negotiators can handle their emotions first and keep them in check.

It’s easy to say “Put yourself in the shoes of your counterpart” but it’s very difficult to implement in real negotiations.

Related: How to win friends and influence people (book summary)

Fortunately, the more you practice, the better you become at it.

One job of negotiators is to eliminate any misunderstanding between both the parties.

You can paraphrase the sentences to get more clarity.

In author’s words, you can mirror back sentences to build trust.

It gives a signal that you are paying attention.

For instance, if your counterpart says, “We should do go with this strategy first.”

You can reply, “Did you mean that this strategy is better?”

Mirroring doesn’t always mean that you have to say the same thing in exact order.

As long as the meaning remains the same, it’s okay to reword a little.

This shows that you have genuine interest in coming to a solution.

It’s easy to jump to conclusions during any negotiation.

Questions help you bring clarity and address objections.

You’ll always feel like rushing up and ending the negotiation quickly.

So cultivate some patience within you.

Recommended reading if you want to develop patience: Chop wood carry water (book summary)

All this will take considerable time.

Listening requires time and patience.

When you listen by keeping your emotions in check, you also discover ways to turn the negotiation in your favor.

Lesson #6: Compromising in a negotiation isn’t always helpful.

We all follow the famous win-win strategy in communication.

But it doesn’t always work, says the author.

What if the other person doesn’t want you to win?

You can try all you want by building rapport, it won’t help.

The outcome is already decided.

The author’s approach is to bargain hard and never split the difference.

He believes that no party gains anything if both parties win in a high-stake negotiation. There is always a sense of dissatisfaction.

Think about the FBI hostage negotiations.

The counterpart never agrees to release the hostages unless they get a handsome amount by the FBI.

In these cases, FBI negotiators can’t afford to play win-win strategy.

The outcome has to be win-lose.

The guilty party has to lose and release the hostages.

And FBI negotiators make sure that hostages are released unharmed.

In short: Compromising isn’t always helpful when the stakes are high.

What can you do as a negotiator if you find yourself in a tight position?

Again, there is no one answer.

Try to understand the motivations of the others side. Pay attention to their tone of voice and other subtle non-verbal cues.

Try to understand their worldview and religion.

Never Split The Difference Review

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
  • Hardcover Book
  • Voss, Chris (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages – 05/17/2016 (Publication Date) – Harper Business (Publisher)

Last update on 2024-05-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon

Here is my critical review of this book.

Who should read this book?

I highly recommend this book to business people or entrepreneurs who always find themselves negotiating and pitching ideas to people.

What I like about the book?

The author’s strategies are highly practical. He doesn’t just list the tricks to fill the pages. As he has been an FBI hostage negotiator, he knows what he is talking about.

The book has stories that sound like movies. We all have watched movies where a gang has taken people hostage, and demanding money. So, you won’t find yourself bored.

What I don’t like about this book?

Many strategies like parroting and rephrasing are already written in other books.

If you are someone who has read a lot about negotiation, you might find the information old.

I mean, I have read Getting To Yes before reading this book, so I already knew many similar concepts.

My rating of this book: 6/10

If you are thinking that you have already learned everything, there is to know from this book, you are wrong.

Buy the book on Amazon: Hardcover | Paperback | Audible

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FAQs about Never Split The Difference by chris Voss

What are the main points of Never Split The Difference?

There are many techniques and ideas discussed by the author, but if put precisely, just understand that we are highly emotional beings who think they are logical.

Should I read Never Split The Difference?

Yes, you should definitely read this book. I highly recommend it if you want to master high-stakes negotiations like asking your boss for raising salary, or pitching a new idea to investors and raise funding.

How long does it take to read Never Split The Difference?

It took me 7-8 hours to finish this book. But if you just scan the key lessons, it’ll take 30-50 minutes to finish the book.

Why is it called never split the difference?

It’s called so because the author wants to give the message that negotiations don’t have to always end with compromises.

Where to get this book?

You can get the book from Amazon: Hardcover | Paperback | Audiobook

Now it’s your turn

There you have it.

I hope you enjoyed reading this book summary and learned a lot about high-stakes negotiations.

Now you tell me:

What’s your favorite trick to win any negotiation?

Please let me know in the comments below.

And don’t feel shy to share this book summary with your friends or family members. 🙂

Here is a tip: Bookmark this website so that you can return to read other book summaries.

Shami Manohar

The Brain Behind

I am Shami Manohar, the founder of WizBuskOut. My obsession with non-fiction books has fueled me with the energy to create this website. I read at least one book every week on topics such as business, critical thinking, mindset, psychology, and more.

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