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Never Split the Difference Book Summary – Chris Voss

What you will learn from reading Never Split the Difference:

– How to get what you want from any interaction you have.

– How to ask questions to get important information out of people.

– A few simple techniques you can use today to drastically improve any negotiation. 

Never Split the Difference Book Summary:

Never split the difference book summary covers the key ideas from this incredible book on negotiation. If you want to have more influence with other people and get what you want then this is the book for you.

From mirroring to labelling, the techniques in this summary are simple and effective. By the end of this summary you will be able to instantly improve you negotiation skills. Read on.


Get in the Negotiating Mindset:

Good negotiators going in, know they have to be ready for possible surprises; great negotiators aim to use their skills to reveal the surprises they are certain exist.

You are best served by holding multiple hypotheses about a situation at the same time, about the counterparts wants, and whole array of other variables. 

We are easily distracted. We engage in selective listening, hearing only what we want to hear, our minds acting on a cognitive bias for consistency rather than truth. 


Tonality and mirroring:

When you inflect in an upward way, you invite a response. This is because you’ve brought in a measure of uncertainty.

Mirroring involves saying what someone has said to you back. The one to three critical words of what they have just said to you. 

For a mirror to be effective you’ve got to let it sit there and do the work. 

Replying to a request (aggressive, non-aggressive) 

I’m sorry (mirror their statement)  

Then silence.  

When you mirror you’re helping someone think through their problem. Hence why they vomit more information and feel good by the end of it. 

Great ReframeNegotiation is not a battle it’s a process of discovery. The goal is to uncover as much information as possible.

Empathy helps us learn the position the person is in, why their actions make sense to them and what might move them. 

  • Empathy is a powerful mood enhance 

It shows someone understands thus is connecting with you. Resonance of brain frequency… 

The trinity words, music and dance – words, tone and body language. 



Labelling is a way of validating someones emotion by acknowledging it.

It sounds like…

It seems like…

It looks like… 

Then pause, let it do its work. 

Best way to deal with negativity is observe it, without reaction or judgement. Consciously reveal each negative feeling and replace it with a positive, compassionate and solution-based thoughts. 

You must acknowledge someone situation. Otherwise they feel they haven’t been heard.  


Accusation Audits:

Accusation audits are where you reel off a list of potential negatives or accusations someone may have of you before they can say them.

Use accusation audits to figure out how to diffuse negativity. Labelling their feelings and thus moving away from amygdala

After an argument someone is desperate for an empathetic connection. 


Using the power of No:

By pushing for no you nudge the person to feel that they are in control.  

No is a re-affirmation of autonomy. No opens a discussion up. 

The sooner you say no the sooner you’re willing to see options and opportunities that you didn’t see before. 

False labelling is a great way to get someone to say no. 

Saying no makes the speaker feel safe and secure and in control so trigger it. 

A good question to get a no: 

Have you given up on this project? 


Use a Summary:

The combination of re-articulating the meaning of what is said plus the acknowledgement of the emotions underlying that meaning ( paraphrasing + labelling = summary)  

When your adversaries say that’s right they feel they have assessed what you’ve said and pronounced it out of their own free will.  


Negotiation as problem solving:

If you will this type of negotiation is problem diagnosis, or helping someone think through their problems. You use paraphrasing and labelling to tell them their reality. 

Yes and You’re right is not substitute for real understanding between parties. 

*The moment you convince someone you’ve convinced someone you truly understand their dreams and feelings then mental and behavioural change becomes possible. 



Finding Black Swans – Critical Information that changes the negotiation:

There’s always leverage, negotiation is never a linear formula. We all have irrational blind spots, hidden needs and undeveloped notions.

When you understand the subterranean world of unspoken needs and thoughts, you’ll discover a universe of variables that can be leveraged to change your counterparts needs and expectations. 

Never split the difference – don’t compromise. No deal is better than a bad deal. 

We compromise because it’s easy and it saves face. In essence we compromise because it’s safe.  


Using Deadlines:

What is it about deadlines that causes pressure and anxiety, the answer is consequences. 

Deadlines are often arbitrary, almost always flexible, and hardly ever trigger the consequences we think or are told. 

Look for others self-imposed deadlines. Let the other person know your deadline and cut-off point. 



Dealing with the Fairness card:

Three ways people drop the F-Bomb:

1. “We want what’s fair” – This is an implicit accusation.

Response – Ok, let’s stop everything and go back to where I started treating you unfairly 

2. “We’ve given you a fair offer” – Accuse you of not knowing what fair is

Response – Fair? (Mirror), it seems like you’re ready to provide information and evidence that supports this? 

3. “ I want you to feel like you are being treated fairly at all times. So please stop me any time if you feel I’m being unfair.” 



Use Calibrated questions:

If you can get the other party to reveal their problems, pain and unmet objectives- if you can understand what people are really buying, then you can sell them a vision of their problem that leaves your proposal as the perfect solution. 

Calibrated questions are about removing hostility from statements – instead of:

“you can’t leave”  – “what do you hope to achieve by going?”

Questions are used to introduce ideas and requests without sounding pushy. 

Instead of asking close ended yes-no questions, you ask open ended. This forces counterpart to think how to answer the question. “How” engages and “how” asks for help. 

Great examples of calibrated questions: 

  • 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 bought us into this situation?
  • How can we solve this problem?
  • What’s the objective? 
  • How am I supposed to do that?


By making your counterparts articulate implementation in their own words, your carefully calibrated “how” questions will convince them that the final solution is their idea.  

Negotiation is often called – “The art of letting someone else have your way” 

“I’ll try” means I plan to fail. 


Questions to reveal what Committees and Teams are thinking:

How does this affect the rest of your team? 

How on board are the people not on this call? 

What do your colleagues see as the main challenges in this area? 

Label in congruencies in body language, people will like you for understanding. 


The negotiation Rule of three:

Aim to get the counterpart to agree to same thing three times in the same conversation- 

No1 First agreement of commitment 

No2 Label and summarise what they said so they answer “that’s right” 

No3 Calibrated how or what question about implementation -What’s the biggest challenge you face? 

Strategy for dealing with Assertive people = mirror 


Questions to Deflect anchors:

How am I supposed to do that?

What are we trying to accomplish here?


The Ackerman Bargaining method:

  1. Set your target price (your goal)
  2. Set your first offer at 65 percent of your target price
  3. Calculate three raises of decreasing increments (to 85, 95, and 100 percent)
  4. Use lots of empathy and different ways of saying “No” to get the other side to counter before you increase your offer.
  5. When calculating final amount precisely. 
  6. On your final number, throw in a non monetary item (that they probably don’t want) signals you’re at your limit.

Black swans happen when we overlook things by placing information into old templates. 

Always voice your observations with your counterpart. 

Why are they communicating what they are communicating right now? 



Negotiation Leverage

Leverage has lots of inputs like time, necessity and competition. 

The leverage is in this question –  What does your counterpart want to gain and what do they fear losing?

You should be aware at all times of which side has most to lose from negotiations. 

The other side has its own unique issues based on its own unique worldview. 


Types of Leverage:

Positive leverage is simply the ability to provide or withhold something that your counterpart wants. 

Negative leverage is ability to make counterpart suffer. 

Never take away someones autonomy. 

Normative leverage is using other parties norms and standards to advance your position. 

Normative leverage is about getting a holistic idea of your counterparts world-view. 


People who operate with Incomplete information may seem crazy:

People operating with incomplete information appear crazy to those who have different information. Your job when face with someone like this in a negotiation is to discover what they do not know and supply that information.



What are peoples Constraints?:

People may lost power or action may become out of favour with others. 

Other interests

People often reject offers for reasons that have nothing to do with their merits. 

You don’t understand what world looks like to them. 

See how others respond to someone show’s who is the alpha. 

It’s not the guy across the table who scares us it is conflict itself. 

A surprisingly high percentage of negotiations hinge on something outside money. Often they are more to do more with self-esteem, status, autonomy and other non-financial needs. 


List of the Best Negotiation Questions:

Questions to unearth deal-killing issues

What are we up against here? 

What is biggest challenge you face? 

What happens if you do nothing? 

What does nothing cost you? 

Always be ready to follow-up labels to answers of calibrated questions. 


Chase questions: 

It seems like ___ is important 

It seems like you are worried that____ 


Diffusing accusation questions: 

  • It seems like _____ is valuable to you
  • It seems like you don’t like ____
  • It seems like you value _____
  • It seems like ____ makes it easier
  • It seems like you’re reluctant to____


Core calibrated questions: 

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • How is that worthwhile?
  • What’s the core issue here?
  • How does that affect things?
  • What’s the biggest challenge you face?
  • How does this fit into the objective?Ai