Never Split the Difference
Never Split the Difference

Never Split the Difference

It 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. (Location 427)

The majority of the interactions we have at work and at home are negotiations that boil down to the expression of a simple, animalistic urge: I want. (Location 442)

Great negotiators are able to question the assumptions that the rest of the involved players accept on faith or in arrogance, and thus remain more emotionally open to all possibilities, and more intellectually agile to a fluid situation. (Location 557)

him. 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). We would later find out there was only one other bank robber, and he had been tricked into the robbery. Actually, three robbers, if you counted the getaway driver, who got away before we even entered the scene. (Location 562)

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. (Location 605)

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. (Location 608)

Think of it as a kind of involuntary neurological telepathy—each of us in every given moment signaling to the world around us whether we are ready to play or fight, laugh or cry. (Location 661)

There are essentially three voice tones available to negotiators: the late-night FM DJ voice, the positive/playful voice, and the direct or assertive voice. (Location 668)

When people are in a positive frame of mind, they think more quickly, and are more likely to collaborate and problem-solve (instead of fight and resist). It applies to the smile-er as much as to the smile-ee: a smile on your face, and in your voice, will increase your own mental agility. (Location 680)

He talked about an accomplice we had no knowledge of at the time. That exchange helped us nail the driver of the getaway car. (Location 709)

By repeating back what people say, you trigger this mirroring instinct and your counterpart will inevitably elaborate on what was just said and sustain the process of connecting. (Location 723)

The last rule of labeling is silence. Once you’ve thrown out a label, be quiet and listen. We all have a tendency to expand on what we’ve said, to finish, “It seems like you like the way that shirt looks,” with a specific question like “Where did you get it?” But a label’s power is that it invites the other person to reveal himself. (Location 1023)

the “presenting” behavior is the part above the surface you can see and hear; beneath, the “underlying” feeling is what motivates the behavior. (Location 1032)

I’ve found the phrase “Look, I’m an asshole” to be an amazingly effective way to make problems go away. (Location 1057)

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. (Location 1066)

We do that by labeling the fears. These labels are so powerful because they bathe the fears in sunlight, bleaching them of their power and showing our counterpart that we understand. (Location 1095)

Many of us wear fears upon fears, like layers against the cold, so getting to safety takes time. (Location 1103)

The real obstacle was that this woman needed to feel that she was understood, that the person handling her money knew why she was in that office and understood the memories that were driving her actions. (Location 1123)

The small but critical mistake this commits is denying the negative. That actually gives it credence. (Location 1142)

In any interaction, it pleases us to feel that the other side is listening and acknowledging our situation. Whether you are negotiating a business deal or simply chatting to the person at the supermarket butcher counter, creating an empathetic relationship and encouraging your counterpart to expand on their situation is the basis of healthy (Location 1248)

In every negotiation, in every agreement, the result comes from someone else’s decision. And sadly, if we believe that we can control or manage others’ decisions with compromise and logic, we’re leaving millions on the table. But while we can’t control others’ decisions, we can influence them by inhabiting their world and seeing and hearing exactly what they want. (Location 1433)

“Fair?” you’d respond, pausing to let the word’s power do to them as it was intended to do to you. Follow that with a label: “It seems like you’re ready to provide the evidence that supports that,” which alludes to opening their books or otherwise handing over information that will either contradict their claim to fairness or give you more data to work with than you had previously. Right away, you declaw the attack. (Location 2037)

So in the middle of the conversation with the kidnapper, he just blurts, “Hey, dog, how do I know she’s all right?” And the funniest thing happened. The kidnapper actually went silent for ten seconds. He was completely taken aback. Then he said, in a much less confrontational tone of voice, “Well, I’ll put her on the phone.” I was floored because this unsophisticated drug dealer just pulled off a phenomenal victory in the negotiation. (Location 2385)

But let me cut the list even further: it’s best to start with “what,” “how,” and sometimes “why.” Nothing else. “Who,” “when,” and “where” will often just get your counterpart to share a fact without thinking. And “why” can backfire. Regardless of what language the word “why” is translated into, it’s accusatory. There are very rare moments when this is to your advantage. (Location 2457)

“What about this doesn’t work for you?” and you’ll probably trigger quite a bit of useful information from your counterpart. (Location 2466)

“How does this affect the rest of your team?” or “How on board are the people not on this call?” or simply “What do your colleagues see as their main challenges in this area?” (Location 2715)

Experienced negotiators often lead with a ridiculous offer, an extreme anchor. And if you’re not prepared to handle it, you’ll lose your moorings and immediately go to your maximum. It’s human nature. (Location 3120)