Never Split the Difference

MoneyBestPal Team
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It

"Never Split the Difference" by Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator is a great resource for anyone who wants to improve their negotiation skills and get better outcomes in any situation. 

The book is divided into 10 chapters, each one covering a different aspect of negotiation. Here are the key takeaways from each chapter:

Chapter 1: The New Rules

  • Negotiation is not a rational process, but an emotional one. People want to be understood and accepted, not just persuaded by logic.
  • Listening is the most important skill in negotiation. It shows empathy, builds rapport, and reveals information.
  • To listen effectively, you need to use active listening techniques, such as mirroring, labeling, paraphrasing, and summarizing.

Chapter 2: Be a Mirror

  • Mirroring is a technique of repeating the last few words or phrases of your counterpart, in a questioning tone. It encourages them to keep talking and reveal more information.
  • Mirroring also creates a bond between you and your counterpart, as it shows that you are paying attention and trying to understand them.
  • Mirroring can be used to clarify ambiguous statements, test assumptions, or buy time to think.

Chapter 3: Don't Feel Their Pain, Label It

  • Labeling is a technique of naming the emotions that your counterpart is feeling or expressing. It helps you to acknowledge their feelings and show empathy.
  • Labeling can be used to defuse negative emotions, reinforce positive ones, or test your understanding of their situation.
  • Labeling can be done by using phrases like "It seems like...", "It sounds like...", or "It looks like...".

Chapter 4: Beware "Yes" - Master "No"

  • Getting a "yes" from your counterpart is not always a good sign. It can be a fake agreement, a stalling tactic, or a trap.
  • Getting a "no" from your counterpart is not always a bad sign. It can be a way for them to protect themselves, express their concerns, or clarify what they want.
  • To master "no", you need to use it strategically, not defensively. You can use it to set boundaries, reject bad offers, or create contrast.

Chapter 5: Trigger the Two Words That Immediately Transform Any Negotiation

  • The two words that can transform any negotiation are "That's right". They indicate that your counterpart feels that you understand them completely and accurately.
  • To get a "that's right" from your counterpart, you need to use effective summaries. A summary is a concise and comprehensive statement of your counterpart's perspective, needs, and goals.
  • A summary can be used to build trust, overcome impasse, or prepare for the closing stage.

Chapter 6: Bend Their Reality

  • People's perception of reality is influenced by their emotions, biases, and expectations. You can use this to your advantage by bending their reality in your favor.
  • To bend their reality, you need to use anchors. Anchors are extreme or arbitrary numbers that set the range of possible outcomes in a negotiation.
  • Anchoring can be done by making an extreme offer (high anchor), asking for an extreme concession (low anchor), or using ranges (bracketing).

Chapter 7: Create the Illusion of Control

  • People want to feel in control of their decisions and actions. You can use this to your advantage by creating the illusion of control for your counterpart.
  • To create the illusion of control, you need to use calibrated questions. Calibrated questions are open-ended questions that start with "how" or "what".
  • Calibrated questions can be used to gather information, influence behavior, or shape solutions.

Chapter 8: Guarantee Execution

  • Getting an agreement from your counterpart is not enough. You also need to make sure that they will execute it faithfully and reliably.
  • To guarantee execution, you need to use the rule of three. The rule of three is a technique of getting your counterpart to agree to something three times in different ways.
  • The rule of three can be used to test commitment, uncover objections, or reinforce accountability.

Chapter 9: Bargain Hard

  • Bargaining is the final stage of negotiation where you exchange offers and concessions until you reach an agreement.
  • To bargain hard, you need to use nibbles. Nibbles are small requests or demands that you make after you have reached an agreement but before you finalize it.
  • Nibbles can be used to increase value, reduce costs, or create reciprocity.

Chapter 10: Find the Black Swan

  • A black swan is an unknown unknown - something that you don't know that you don't know. It can have a huge impact on the outcome of a negotiation.
  • To find the black swan, you need to use the black swan method. The black swan method is a technique of uncovering hidden information, motives, or influences that affect your counterpart's behavior or decisions.
  • The black swan method can be done by using the three types of leverage: positive, negative, and normative.

These are the main ideas from the book "Never Split the Difference" by Chris Voss. 


The main philosophy of "Never Split The Difference" is that negotiation begins with listening, making it about the other people, validating their emotions, and creating enough trust and safety for a real conversation to begin.

"Never Split The Difference" suggests that good negotiators need to be ready for surprises; great negotiators use their skills to reveal the surprises they are certain to exist. Great negotiators question the assumptions that others accept on faith or in arrogance.

The authors argue that going too fast is one of the mistakes all negotiators make. If you're too much in a hurry, people can feel as if they're not being heard and you risk undermining the rapport and trust you've built.

"Never Split The Difference" promotes the idea that 'No' provides a great opportunity for you and the other party to clarify what you really want by eliminating what you don't want.

The authors advise that there are three voice tones available to negotiators: The late-night FM DJ voice, the positive/playful voice, and the direct or assertive voice. The late-night FM DJ voice is used selectively to make a point.

If you want to learn more about negotiation, I recommend you purchase the book through the link below: