Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

“Tactical Empathy. This is listening as a martial art, balancing the subtle behaviors of emotional intelligence and the assertive skills of influence, to gain access to the mind of another person. Contrary to popular opinion, listening is not a passive activity. It is the most active thing you can do.”
“That’s why your most powerful tool in any verbal communication is your voice. You can use your voice to intentionally reach into someone’s brain and flip an emotional switch.”
“Mirroring, also called isopraxism, is essentially imitation. It’s another neurobehavior humans (and other animals) display in which we copy each other to comfort each other.”
“Of the entirety of the FBI’s hostage negotiation skill set, mirroring is the closest one gets to a Jedi mind trick. Simple, and yet uncannily effective.”
“And when I make a mistake—something that happens a lot—I always acknowledge the other person’s anger. I’ve found the phrase “Look, I’m an asshole” to be an amazingly effective way to make problems go away. That approach has never failed me.”
“Once they’ve been labeled and brought into the open, the negative reactions in your counterpart’s amygdala will begin to soften. I promise it will shock you how suddenly his language turns from worry to optimism. Empathy is a powerful mood enhancer.”
“Denying barriers or negative influences gives them credence; get them into the open.”
“That’s why I tell my students that, if you’re trying to sell something, don’t start with “Do you have a few minutes to talk?” Instead ask, “Is now a bad time to talk?” Either you get “Yes, it is a bad time” followed by a good time or a request to go away, or you get “No, it’s not” and total focus.”
“As you’ll soon learn, the sweetest two words in any negotiation are actually “That’s right.”
“Sleeping in the same bed and dreaming different dreams” is an old Chinese expression that describes the intimacy of partnership (whether in marriage or in business) without the communication necessary to sustain it.”
“We’re all irrational, all emotional. Emotion is a necessary element to decision making that we ignore at our own peril. Realizing that hits people hard between the eyes.”
“On my first consulting project after leaving the FBI, I received the honor to train the national hostage negotiation team for the United Arab Emirates. Unfortunately, the prestige of the assignment was tempered during the project by problems with the general contractor (I was a subcontractor). The problems became so bad that I was going to have to go back to the contractors I’d signed up, who normally got $2,000 a day, and tell them that for several months, I could only offer $500. I knew exactly what they would do if I just told them straight out: they’d laugh me out of town. So I got each of them on the phone and hit them hard with an accusation audit. “I got a lousy proposition for you,” I said, and paused until each asked me to go on. “By the time we get off the phone, you’re going to think I’m a lousy businessman. You’re going to think I can’t budget or plan. You’re going to think Chris Voss is a big talker. His first big project ever out of the FBI, he screws it up completely. He doesn’t know how to run an operation. And he might even have lied to me.” And then, once I’d anchored their emotions in a minefield of low expectations, I played on their loss aversion. “Still, I wanted to bring this opportunity to you before I took it to someone else,” I said. Suddenly, their call wasn’t about being cut from $2,000 to $500 but how not to lose $500 to some other guy. Every single one of them took the deal. No counteroffers, no complaints. Now, if I hadn’t anchored their emotions low, their perception of $500 would have been totally different. If I’d just called and said, “I can give you $500 per day. What do you think?” they’d have taken it as an insult and slammed down the phone.”
“What I mean is this: When confronted with naming your terms or price, counter by recalling a similar deal which establishes your “ballpark,” albeit the best possible ballpark you wish to be in. Instead of saying, “I’m worth $110,000,” Jerry might have said, “At top places like X Corp., people in this job get between $130,000 and $170,000.”
“The biggest thing to remember is that numbers that end in 0 inevitably feel like temporary placeholders, guesstimates that you can easily be negotiated off of. But anything you throw out that sounds less rounded—say, $37,263—feels like a figure that you came to as a result of thoughtful calculation. Such numbers feel serious and permanent to your counterpart, so use them to fortify your offers.”
“It’s a “how” question, and “how” engages because “how” asks for help.”
“Having just two words to start with might not seem like a lot of ammunition, but trust me, you can use “what” and “how” to calibrate nearly any question. “Does this look like something you would like?” can become “How does this look to you?” or “What about this works for you?” You can even ask, “What about this doesn’t work for you?” and you’ll probably trigger quite a bit of useful information from your counterpart.”
“Besides saying “No,” the other key benefit of asking “How?” is, quite literally, that it forces your counterpart to consider and explain how a deal will be implemented. A deal is nothing without good implementation. Poor implementation is the cancer that eats your profits.”
“There are two key questions you can ask to push your counterparts to think they are defining success their way: “How will we know we’re on track?” and “How will we address things if we find we’re off track?” When they answer, you summarize their answers until you get a “That’s right.” Then you’ll know they’ve bought in.”
“UCLA psychology professor Albert Mehrabian created the 7-38-55 rule. That is, only 7 percent of a message is based on the words while 38 percent comes from the tone of voice and 55 percent from the speaker’s body language and face.”
“The researchers dubbed this the Pinocchio Effect because, just like Pinocchio’s nose, the number of words grew along with the lie. People who are lying are, understandably, more worried about being believed, so they work harder—too hard, as it were—at being believable.”
“In theory, leverage is the ability to inflict loss and withhold gain. Where does your counterpart want to gain and what do they fear losing? Discover these pieces of information, we are told, and you’ll build leverage over the other side’s perceptions, actions, and decisions.”