Book Review: Never Split the Difference

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if your life depended on it by Chris Voss with Tahl Raz is a fantastic book for understanding the dynamics involving in a negotiation (including during a hostage situation).

It brings together lessons and key take aways whilst highlighting the contributing issues by using real life case studies.  The book contains lessons for anyone looking to build the tools necessary to influence a situation in order to arrive at a more beneficial outcome.  Case studies include hostage situations in Manilla, but they also include business people selling and employees seeking a raise – scenarios that many people can identify with and as a result, this book become highly applicable.  A must read.

Vos takes the reader through various steps: How to quickly establish rapport, tactical empathy, generating momentum, gaining the permission to persuade, framing the reality, calibrated questions, ensuring follow-through, bargain hunting and finding the black swan.  Each chapter focuses on a key skill and provides a real life situation in which it was effective.

This book is a useful tool for any professional who undertakes any form of negotiation. As a lawyer, I was interested to learn about some skills that I thought would be applicable to (in particular) mediation and the exchange of offers. Some key take aways have proven very useful.

Tactical empathy is an important skill as it lets the other side know that you have heard their point of view and are willing to acknowledge them. Too often, parties will not consider this to be viable option, thinking that it shows weakness when in fact it actually shows strength.

Framing the reality is useful, particularly when exchanging terms of settlement. Start way too high (or way too low) and your counterpart will see through the offer. Frame your initial offer at the higher, but importantly justifiable level, and you can frame the negotiation to get terms closer to what you intended.

These concepts are explored and case studies are provided so that readers can see exactly how they are implemented. It is a beneficial read for anyone looking to improve a position through negotiation.

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