Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Never split the Difference has been one of those books that has really changed how I communicate with people. It is my favorite book because the concepts illustrated can be practiced everyday. Communicating and getting what you want while leaving the conversation/negotiation with mutual respect.

Chris Voss is a former FBI hostage negotiator. Which probably has to be the toughest kind of negotiating. There is no splitting the difference, it’s life or death.

Everyday we are negotiating with ourselves and with others. Negotiating a better salary, staying out past curfew, getting the girl to go out on a date with you..

I would highly recommend reading the entire book because there are a lot of concepts to grasp. Also, Chris Voss shares stories of his time negotiating and how he used the concepts to “save the hostage.”

This is not your 7 step sales book. Instead it’s tactics to use that will improve your emotional intelligence, and being able to guide the counterpart to your desired result without leaving them feeling like they have been taken advantage of.

“If you know how to affect your counterparts system 1 think, his inarticulate feelings, by how you frame and deliver your questions and statements, then you can guide his system 2 rationality and therefore modify his responses.” (page 13)

System 1 and system 2 as Daniel Kahneman states in the book, Thinking, Fast & Slow, are how the mind operates. We react with our system 1 mind, emotions, first which then reach our system 2 mind, rationality. The problem is most of the time we are caught in system 1 and our emotions get in the way. Poor decisions are made when we are reacting from our emotions and not our rationality.

A couple basics Never Split the Difference mentions to improve communication are active listening techniques like Mirroring, Labeling, Silence. Also, Tactical Empathy, Accusation Audit, Calibrated Questions, Summarizing and Paraphrasing to reach “That’s Right.”

What is active listening? Most of us, when we are communicating we focus on what we want to say next instead of listening to what is being said.

Mirroring is copying to comfort. Repeating what the person has said hints for the person to elaborate, revealing more information. Mirroring speech patterns, body language, vocabulary, tempo, and tone of voice can build a better connection, rapport.

Labeling validates someones emotion by acknowledging it. Labeling positive and negative emotions gives the emotion a name. Giving a negative emotion a name will diffuse the emotion, and giving a positive emotion a name reinforces it. Lastly, after you mirror or put a label to an emotion you must go silent and let the mirror or label do the work. Silence is probably the most uncomfortable part.

When active listening is done properly we get a better understanding of where the other person is coming from, empathy. Taking that one step further you uncover what is behind the feelings, tactical empathy. Understanding the origin of the feelings will increase your influence in the moments that follow.

People are more likely to work with you when they feel like you are listening and understand there view.

An Accusation Audit is labeling & listing every terrible thing you counterpart could say about you. (page 65)

In the final rap battle of 8 mile, Marshall Bruce Mathers III, Eminem, lists and labels everything terrible and humiliating about himself. Basically, Eminem is talking shit about himself leaving nothing left for the counterpart to say. If you haven’t seem 8 mile I would recommend that movie.

Avoid asking close-ended questions that use the words, “can”, “is”, “are”, “do”, “does”. Close-ended questions stop the conversation. Instead, open-ended question, who/what/when/where/why/how, allows the conversation to continue. The best calibrated questions start with “what” and “how”. The biggest concept that has helped me a lot with my communication skills are asking more what and how questions. You can get someone to reveal a lot about themselves without saying anything about yourself when you ask open-ended questions. People like to talk about themselves and open-ended questions help you guide the conversation. Listen to some of my interviews and you will see that I love asking how and what questions.

Remember, people want to know that they are being heard and that you understand. A great concept is to summarize and paraphrase what they have said. Basically just summarize back to them what they have told you. It will help you better understand and if you miss something, people will gladly help you. Eventually, once someone knows that you understand they will say “That’s Right.” Not “You’re Right”, you’re right usually means the person wants you to go away.

The concepts I just mentioned have greatly improved my communication skills. There are a lot of different variables and factors that come into play while negotiating. Try out the few mentioned and you will go from a average communicator to a good communicator. To go from a good communicator to a great communicator I would highly suggest reading all of Never Split the Difference.

“Every negotiation, every conversation, every moment of life, is a series of small conflicts that, managed well, can rise to creative beauty.” (page 243)

Do not avoid conflict, as this only makes the conflict grow. Collaborative communication is the quickest way to resolving a conflict. Have the courage to speak up if you don’t understand something and ask.

Try asking more calibrated “What” & “How” questions throughout the day.

What did you learn from this book? How will you go about implementing what you learned?

I know I may be asking a lot, but If you haven’t already please leave a review on iTunes.

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@RobbieKnecht

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