Book Never split the difference

Posted on Sep 20, 2020

Never split the difference

chapter 1 - THE NEW RULES

  • the book is written by an FBI agent specialist in hostage crisis

  • After time in FBI, decides to go to Harvard to deeply understand negotiation techniques

  • In Harvard, they are using old techniques of negotiation, related getting to yes a book.

  • These techniques, talk to the rational part of the mind.

  • But the FBI got a series of failures, and started to study more emphatically approach.

  • According to the book Thinking, fast and slow there are 2 systems.

    System 1’s inchoate beliefs, feelings, and impressions are the main sources of the explicit beliefs and deliberate choices of System 2. They’re the spring that feeds the river. We react emotionally (System 1) to a suggestion or question. Then that System 1 reaction informs and in effect creates the System 2 answer.

    • If are able to influence system 1 using our questions, system 2 (the rational) will be guided by it.
  • Life is negotiation -> all what you are going to learn in the book is useful, even if you are not a hostage negotiator

  • you might have aversion of negotiation, and you should over it. Not need to like it, but understand that is how the world works.

Chapter 2

  • Calm the schizophrenic, listen, don’t prioritize your argument, stop thinking and focus on the other person, do real active listening
  • The idea is to make them feel safe enough, that they talk and talk. to identify the needs of your counterpart.
  • not try to be a problem solver, but a people mover
  • going to fast can be a mistake, cause people can feel like we are not really listening, giving up all the personal relationship we built so far.

The voice

  • The voice is a important part of our comunication, and can have a big impact.
  • late-night FM DJ voice
    • calm down
    • slow and clearly -> convey the idea I’m in control
  • positive/playful voice
    • most of the time
    • easigoing, good-natured person
    • attitude light and encouraging
    • smile while talking
    • when people are in a positive frame of mind, they think quickly and is easy for collaborate, instead of resist
  • assertive voice
    • very rare cases to use it,
  • is essentially imitation,
  • we copy each other to comfort each other
  • it’s unconscious
    • personal: like when I go to Menorca and my catalan accent changes
  • mirroring, when done with consciously is the art of insinuating similarity.
    • “Trust me”, " You and I we’re alike"
  • By repeting back (the last 3 words or the critical words). you trigger this mirroring insting and your counterpart will inevitably elaborate on what was just said, while sustaining the process of connecting
  • The intention behind most mirrors should be “Please, help me understand”

Chapter 3 - Don’t feel their pain, label it

  • good negotiators don’t deny or ignore emotions, they identify and influence them
    • They are able to precisely label them
    • and once labeled, they talk about them without getting wound up (agitated)
    • emotions is a tool
tactical empathy
  • empathy is the ability to recognize the perspective of a counterpart, and the vocalization of that recognition
    • so, basically empaty is paying attention to another human being, and commiting to understand their world
  • one step beyond that is tactical empathy
    • empathy
    • but also hearing what is behind those feelings
    • so you increase your influence in all the moments that follow
    • bringing our attentiotn to both, the emotional obstacles, and the potential pathways to getting an agreement done.
  • empathy is not about being nice or agreeing with the other side. It’s about understand them, understand their position why their actions make sense and what forces move them.
  • Labeling is a way of validating someone’s emotion by acknowledging it.

    • Think of labeling as a shortcut to intimacy, a time-saving emotional hack
  • Labeling has a special advantage when your counterpart is tense

    • exposing negative thought to daylight
    • makes them seem less frightening
  • Labeling allow you to diffuse negative aspects, and reinforce good ones.

  • Labels almost always being with roughly the same words

    • (It seems like, it sounds like, it looks like)
    • notice we don’t use I, cause I get people guard up (seems like you are more interested in yourself)
  • Then you just wait, silence and listen

    • if you are right, they will explain
    • if you are not right, you can just say, “I didn’t say that was what it was. I just said it seems like that”
  • People emotions have two levels

    • presenting: what you can see and hear
    • underlying: what motivate the behavior
  • Labeling negative emotions diffuses them, labeling positives reinforces them

accusation audit
  1. List all the bad things your counterpart could say about you.
  2. label the emotions of
  3. and provide a replace with good ones

In case you’re about volunteering to role-play with me in front of the class, I want to tell you in advance, it’s going to be horrible. But those of you who do volunteer will probably get more out of this than anyone else.

  • Remember you’re dealing with a person who want to be appreciated and understood. So use labels to reinforce and encourage positive perceptions and dynamics.

Chapter 4: Be aware of “Yes”, master “No”

  • For a lot of time, we were tricked to say yes, and now, we are defensive when force to say yes, we don’t want to
  • When we say No, we feel in control of our decisions

No, it’s a reaffirmation of autonomy

  • No is the start of the negotiation, not the end. We are afraid of others saying no, but it’s the begining of understanding and collaboration
    • Give your counterpart the right to say no, and the negotiation environment will become way more productive
  • It all comes down to the universal human need for autonomy (feel in control of our lives)
    • With No
  • No is not always the same meaning, No could mean:
    • I am not yet ready to agree
    • You are making me uncomfortable
    • I do not understand
    • I want something else
    • I need more information
    • I want to talk over with someone else

There are different yeses, and you need to differentiate

  • be aware of the counterfeit yes
    • Is the yes that we say cause it’s easier than saying no.
    • But the deal is not made
    • actually, people will retract of this yes, when the moment is easier (like in a phone call)
  • confirmation yes
  • commitment yes
    • a true agreement
    • that leads to action
Making them in control
  • Ask questions, where they can easily say No
  • force them to feel in control
  • makes the counterpart engage and thinking
    • Ask the other party what they don’t want
    • Ask a question that you know is totally wrong

Chapter 5 - Trigger the two words “That’s Right”, that transform any negotiation

  • Try to make them say “That’s Right”, when you are in a deadlock
    • Rephrase how they see their world, make them feel understood.
    • combined with labeling
  • be aware that if they say “You’re right”, then probably you didn’t convinced them, they just saying so you don’t bother more.

Chapter 6 - Bend their reality

Understand counterpart desires and goals.

All negotiations are defined by a network of subterranean desires and needs. Don’t let yourself be fooled by the surface

If you can get the other party to reveal their problems, pain and unmet objective, then you can sell them a vision of their problem that leaves your proposal as the perfect solution.

If you approach a negotiation thinking that the other guy thinks like you, you’re wrong, that’s not empathy, that’s projection.

Never compromise! better no deal, that a bad one.
  • Of couse you need to keep cooperative, empathic so the deals can be made
  • but compromise splitting the difference -> Can lead to terrible outcomes
  • Compromise is often a bad deal, and better no deal, that a bad one.
  • We compromise because is easy and because it saves face
    • We compromise cause we are mostly driven by the desire to avoid pain.
  • don’t matter if deadline is real or “a line in the sand”
  • Trick people mind to think doing a deal now is better than getting a good deal
  • deadlines are often arbitrary, almost always flexible and hardly ever trigger consequences
  • We can use deadlines in our benefit
    • last research suggest that when share dealines with our counterpart, we get better deals
The Fair word

of the 3 ways that is used the word, only one is positive

  1. We just want what’s fair
    1. Triggers a defensive respond
    2. you can respond, “Okay, I apologize, let’s go back to where I started to treating you unfairly and we will fix it”
  2. We’ve given you a fair offer
    1. it’s a way to distract your attention and manipulate into giving
    2. answer, “Fair? can you provide evidence that supports that?”
  3. “I want you to feel treated fairly at all times, so stop me any time if I’m being unfair”
    1. you can start a conversation with this
    2. set up you as an honest person
Bend their reality

Loss aversion: people will take grater risk to avoid losses than to achieve gains

  1. Anchor their emotions

    1. Start with an accusation audit, acknowledging all of their fears,
    2. By anchoring their emotions in preparation for a loss, you inflame the other side’s loss aversion
    3. you anchor them by saying how bad it will be, that then the offer is reasonable in comparison.
  2. Let the other guy go first

    1. Might happen that the other person, give you a way better deal than you thought
    2. cause the information on both side is imperfect
    3. if the other side is a “shark”, they will try to do a extreme anchor. so be aware
  3. Establish a range

    1. establishing a range, will allow you to anchor to some value
    2. without making others extremly defensive
    3. is a way to soft the negotiation
    4. expect they come to the low end
  4. Pivot to non monetary terms

    1. After you anchored them high
    2. You can make your offer seem reasonable by offering things that aren’t important to you but are important to the other party
  5. When you do talk numbers, use odd ones

    1. round numbers look made up, and easy to change
    2. if you use, weird numbers, they will thing there is thought behind them, and will be less likely to want to change them
  6. Surprise with a gift

    1. get the other part into the mood of generosity by
    2. a) anchoring high, and after their first rejection
    3. b) offering them a wholly unrelated surprise gift
    4. triggers reciprocation

    Chapter 7 - Create the illusion of control

Don’t try to force your opponent to admit that you are right. Aggressive confrontation is the enemy of constructive negotiation

successful negotiation involve getting you counterpart to do the work for you and suggest your solution himself. Giving them the illusion of control, while in fact, we are the ones defining the conversation.

reciprocity: universal rule of human nature across cultures, is that if somebody gives you something, they expect something in return. And they won’t give you anything else until you pay them back.

Unbelief: which is active resistance to what the other side is saying,complete rejection. That’s where two parties in a negotiation usually starts.

Giving your counterpart the illusion of control by asking calibrated questions - by asking for help- is one of the most powerful tools for suspending unbelief.

Who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of negotiation

Calibrated questions

The goal of any well designed calibrated question is, that you want what the other part wants, but you need his intelligence to overcome the problem.

Calibrated question make your counterpart feel like the’re in charge, but in reality it’s you who is framing the conversation

There are rules to to create them

  • avoid verbs like ‘can’, ‘is’ ‘are’ ‘do’. -> normally that go to closed-ended questions
    • instead try Who, What, When, Where and How
    • You can try Why, but can backfire, cause can be interpreted as accusatory

some for the beginning of every negotiation

  • What about this is important to you?
  • How can I help to make this better for us?
  • How would you like me to proceed?
  • What is it that brought us into this situation?
  • How can we solve this problem?
  • What is the objective? What are we trying to accomplish here?
  • How am I supposed to do that?


  • 🚫 You can’t leave

  • ✅ I understand why you are pissed off, What do you hope to accomplish by leaving?

  • Who is in control of the conversation? the talker or the listener?

    • The listener, cause the talker is revealing information, and the listener might be directing the conversation toward his goals

Chapter 8 - Guarantee execution

Yes is nothing without How, The end is to execute what we agreed, if not, the agreement is useless

The trick to How questions, is that correctly used, are a gentle way to say No and guide your counterpart to develop a better solution (your solution). A gentle How/No invites collaboration and leave your counterpart with a feeling of being treat with respect.

  • makes your counterpart to have a deep look to your situation, that is named “forced empathy”
  • Also forces counterpart to consider and explain how a deal will be implemented.
    • By making the other party articulate implementation in their own word, your calibrated question will convince them that the final solution is their idea
    • And that is key, cause people put more effort to implement a solution when they think it’s theirs

How to push to define success, you can use two question

  1. How will we know we’re on track?
  2. How will we address things if we are off track?
Influencing those behind the table

When other people will be affected by the execution of the plan, we need to be sure everybody is onboard, if not, we might have an agreement from our counterpart, but the deal never gets real

  • How does this affect the rest of your team?
  • How on board are the people not on this call

You need to identify and understand the motivation of each individual, even if you don’t have access to them.

The rule of three

Is simply getting the other part to say yes 3 times

  1. When they agree
  2. When you summarize what they said, and you got the “That’s right”
  3. a calibrated question about the implementation
    1. How we know we are on track
    2. What do we do if we get off track
Pay attention to their usage of pronoums

The more in love with I, me and my, the less important they are

Why? Cause smart decision makers don’t want to be cornered at the table into making a decision. They prefer to defer to the people away from the table to keep from getting pinned down

How to say No

You usually can say No 4 times.

  1. How I can I do that? <- calibrated question
  2. a version of “Your offer is very generous, I am sorry that just doesn’t work for me”
  3. I am sorry but I am afraid I cannot do that
  4. I’m sorry, no

Chapter 9 - Bargain hard

Research found there is 3 broad categories of people:

  • Accommodator
  • Assertive
  • Analyst
  • time = preparation They are methodical and diligent, they think in a systematic way to get the best result. They try to minimize mistakes.

With them it’s crucial to be prepared. Use clear data to drive your reason.

They may need a few days to respond

  • time = relationship
  • they spent time building the relationship. wants a free-flowing of continuous exchange of information. they really want to be on great terms.
  • If you think your are an accomodator, stick to be likeable but do not sacrifice your objections.
  • They think time is money
  • Their success is linked to how much things they can do for unit of time
  • Assertive people want to be heard, and they will not listen to you until they think you have listened to them, so just do that xD
  • Mirrors, calibrated questions are really good for them

Don’t project your style to others, Don’t treat others how you want to be treated, theat them the way they need to be treated

Chapter 10 - Find the black swan

or… uncovering unknown unknowns

blackswans: are pieces of information that when know, they give you a leverage multiplier.

There is 3 types of leverage

  • positive: you are holding something the counterpart wants

  • negative: you have the ability to hurt your counterpart

  • normative: use the rules of your counterpart to turn them around

  • Don’t let your previous experiences, blind you, each situation is new, you can use previous experiences to guide you and be more effective but be conscious of being curious yet.

Hypothesis: Every part has 3 blackswans

Remember, pushing hard for what you believe is not selfish. It is not bullying. It’s not just for helping you. But if you are an honest, decent person looking for a reasonable outcome. When you ask calibrated questions, yes you are leading your counterpart to your goals. But you are also leading them to examine and articulate what they want.