5 Tactics to Win A Negotiation From Never Split The Difference

It’s negotiable.

Everything in life is negotiable.

So imagine how much better life would be if you could win every negotiation you got into? Imagine you had the tricks to negotiate a 20% higher salary, turn your rent increase into a decrease, and buy the car of your dreams at your price, not the dealer’s.

Chris Voss’ book, “Never Split the Difference” will show you how.

never_split_the_difference_chris_voss_coverIt’s a fantastic book. I wasn’t expecting much going in, but I came out with tactics I plan to use for the rest of my life.

Voss teaches us how to put everything into practice using entertaining examples from his career as the FBI’s lead hostage negotiator, from his Harvard MBA students, and from his consulting business, The Black Swan Group.

Here are my favourite 5 tactics you can learn from “Never Split the Difference”. Once you read through them (and listen to Voss’ appearance on the James Altucher Show podcast if you have the chance) you’ll want to get a copy for yourself.

5 Ways To win a Negotiation From Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

1. Open-Ended Questions

The single most powerful tool is the question, “How am I supposed to do that?” This gives your counterpart the impression you are ceding them control, but in reality with this question you put the onus on them to find solutions for you and it opens them up to divulge valuable information that will help you win a negotiation.

Start with open-ended questions beginning with “How” or “What” and let the ones you are negotiating with shoot themselves in the foot.

2. Mirroring

To “mirror” is to repeat the key one to three words from what the other side just said to you in a question.

For example if they say, “Unfortunately we can’t go that low in price.” Respond with, “You can’t go that low in price?”

Much better than saying “What? Why not?” or “I don’t believe you,” with this simple tactic they’ll believe you are totally in synch with them, know you are listening carefully, and… keep talking. They’ll repeat themselves in different words and elaborate, likely divulging valuable information you can use to get the upper hand.

Best of all, they won’t ever notice. Even an experienced mirrorer like Chris Voss himself often catches himself – too late –  falling victim to others mirroring him.

3. Labeling

Another way to show the other side you are in synch with them, get them to open up further, and move in the direction you want is labeling. Labeling is validating someone’s emotions by putting it into words using statements starting with “It seems like..”, “It looks like…”, or “It sounds like…”.

An example of labeling when negotiating a raise might be, “It seems like you feel that I’m ungrateful for the amazing career opportunities you provide me and am selfish for asking for a raise.”

By showing the other side you empathize with how they feel, while all the while not conceding anything to them, they will feel more in synch with you and be more inclined to agree to your requests.

4. Let the Other Side Make the First Offer

Anyone who has ever studied negotiations before will note this flies completely against conventional wisdom.

But by letting the other side put out the first offer, you give them illusion of control and they just might make a first offer in excess of your expectations. It’s really a no-lose situation as long as you protect yourself mentally from the potential of being anchored by a lowball offer (and Voss shares strategies how to do so in the book).

5. “No” is Better Than “Yes”

The power of “Yes” is an illusion. Getting a stream of “Yes” answers from your counterpart isn’t progress but instead puts them on the defensive. Plus it’s likely many of those “Yes” answers aren’t true.

On the other hand,  saying “No” puts your counterpart at ease. They think they’re pulling the strings. And you get the real answers.

For example, instead of asking “Do you have a few minutes to talk?” which gives the impression you’re bothering them to do you a favour, ask “Is now a bad time to talk?”.

As Mark Cuban says, “Every ‘No’ gets me closer to a ‘Yes'”.

“Never Split the Difference” has many more effective and easy-to-apply tips that will change the way you negotiate and get you more in life.


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