I’ve been recommended a lot of books over the last few years, but none quite like this one.

You’ve probably never stopped to think about how frequently you are presented with situations that require negotiation, but this book outline on “Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It” by Chris Voss will begin to give you all the tools you need to negotiate a higher salary, lower rent, cheaper prices on consumer goods, and everything in between. And before we get going, you can be sure that there is nobody better to write this book than Chris, who was a former FBI’s lead hostage negotiator.

Chapter 1 – The New Rules: “Negotiation serves two distinct, vital life functions – information gathering and behavior influencing – and includes almost any interaction where each party wants something from the other side.”

Chapter 2 – Be A Mirror: Showing empathy in negotiation. Now it’s crucial to make the distinction between empathy and sympathy. Empathy is being able to understand the feelings of others, while sympathy is feeling compassion for those feelings. The chapter spends a lot of time on a concept called “mirroring” which in short is just repeating the last 1-3 words that your counterpart said in such a way to get them to continue talking and explaining.

Chapter 3 – Don’t Feel Their Pain, Label It: In this chapter, Voss goes into a situation where he was negotiating a hostage situation in Harlem. The example is used to give concrete 1-liners that we can use in the beginning stages of any negotiation.

Chapter 4 – Beware “Yes”-Master “No”: Surely you can remember the time you answered your phone just to hear a salesperson on the other end. You may have realized that they used a technique that got you to answer “Yes” to a few questions in a row before they pitched whatever item or service they were selling. The conversation could have been something like this:

Salesman: “Do you think your house gets dirty too quickly?”

You: “Yes.”

Salesman: “Don’t you wish your house could clean itself?”

You: “Yes.”

Salesman: “If I could show you a way to get your house to clean itself while you are at work would you be interested?”

You: “Yes.”

Salesman: “Well let me tell you about the iRobot Roomba┬áthat has wifi connectivity and can clean your house while you’re at work, blah blah blah…”

Well in this book, Voss explains how you should actually be gunning for “No” in early parts of a negotiation. Rather than asking “Is now a good time to talk?”- which begs for the answer “Yes”- you should actually be phrasing it as “Is now a bad time to talk?” He also gives similar options to use for email communication that will guarantee a response.

Chapter 5 – Trigger The Two Words That Immediately Transform Any Negotiation: Those words are “That’s right”. Not to be confused with “You’re right”. If you can get the other party to say “That’s right”, you are well on your way to closing a deal that you will be proud of.

The last 5 chapters (chapters 6 to 10) are nothing short of phenomenal. He discusses the “$10 Ultimatum game” to prove that humans are irrational negotiators, how to use extreme anchors to get to your desired price, why odd numbers are more effective than even numbers, the importance of giving the other party the feeling of control, and much much more!

Final Thoughts

One of the most valuable aspects of this book is the number of tools that Voss provides that can almost be repeated verbatim in any negotiation you are having in your everyday life.

As much as I wanted to type out my full notes on the book in this piece, I would be doing you an injustice if I didn’t recommend you read the book cover to cover. I only touched the surface in this piece, maybe 5% of what this book has to offer.

You can purchase the book on Amazon here. I am certain you won’t be disappointed.