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Never Split the Difference

Chris Voss appeared on the Farnam Street podcast, “The Knowledge Project.” I highly recommend listening to the discussion –Episode 27: The Art of Letting Other People Have Your Way: Negotiating Secrets from Chris . Following the podcast, I purchased Chris’s book “Never Split the Difference” and it has become one of my favorites.

“A brisk autumn morning, around eight thirty. Two masked bank robbers trigger an alarm as they storm into the Chase Manhattan Bank at Seventh Avenue and Carroll Street in Brooklyn. There are only two female tellers and a male security guard inside. The robbers crack the unarmed sixty-year-old security guard across the skull with a .357, drags him to the men’s room, and locks him inside. One of the tellers gets the same pistol-whipping treatment. Then one of the robbers turns to the other teller, puts the barrel in her mouth, and pulls the trigger – click, goes the empty chamber. ‘Next one is real.’ says the robber. ‘Now open the vault.’ A bank robbery, with hostages. Happens all the time in the movies, but it had been almost twenty years since there’d been one of these stand-offs in New York, the city with more hostage negotiation jobs than any other jurisdiction in the country. And this happened to be my very first feet-to-the-fire, in-your-face hostage job.” (pg 23)

The former lead FBI negotiator turned consultant, takes us through the skills he developed and utilized to save lives, outsmart his opponents, and later – to help close business deals.

“Never Split the Difference” is a master class on negotiation.

Voss uses incredible hostage stories to showcase the skills required to negotiate with anyone.

Along with useful tactics (like ensuring you always get an email response!) Voss takes a deep dive through tried and tested negotiation skills such as:

  • Mirroring
  • Labeling
  • Mastering “No”
  • Triggering “That’s right”
  • Empathize and relate
  • Ackerman’s approach to bargaining

“Never Split the Difference” and “Extreme Ownership” are two books I plan to revisit at the beginning of each year. Negotiation and leadership are timeless skills that need to be sharpened again and again. The books are similar in their layout: amazing examples used to drive home major points. They also provide powerful and actionable takeaways.

I hope you love it as much as I did.

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