Derek Sivers

Never Split the Difference (Negotiating) - by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

Never Split the Difference (Negotiating) - by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

ISBN: 0062407805
Date read: 2018-07-04
How strongly I recommend it: 6/10
(See my list of 320+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Advanced book about negotiating. Serious hostage type stuff. For a lighter book on negotiation, read “You Can Negotiate Anything” by Herb Cohen.

my notes

He would throw out an offer and give a rationally airtight explanation for why it was a good one - an inescapable logic trap. I’d just answer with some variation of “How am I supposed to do that?” My questions insinuated that the other side was being unfair. That was enough to make them falter and negotiate with themselves. Answering my questions demanded tactical psychological insights that they didn’t have.

They get worn out answering and give me everything I want.

One of the most potent negotiating tools: the open-ended question. “I’m sorry, Robert, how do I know he’s even alive?” I said, using an apology and his first name, seeding more warmth into the interaction to complicate his plan to bulldoze me.

Ask questions that the other side can respond to but that have no fixed answers. It buys you time. It gives your counterpart the illusion of control - they are the one with the answers and power after all - and it does all that without giving them any idea of how constrained they are by it.

"Getting to Yes" :
1. separate the person/emotion from the problem
2. don’t get wrapped up in the other side’s position (what they’re asking for) but instead focus on their interests (why they’re asking for it) so that you can find what they really want
3. work cooperatively to generate win-win options
4. establish mutually agreed-upon standards for evaluating those possible solutions

(See “Thinking Fast and Slow” book about System 1 and System 2.)
By asking, “How am I supposed to do that?” I influenced his System 1 emotional mind into accepting that his offer wasn’t good enough.
His System 2 then rationalized the situation so that it made sense to give me a better offer.
System 1 is far more influential. It guides and steers our rational thoughts.
System 1’s beliefs, feelings, and impressions are the main sources of the explicit beliefs and deliberate choices of System 2.
We react emotionally (System 1) to a suggestion or question. Then that System 1 reaction informs and in effect creates the System 2 answer.
Affect your counterpart’s System 1 thinking, 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.

When individuals feel listened to, they tend to listen to themselves more carefully and to openly evaluate and clarify their own thoughts and feelings. And they tend to become less defensive and oppositional and more willing to listen to other points of view.

Tactical Empathy:
Negotiation serves two functions - information gathering and behavior influencing.
Negotiation is nothing more than communication with results.

You get what you ask for; you just have to ask correctly.

Reveal the surprises you are certain exist.
Hold multiple hypotheses in your mind at the same time.
Use all the new information to test and winnow true hypotheses from false ones.
Engage the process with a mindset of discovery.

Extract and observe as much information as possible.
This is why really smart people often have trouble being negotiators - they’re so smart they think they don’t have anything to discover.
Too often people find it easier just to stick with what they believe. Using what they’ve heard or their own biases, they often make assumptions about others even before meeting them. They even ignore their own perceptions to make them conform to foregone conclusions.

Most people approach a negotiation so preoccupied by the arguments that support their position that they are unable to listen attentively.
When they’re not talking, they’re thinking about their arguments, and when they are talking, they’re making their arguments.
Instead, focus the other person and what they have to say.
Identify what your counterparts actually need and get them feeling safe enough to talk and talk and talk some more about what they want. The latter will help you discover the former.

Wants are easy to talk about. Needs imply survival, the very minimum required to make us act, and so make us vulnerable.

When we radiate warmth and acceptance, conversations just seem to flow.

In their backstreet haggling sessions at the spice markets in Istanbul, she approached each encounter as a fun game, so that no matter how aggressively she pushed, her smile and playful demeanor primed her merchant friends to settle on a successful outcome.
A smile on your face, and in your voice, will increase your own mental agility.

Repeat the last three words of what someone has just said.
By repeating back what people say, you trigger this mirroring instinct and your counterpart will inevitably elaborate on what was just said and sustain the process of connecting.
The intention behind most mirrors should be “Please, help me understand.” Every time you mirror someone, they will reword what they’ve said.

The relationship between an emotionally intelligent negotiator and their counterpart is essentially therapeutic. It duplicates that of a psychotherapist with a patient. The psychotherapist pokes and prods to understand his patient’s problems, and then turns the responses back onto the patient to get him to go deeper and change his behavior. That’s exactly what good negotiators do.

Once you’ve spotted an emotion you want to highlight, label it aloud.
It seems like . . . It sounds like . . . It looks like . . .
Notice we said “It sounds like . . .” and not “I’m hearing that . . .”
That’s because the word “I” gets people’s guard up. When you say “I,” it says you’re more interested in yourself than the other person, and it makes you take personal responsibility for the words that follow - and the offense they might cause.
But when you phrase a label as a neutral statement of understanding, it encourages your counterpart to be responsive.
Once you’ve thrown out a label, be quiet and listen. We all have a tendency to expand on what we’ve said.

Emotions have two levels: the “presenting” behavior is the part above the surface you can see and hear; beneath, the “underlying” feeling is what motivates the behavior.
Labeling addresses those underlying emotions.

Negative feelings should be teased out.
It makes the person acknowledge their feelings rather than continuing to act out.
The best way to deal with negativity is to observe it, without reaction and without judgment. Then consciously label each negative feeling and replace it with positive, compassionate, and solution-based thoughts.

People have a need to say no. So don’t just hope to hear it at some point; get them to say it early.
“No” is often a decision, frequently temporary, to maintain the status quo.
People need to feel in control. When you preserve a person’s autonomy by clearly giving them permission to say “No” to your ideas, the emotions calm.
Train yourself to hear “No” as something other than rejection.
Rethink the word in one of its alternative - and much more real - meanings:
* I am not yet ready to agree
* You are making me feel uncomfortable
* I do not understand
* I don’t think I can afford it
* I want something else
* I need more information
* I want to talk it over with someone else

There are actually three kinds of “Yes”: Counterfeit, Confirmation, and Commitment.
A counterfeit “yes” is one in which your counterpart plans on saying “no” but either feels “yes” is an easier escape route.
(He said “yes” but it was designed to make me feel good enough to leave him alone.)
A confirmation “yes” is generally innocent, a reflexive response to a black-or-white question.

The only way to get crisis hotline callers to take action was to have them own the conversation, to believe that they were coming to these conclusions, that the voice at the other end was simply a medium for those realizations.

Saying “No” gives the speaker the feeling of safety, security, and control. Use a question that prompts a “No” answer, and your counterpart feels that by turning you down he has proved that he’s in the driver’s seat.

Email magic: how never to be ignored: provoke a “No” with this one-sentence email: “Have you given up on this project?”
I’ve used this successfully not just in North America, but with people in two different cultures (Arabic and Chinese) famous for never saying “No.”

The sweetest two words in any negotiation are actually “That’s right.”

Keep talking until eventually, like clearing out a swamp, the emotions drain from the dialogue.

A simple rule: never compromise time and deadline, they are the screw that pressures every deal to a conclusion.
It can trick you into believing that doing a deal now is more important than getting a good deal.
Good negotiators resist this urge and take advantage of it in others.
Deadlines are imaginary.
Having no deal is better than a bad deal.

When people issue threats, they consciously or subconsciously create ambiguities and loopholes they fully intend to exploit.
To gauge the level of a particular threat, we’d pay attention to how many of the four questions - What? Who? When? And how? - were addressed.

Car dealers are prone to give you the best price near the end of the month.

Hiding your deadlines dramatically increases the risk of an impasse, because having a deadline pushes you to speed up your concessions, but the other side, thinking that it has time, will just hold out for more.
When negotiators tell their counterparts about their deadline, they get better deals.

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

The most powerful word in negotiations is “Fair.”
We’re mightily swayed by how much we feel we have been respected.
In the Ultimatum Game, most people make an irrational choice to let the dollar slip through their fingers rather than to accept a derisory offer, because the negative emotional value of unfairness outweighs the positive rational value of the money.
“We just want what’s fair.” triggered feelings of defensiveness and often lead to an irrational concession.
Early on in a negotiation, I say, “I want you to feel like you are being treated fairly at all times. So please stop me at any time if you feel I’m being unfair, and we’ll address it.”
It sets me up as an honest dealer.

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

Imagine that I offer you $20 to run a three-minute errand and get me a cup of coffee. You’re going to think to yourself that $20 for three minutes is $400 an hour. You’re going to be thrilled. What if then you find out that by getting you to run that errand I made a million dollars. You’d go from being ecstatic for making $400 an hour to being angry because you got ripped off. The value of the $20 didn’t change. But your perspective of it did. Just by how I position the $20, I can make you happy or disgusted by it.

People are drawn to sure things over probabilities, even when the probability is a better choice.

You have to persuade them that they have something concrete to lose if the deal falls through.

Start out with the basics of empathy: An accusation audit acknowledging all of their fears. By anchoring their emotions in preparation for a loss, you inflame the other side’s loss aversion so that they’ll jump at the chance to avoid it.

Let the other side anchor monetary negotiations.
“Never open.” Rules like that are easy to remember, but, like most simplistic approaches, they are not always good advice.

Instead of saying, “I’m worth $110,000,” Jerry might have said, “At top places like X Corp., people in this job get between $130,000 and $170,000.”
Alluding to a range: given this range, the firm probably would have offered $130,000 because it looked so cheap next to $170,000.
Job applicants who named a range received significantly higher overall salaries than those who offered a number, especially if their range was a “bolstering range,” in which the low number in the range was what they actually wanted.

Numbers that end in 0 inevitably feel like temporary placeholders, guesstimates that you can easily be negotiated off of.
But anything you throw out that sounds less rounded - say, $37,263 - feels like a figure that you came to as a result of thoughtful calculation.
Such numbers feel serious and permanent to your counterpart, so use them to fortify your offers.

Negotiation was coaxing, not overcoming; co-opting, not defeating.

Successful negotiation involved getting your counterpart to do the work for you and suggest your solution himself, giving him the illusion of control.

The calibrated, or open-ended, question: “Hey, how do I know the hostage is all right?”
The kidnapper actually went silent for ten seconds. He was completely taken aback. Then he said, “Well, I’ll put her on the phone.”
He’d asked an open-ended, yet calibrated one that forced the other guy to pause and actually think about how to solve the problem.
It’s a “how” question, and “how” engages because “how” asks for help.
He thinks it’s his idea.

Our job as persuaders is not to get others believing what we say. It’s just to stop them unbelieving.

Disagree without being disagreeable: instead of telling the salesclerk what you “need,” you can describe what you’re looking for and ask for suggestions.
Just say the price is a bit more than you budgeted and ask “How am I supposed to do that?”
You really are asking for help and your delivery must convey that.

Calibrated questions avoid questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or a “no.” Instead, “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how.” Those words inspire your counterpart to think and then speak expansively.
Start with “what,” “how,” and sometimes “why.” Nothing else.
* 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’s the objective? / What are we trying to accomplish here?
* How am I supposed to do that?

The implication is that you want what the other guy wants but you need his intelligence to overcome the problem.

If you can’t control your own emotions, how can you expect to influence the emotions of another?
Bite your tongue.
Keep away from knee-jerk, passionate reactions.
Who has control in a conversation, the guy listening or the guy talking? The listener, of course.
The talker is revealing information while the listener is directing the conversation toward his own goals. He’s harnessing the talker’s energy for his own ends.

“How” questions are gentle and graceful ways to say “No” and guide your counterpart to develop a better solution - your solution.

Forced empathy: making the other side take a good look at your situation.

Push your counterparts to define success their way: “How will we know we’re on track?” and “How will we address things if we find we’re off track?”
When they answer, you summarize their answers until you get a “That’s right.”

“I’ll try,” you should get a sinking feeling in your stomach. Because this really means, “I plan to fail.”

Only 7 percent of a message is based on the words while 38 percent comes from the tone of voice and 55 percent from the speaker’s body language and face.

People fall into three broad categories:
1. Accommodators
2. Assertive
3. Analysts
ACCOMMODATORS: As long as they’re communicating, they’re happy. Their goal is to be on great terms with their counterpart, even if they can’t reach an agreement.
If you have identified yourself as an Accommodator, do not sacrifice your objections. Be conscious of excess chitchat: the other two types have no use for it.
ASSERTIVES believe time is money; every wasted minute is a wasted dollar. Getting the solution perfect isn’t as important as getting it done.
Assertives love winning above all else, often at the expense of others. They focus on their own goals rather than people. And they tell rather than ask.
Once they are convinced you understand them, then and only then will they listen for your point of view.
ANALYSTS are methodical and diligent, working toward the best result in a thorough and systematic way, minimizing mistakes. People like this are skeptical by nature.
Be prepared. Use clear data to drive your reason; don’t ad-lib; use data comparisons to disagree and focus on the facts; warn them of issues early; and avoid surprises.

Thinking you’re normal is one of the most damaging assumptions in negotiations.
We unconsciously project our own style on the other side.

Experienced negotiators often lead with a ridiculous offer, an extreme anchor. And if you’re not prepared to handle it, you’ll lose your moorings and immediately go to your maximum. It’s human nature.

“What else would you be able to offer to make that a good price for me?”

Instead of naming a price, allude to an incredibly high number that someone else might charge.

Never to look at your counterpart as an enemy.
The person across the table is never the problem. The unsolved issue is.

The haggling system that I use to this day:
1. Set your target price (your goal).
2. Set your first offer at 65 percent of your target price.
3. Calculate three raises of decreasing increments (to 85, 95, and 100 percent).
4. Use lots of empathy and different ways of saying “No” to get the other side to counter before you increase your offer.
5. When calculating the final amount, use precise, nonround numbers like, say, $37,893 rather than $38,000. It gives the number credibility and weight.
6. On your final number, throw in a nonmonetary item (that they probably don’t want) to show you’re at your limit.

People getting concessions often feel better about the bargaining process than those who are given a single firm, “fair” offer, even when they end up paying more - or receiving less - than they otherwise might.

You fall to your highest level of preparation.

Black Swan symbolizes the uselessness of predictions based on previous experience. Black Swans are events or pieces of knowledge that sit outside our regular expectations and therefore cannot be predicted.

Leverage is as a fluid that sloshes between the parties.

Whenever the other side says, “I want” you have positive leverage. When they say that, you have power: you can make their desire come true; you can withhold it and thereby inflict pain; or you can use their desire to get a better deal with another party.

Threats can be like nuclear bombs. There will be a toxic residue that will be difficult to clean up.

Understand the other side’s worldview, their reason for being, their religion. (sometimes involving God but not always)

Planned negotiating sessions are often the least revealing because these are the moments when people are at their most guarded.

During a typical business meeting, the first few minutes, before you actually get down to business, and the last few moments, as everyone is leaving, often tell you more about the other side than anything in between. That’s why reporters have a credo to never turn off their recorders: you always get the best stuff at the beginning and the end of an interview.

When someone breaks ranks, people’s façades crack just a little. Simply noticing whose cracks and how others respond verbally and nonverbally can reveal a gold mine.

Except for a few naturals, everyone hates negotiation at first. That’s why wimp-win deals are the norm.

Get over that fear of conflict and navigate it with empathy.
Don’t avoid honest, clear conflict.
It will also save your marriage, your friendship,

Be honest about what you want and what you can - and cannot - do.