I became family with Chris Voss through several interviews and appearances he did in promoting his book — a book that is perfectly titled and had me very interested to read for some time.
It lived up to its billing.
Never Split The Difference is a strategic breakdown of both negotiating and overall communication techniques taught by an FBI hostage negotiator.
The overall aim of any negotiation, according to the author, is not win-lose not to “split the difference” when at an impasse — it’s for both sides to get what they want and be happy about it. The key is understanding that what the other side wants is often not the thing they initially say they want, and uncovering the truth behind it.
In each chapter, Voss shares a negotiation story from the field, some involving real hostage situations and killings, others around job negotiations and consulting contracts. The meat of each chapter then explains how his techniques help anyone get a better deal.
One of the best things about a book like Never Split The Difference is that the strategies and tactics taught can be applied immediately. I found myself replaying recent conversations from my own life and thinking of how I could have handled things differently — and I could see how doing so would lay the groundwork for more favorable outcomes.
Voss explains the whys and hows of asking certain types of questions (and the avoidance of other types) and how to get the other side talking more to get information that you can use to your advantage.
An even better endorsement for this book: I’m writing this review before I even finished reading it.
I’ll be re-reading (and re-listening) to Never Split The Difference multiple times to better my communication skills and make Voss’ tactics automatic for me. I’ve started consciously using them already.