Never Split the Difference

One of the books I finished recently is “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It” by Chris Voss. He used to lead the FBI’s international hostage negotiation team. In the book he gives his best negotiation advice having spent a career negotiating people’s lives.

Negotiation is hard. I once tried reading “Getting to yes”. I couldn’t get beyond chapter 1. It was following a typical rational process while the reality of a negotiation is much more irrational and complex.

I liked the mental model Chris created for negotiations. The model has basic principles, supported by tactics to help you achieve the negotiation goals, without diverting from the principles.

Some of the principles

  • Great negotiators go in with a sit of hypotheses about the counterpart’s desires and emotions. They try to validate these hypotheses throughout the negotiation process, and discover black swans.
  • The problem is the issue, not the person behind the table.
  • Be willing to walk away. No deal is better than a bad deal.

As for the tactics, for every tactic he explained the psychological basis for it. This make things easier as it made me understand the why behind each of the them.

What I didn’t like about the book is it could’ve been better organized.

I listened to it more than 5 times and was taking notes. Some of the topics were repetitive, and some chapters had a lengthy introduction (sometimes more than half of the chapter) before going into the core of the topic.

Some important topics were just mentioned between the lines (like when and how to shake the other party), sometimes out of context with no proper introduction like the other tactics.

In general it is my best read of 2017. I highly recommend it.