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239 Chris Voss: Never split the difference

Effective negotiation involves active listening, empathy, and creating win-win scenarios, rather than simply splitting the difference.

Chris Voss: Never split the difference


In Never Split the Difference, former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss reveals powerful techniques and strategies for negotiating effectively in any situation. Drawing on his extensive experience in high-stakes negotiations, Voss explains how to build rapport, uncover hidden information, and diffuse tense situations through active listening and empathetic communication. He also introduces the concept of "tactical empathy," which involves understanding and acknowledging the other party's perspective, even if you don't agree with it. The book is filled with real-world examples and practical advice for anyone looking to become a more effective negotiator.


Title: Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

Author: Chris Voss

Publishing year: 2016

Publisher: Harper Business

Length in hours: 8 hours and 7 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. Active listening is the key to effective negotiation. By truly understanding the other party's perspective, you can build rapport and find common ground.
  2. Empathy is essential in negotiation. By acknowledging the other party's feelings and concerns, you can build trust and defuse tense situations.
  3. Preparation is crucial. Knowing your own goals and objectives, as well as the other party's, can help you identify potential roadblocks and find creative solutions.
  4. The use of calibrated questions, such as "What would you need to see to make this deal work?" can help uncover hidden information and reveal the other party's true priorities.
  5. Negotiation is not about splitting the difference, but about creating win-win scenarios that benefit both parties.
Chris Voss: Never split the difference

5 funny quotes

  1. "Negotiation is like chess, but with more yelling."
  2. "Effective negotiation is like dancing - it requires coordination, rhythm, and a willingness to step on toes."
  3. "If negotiation were easy, we wouldn't need a book about it."
  4. "Negotiation is not a game of who can yell the loudest. It's a game of who can listen the hardest."
  5. "Negotiation is a bit like dating. You have to show interest, but not too much interest."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "Negotiation is not an act of battle, it's a process of discovery."
  2. "The most dangerous negotiation is the one you don't know you're in."
  3. "The best negotiators are the ones who are willing to walk away."
  4. "No is the start of the negotiation, not the end of it."
  5. "The purpose of negotiation is not agreement, it's understanding."

5 dilemmas

  1. The tension between being assertive and being empathetic in negotiation, and how to find the right balance.
  2. How to negotiate effectively with someone who is emotional or irrational, without letting their emotions derail the negotiation.
  3. Whether to reveal your true bottom line or hold back information to gain an advantage in the negotiation.
  4. How to deal with a negotiation in which the other party is more powerful or has more leverage.
  5. The ethical considerations of negotiation, including when it is appropriate to use tactics such as bluffing or deception.

5 examples

  1. The FBI, where Chris Voss worked as a hostage negotiator for many years.
  2. Apple, which has a reputation for being a tough negotiator in its dealings with suppliers.
  3. Warren Buffett, who is known for his shrewd negotiating skills.
  4. The United Nations, where negotiation is a critical part of peacekeeping efforts around the world.
  5. Nelson Mandela, who used negotiation and empathy to bring about an end to apartheid in South Africa.

Referenced books

  1. "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert B. Cialdini
  2. "Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In" by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury
  3. "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman
  4. "Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High" by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
  5. "Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People" by G. Richard Shell

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"Negotiation is not an act of battle, it's a process of discovery."

Chris Voss: Never split the difference
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