Not everyone might think a book about getting what you want by a former top FBI negotiator as a beach read, but I say it absolutely is. Full of real-life, high-stakes situations and practical tips you can implement immediately at work and with your family, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss should be on your summer reading list.
If you’ve read negotiation books written for a business audience, be prepared: Never Split the Difference takes a completely different approach. Rather than assume people come to the negotiating table as rational actors, Voss underscores the fact that each and every one of us is a living, breathing human, full of feelings, preconceptions, and trigger points, and we bring these feelings, preconceptions, and trigger points into our negotiations.
One of the main tactics Voss emphasizes again and again is the power of listening and making the other side feel heard. Listening taps into our deepest human desire to be known and understood. If you can make your opponent in a negotiation feel like you understand exactly where he or she is coming from, you can win big.
The tactics Voss outlines in his book may seem simple on the surface, but it takes practice to learn to deploy them correctly. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of using the phrase “It seems like…” every time it would be beneficial to me, however, when I have remembered to observe objectively in this manner, the response from the other person has been warm and positive. I can see in their eyes that they feel like I “get” them, exactly the reaction Voss claims this type of phrasing will result in.
After absorbing all the lessons in the book, Voss leaves the reader with a “create your own negotiation” prep sheet. I’ve begun to use this guide to write down what I want to accomplish and how I will go about accomplishing it before every serious meeting I have. So far, Voss techniques haven’t let me down.
Not much of a reader? You can watch Chris Voss TEDx Talk here.