Book Notes Productivity

Never split the difference — Quick tips

Here is an except of my notes on “Never split the difference” by Chris Voss.

Chris is a former hostage negotiator from the FBI. During that time Chris formalized techniques he developed and field tested with colleagues which our now available to everyone. It is called never split the difference because in hostage negotiation there is no meeting in the middle, you can’t agree on getting half a hostage out.

The following tips from Never Split the Difference can be applied by you as well, they are simple but not easy. You often fall back to your instincts in negotiation because of the pressure so make an effort to practice them.

In this world you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.


Almost everyone is negotiating daily. Often we are not aware of it. Every time you need a yes from someone you are negotiating.

The core of negotiation is listening to the other person. People are often so focused on what they want to say they have no mental capacity to listen to the other person. This causes them to miss critical information.

The following techniques will get you started fast in your negotiation adventure.


Negotiation is all about information. The first thing you want to do when negotiation is extracting as much information without explicitly asking for it. If you straight up ask it, the other persons will expect something in return.

So what you can do is mirror the other person. You can mirror using your voice, your words or your body language. Mirroring quickly creates trust and is great for gathering information.

How to mirror in negotiation

  1. Use a laid back relaxed tone of voice (imagine a late night radio DJ)
  2. Start with “I’m sorry, …” in an understanding tone of voice
  3. Repeat the last 3 words of the other person
  4. Silence, don’t ruin your mirror by trying to explain yourself.


A: “So the contract has to be signed before the end of the month”

B: “I’m sorry, before the end of the month?” (In a clarifying tone of voice)

A: “Yes, Jack made an agreement with our vendor that we need to put it in writing or the prices will go up”

Now you have uncovered information you can work with, instead of headbutting without realizing person A had a hidden deal he could not break.

Getting People to Say No (Instead of Yes)

Due to the way the human brain works we hate losing something. We feel way worse when losing 100$ than we feel good when winning 100$. You can use this in your negotiation.

It is surprising what people are willing to say no to. To create one, you can flip a yes oriented question around.


  • Would it be horrible…?
  • Is it a bad idea…?
  • Have you given up on this project?
  • Would it be horrible if we would sit in that section?
  • Is it disrespectful if I ask you to clarify these points?

This is only the tip of the iceberg and I would highly recommend you to read the whole book! With these tips you can already get started.

Check out the book on Amazon or in your local book store. Also make sure to follow the blog of Chris called “The Edge”.