Negotiation Tips: Chris Voss’s “Never Split the Difference”

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In the world of high-stakes negotiation, there’s no room for “splitting the difference.” You’re not haggling over the price of a souvenir on vacation. You’re navigating crucial moments that might change the trajectory of your business, career, or even life. Enter Chris Voss, an FBI veteran who’s been in negotiations where the stakes are literally life and death. In Never Split the Difference, Voss unveils tactics that seem unconventional, yet are incredibly effective.

The Power Shift from “Yes” to “No”

Ever been told to get the other party to say “yes”? Voss turns that on its head.

Embracing the “No”

Most negotiation guides push for a “yes.” Voss argues that a “no” provides clarity and safety for the other party. When someone says “no,” they feel in control, which allows for a clearer pathway forward.

Navigating after a “No”

After hearing “no,” don’t despair. Instead, ask solution-oriented questions. This shifts the conversation from confrontational to collaborative.

The Magic of Tactical Empathy

Empathy isn’t just about being nice. It’s a powerful tool in understanding your counterpart.

Going Beyond Mirroring

Mirroring is subtly repeating the last few words your counterpart just said. It encourages them to share more. But Voss recommends diving deeper into what they’re really saying, understanding their emotions and motivations.

Labeling Emotions

By verbalizing your counterpart’s feelings (e.g., “It seems like you’re worried about X”), you not only show understanding but also often encourage them to reveal more about their position.

The Art of the Accusation Audit

Instead of shying away from the negative perceptions the other party might have of you, address them head-on.

Listing the Negatives

Acknowledge every bad thing your counterpart could say about you before they get a chance. This diminishes the impact and often puts them on the back foot.

Anchoring through Calibration

Asking Calibrated Questions

Rather than confrontational queries, ask questions that start with “How” or “What.” These types of questions force the other party to think critically and often divulge more information.

The All-Powerful “Fair”

The word “fair” is emotionally charged. Everyone wants to be treated fairly.

Using “Fair” as Leverage

When you suggest that what you’re offering is “fair,” it sets a tone. However, be wary when others use it on you, as it might be a tactic to make you acquiesce.

Bending Reality with Deadlines

Deadlines create pressure, but they’re often arbitrary or flexible.

Challenging Deadlines

If a counterpart gives you a tight deadline, challenge it. Ask them how they arrived at that date to understand if it’s a genuine constraint or a pressure tactic.

The Leverage of Loss Aversion

People are more motivated to avoid loss than to achieve gains.

Using Loss Aversion in Negotiation

Frame your proposal in terms of what the other party stands to lose if the deal doesn’t go through, rather than what they stand to gain.

The Fallback of the 7-38-55 Percent Rule

This principle suggests that words account for 7% of a message, tone of voice 38%, and body language 55%.

Reading Beyond Words

In negotiations, it’s crucial to pick up on the emotional undertones and unspoken cues. This is where the real communication happens.

The Secret Weapon of Negotiation

Now, while Chris Voss’s techniques are revolutionary, integrating them into your daily business negotiations requires practice and finesse. This is where the seasoned guidance of executive business coaching from Deliberate Directions becomes invaluable. Having an expert to role-play scenarios, provide feedback, and sharpen your negotiation tactics can be the difference between a deal falling through and a win-win for both parties.

While Voss’s tactics might seem unconventional, remember: these are strategies honed in high-stakes, life-or-death situations. If they work there, imagine the edge they could give you in the boardroom.

Ready to elevate your negotiation game? Delve deep, practice relentlessly, and consider harnessing the expertise of professionals to guide your journey.

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I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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