Your profile



Job Title



Go to my DashboardLog out
Edit my Profile

Profile Saved
Oops! Something went wrong.

Never Split The Difference - Book Summary

6 min read

What happens in your brain when you hear or read the word "negotiation"? If you start feeling tense, your heart rate quickens and you might feel a pit in your stomach then check out this review.

Chapter 1: The New Rules

  • Negotiation serves two distinct functions - information gathering and behaviour influencing. 
  • No matter how we dress up our negotiations in mathematical theories, we are always an animal, always acting and reacting first and foremost from our deeply held but mostly invisible and inchoate fears, needs, perceptions, and desires. 
  • Listening is not a passive activity. It is the most active thing you can do. 

Chapter 2: Be A Mirror

Key Lessons:

  • A good negotiator prepares, ready for possible surprises. A great negotiator aims to use their skills to reveal surprises that they are certain to find. 
  • Don’t commit to assumptions; instead, use them as hypotheses and use the negotiation to test.
  • Negotiation is not an act of battle; it’s a process of discovery. The goal is to uncover as much information as possible. 
  • To quiet the voice in your head, focus solely on the other person and what they have to say. 
  • Slow. It. Down. Going too fast is a mistake we all are prone to make. If you’re too much in a hurry, people can feel like they’re not heard. You risk undermining rapport and trust. 
  • Put a smile on your face. With a positive frame of mind, they are more likely to collaborate and problem solve (instead of fight and resist). Positivity creates mental agility in both you and your counterpart
  • There are three tones available to negotiators: 
  • The late-night FM DJ Voice: Use selectively to make a point. Inflect your voice downward, keeping it calm and slow. Done properly this creates an aura of authority and trust. 
  • The positive/playful voice: Your default voice. The voice of an easy-going good natured person. The key is to relax and smile while you’re talking. 
  • The direct assertive voice: Use rarely. It will cause problems and create pushback. 
  • Mirrors work magic. Repeat the last three words of what someone has just said. Mirroring is an act of insinuating similarity, which creates a bond. Use mirrors to empathize and bond with the others group, keep talking, buy your side time to regroup and encourage your counterparts to reveal their strategy. 

Chapter 3: Don't Feel Their Pain, Label It

Key Lessons: 

  • Human connection is the first goal. 
  • Imagine yourself in your counterpart's situation. Empathy doesn’t mean you have to agree with your counterpart, rather by acknowledging the other person's situation you convey that you’re listening. Once they know you’re listening, they might tell you something that you can use. 
  • The reasons why a counterpart will not make an agreement with you are often more powerful than why they will make a deal, so focus on clearing the barriers to agreement first. Denying barriers give them credence; get them out in the open. 
  • Pause. After you label a barrier or mirror a statement, let it sink in. The other party will fill the silence. 
  • Label your counterpart’s fears to diffuse their power. Labelling is a way of validating someone’s emotions by acknowledging it. Use phrases: “It seems like…”, “It sounds like…”, “It looks like…”. When you phrase a label as a neutral statement your counterpart is more responsive. 
  • Perform an accusation audit. List the worst things that the other party could say about you before they say them. Performing this in advance prepares you for the negative dynamics before they take root. Speaking them out loud will encourage the other person that the opposite is true. 
  • Remember that you’re dealing with someone that wants to be appreciated and understood at their core. Use labels to reinforce and encourage positive perceptions and dynamics. 

Chapter 4: Beware “Yes” - Master “No”

Key Lessons:

  • “No” is that start of the negotiation, not the end of it. We’ve been conditioned to fear the word “No”. 
  • There are three types of “yes”:
  • Counterfeit: this “yes” is one in which your counterpart plans of saying “no” but feels “yes” is an easier escape or just wants to keep the conversation going to get more information to achieve a type of edge. 
  • Confirmation: is generally an innocent, reflexive response to a black-or-white question; it’s a simple affirmation with no commitment. 
  • Commitment: This “yes” is the real deal: it’s a true agreement that leads to action. A commitment “yes” ends with a signature. 
  • Don’t aim for “yes” too early in the negotiation. Asking someone too early gets their guard up and paints you as an untrustworthy salesperson. 
  • Saying “no” makes the speaker feel safe. By saying what they don’t want, your counterpart defines their space and gains confidence and comfort to listen to you. 
  • Negotiate in their world. Persuasion is about convincing your counterpart that the solution that you want is their idea. Ask them questions that open paths to your goals. It’s not about you. 
  • If a potential buyer is ignoring you, contact them with a clear and concise “No” - oriented question that you are ready to walk away. For example, “Have you given up on this project?” 

Chapter 5: Transforming The Negotiation

Key Lessons: 

  • Driving towards “that’s right” is a winning strategy in all negotiations. But hearing “you’re right” is a disaster
  • Create unconditional positive regard. Humans have an innate urge towards socially constructive behaviour. The more a person feels positively affirmed, the more likely that urge for constructive behavior will take hold. 
  • Use a summary to trigger a “that’s right”. A good summary is the combination of rearticulating the meaning of what is said plus the acknowledgement  of the emotions underlying that meaning (paraphrasing + labelling = summary). Identify, rearticulate, and emotionally affirm. 

Chapter 6: Bend Their Reality

Key Lessons: 

  • There’s always leverage. Negotiation is never a linear formula: add X to Y to get Z. We have irrational blind spots, hidden needs, and underdeveloped notions. 
  • We don’t compromise because it’s right; we compromise because it is easy and it saves face. Don't settle - never split the difference. 
  • When negotiators tell their counterparts about their deadlines, they get better deals. Deadlines are never ironclad. Engaging in the process and having a feel for how long that will take is more important. 
  • To get real leverage: you have to persuade them that they have something to lose if the deal falls through: 
  • Anchor their emotions: By anchoring their emotions in preparation for a loss (accusation audit) you inflame the other side’s loss aversion so they’ll jump at the chance to avoid it. 
  • Let the other side go first… most of the time: Let the other side anchor monetary negotiations. You may come across someone who goes in with an extreme anchor to bend your reality. Remember that your reputation precedes you. 
  • Establish A Range: Bolstering a range has been found to have a significantly higher chance of offers. 
  • Pivot to non monetary terms: Don’t get hung up on “how much?”, one of the easiest ways to bed your counterpart's reality is to pivot to non-monetary terms. Offer something that has non-monetary value. 
  • When you talk numbers, use odd ones: numbers that end with 0 feel like placeholders, however anything ending with an exact figure (£37,867) feels like a figure that has come out of an exact calculation. 
  • Surprise with a gift: After receiving a rejection after an extreme anchor offer an wholly unrelated gift. People feel obliged to repay debts of kindness. 

Chapter 7: Create An Illusion of Control

Key Lessons:

  • In negotiation get your counterpart to do the work for you so that they suggest the solution themselves. Giving them the illusion of control, while you were the one defining the conversation. 
  • Use calibrated questions: calibrated questions have the power to educate your counterpart on what the problem is rather than causing conflict by telling them what the problem is. 
  • Don’t use: can, is, are, do, or does .
  • Avoid: questions that can be answered with Yes or tiny pieces of information.
  • †Start every question with what, how, and (and sometimes but rarely) why.
  • Only use why when the defensiveness it creates is in your favor: Why would you ever change from the way you’ve always done things and try my approach?
  • Instead of telling someone You can’t leave the negotiation table, change it to What do you hope to achieve by going?
  • Avoid angry emotional reactions.

Chapter 8: Guarantee Execution

Key Lessons:

  • “Yes” is nothing without “how”.
  • Ask calibrated “how”… questions.  These questions help guarantee execution. .
  • Aim for a ‘that’s right’ response .
  • Don’t settle for I’ll try or you’re right.
  • The 7-38-55 Percent Rule: 7 percent of a message is based on the words while 38 percent comes from the tone of voice and 55 percent from the speaker's body language. 
  • The Rule of Three: The Rule of Three is simply getting your counterpart to agree to the same thing three times in the same conversation. It’s tripling the strength of whatever dynamic you’re trying to drill into at the moment. 
  • Spotting Liars: Liars will:
  • Use more words than truth tellers.
  • Talk about him, her, it, one, they and their.
  • Rarely use “I” as this creates distance from the lie.
  • Speak in more complex sentences (to cover up the lie) .
  • Use your own name. Using your own name makes you more personable. 
  • The art of closing a deal is staying focused to the very end. There are crucial points at the finale when you must draw on your mental discipline. Do not let your mind wander. Remain focused. 

Chapter 9: Bargain Hard 

Key Lessons 

  • To be good, you have to learn to be yourself at the bargaining table. To be great you have to add to your strengths, not replace them. 
  • Types of negotiators:
  • Analyst: Confirms facts and information. As much time to get it right. 
  • Tools to use:
  • Labels to confirm analysis
  • Use data to confirm reasons
  • Accommodator: Cares about building relationships. 
  • Tools to use:
  • What and How calibrated questions to focus on implementation. 
  • Assertive: Care about being heard. 
  • Tools to use: 
  • Calibrated questions
  • Labels 
  • Summaries
  • Get to ‘that’s right’.
  • Deflect The Punch: If a counterpart starts with an extreme anchor do the following things: 
  • Say no with a calibrated question. “How am I supposed to do that”. 
  • Deflect with a calibrated question. “What are we trying to accomplish here?”
  • Pivot to non-monetary items. “What else would you be able to offer to make a good price?”
  • Ackerman Bargaining: Steps for negotiating a price:
  • Set a target price. 
  • Calculate increments for pricing
  • Buyer -  65%, 85%, 95%, 100%
  • Seller - 135%, 115%, 105%, 100%
  • Use empathy and different ways of saying no. 
  • When calculating the final number, use non-round numbers as it gives more credibility and weight. 
  • On the final number add a non-monetary item to show you’re at the final limit. 

Chapter 10: Find The Black Swan

Key Lessons

  • Black Swans are events or pieces of knowledge that sit outside our regular expectations and therefore cannot be predicted. 
  • There are at least 3 black swans in each negotiation. 
  • There are three types of leverage: 
  • Positive leverage: This is your ability to withhold things that your counterpart wants. 
  • Negative leverage: The ability to make your counterpart suffer. This gets people's attention due to loss aversion. Potential losses loom larger than potential gains. 
  • Normative leverage: Using the other parties norms and standards to advance your position. If you show inconsistencies in their values and actions you have normative leverage. 
  • The Similarity Principle: people trust those in their group. Observe attitudes, ideas and even forms of dress. 
  • Just because someone is acting crazy doesn't mean they are. It is usually due to these three factors:
  • They’re ill-informed. They have incomplete information. 
  • They’re constrained. They may not have the power to close the deal. 
  • They have hidden interests. These are justifying their behaviour. 
  • Get facetime with your counterpart. Ten minutes of facetime reveals more than days of research. Pay special attention to their verbal and non-verbal communication.

Upcoming Masterclasses

Book your seat for upcoming sessions on the topics that matter to you