Never Split the Difference - Chris Voss, Tahl Raz

Never Split the Difference - Chris Voss, Tahl Raz

Do you consider yourself an excellent negotiator and want to develop your skills? Improve and learn new trading techniques with the former FBI negotiator Chris Voss.

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Have you ever had to negotiate and thought this was not for you? Do you consider yourself a great negotiator and want to hone your skills? Doesn't matter your negotiation level, the former FBI negotiator Chris Voss explains everything about negotiation in the book "Never Split the Difference".

He explains that negotiation is applied all the time, and it is crucial to reach a higher level in life. It is a key to open new paths, selling more, influencing the people around you, among many other things.

Make the right question, tone of voice, speed of speaking, and facial expression are some of the techniques taught by Chris. Fortunately, in this "Never Split the Difference" summary we have separated the main topics of each technique for you to stand out and don't split the difference!

Got interested to know more about this? Stay with us in this summary!

The book "Never Split the Difference"

The book "Never Split the Difference" (2016) brings, in 274 pages, the content of negotiations, experiences, histories and analyzes of the author Chris Voss. In addition, the book presents the ideas of Tahl Raz, journalist and co-author of the bestseller "Never Eat Alone" (2005).

Who are Chris Voss and Tahl Raz?

Chris Voss is an FBI veteran, where he served as a negotiator on hostage cases. In addition, Voss is the founder of The Black Swan Group, a consulting training firm for complex negotiations, and he has taught at some business schools, such as the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, and Harvard University.

He also received the Attorney General's Excellence Awards in Law Enforcement and the FBI's Agent Association for Distinguished and Exemplary Service.

Tahl Raz, co-writer of the book, is a journalist and lecturer on the transformation of the new world of work. In addition, it can be considered that he is a discoverer of ideas and stories that awakens changes and growth in people and organizations.

Why should I read the book "Never Split the Difference"?

This book is suitable for those who want to understand the techniques of negotiations used in more complex situations, which seeks, among other things, to calm, gain time and discover the vulnerabilities of the other trading party.

What are the key points?

In this book, Chris Voss brings stories, experiences and techniques that he used when he was an FBI negotiator. In addition, he considers that negotiation is not a sporadic act, but an act used by people at all times.

Here we have some topics addressed by the author during the book:

  • The human side of negotiation;
  • The search for information;
  • Empathy;
  • The right way to talk;
  • Applying the techniques.

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[Book Summary] Never Split The Difference - Chris Voss

The human side of negotiation

First, stop and think! Do you consider that negotiation is only rationality and intelligence? Save this answer! At the end of the text, we will take it back!

According to Chris Voss, the negotiation that an FBI agent does is similar to what you do when you're at home, with your friends, or at your company. If you have already failed in some negotiation, that doesn't mean that this is not for you. For the author, you just did not trade right.

Negotiating, in summary, is trying to do things in your way. Trading is much more common than most think. It is noticeable that there are people with more facilities than others. But where is the difference?

The difference is that good negotiators understand that negotiation is more than just logic and intelligence because they understand that humans are not always rational. It sounds kind of disruptive, does not it?

But that is exactly what the psychologist Daniel Kahneman and the economist Amos Tversky have discovered. According to them, humans act, many times, based on their animal nature, which is irrational, spontaneous and wild, when they have to decide something.

In this way, to be a good negotiator, it is imperative to understand human nature.

Did you see how the book brings a few common concepts? So, for the author, negotiation is not only rationality and intelligence but also a set of factors that take into account human nature.

If you answered "Yes" to the question from the beginning, pay attention because there is more! If you answered "No", excellent, you were already on the right track.

Search for information

As you've seen, trading is more than rationality and intelligence, to negotiate with the quality you need to understand human nature. There is no better way to do this than the conversation.

Chris Voss says that good negotiators seek to obtain as much information as possible from the other party. So, in his view, the purpose of a negotiation is to make the other person talk a lot because only in that way you can know what they want and need.

But he warns that for this to happen, it is necessary to establish a good relationship with the other party.

Would you feel comfortable answering several questions without having confidence in a person? Well, according to the book "Never Split the Difference", it is extremely important to have the other person trust during a negotiation. In this way, the author presents the Rapport technique.

First, you must practice Active Listening. When talking to a client or other person with whom you are negotiating, actively listen to what they say, engage in the conversation, seek to show interest in the version they are telling you.

Another way to engage in conversation is through mirroring. This technique corresponds to the act of repeating, with an interrogative tone, what the other party is saying. Here we have an example:

The client says: "My meetings are not working, and they are not being productive." You should ask questions about it, such as:

  • Seriously, is it not working?
  • Really?
  • In your opinion, that happens for what reason?
  • What have you tried to do?
  • How can I help you?

Do you know why this works in a negotiation? It makes you approach the other person because they will feel that you are similar and understand the situation they are passing through, creating a sense of belonging and trust. If that happens, you have won the much-desired confidence to negotiate the best way.

The next step is to really understand what a person wants. One of the worst feelings is to close a deal just under the pressure of the moment and then become dissatisfied with the end result. For the author, accepting a bad agreement is a mistake that he calls Split the Difference.

To avoid this, Chris Voss emphasizes the fact that you should invest in conversation and questions in order to discover needs that the person doesn't want to share or even that they do not know they have. Only then it will be possible to offer a good business.


Did you know that the evolution of negotiation is established by understanding the emotions of your client? Yes, that's right! Do you know how to do this? According to the author, you must develop empathy to conquer this evolution.

Empathy is an awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. It is important for you to know that being empathetic does not mean agreeing, but understanding the situation. By exercising such an attitude, you create greater trust with the other party.

The right way to talk

Have you ever been upset with someone because of the way they talked to you no matter how relevant the content was? This happens because the way you speak influences the behavior of the other.

This can also be applied and has an impact on the negotiations. It is therefore advisable to pay attention to the speed of voice and intonation during a conversation.

Do you want an example? If you are talking to a nervous and distressed person, you should use a deeper and softer voice.

Also know that by using a cheerful and positive voice, you demonstrate that you are empathic and relaxed. The suggestion is that you use that tone most of the time and that you smile as you speak, which makes people more willing to negotiate with you.

Keep in mind that if you speak rightly, the person becomes more likely to share the information you seek.

Rule 7/38/55

Chris Voss cites this rule by UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian, who discovered in two studies that only 7% of a message is based on words. Meanwhile, 38% is represented by voice and 55% is represented by the body and facial expression of those who want to get the message across.

Applying the techniques

To negotiate in difficult situations, as in the old routine of Chris Voss, he suggests that you start with questions that begin with "What" or "How", as this forces the other party to help you. Examples:

  • How can I help make it better for us?
  • How would you like me to go about it?
  • What brought us to the present situation?
  • How can we solve this problem?
  • How much is this important to you?
  • What are we trying to accomplish here?
  • How should I do this?

The author also shows some practices you should avoid in a negotiation, for example:

  • Don't ask questions that begin with "Why" because the use of this term is intimidating;
  • Don't try to force the other party to say that you are right;
  • When under attack or in a difficult situation, pause and avoid very strong reactions.

Also, know that using expressions like "That's right" is more advantageous than using "Yes" during a negotiation.

The author also warns that people tend to take risks more to avoid losing something, rather than winning. So make sure that the other party understands that they will lose something if they don't accept the proposed agreement.

In this way, he suggests that if you are going to negotiate a price, you should follow the following order:

  • Set a goal;
  • Start by offering 65% of the value;
  • Calculate other values, of 85%, 95% and 100% and increase gradually;
  • Use empathy;
  • When you reach a final value, speak accurately, without rounding.

Books about negotiation

The author Neil Rackham brings in his book "SPIN Selling", a method of negotiation that is based on questions of Situation, Problem, Implication and Need of Solution. For the author, asking quality questions is the best way to convince someone.

Robert B. Cialdini, in the book "Influence", seeks to explain how to influence people and also not to be influenced by others. In addition, he brings the six psychological principles that influence the client's decision-making.

Jeffrey Gitomer, in the book "The Sales Bible", demonstrates good practices from a good salesperson, such as the habit of being positive when talking to a customer, and the importance of setting goals and cultivating a network of contacts.

Okay, but how can I succeed in a negotiation?

As seen in the book, to succeed in a negotiation, you need to:

  • Make the other party talk a lot;
  • To do this, create an environment of trust, through the techniques of mirroring, empathy and active listening;
  • Ask the right questions;
  • Be careful with your tone of voice and your body expression as they are essential factors in a negotiation.

Did you like this summary of the book "Never Split the Difference"?

Are you feeling more confident to negotiate with your clients? Did you find this content useful? Leave your feedback in the comments!

In addition, if you got interested to learn all the Chris Voss' teachings, just click on the image below and get the full edition:

Book 'Never Split the Difference'