Book review time!
I finished Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss a couple of weeks ago and thought it about time to revisit my notes and share the most interesting bits.
Never split the difference is a really great book. Voss talks the reader through the negotiation techniques and lessons learned from a 20-year career as a hostage negotiator.
You really do not need to be interested in business negotiation to find this book fascinating, the psychology of hostage negotiation alone (Voss uses several real-life hostage negotiation case studies to explain his techniques) are enough to make this book a captivating read.
If you are interested in business negotiation, even better, as Voss has a lot of techniques that he assures us transfer from bank robberies to board rooms.
Some of his most interesting ideas include:
Calibrated questions: These are usually "What" and "How" type questions that have the intended effect of working towards a solution. A good calibrated question gets your counterpart working on a problem for you.Labelling: pointing out how somebody is feeling in a non-judgemental way helps to build understanding. "It seems like you are feeling blank". This also works well during arguments to help empathise with the other side.
Anchoring: Using our built in biases to anchor an outcome, usually a number. A crazy low offer initially can work to anchor expectations around that anchor, even if it is rejected immediately as ridiculous.
(Also on the topic of anchoring, I've just reached the part in Thinking Fast and Slow where the author discusses anchoring. The bias is so powerful, experiments suggest, that test subjects were successfully anchored by the outcome of a randomly spun number-wheel... Absolutely extraordinary.)
Tactical empathy: Voss calls this 'listening on steroids'. We sometimes think we are listening to someone else, but most of the time we hear what we want to hear, and spend a lot of time thinking about what we want to say next. Tactical empathy is really paying attention when it matters most.
Looking back, I don't think i'm quite doing justice to these ideas. although they seem simplistic the evidence of their effectiveness, if we are to believe Voss, is sound. I look forward to trying them out on some poor unsuspecting salesman. (who i'm sure will see me coming from a mile off.)
To end, here's a quote from the book about deadlines:
Deadlines are often arbitrary, almost always flexible, and hardly ever trigger the consequences we think—or are told—they will.
Turns out there are never too many ways to say :Fuck arbitrary deadlines.