By Phil Klutts
July 14, 2020

Never Split The Difference offers practical advice from a top negotiator

This book is a powerful tool to getting better results and connecting with others.
Stack of Never Split the Difference books

Never Split The Difference – Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It  

By Chris Voss with Tahl Raz

This book has been my most gifted and recommended book over the past few years. Chris Voss is a former top negotiator for the FBI’s hostage team and has since transitioned into the business world and serves as a professor and lecturer at a few of the nation’s top business schools. His negotiation tactics and advice have helped many people get the best deal possible in their negotiations, even with lives are on the line. Voss teamed up with Tahl Raz to write this Wall Street Journal bestseller. Never Split The Difference has a great foundation with the combination of a great practitioner in Voss and a great journalist in Raz. The content inside builds on this foundation to make a wonderfully entertaining and practical book for business leaders, managers, sales people, and the general public. 

Many people shy away from negotiations because of the negative connotation, conflict, and stress that can be involved. But negotiations are unavoidable. Voss states it plainly, “Life is negotiation.” Most interactions drive down to a simple discussion of what I want vs. what my counterpart wants. Voss and Raz align this thinking with several examples such as buying a car, signing a contract, or getting your children to go to bed at a decent hour. The first chapter outlines a brief history of negotiations and the introduction of emotional intelligence or empathy into the FBI’s protocol. Techniques, like using a BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement), are important but are not the only thing needed in a successful negotiation. But don’t worry, Voss outlines several direct tactics when it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty of haggling. Chapter 9 is dedicated to the bargaining period of getting the best price. 

Life is negotiation. Most interactions drive down to a simple discussion of what I want vs. what my counterpart wants.

Each of the 10 chapters starts with an engaging story from Voss’ past. He tells of bank robbers on the streets of New York, hostage negotiations in the Philippines, and a prison siege in Louisiana. And with every good negotiations book or class, he tells a car buying story in the bargaining chapter. For me, the stories carried a sense of entertainment and action, which can be rare for self-improvement and business books. The stories are chosen well, and each one draws your attention to the focus area and tactics explained throughout that chapter. 

The techniques and tools explained in each chapter are easily digestible and very easy to apply in your day-to-day conversations. For example, mirroring is a skill you may have heard of or used in sales or management arenas. I usually think of mirroring as leaning in or matching the posture of my conversation partner; however, Voss gives us another aspect of mirroring that works in verbal communication and negotiations. Mirroring, he tells us, is simply repeating the last three or the critical few words your counterpart has said. This leads to creating rapport with another person and often urges them to re-state or divulge even more information without you coming across as aggressive.

Mirroring is just one technique Voss gives us in his book. There are several more that are easily put into your toolbox for use when you need it. Just the other day I was selling some used items from my garage on Facebook Marketplace when I threw in a tactic Voss calls “labeling.” “It seems like you have a price in mind,” I said to the buyer. The buyer immediately came back with a price 25% higher than I was planning to agree to. I came out with a higher sales price, and the buyer thought it was his idea! It’s great when both sides win. I’ve also applied these techniques in my business dealings and seen great results. 

Like my Marketplace story, Voss ends each chapter with an example of how one of his students or clients has succeeded in using the idea being discussed. It’s a great way to see how to apply the tactics in your business dealings. The last few pages of each chapter outline key lessons in a bulleted list that serve as a review tool and great reference as you remind yourself of the tactics. 

Never Split The Difference should be on the bookshelf of anyone who negotiates anything. If you are in business, then you are involved in some way with buying, selling, facilitating, or managing transactions. This book is a powerful tool to getting better results and connecting with others. You will make a return on your small investment to purchase and read the book. In fact, time may be the only investment you need. Enter the drawing below to receive a free copy (and more) from our partner at Best of Books in Edmond.

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About Phil Klutts

Phil is an Edmond native and has managed to keep his wife here instead of traveling the world, which they both enjoy. They have two boys who love the outdoors, adventures, and learning new things. Phil is a problem-solver at heart and enjoys connecting people to the resources they need.

In addition to being the co-owner of Edmond Business, Phil founded the CK Group LLC after working for large and small businesses in the Energy, Construction, and Fitness industries. He focuses on helping small businesses and entrepreneurs improve their systems and processes. CK Group LLC's mission is to eliminate chaos and create clarity for small business by connecting vision, strategy, and implementation.