Never Split the Difference

Chris Voss
Reading Order: Book 3
Categories: 2019, Erik Rostad
Date Started: January 4, 2019
Date Finished: January 9, 2019
6h 50m 18s (estimate)
Reason Book was Chosen:
I've seen this book pop up in a bunch of different podcasts. I've recently gotten my real estate license and know that negotiation will be a big part of that job. I thought this book would be a good one to read in order to improve my negotiation skills.

My Thoughts

Some of the most powerful books for this Books of Titans project have been those with the most counter-intuitive information. This is one of those books. The author, Chris Voss, was the FBI’s head of international kidnapping negotiation and now teaches and runs a negotiating consulting firm called The Black Swan Group. The book is full of exciting negotiating stories and the lessons pulled from each negotiation.

Chris’ tactics go against much of the conventional negotiating wisdom and philosophy. I came across the traditional approach as a business graduate student, best summarized in the book presented as gospel called Getting to Yes. Chris counters a lot of the common ideas by channeling these two things:

  1. His extensive hostage negotiating experience, oftentimes life or death
  2. Daniel Kahneman

Yes, Kahneman makes is entrance right away at page 11. I called 2018 the Year of Kahneman as nearly a quarter of the books I read last year referenced Kahneman in some form or fashion. I had not heard of him until last year after reading Thinking, Fast and Slow, but now he’s everywhere.

What’s great is that Chris Voss took the research on behavioral economics that Kahneman and his partner in crime Amos Tversky did and extrapolated some great lessons. Those lessons are littered throughout the book and are immediately implementable.

I appreciated the stories and the new tools for negotiating. Chris says that life is negotiating. It’s constant – at work, at home, with the kids, with the person behind the counter. If you can use some of these tools to get better outcomes, it’s definitely worth the price of admission. I just hope a lot of people don’t read this book so that I’ll have an upper hand in negotiations :).

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