Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

Author: Chris Voss, Tahl Raz
This Month Reddit 3


by flakiness   2021-06-09

If you prefer more pop-culture taste, "Never Split the Difference" is kind of similar (even though philosophically different.) The story is all about FBI and kidnapping, so it's less boring while the points made are a bit shallower than "Crucial Conversations".


by myexplodingcat   2019-11-17

Rather than giving advice, there are other things you can say.

  • Mirror back what they're saying. "It sounds like you're not sure if she's angry at you, but you're afraid to ask her in case that makes her angry." Sometimes people vent because they're trying to figure out what the problem is.
  • Empathize. "Seems like that'd be really frustrating." Sometimes people vent because they just want to be seen and acknowledged. It might feel a little awkward, like you're pointing out the thing they're obviously feeling, but they might not think it's obvious. There's a solid chance they want you to understand their emotions and not just the facts of the situation, which is fair since their mental state is a component of what's wrong.
  • Ask questions. "Are you sure he meant it that way?" Don't go too deep with your questions with acquaintances, but it can be more helpful to poke a little at the way someone is seeing a situation than to give direct advice. Let them come up with their own conclusions.
  • Validate. "You're doing your best, and that's all you can do. No one can blame you for that." Sometimes all it takes to cool down a situation is to take the pressure off.
  • Repeat. "This person treats you like a dancing bear?" When they say something weird, just repeat it word for word. They'll most likely elaborate, and it tells them you're listening. And if what they said really was irrational, hearing it repeated by another person can get them to back off from how upset they are.

None of this involves telling someone what to do, so they're more likely to listen and appreciate it.

Talking to someone like this tells them you know they can get over their problem by themselves. It leaves out the implication that you know better than they do, which too much advice-offering can give off, and it's less easily interpreted as judgmental of their decisions. That's subtle, but important. Someone venting to you is showing a little bit of vulnerability, which you definitely shouldn't reject if you're trying to be friends.

Basically this is Being A Therapist 101. It's actually often less effort than trying to come up with solutions yourself.

If this kind of thing interests you, read Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss. It's a negotiation book by an FBI hostage negotiator, and it has a surprising amount of correlation to everyday situations. Brene Brown's books also come highly recommended; I suggest Daring Greatly if you're going to read only one.

by [deleted]   2019-11-17

Check out Chris Voss. There are ways to get people off of the defensive. The head nod, a Voss technique, destroyed the interruptions issue on the first try, a life long issue. I’m in a similar place and can’t explain my goals or dreams to anyone, because everyone has “my best interest in mind,” when they try and convince me to play is safe and settle for little.

The consequences of having done everything I don’t want to please others, is that it’s very hard to get respect for who I actually am. My aim is to dress really good and of course I immediately got this: “Good, but not too well, better keep it down.” In a way, it feels I will have to wait until everyone I know is dead, and then I can start living my life.

Used to be very introverted. Also had very low self-esteem. Now I’m becoming extroverted. I am beginning to own social situations even when my head is so drowsy. I don’t believe in these labels. I see these two as a curse from the expectations of society. A lazy way to put us into time saving boxes, to save the tribe time for hierarchy organizing.

Chris Voss, Former FBI hostage negotiator world wide:





by ONECHAMBERED   2019-11-17

You did a great job and the G42 is probably my favorite carry gun.

Two clues that indicate he never had any intention of harming anyone:

  1. Communication - He said the words "I'm going to fuck you up" followed by calling people names (bitch, pieces of shit). If he entered your office with true, premeditated intention to harm someone he wouldn't have said anything or drawn any extra attention. He would have walked in, shoved anyone out of the way and then went after his target. The fact that he was communicating shows this was an outburst of social/hierarchical nature.
  2. He let you hold him back and pressed up on you with his chest while making these threats. The book When Violence Is the Answer: Learning How to Do What It Takes When Your Life Is at Stake explicitly states this behavior as a display of social posturing. "You are not going to ignore me/ Acknowledge me" He needed to make sure that the entire tribe (the office) of his assigned attorney, got up out of their chairs, got involved and acknowledged him.

Additionally, this book could have helped as well Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It. Many of the techniques in it could have been applied to your situation. While it wouldn't provide a clear cut solution, there are things that could have been said that would certainly have delayed, distracted or slowed down the progression of the client's anger even if only by a couple seconds. Sometimes a few more seconds is all that's needed for the guy the cool off.

by gordo1223   2019-07-21

Good luck u/GameofCHAT selling a business is a lot of fun and will hopefully net you guys some cash while making you much better at building your next business.


If the buyer knows that you intend to wind the thing down, it puts you at a considerable bargaining disadvantage as he knows that you are basically working to minimize your losses. I think that the last bit of /u/drunkengolfer's post is the most salient. Your buyer will be looking at this transaction through the lens of what it would cost him to acquire that many customers. You can charge a premium for bundling them together, but that's likely the extent of it.


Curious to ask, has he made an offer? Has he acquired other cleaning service books of business in the past? If that's the case, you should have no problem getting him to put out the first few offers and negotiate with himself. "How do I know what's fair here? Help me understand," etc.


Also, read this book ASAP. Calibrated questions and mirroring (tactics from the book) are very much your friend if you're going into a situation where you have a disadvantage in terms of experience and sophistication.


Fwiw, I sold a business on a similar scale (less than 100k) last year and have bought two others since.

by gordo1223   2019-07-21

A few things.


  1. I agree with /u/thebyteman. Smells like their trying to fire you.
  2. If not, and they still need/want your services, just at different terms, then both sides (you and the startup) have a good amount of leverage here and the question becomes who will be better at deploying that leverage, which brings me to my third point.
  3. My standard advice in 99% of business situations is to recommend this book. At the least, it will give a conversation toolset for figuring out what their actual intentions and reasons are as well as a roadmap for using your leverage in this situation.

edit: i will add that the fact that they have asked for this change rather than just firing you suggests #2

by js2   2019-07-12
The book “Never Split the Difference” was recommended on HN recently:

by misiti3780   2018-08-02
i just finished Never Split The Difference ( and they also tend use different pronouns (they do not use I as much, but use other pronouns more often)
by Recursing   2018-02-14
If you liked "Getting To Yes" you might also enjoy "Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It" that has a somehow different perspective on negotiation