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Notes on book Never Split the Difference

It’s important to smile when talking on the phone, it sounds different.

Mirror is the technique of repeating the last three words, or the last critical one. It makes the other party feel in tune with yourself and push them to continue talking.

Pause 4 seconds, especially after a mirror, to let it sink in and force a reaction. This may lead to the other party disclose more information.

Labelling is the technique of describing how the other party feels. It helps clarify the matters, adds a chance for a pause, and shows that we are listening.

Cheap negotiators want to hear yes. Good ones want to hear no, because when a party says no they feel they are in control.

Put yourself in the other party’s place and understand their situation. You’ll know what to offer, and what you can ask.

Deadlines cut two ways. The pressure to make a deal is on any party ware of a deadline. If you have a deadline let the other party know.

We are irrationality more concerned with losses than gains. Mention what the other party stands to lose.

Fair” is one of the strongest words. Use it to propose you are meeting the other party in the middle, or that they aren’t.

Frame the negotiation so that what you ask actually seems convenient. E.g. for a salary negotiation ask for a range where you wish to receive the lower bound.

Always try to get non monetary incentives. This also shows that you have reached the limit of how much money you are willing to bargain. Use towards the end.

Round numbers seem artificial and subject to bargain. We perceive precise numbers as elaborated and more sticky.

Use open ended calibrated questions like “how am I supposed to do that?“. They start with how or what, deliver them with calm, and follow by a pause. Open ended means they need more than a yes or no answer. Calibrated means you need to adjust them to a particular scenario. These questions provoke a shift in the position of the other party, or at least more information. Instead of saying “don’t go!” say “what do you hope to achieve by going?“. “Why” almost always comes across as an accusation.

It’s important to keep emotions in check at all times. Make sure to pause. Understand that negotiation is about emotions as much as rationality. Keep the goal in sight.

Listening is being in control.

A negotiator role is to establish what to do, how to do it, and make sure it’s done. For example lead from a verbal agreement to a contract, and from there to a payment.

Summarise the other party situation until you hear “that’s right”. If they say “you are right” then it means they feel you forced the plan on them. “I’ll try” indicates not enough buy-in. If you happen to hear these dive back in with calibrated questions until resolved.

Be aware of decision killers as much as decision makers. Other stakeholders are sometimes not obvious, probe to get to know them.

Self esteem, pride, images, etc are often as important as money. Remember it’s not a rational process.

Use the other party’s name but not too much. Also use your own name if possible. It all makes it more relatable.

Say “no” without using the word, with phrases like “how am I supposed to do that?”, “your offer is very generous, I’m sorry that just doesn’t work for me”, “I’m sorry but I’m afraid I can’t do that”, and “I’m sorry, no”. “No” should have a gentle downward inflection to not sound aggressive.

Going in a negotiation set limits and work within those. Never get angry, even tho sounding a bit angry can be beneficial at times, but often comes across fake. Never consider the other party the problem: the negotiation is the problem.

Follow the Ackerman model:

  1. Set your target price (your goal).
  2. Set your first offer at 65 percent of your target price.
  3. Calculate three raises of decreasing increments (to 85, 95, and 100 percent).
  4. Use lots of empathy and different ways of saying “No” to get the other side to counter before you increase your offer.
  5. When calculating the final amount, use precise, non round numbers, it gives the number credibility and weight.
  6. On your final number, throw in a non monetary item (that they probably don’t want) to show you’re at your limit.

Black swans are events you thought were impossible, and never consider.