Never Split the Difference … by Chris Voss

As with many of my deckchair reads during 2020, Never Split the Difference was  recommended by Mark Smith during the 90 Day Mentoring Challenge.  The books author, Chris Voss, is a former FBI Hostage Negotiator.  In his book Chris describes how to gain and use some of the negotiating skills he learned in that role.

So persuade me

To be honest, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of reading this book, despite Mark’s recommendation.  I really couldn’t understand what I could possibly have in common with a smart talking former FBI agent.  Even less what he might be able to teach me given I wasn’t expecting to be in a hostage situation any time soon. However, I thought it might be worth checking this Chris Voss guy out.  So I decided to watch his TEDx Talk … figuring 12 minutes might save me 12 days in the long run.

4 hostage negotiators walk into a bar ...

At first sight, Chris Voss doesn’t look like your typical FBI Agent.  Neither does he speak like one.  He uses his distinctive gravelly voice to perfect effect in his short TEDx talk.  Chris describes some of the most serious and most comical situations in the same off the cuff manner to draw similarities between them.  He goes on to describe how his techniques can be used in many of these diverse situations.  If you haven’t yet seen the TEDx Talk, it is a great introduction to the book, and definitely 12 minutes well spent. 

Even terrorists are humans

In Never Split the Difference, Chris explains why FBI techniques such as ‘mirroring’ work on us all.  This is because they follow universal human nature rules.

One of the key concepts covered by this book is that of ‘Tactical Empathy’. Scientific studies show that we make our decisions based on what we care about.  So if we know what someone cares about we can influence their decisions.  That could be a terrorist or a family member.  Contrary to my original belief, this really could apply to me!

Never Split the Difference is a great book.  Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down.  Never mind 12 days, I read it in under 12 hours.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone considering negotiating with people at any time in their life.

Image of Never Split the Difference book by Chris Voss
Deckchair Reads 8/10