Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

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Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

Category: Business and Finance
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Reviewed by Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Summary: A succinct, organised and entertaining look at how best to approach the various negotiations that rule our lives.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: May 2016
Publisher: Random House Business
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781847941480

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Negotiation is nothing more than communication with results, according to Chris Voss. Never Split the Difference is all about maximising the chances of these results being in your favour. Drawing upon years of experience as a crisis and kidnapping negotiator, Voss has developed a set of highly honed tools, field-tested in numerous high-stakes negotiation situations involving the FBI. In contrast to the widely accepted paradigm for negotiation taught in schools and universities, this toolkit throws aside complex game theory and dense mathematical considerations in favour of an approach that places emotional intelligence, empathy and subtle communication techniques at its core. The focus is on developing an understanding of the thought process of individuals during any given discussion. Effective communication not only helps derive these insights, but allows them to be used to move a negotiation in the direction you want it to go, while simultaneously resolving a discussion with minimal conflict.

I am notoriously bad at picking up non-fiction for leisure reading, and despite the lucrative titles that adorn the covers of various business/self-help books, I haven't read more than a handful of such titles. So what made me pick out Never Split the Difference? Negotiation isn't just something that is exclusively applicable to business transactions. It underlies all sorts of interactions and communications that occur on an everyday basis, and an enhanced ability to negotiate has the potential to provide a powerful competitive edge in both professional and personal life. Furthermore, going into clinical school, I'm now firmly on a path where effective communication is fundamental to my everyday work. The idea of a negotiation book that focuses on empathy and emotional understanding really resonated with my nascent knowledge and experiences of communication in the clinical setting.

Voss describes how to carry out productive negotiations through a series of simple but profound techniques. Each one is backed-up by numerous examples of successful use of the techniques during hostage situations, as well as more mundane day-to-day discussions, conveying both the strength and versatility of such approaches. Setting up each chapter through the context of an actual hostage negotiation, which the author was personally involved in, works really well. It is something that really sets the book apart, with each chapter generating a sense of tension and excitement. The fascinating case studies reinforce Voss' vast experience and credentials in the subject matter, lending further credence to the lessons that he derives from each of them, while also making the techniques that he teaches all the more memorable. Even though some of the techniques seem obvious and fundamental, and are (hopefully) already a part of how I negotiate, seeing a definition and explanation being put to these aspects of my communication that I never really thought about, was in itself a fascinating experience.

The writing is snappy and efficient, but also structured in a way that makes the learning process feel natural and fluid. There is a very clear and effective format, with each chapter introducing a new technique while reinforcing aforementioned ones, with a handy summary at the end. The final section brings all of the concepts and principles together, with an eye to preparing readers for the practical application of all the principles in any future negotiation situation. I'll definitely need another read through to really familiarise myself with the practical techniques and methods, but unlike the dread that accompanies the necessity of re-reading a typical textbook, this is something I'm rather looking forward to.

Although the book does occasionally feel a bit anecdotal, many of the points that Voss makes are not only concordant with some of the lessons I've learnt about communicating with patients, they lend insight into numerous observations and personal experiences of negotiation that I've had in the past. So, while I can't further assess the value of the lessons learnt from the book until I actually get the chance to try some of them out, I can't help but feel optimistic.

My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury, mentioned as a core text in the field by Voss, comes highly recommended from The Bookbag as an easy, accessible read crammed full of useful tips for negotiation. Meanwhile, How to Persuade and Influence People by Philip Hesketh is another business book with a similarly accessible and chatty writing style, that emphasises the functionality of business skills in everyday communication.

Booklists.jpg Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz is in the Top Ten Non-Fiction Books of 2016.

Buy Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz at Amazon.com.


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