ACE Consulting

Negotiating Do's and Don’t

Here’s some professional advice on how to negotiate. A few years ago, I read “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It” by Chris Voss. Chris is a 24-year veteran of the FBI and one of the world’s most preeminent practitioners and professors of negotiating skills. He is the founder and principal of The Black Swan Group, a consulting firm that provides training and advises Fortune 500 companies through complex negotiations. The story Chris shares are profound and worth a read. Here are some key points I took from the book:

  1. Ask questions with more than a “Yes” or “No” answer. Need to collect inf. There is no better way to do it is to let them talk while you listen.
  2. Understand that emotions dictate direction. We must factor that into our negotiations.
  3. Listen, not just hear. Look for the tone, background, emotions, etc…
  4. Answer with Open-Ended questions. How am I supposed to do that? What do you want?
  5. Understand that we assume. Whether we intend to or not. We need to extract that tendency from the questions we ask and how we interpret the results.
  6. Confirm what was sent.
  7. Use the time to your advantage.
  8. Use a listening technique. Write notes. Draw a picture in your head
  9. It is not an ego game. It is a game of getting the desired outcome.
  10. Information is power. Know who they are, and their story, and use that to relate.
  11. Understand the difference between empathy and sympathy. Use it to your advantage.
  12. Consider the cost and your objective. If there is no need to fight, then do not fight. You may have to check your ego.
  13. Come out and label the emotion, rather than tap dance around it.
  14. Be a listener. If you have to play dumb to get them to communicate, do so.
  15. “Tactical Empathy” is the key. Use the late-night DJ voice, label their emotions, and deal with them. You may be afraid of the results, but how probable is it that the results will be negative.
  16. Maintaining your temperament is key. If you lose your temper, you lose.
  17. Contrary to the more common negotiating techniques. Get the no, so you know how to deal with it.
  18. Cut to the “No”. That starts the negotiation.
  19. Known as the “Socratic Method” of leading someone to a conclusion.
  20. No is protection. No is not bad. When you hear no you know the negotiations are leading down the right road.
  21. The sooner, the better, since that is where negotiations start.

Give it a read. It will change the way you look at negotiations. Whether it is with your spouse or a project manager. As a practitioner, I cannot tell you how valuable Mr. Voss’ work has been to me.

Voss, C. (2016). Never split the difference: negotiating as if your life depended on it. First edition. New York: HarperBusiness, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.



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