"After all, the engineers only needed to refuse to fix anything, and modern industry would grind to a halt." -Michael Lewis

Enable Massive Growth

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss: Summary In Quotes

Oct 2018

Never Split the Difference, by Chris Voss, is a book about how to negotiate. As opposed to theoreticians in a classroom, Chris Voss spent a great part of his life negotiating in the real world, and with the highest stakes imaginable, as an FBI hostage negotiator.

"How am I supposed to do that, when I don't even know my son is still alive?"
"Life is negotiation. The majority of the interactions we have at work and at home are negotiations that boil down to the expression of a simple animalistic urge: I want."
"Assumptions blind, hypotheses guide."
"Going too fast is one of the mistakes all negotiators are prone to making."
"The other group of waiters mirrored their customers simply by repeating their orders back to them... The average tip of the waiters who mirrored was 70 percent more than of those who used positive reinforcement."
"An early yes is often just a cheap, counterfeit dodge."
"Being pushed for yes makes other people feel defensive."
"Deadlines are the Boogeyman of negotiation--almost exclusively self inflicted figments of our imagination, unnecessarily unsettling us for no good reason."
"No deal is better than a bad deal."
"In a tough negotiation, it's not enough to show the other party that you can deliver the thing they want. To get real leverage, you have to persuade them that they have something concrete to lose if the deal falls through."
"The secret to gaining the upper hand in a negotiation is to give the other side the illusion of control"
"...you can use what and how to calibrate nearly any question. 'Does this look like something you would like' can become 'how does this look to you?' Or 'what about this works for you?' You can even ask 'what about this doesn't work for you?'"
"Don't try to force your opponent to admit that you are right. Aggressive confrontation is the enemy of constructive negotiation."
"Yes is nothing without how."
"If there's one way to put off your counterpart, it's by implying that disagreeing with you is 'unfair.'"
"A person's use of pronouns offers deep insights into his or her level of relative authority. If you're hearing a lot of 'I,' 'me,' and 'my,' the real power to decide probably lies elsewhere. Picking up a lot of 'we,' 'they,' and 'them,' it's more likely you're directly dealing with a savvy decision maker, keeping his options open."
"If the other side pushes you to go first, wriggle from his group. Instead of naming a price, allude to an incredibly high number that someone else might charge... (E.g.) well, if you go to Harvard business school, they're going to charge you 2500 dollars per day per student."
"When the pressure is on, you don't rise to the occasion--you fall to your highest level of preparation."
"Most people aren't able to articulate the information you want. The world didn't tell Steve jobs that it wanted an iPad, he uncovered our need (that black swan), without us knowing the information was there."
"To get leverage, you have to persuade your counterpart that they have something real to lose if the deal falls through."
"Digging into worldviews inherently implies moving beyond the negotiation table and into the life, emotional and otherwise, of your counterpart. That's where black swans live."
"Remember, never be so sure of what you want that you would never take something better."

Nick Fisher is a software engineer in the Pacific Northwest. He focuses on building highly scalable and maintainable backend systems.