52 Top Quotes From Never Split the Difference

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss is an engaging and practical guide to negotiation, drawing from the author's extensive experience as a former FBI hostage negotiator. Voss provides a fresh perspective on the art of negotiation, emphasizing empathy, active listening, and emotional intelligence as powerful tools for achieving successful outcomes. Through captivating anecdotes and real-life scenarios, the book reveals essential negotiation techniques, such as "mirroring" to build rapport, using calibrated questions to gather information, and leveraging tactical empathy to understand and influence the other party's mindset. Voss argues against the traditional concept of compromise and instead advocates for creating win-win solutions that address both parties' needs. Whether in business, personal relationships, or any situation requiring effective communication, Never Split the Difference equips readers with practical strategies to navigate through difficult conversations and secure favorable outcomes. With its mix of psychological insights and actionable advice, this book transforms negotiation from a competitive game into a cooperative endeavor, helping readers build stronger connections and achieve mutually beneficial agreements. (Never Split the Difference Summary).

Never Split the Difference Quotes

1. "If you approach a negotiation thinking the other guy thinks like you, you are wrong. That"s not empathy, that"s a projection." (Meaning)

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2. "He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of negotiation."

3. "The beauty of empathy is that it doesn’t demand that you agree with the other person’s ideas."

4. "Conflict brings out truth, creativity, and resolution."

5. "Negotiation is not an act of battle; it’s a process of discovery. The goal is to uncover as much information as possible."

6. "Persuasion is not about how bright or smooth or forceful you are. It’s about the other party convincing themselves that the solution you want is their own idea. So don’t beat them with logic or brute force. Ask them questions that open paths to your goals."

7. "The best way to deal with negativity is to observe it, without reaction and without judgment. Then consciously label each negative feeling and replace it with positive, compassionate, and solution-based thoughts."

8. "Mirrors work magic. Repeat the last three words (or the critical one to three words) of what someone has just said. We fear what’s different and are drawn to what’s similar."

9. "When individuals feel listened to, they tend to listen to themselves more carefully and to openly evaluate and clarify their own thoughts and feelings."

10. "When you are verbally assaulted, do not counterattack. Instead, disarm your counterpart by asking a calibrated question."

11. "Though the intensity may differ from person to person, you can be sure that everyone you meet is driven by two primal urges: the need to feel safe and secure, and the need to feel in control. If you satisfy those drives, you’re in the door."

12. "Contrary to popular opinion, listening is not a passive activity. It is the most active thing you can do."

13. "The fastest and most efficient means of establishing a quick working relationship is to acknowledge the negative and diffuse it."

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14. "The positive/playful voice: Should be your default voice. It’s the voice of an easygoing, good-natured person. Your attitude is light and encouraging. The key here is to relax and smile while you’re talking."

15. "Playing dumb is a valid negotiating technique."

16. "We fear what’s different and are drawn to what’s similar. As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. Mirroring, then, when practiced consciously, is the art of insinuating similarity."

17. "Identify your counterpart’s negotiating style. Once you know whether they are Accommodator, Assertive, or Analyst, you’ll know the correct way to approach them."

18. "By repeating back what people say, you trigger this mirroring instinct and your counterpart will inevitably elaborate on what was just said and sustain the process of connecting."

19. "Prepare, prepare, prepare. When the pressure is on, you don’t rise to the occasion; you fall to your highest level of preparation."

20. "Our culture demonizes people in movies and politics, which creates the mentality that if we only got rid of the person then everything would be okay. But this dynamic is toxic to any negotiation."

21. "Get ready to take a punch. Kick-ass negotiators usually lead with an extreme anchor to knock you off your game. If you’re not ready, you’ll flee to your maximum without a fight."

22. "The person across the table is never the problem. The unsolved issue is. So focus on the issue."

23. "Set boundaries, and learn to take a punch or punch back, without anger. The guy across the table is not the problem; the situation is."

24. "The Rule of Three is simply getting the other guy to agree to the same thing three times in the same conversation. It’s tripling the strength of whatever dynamic you’re trying to drill into at the moment."

25. "Truly effective negotiators are conscious of the verbal, paraverbal (how it’s said), and nonverbal communications that pervade negotiations and group dynamics."

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26. "The more a person feels understood, and positively affirmed in that understanding, the more likely that urge for constructive behavior will take hold."

27. "Even changing a single word when you present options—like using "not lose" instead of "keep"—can unconsciously influence the conscious choices your counterpart makes."

28. "Remember: 65, 85, 95, 100 percent. Decreasing raises and ending on nonround numbers will get your counterpart to believe that he’s squeezing you for all you’re worth when you’re really getting to the number you want."

29. "It’s really hard to repeatedly lie or fake conviction."

30. "That’s right" is better than "yes." Strive for it. Reaching "that’s right" in a negotiation creates breakthroughs."

31. "What does a good babysitter sell, really? It’s not child care exactly, but a relaxed evening. A furnace salesperson? Cozy rooms for family time. A locksmith? A feeling of security. Know the emotional drivers and you can frame the benefits of any deal in language that will resonate."

32. "The last rule of labeling is silence. Once you’ve thrown out a label, be quiet and listen."

33. "Going too fast is one of the mistakes all negotiators are prone to making. If we’re too much in a hurry, people can feel as if they’re not being heard."

34. "Don’t commit to assumptions; instead, view them as hypotheses and use the negotiation to test them rigorously. "

35. "Listening is the cheapest, yet most effective concession we can make to get there. By listening intensely, a negotiator demonstrates empathy and shows a sincere desire to better understand what the other side is experiencing."

36. "No deal is better than a bad deal."

37. "A person’s use of pronouns offers deep insights into his or her relative authority. If you’re hearing a lot of "I," "me," and "my," the real power to decide probably lies elsewhere."

38. "Don’t just pay attention to the people you’re negotiating with directly; always identify the motivations of the players "behind the table."

39. "Your response must always be expressed in the form of strong, yet empathic, limit-setting boundaries—that is, tough love—not as hatred or violence."

40. "Without a deep understanding of human psychology, without the acceptance that we are all crazy, irrational, impulsive, emotionally driven animals, all the raw intelligence and mathematical logic in the world is little help."

41. "Great negotiators are able to question the assumptions that the rest of the involved players accept on faith or in arrogance, and thus remain more emotionally open to all possibilities, and more intellectually agile to a fluid situation."

42. "Our brains don’t just process and understand the actions and words of others but their feelings and intentions too, the social meaning of their behavior and their emotions."

43. "Never be so sure of what you want that you wouldn’t take something better."

44. "Empathy is paying attention to another human being, asking what they are feeling, and making a commitment to understanding their world."

45. "Tactical empathy is understanding the feelings and mindset of another in the moment and also hearing what is behind those feelings so you increase your influence in all the moments that follow."

46. "The beauty of empathy is that it doesn’t demand that you agree with the other person’s ideas (you may well find them crazy). But by acknowledging the other person’s situation, you immediately convey that you are listening."

47. "​The reasons why a counterpart will not make an agreement with you are often more powerful than why they will make a deal, so focus first on clearing the barriers to agreement."

48. "When you preserve a person’s autonomy by clearly giving them permission to say "No" to your ideas, the emotions calm, the effectiveness of the decisions go up, and the other party can really look at your proposal."

49. "List the worst things that the other party could say about you and say them before the other person can. Performing an accusation audit in advance prepares you to head off negative dynamics before they take root."

50. "We all want to talk about the happy stuff, but remember, the faster you interrupt action in your counterpart’s amygdala, the part of the brain that generates fear, the faster you can generate feelings of safety, well-being, and trust."

51. "One of the reasons that really smart people often have trouble being negotiators—they’re so smart they think they don’t have anything to discover."

52. "Talking slowly and clearly you convey one idea: I’m in control."

― Quotes from the book Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

Who is the author of Never Split the Difference

Chris Voss is a bestselling author and a 24-year veteran of the FBI. He is one of the preeminent practitioners and professors of negotiating skills in the world. 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.

Tahl Raz is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author, he has edited and published in everything from Inc. Magazine and GQ to Harvard Business Review and the Jerusalem Post. He is a storyteller of big ideas in business, technology and the social sciences that are transforming the way we work and live.

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Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

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