The book is written by Chris Vos, a formal FPI hostage negotiator. That’s why the book titled “Never Split the Difference” since in a hostage situation, you cannot say: give me 2 hostages, you can have the rest.

I remember the negotiation class I took as a first year business school student. I forgot most of the concepts except one: BATNA, best alternative to a negotiated agreement. In essence, this is the plan B, and how good your plan B gives you the power in negotiation. That’s why when people negotiating for their salary, they always try to secure a few more offers or just buff it.

Chris Vos promotes another approach. His method (though I only read the first few chapters) focuses more on the “human” part in negotiation, recognizes that human is not completely logical. I am quite interested in such an idea because from my personal experience, I start to believe human has a lot of biases, and emotion is an important factor in our decision making process. It is not purely logical. Adding psychological factors in existing theories tend to add value when it involves human beings, such as adding psychological factor in economics.

There is another important keywords in the book title: “as if your life depended on it.” The biggest problem for me or probably many of us is that we are afraid of negotiations. We feel embarrassed to ask for what we want, for example, a lower price, higher salary, or where to go for a holiday. We try to be a good guy and avoid asking since we are afraid of upsetting the other person or having debates. In fact, there is nothing to be afraid of. Negotiation or just asking for what we want is not a battle, not an argument. It is a way of communication and building rapport to get people to talk and think together.

It is definitely easier said than done. But I think negotiation is such an important skills that I should master.

Leave a Reply