The blog ofJonathan Pepin

Notes from Never Split The Difference [raw]


“How am I supposed to do that?”

one of the FBI’s most potent negotiating tools: the open-ended question.

While I wasn’t actually saying “No,” the questions I kept asking sounded like it. They seemed to insinuate that the other side was being dishonest and unfair. And that was enough to make them falter and negotiate with themselves.

no matter how we dress up our negotiations in mathematical theories, we are always an animal, always acting and reacting first and foremost from our deeply held but mostly invisible and inchoate fears, needs, perceptions, and desires.

Man, he wrote, has two systems of thought: System 1, our animal mind, is fast, instinctive, and emotional; System 2 is slow, deliberative, and logical. And System 1 is far more influential. In fact, it guides and steers our rational thoughts.

if you know how to affect your counterpart’s System 1 thinking, his inarticulate feelings, by how you frame and deliver your questions and statements, then you can guide his System 2 rationality and therefore modify his responses.

What were needed were simple psychological tactics and strategies that worked in the field to calm people down, establish rapport, gain trust, elicit the verbalization of needs, and persuade the other guy of our empathy.

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.

Negotiation as you’ll learn it here is nothing more than communication with results.

The first step to achieving a mastery of daily negotiation is to get over your aversion to negotiating.

Good negotiators, going in, know they have to be ready for possible surprises; great negotiators aim to use their skills to reveal the surprises they are certain exist.

You should engage the process with a mindset of discovery. Your goal at the outset is to extract and observe as much information as possible.

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.

be aware of a counterpart’s overuse of personal pronouns—we/they or me/I. The less important he makes himself, the more important he probably is (and vice versa).

Most people approach a negotiation so preoccupied by the arguments that support their position that they are unable to listen attentively.

When people are in a positive frame of mind, they think more quickly, and are more likely to collaborate and problem-solve

It’s just four simple steps:

Don’t commit to assumptions; instead, view them as hypotheses

To quiet the voices in your head, make your sole and all-encompassing focus the other person and what they have to say.

Slow. It. Down. Going too fast is one of the mistakes all negotiators are prone to making.

Put a smile on your face.

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. Mirroring is the art of insinuating similarity, which facilitates bonding.

empathy is “the ability to recognize the perspective of a counterpart, and the vocalization of that recognition.”

Labeling is a way of validating someone’s emotion by acknowledging it. Give someone’s emotion a name and you show you identify with how that person feels.

labels almost always begin with roughly the same words: It seems like . . . It sounds like . . . It looks like .

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

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.

listing every terrible thing your counterpart could say about you, in what I call an accusation audit.

by acknowledging the other person’s situation, you immediately convey that you are listening. And once they know that you are listening, they may tell you something that you can use.

Pause. After you label a barrier or mirror a statement, let it sink in.

Label your counterpart’s fears to diffuse their power.

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.

Great negotiators seek “No” because they know that’s often when the real negotiation begins.

In fact, your invitation for the other side to say “No” has an amazing power to bring down barriers and allow for beneficial communication.

Then, after pausing, ask solution-based questions or simply label their effect: “What about this doesn’t work for you?” “What would you need to make it work?”

Saying “No” gives the speaker the feeling of safety, security, and control.

No” allows the real issues to be brought forth;

No” slows things down so that people can freely embrace their decisions

No” moves everyone’s efforts forward.

And while it may sound contradictory, the way to get there is by getting the other party to disagree, to draw their own boundaries, to define their desires as a function of what they do not want.

Break the habit of attempting to get people to say “yes.” Being pushed for “yes” makes people defensive.

Sometimes the only way to get your counterpart to listen and engage with you is by forcing them into a “No.”

If a potential business partner is ignoring you, contact them with a clear and concise “No”-oriented question that suggests that you are ready to walk away. “Have you given up on this project?” works wonders.

Use a summary to trigger a “that’s right.” The building blocks of a good summary are a label combined with paraphrasing. Identify, rearticulate, and emotionally affirm “the world according to .

while we may use logic to reason ourselves toward a decision, the actual decision making is governed by emotion.

As a negotiator, you should strive for a reputation of being fair.

prospect theory describes how people choose between options that involve risk, like in a negotiation. The theory argues that people are drawn to sure things over probabilities, even when the probability is a better choice.

To get real leverage, you have to persuade them that they have something concrete to lose if the deal falls through.

All negotiations are defined by a network of subterranean desires and needs.

Splitting the difference is wearing one black and one brown shoe, so don’t compromise.

Approaching deadlines entice people to rush the negotiating process and do impulsive things that are against their best interests.

When your counterpart drops the F-bomb, don’t get suckered into a concession. Instead, ask them to explain how you’re mistreating them.

You can bend your counterpart’s reality by anchoring his starting point. Before you make an offer, emotionally anchor them by saying how bad it will be.

People will take more risks to avoid a loss than to realize a gain.

the secret to gaining the upper hand in a negotiation is giving the other side the illusion of control.

“unbelief,” which is active resistance to what the other side is saying, complete rejection. That’s where the two parties in a negotiation usually start.

if you can get the other side to drop their unbelief, you can slowly work them to your point of view on the back of their energy,

Giving your counterpart the illusion of control by asking calibrated questions—by asking for help—is one of the most powerful tools for suspending unbelief.

one of the greatest-of-all-time calibrated questions: “How am I supposed to do that?” The critical part of this approach is that you really are asking for help and your delivery must convey that.

Like the softening words and phrases “perhaps,” “maybe,” “I think,” and “it seems,” the calibrated open-ended question takes the aggression out of a confrontational statement or close-ended request that might otherwise anger your counterpart.

But calibrated questions are not just random requests for comment. They have a direction: once you figure out where you want a conversation to go, you have to design the questions that will ease the conversation in that direction while letting the other guy think it’s his choice to take you there.

First off, calibrated questions avoid verbs or words like “can,” “is,” “are,” “do,” or “does.” These are closed-ended questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or a “no.”

it’s best to start with “what,” “how,” and sometimes “why.” Nothing else.

“Does this look like something you would like?” can become “How does this look to you?” or “What about this works for you?”

Even something as harsh as “Why did you do it?” can be calibrated to “What caused you to do it?” which takes away the emotion and makes the question less accusatory.

Who has control in a conversation, the guy listening or the guy talking? The listener, of course. That’s because the talker is revealing information while the listener, if he’s trained well, is directing the conversation toward his own goals. He’s harnessing the talker’s energy for his own ends.

Avoid questions that can be answered with “Yes” or tiny pieces of information.

“Why” is always an accusation, in any language.

Calibrate your questions to point your counterpart toward solving your problem.

Bite your tongue. When you’re attacked in a negotiation, pause and avoid angry emotional reactions.

The trick to “How” questions is that, correctly used, they are gentle and graceful ways to say “No” and guide your counterpart to develop a better solution—your solution.

A gentle How/No invites collaboration and leaves your counterpart with a feeling of having been treated with respect.

When implementation happens by committee, the support of that committee is key. You always have to identify and unearth their motivations, even if you haven’t yet identified each individual on that committee. That can be easy as asking a few calibrated questions, like “How does this affect the rest of your team?” or “How on board are the people not on this call?” or simply “What do your colleagues see as their main challenges in this area?”

the 7-38-55 rule. That is, only 7 percent of a message is based on the words while 38 percent comes from the tone of voice and 55 percent from the speaker’s body language and face.

the best way to get your counterparts to lower their demands is to say “No” using “How” questions.

you can usually express “No” four times before actually saying the word.

“How am I supposed to do that?”

After that, some version of “Your offer is very generous, I’m sorry, that just doesn’t work for me” is an elegant second way to say “No.”

Then you can use something like “I’m sorry but I’m afraid I just can’t do that.” It’s a little more direct, and the “can’t do that” does great double duty.

“I’m sorry, no” is a slightly more succinct version for the fourth “No.” If delivered gently, it barely sounds negative at all.

Don’t just pay attention to the people you’re negotiating with directly;

You can do so by asking how a deal will affect everybody else and how on board they are.

Is the “Yes” real or counterfeit? Test it with the Rule of Three: use calibrated questions, summaries, and labels to get your counterpart to reaffirm their agreement at least three times.

■    A person’s use of pronouns offers deep insights into his or her relative authority.

Use your own name to make yourself a real person to the other side

Negotiation style is a crucial variable in bargaining.

You and your counterpart have habits of mind and behavior, and once you identify them you can leverage them in a strategic manner.

Some people are Accommodators; others—like me—are basically Assertive; and the rest are data-loving Analysts.

there is one basic truth about a successful bargaining style: To be good, you have to learn to be yourself at the bargaining table. To be great you have to add to your strengths, not replace them.

when someone puts out a ridiculous offer, one that really pisses you off, take a deep breath, allow little anger, and channel it—at the proposal, not the person—and say, “I don’t see how that would ever work.” Such well-timed offense-taking—known as “strategic umbrage”—can wake your counterpart to the problem.

The Ackerman model is an offer-counteroffer method,

1 Set your target price (your goal).
2 Set your first offer at 65 percent of your target price.
3 Calculate three raises of decreasing increments (to 85, 95, and 100 percent).
4 Use lots of empathy and different ways of saying “No” to get the other side to counter before you increase your offer.
5 When calculating the final amount, use precise, nonround numbers like, say, $37,893 rather than $38,000. It gives the number credibility and weight.
6 On your final number, throw in a nonmonetary item (that they probably don’t want) to show you’re at your limit.

Identify your counterpart’s negotiating style.

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

So design an ambitious but legitimate goal and then game out the labels, calibrated questions, and responses you’ll use to get there.

Get ready to take a punch. Kick-ass negotiators usually lead with an extreme anchor

Set boundaries, and learn to take a punch or punch back, without anger.

Prepare an Ackerman plan. Before you head into the weeds of bargaining, you’ll need a plan of extreme anchor, calibrated questions, and well-defined offers. Remember: 65, 85, 95, 100 percent.

Black Swan theory tells us that things happen that were previously thought to be impossible—or never thought of at all.

Black Swans are events or pieces of knowledge that sit outside our regular expectations and therefore cannot be predicted.

in every negotiation each side is in possession of at least three Black Swans, three pieces of information that, were they to be discovered by the other side, would change everything.

Black Swans are leverage multipliers.

leverage is the ability to inflict loss and withhold gain.

To get leverage, you have to persuade your counterpart that they have something real to lose if the deal falls through.

People trust those who are in their in-group. Belonging is a primal instinct. And if you can trigger that instinct, that sense that, “Oh, we see the world the same way,” then you immediately gain influence.

Let what you know—your known knowns—guide you but not blind you.

Review everything you hear from your counterpart. You will not hear everything the first time, so double-check.

Exploit the similarity principle. People are more apt to concede to someone they share a cultural similarity with,