Never split the difference

As a step in improving myself, I recently read a book about negotiation and confrontation written by Chris Voss, FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator. At first you might think what does FBI negotiation have anything to do with life? Actually, it applies to so many situations it’s not even funny. For example, when negotiating your salary with your employer or interviewer. Actually, someone used this book to increase his salary from 150k to over 300k! Once I heard that, I sat down and read this book. If someone could double their salary just from reading this book, what else could be gained from it?


From reading about different techniques to different types of negotiators, I learned that there’s a lot to learn about making a deal. And at the end of the day, the biggest lesson I pulled from this book is to listen to your counterpart and relate to them. Even if it’s as little as sharing that you went to the same school or have the same interest/hobby. I’ve always known that building rapport is important in sales and life, but this humanizes you within a negotiation. It helps you no longer look like a shark trying to take all their money.

I also learned key tactics to drop an extreme anchor and move towards your goal in decreasing increments. I.e. say you want to keep your rent the same despite an increase, or even decrease it slightly. You’re currently paying $1000 but your landlord wants to increase it to $1200 with the lease renewal. After doing your market research, you see that $1200 is on the high end of the rent range in your area. While you could find another place at $1000, you love your current place and would rather not move. After careful budgeting calculations, you find that you could afford $1050 a month tops. But you’d rather pay less.

When sitting down with your landlord, be sure to say no without saying no. And start with saying how great the place is, how wonderful they are, and how you’ve always paid rent on time. After getting that out of the way, tell them that while you’d love to stay, the new rent doesn’t fit in your budget and is high for the market. While you could easily find another place for less, you’d rather not leave such a great building and location. Drop an extreme anchor: after thorough research and looking at your budget, you can only afford $900. Wait for a response. Usually they will say no way but counter with something, hopefully lower than $1200. If they come in at your goal of $1050, don’t get too excited. You could negotiate lower still. Say something that while that is a better price, it’s still putting you in a bind. You can even pull out some paper or your phone and say you’re figuring out just how much you can afford. Using exact amounts makes it seem like you really are counting every penny. Come back with I can afford exactly $985.35. Something very exact makes it seem like you really did calculate the amount. You may be able to negotiate your rent to be even lower than what you’re currently paying!

When negotiating salary, it’s best to let the employer make the initial offer. This way you know what range they’re thinking. A lot of us are too eager to give a range, but your employer may be thinking even higher than the amount you’re thinking. If they come in lower than what you’re thinking, you will have had done your research for the job. Usually Glassdoor and/or Google are good resources to see a range of what your position should pay. If you’re aiming for the top of the range, still give a range. Be sure to be ok with getting paid at the bottom of your range. I.e. you want to make a minimum of 150k, put your range as 150-175k or something similar.

I definitely plan on utilizing these skills in my life. I’m facing a situation in my job where I have to negotiate salary, becoming a permanent employee, and maternity leave all in one. Normally I’d be worried, but feel more confident and prepared thanks to this book. My journey’s no where near done, actually it’s just starting. But I love good books that push me further.

Do you have any books you’ve read and recommend?

2 thoughts on “Never split the difference

  1. One lesson I learned about negotiating is the get someone else to do it for you. Did you know that is what is happening when you negotiate to buy a car from a dealership. The salesman is negotiating on behalf of the owner and always has to go and get the offer approved. Usually they come back saying they need more than you offered. It is possible to hire someone else to negotiate that deal for you.

    Liked by 1 person

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