Never Split The Difference – Summary

Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

With negotiations becoming an increasingly integral part of the modern business landscape, it is essential that professionals arm themselves with the tools and techniques necessary to succeed in these situations.

There are a variety of books on this topic, but few are as well-regarded as Never Split The Difference. Written by former FBI negotiator Chris Voss, the book details an actionable strategy that anyone can use in any negotiation scenario.

This detailed summary of Never Split The Difference will answer all of your questions about this book and whether or not you should read it. Keep reading to find out!

What is Never Split The Difference?

In negotiations, one party wants something while the other party wants something different. The ultimate goal is to find an equitable middle ground: a way to bridge these two desires. This is often easier said than done and almost always involves some level of compromise on both sides.

The concept of never splitting the difference is a strategy that is sometimes used in these scenarios. It involves one party offering a counteroffer that is something both parties can theoretically agree on. The problem with this strategy is that it is often based on nothing more than the “gut feeling” of the person using it.

This is why Voss refers to it as a “negotiating suicide.” This is because it often leads to the person using this strategy overcompensating and coming off as desperate.

Who Should Read This Book?

This book is ideal for anyone who has ever felt uncomfortable or unsure in a negotiation. It is especially useful for those who have struggled to achieve success in previous negotiations and want to learn from their mistakes.

Never Split The Difference is written for anyone in any profession. This includes but is not limited to salespeople, lawyers, real estate agents, business owners, managers, and more. In fact, anyone who is involved in any kind of discussion that could potentially involve a negotiation could stand to learn a lot from this book.

People who desire a better understanding of the psychology behind negotiations will also find this book to be extremely beneficial.

Learning From The Mistakes In Your Past Negotiations

Before you even get to the negotiation table, you need to do your research. You need to make sure that you understand the person you are dealing with and their motivations: what they want and why they want it.

Many people skip this crucial step, which makes them more likely to make the same mistakes again and again. Negotiations are a skill that you can and should continue to hone throughout your career.

If you have struggled with negotiations in the past, you need to do some self-reflecting. Look back at your past negotiations and try to figure out where things went wrong. What were the common mistakes you made?

You don’t have to beat yourself up over these blunders. It is impossible to become a great negotiator if you don’t first admit your mistakes and try to learn from them.

7 Core Strategies for Negotiating With Confidence

Negotiation is a process of giving and taking. It’s not about who can outsmart or outlast the other person. And it’s not about playing a zero-sum game, where one person wins and the other loses. It’s a collaborative process that requires both parties to make concessions at some point in order to reach an agreement that works for both of them.

Set the Stage for Success

The first and most important step in successful negotiations is to set the stage for success. This means assessing the dynamics of your particular situation, and then deciding how you want to navigate it.

Successful negotiators also have a keen awareness of their psychological state and the state of the other person. Are you in a position of strength or weakness, given the situation? Is the other person feeling confident and secure, or defensive and fearful?

To set the stage for success, you, therefore, need to be aware of and manage the following:

  • Your goals, aspirations, and needs.
  • The other person’s goals, aspirations, and needs.
  • The context of the situation, including the power dynamics and the level of urgency.
  • The relationship between you and the other party.
  • The communication style of the other person.
  • Your psychological state and mood.

Build Trust

Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, including a negotiation. To build trust, you need to be authentic and transparent and manage your emotions and those of the other person.

When negotiating, it’s important to avoid the common trap of coming across as overly confident, aggressive, or secretive.

Trust can also be built outside of the negotiation itself by spending time getting to know the other person beforehand. If you know their goals, aspirations, frustrations, and other factors that are important to them, it’s much easier to find common ground during the negotiation.

Know What You Want (And Why)

Before you enter any negotiation, you need to know what you want and why you want it. If you don’t know what you want, or why you want it, you’re likely to end up accepting a deal that’s suboptimal or even detrimental.

A good negotiator knows their own needs, desires, and aspirations. Ideally, they also know the needs, desires, and aspirations of the other party. If not, they should at least have a good idea of what they might be.

In addition to knowing what you want and why you want it, you need to be able to communicate this to the other party. It’s not enough to just know it in your head. You must be able to effectively communicate it.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Negotiations usually start with the other party making their initial offer. You then respond with your own offer. In some cases, the other party responds to your offer with a counteroffer. This is the usual back-and-forth pattern of negotiations.

When you make your initial offer, be proactive, not reactive. Offer something that is significantly better than what you hope to get in return. If the other party counters your offer, don’t just respond with a lesser offer. Instead, use the counter-offer to continue being proactive. If you don’t have an offer to make, the other party will usually dictate the terms of the negotiation.

Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away

It’s a good idea to walk away from a negotiation if you don’t feel like you’re getting a fair deal. It’s not a sign of weakness to walk away from a negotiation. On the contrary, it’s a sign of strength.

When you walk away from a negotiation, it sends a powerful message. It’s not just that you don’t like the terms of the deal; it’s that you don’t even want to do the deal at all.

If the other party is intelligent and they’re interested in reaching a mutually beneficial deal, they will respond to your walkaway by adjusting their offer.

Create Leverage With Options and Information

One of the most effective ways to create leverage in a negotiation is to give the other party options. You can do this by making the first move and offering to do something that they want, but that they don’t expect you to do.

For example, if you’re negotiating a salary, it’s expected that you’ll make a low offer. If you make a higher offer, then it’s obvious you have options, and the other party will more likely respond to you with a higher salary offer as well.

You can also create leverage by giving the other party information. As a negotiator, you have more information than the other party. You know yourself and your situation. You know your strengths and weaknesses. You know your assets and weaknesses. You know the other party and their situation. You know what the other party is willing to do and what they’re not willing to do. You have all this information, but the other party doesn’t.

Be Flexible and Adaptive

The best negotiators are flexible and adaptive, and they use every opportunity to move the negotiation forward. They use what they know about the other party and the situation to find common ground. They make adjustments as needed in order to reach an agreement that works for both parties.

Negotiations are rarely an up-and-down process that starts at one point and ends at another point. They’re more like a seesaw. At times, the other party is at the highest point of the seesaw, while you’re at the lowest point, and vice versa.

The best negotiators are flexible and adaptive. They use every upswing to get what they want and every downswing to get what the other party wants.


Negotiations can be stressful and intimidating, but they don’t have to be. Using the strategies outlined in Never Split The Difference, you can be prepared for any scenario and walk away with the best possible outcome for your business.

If you’ve ever felt unprepared or unsure in a negotiation, it is time to read this book. It will give you the knowledge you need to be confident in any situation. And with that, you will be better equipped to walk away with the best possible outcome for your business.

Buy “Never Split The Difference” Right here.