"Never split the difference" book notes

Last updated 29.5.2022

Tactical listening, spreading empathy

Be a mirror, copy each other to be comfy to each other to build up trust. Mirroring is mainly the body language. A mirror is to repeat the words the other just said. Simple but effective.

Mirror training is like a Jedi training. Simple but effective. A mirror needs space. Be silent after "you want this?"

Mindset of discovery

Try to have multiple realities in your mind and use facts to distinguish between the real and the false ones.

Try: put a label on someone's emotion and then be silent. Wait the other to reveal himself. "You seem unhappy about this?"

More tips

"No" starts the conversation

When the opponent is starting with a "no" it makes him feel in control and comfortable. That's why he has to start with "no".

Get a "That's right" when negotiate. Don't get a "you're right". You can summarize the opponent to get a "that's right".


Win-win is a naive approach when you encounter the win-lose counterpart but be always cooperative. Don't compromise and don't split the difference. We don't compromise because it's right, we do it because it is easy. You have to embrace the hard stuff, that's there the great deals are.

On Deadlines

Analyse the opponent

The person on the other side is never the issue, the problem is the issue. Keep this in mind to avoid emotional issues with the person and focus on the Problem not the Person. The bond is very important, never create an enemy.

Use different ways of saying no

I had positive experiences with the building and I would be sad for the landlord to loose a good tenant. "I had payed my rent always in time. I am looking for a win-win agreement between us. Pulling out the research, other neighbors offer much lower prices even your building is better location and services how can I effort 200 more".... Then put an extreme anker.

You always have to embrace thoughtful confrontation for good negotiation and for life. Don't avoid honest clear conflict. It will give you the best deals. Compromises are mostly bad deals for both sides. Most people don't negotiate a win-win but a win-lose. Know the best and the worst outcome and know what is acceptable for you.

Calibrated question

Calibrated questions. Give the opponent the sense of power. Ask open how questions, to get the opponent solve your problem and move him into your direction. Calibrated questions are the best tools. Summarize everything, and then ask "how I am supposed to do that?". Asking for help this way with a calibrated question is a powerful tool for joint problem solving

Being calm and respectful is essential. Without control of your emotions it won't work. The counterpart will have no idea how constraint they are with your question. Avoid questions which get a yes or short answers. Don't use "why?".

Counterparts are more involved if these are their solutions. The counterpart has to answer with "that's right", not with "you are right". He has to own the problem. If not, then add more why questions.

Prepare 3 to 5 calibrated questions for your counterpart. Be curious what is really motivating the other side. You can get out the "Black Swan".

The black swan

What we don't know can break our deal. By uncovering it can bring us unexpected success... In this world you get what you ask for, but you have to learn to ask correctly. Reveal the black swan by asking questions.


Establish a range, at top places like corp. I get... (e.g. remote London on project basis). Set a high range and not a number. Also check on LinkedIn premium for the salaries.

Slow.... it.... down....

More notes