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Evolution Bookshelf: Never Split the Difference

Two books in a row that I’m putting on my “re-read” list! Last month, it was Good People by Anthony Tjan. This month the title is Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss & Tahl Raz. Absolutely loved it!

This book was recommended to me by several of my fellow Entrepreneur’s Organization members, and it ended up being a very timely recommendation as well. At Evolution’s Spring Leadership Summit in Chicago, our Partner Company leaders, along with the Evolution team, had the pleasure of a one-day negotiation seminar led by Victoria Medvec. The trainings and strategies outlined by Ms. Medvec impacted many of our leaders, including myself. So much so, that we are headed back for more negotiation training this Fall. The art of negotiation is very powerful (both in business and personal life); however, it is a craft that must be honed.

Never Split the Difference has already had an immediate impact on my life. What amazed me the most, was the impact on my personal life. When talking with my three sons, I could not believe how well the process worked. These approaches outlined within the book and below are all wonderful tools:

  • Calmly show empathy
  • Mirror what the person with whom you are negotiating with has said
  • Label his/her emotions or situation
  • Ask “how or what” calibrated questions
  • Embrace “no”
  • Be aware of fair

I would love to figure out a way to take this to the next level.

In all cases, the more you know (about everything), the better you are positioned to negotiate. The more you know about the other company, person, history, product, personalities, etc. (list could go on forever), the better chance you have in negotiating the right deal. But how do you learn all of these wonderfully helpful things? Prepare!

The easiest part of negotiations is the preparation. As long as you have the time, there are lots of things you can do to research and study-up for a conversation or negotiation. Listening, however, is the hard part. It is a learned skill and one that takes practice. The more you get the other person/group talking, the more opportunity you have to find out what they really want.

An important thing to remember: time is on your side! A bad deal is worse than no deal. I measured as a Quick Start nine in the Kolbe Certification™ training program, which means that I like to make very quick decisions and move on. This trait rings true even when negotiating with family. Testing the tactic of consciously delaying a decision until everyone involved has had a chance to calm down and digest the negotiation at hand, really works. This has been one of my favorite takeaways.

I personally identified with Mr. Voss’s process. It permits me to retain my personal style, while enabling me to have my next move already planned. Also, for a guy like me someone who is incapable of memorizing much of anything this process just makes sense.

What are you reading? I would love to hear what’s on your list, and of course, recommendations for other negotiation techniques or processes that work for you.

Posted by: Brendan Anderson A co-founder and managing partner at Evolution, Brendan has spent the past 20 years as an investor and manager of businesses ranging from manufacturing to financial services. @Brendan_Andersn

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