By the end of the recents years, I am asking my close friends to recommend me some book that they have found interesting for them over the last months.

This time, I got to know about Never split the difference - Chriss Voss, which at first glance can be seen as pure negotiation skills, but- in my opinion it can help you become a better engineer.

Actually this does not apply to learning or career alone, but can be applied in every aspect of our life. Here is why.

Negotiation is a process of discovery, of uncovering information. We tend to confuse it with an argument, that is simply a battle between the parties involved.

Getting what you want out of life is all about getting what you want from – and with – other people

People often settle for less than they want because it seems convenient, or they get frustrated. Both behaviors are unhealthy in private and business relationships alike. Voss argues that negotiation is the only good way to navigate conflict.

If the idea of negotiating makes you anxious, never fear. All you need are the right tools, knowledge and a little practice.

Fundamentally Irrational

Yes, but with patterns.

Decision making is mostly an irrational process. For this reason, having a look to the prospect theory will be beneficial. But here are some points to consider:

  • Certainty Effect
  • Loss Aversion
  • Anchoring
    • Let the others go first
    • Establish a range

Many people believe that successful negotiating hinges on reasoning and raw intellectual process. Foundational texts of negotiation, such as Getting to Yes and Thinking, Fast and Slow, reinforce this impression. Voss claims that this approach is mistaken, because humans are, fundamentally, irrational.

Taking a different tack, Voss brands his style of negotiation “tactical empathy,” and explains that it calls for understanding your counterpart’s deeper motivations. The trick is to make your opponents feel that they came up with your desired solution, giving them the illusion of control.

Don’t treat others the way you want to be treated; treat them the way they need to be treated.

Open ended questions - The way to go

This is one of the parts of the book that I enjoyed the most. As i was mentioning, it can be applied to every aspect of our life.

Basically, in conversations try to use questions starting with:

  • What - Whats the biggest challenge that you are facing vs Do you need any help?
  • How - How does this look to you? vs Do you like it?

And ofc try to avoid ‘single thread’ questions: when, where, who and why.

With open questions we are making the other person part of the solution and this will make them put more effort in implementing it (Let’s say that we are using the Ikea effect in our conversations)

Remember that empathy is not the same as projection (thinking that the rest of the world thinks like you do).

Show You’re Listening – and Listen

Voss encourages negotiators to pay careful attention to the other party’s answers, and their nonverbal clues like body language and facial expressions. As he shows, when people feel you are really heeding what they say, they’re more likely to stay calm and listen to you. Focus on the other person. Encourage him or her to feel safe and to talk openly. Ascertain what he or she needs.

Instead of doing any thinking at all in the early goings about what you’re going to say:
Make your sole and all-encompassing focus the other person and what they have to say.

Time is a negotiator’s best friend. Never offer a quick solution. Speak slowly, calmly and softly. Keep your demeanor and delivery light and playful, not aggressive or confrontational. Instead of doing any thinking at all in the early goings about what you’re going to say – make your sole and all-encompassing focus the other person and what they have to say.

Voss recommends a few techniques you can use to show that you’re listening carefully:

  • Mirroring (repeating the last one to three words the other party said, often in question form)
  • Labeling (verbally identifying the emotion that the other party seems to be experiencing)
  • Responding (addressing the other party’s concerns in good faith).