Never Split the Difference Negotiation One Sheet

As I mentioned before, I loved Chris Voss’s book “Never Split the Difference“. So much of life is a negotiation. As an agile coach, I’m trying to get adults to change ingrained behavior. As a parent, I’m trying to influence my child to change his behavior. As a customer, I want to get better service, better products. In large software companies, most managers face a dilemma of influencing other teams to help them deliver the functionality they need so they can get their job done. I’ve found Chris’ 1 sheet helpful to get in the right frame of mind before I go into a negotiation. Specifically, writing down the goal, what I want to achieve and calibrated questions are very helpful.

Negotiation One Sheet

Chris Voss

  1. What are my specific goals for this negotiation?
    • Think through best/worst-case scenarios but only write down a specific goal that represents the best case.
    • Set an optimistic but reasonable goal and define it clearly.
    • Write it down. 
    • Discuss your goal with a colleague (this makes it harder to wimp out). 
    • Carry the written goal into the negotiation.
  2. What is a summary of facts up till now? 
    • Summarize and write out in just a couple of sentences the known facts that have led up to the negotiation. So you can be ready to respond with tactical empathy with your counterpart
    • Why are you there? 
    • What do you want? 
    • What do they want? 
    • Why?
  3. Labels, Accusation Audit
    • Prepare 3-5 labels that summarize how the counterpart feels about these facts. Anticipate how your counterpart feels about these facts you’ve just summarized.
    • It seems like _________ is valuable to you. 
    • It seems like you don’t like _________. 
    • It seems like you value __________. 
    • It seems like _________ makes it easier. 
    • It seems like you’re reluctant to _________.
  4. Calibrated Questions: 
    • Prepare 3-5 calibrated Questions to reveal value to you and your counterpart and identify and overcome potential Deal Killers. Effective negotiators look past their counterparts’ stated positions (what the party demands) and delve into their underlying motivations (what is making them want what they want).
    • What are we trying to accomplish? 
    • How is that worthwhile? 
    • What’s the core issue here? 
    • How does that affect things? 
    • What’s the biggest challenge you face? 
    • How does this fit into what the objective is?
    • How can I help to make this better for us? 
    • How would you like me to proceed? 
    • What is it that brought us into this situation? 
    • ?How can we solve this problem? 
    • What’s the objective? / What are we trying to accomplish here? 
    • And the Mother of all questions: “How am I supposed to do that?”
  5. Questions to identify behind the table deal killers
    • When the decision is done by committee, you want to get the support of that committee
    • How does this affect the rest of your team? 
    • How onboard are the people not on this call? 
    • What do your colleagues see as their main challenges in this area?
  6. Questions to identify and diffuse deal killing issues
    • People you are negotiating with are comfortable with the way things are. Change might look like they aren’t doing their job. How do you make them look good in the face of such change?
    • Pick 2-3 of these sets of question and ask together to get information that will help you identify the real issue at hand
    • What are we up against here? 
    • What is the biggest challenge you face? 
    • How does making a deal with us affect things? 
    • What happens if you do nothing? 
    • What does doing nothing cost you?
    • How does making this deal resonate with what your company prides itself on?
  7. Noncash offers
    • Prepare a list of noncash items possessed by your counterpart that would be valuable.
    • Ask yourself “What could they give that would almost get us to do it for free?”

Voss, Chris. Never Split the Difference (p. 258). Harper Business. Kindle Edition. 

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