Book review of Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss

Never Split The Difference


“Never Split The Difference” is a groundbreaking book by Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator, that dives into the world of negotiation. Voss draws on his extensive experience in high-stakes negotiations to present a new approach to negotiating - one that can be applied not just to hostage situations but to every aspect of life. Unlike traditional negotiation tactics, which often involve compromise, Voss advocates for a more empathetic and understanding approach, emphasizing the importance of listening, emotional intelligence, and tactical empathy.


The Power of Tactical Empathy

Voss introduces the concept of tactical empathy, which is the ability to recognize the perspective and emotions of the other party and use that understanding to influence the negotiation outcome. He argues that by showing empathy, negotiators can establish a connection and trust, making it easier to find solutions that satisfy all parties.

The Importance of Active Listening

Active listening is another central theme of the book. Voss emphasizes the importance of really listening to what the other party is saying, which involves paying attention to their words, tone, and body language. By doing so, negotiators can pick up on the underlying concerns and motivations, which is crucial for finding common ground.

The Use of Calibrated Questions

Voss also highlights the importance of asking calibrated questions - open-ended questions that start with “how” or “what.” These questions put the other party in a problem-solving mode and make them part of the solution, which can lead to more favorable outcomes for both sides.


One of the most compelling examples in the book involves Voss’s negotiation with bank robbers who had taken hostages. By using tactical empathy and active listening, he was able to understand the robbers’ motivations and ultimately convince them to surrender without harm to the hostages.

Another example is from the business world, where Voss applied his negotiation techniques to help a company secure a better deal with a supplier. By asking calibrated questions and demonstrating an understanding of the supplier’s challenges, the company was able to negotiate a deal that was beneficial for both parties.


“Never Split The Difference” challenges conventional negotiation tactics and offers a new perspective that prioritizes understanding and empathy. Voss’s methods are not only effective in high-stakes situations but can also be applied in everyday life, whether it’s negotiating a salary increase or resolving a conflict with a family member. The book is a must-read for anyone looking to improve their negotiation skills and achieve better outcomes in both personal and professional settings.