Editor's Perspective

2 minutes reading time (411 words)

Never Split the Difference

Negotiation is a significant part of your job as a fleet professional. You have to negotiate new supplier contracts, the fleet budget with senior management and job offers with top talent.

So, if you haven’t read “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It” by former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss, I recommend it.

I first listened to the book on Audible and got so much out of it that I bought the hard copy for a deeper dive. Here are my three biggest takeaways.

1. Say no without saying no.
When presented with an unacceptable offer, resist the urge to say, “No way! That’s not going to happen!” An outright rejection like this typically will shut down the negotiation.

Instead, Voss recommends asking what he calls “calibrated questions” like these to keep the conversation moving toward an agreement:

  • How am I supposed to do that?
  • What about this number is important to you?
  • How can we solve this problem?

Calibrated questions invite your counterpart to collaborate with you to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution.

2. Get to “That’s right” with tactical empathy.
According to Voss, the key to unlocking a stalled negotiation is to deploy tactical empathy, where you’re able to understand and articulate what the other party is feeling in a way that prompts them to say, “That’s right!”

Those words signal a breakthrough moment in the negotiation because your counterpart feels like you “get it” – and now they'll begin to open up to you.

Voss defines tactical empathy as “understanding the feelings and mindset of another in the moment and also hearing what is behind those feelings so you increase your influence in all the moments that follow. It’s bringing our attention to both the emotional obstacles and the potential pathways to getting an agreement done. It’s emotional intelligence on steroids.”

3. Beware of extreme anchors.
Anchoring is a strategy for setting a frame of reference in negotiation. So, if your counterpart opens with an outrageously high or low number, watch out. You’re vulnerable to that extreme figure getting anchored into your mind, where it skews your frame of reference for arriving at a “reasonable” price. As a result, you end up paying more or getting less than if that anchor never existed.

Voss describes anchoring as “bending reality.” So, whenever possible, be the one bending the other person’s reality – and resist their attempt to bend yours.

Sean M. Lyden

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Wednesday, 27 May 2020

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