April 12, 2021
Negotiation is an incredibly valuable life skill. Here’s an excerpt from my favourite book on negotiation (more about the book below):
While you might be curious how FBI negotiators get some of the world’s toughest bad guys to give up their hostages, you could be excused for wondering what hostage negotiation has to do with your life. Happily, very few people are ever forced to deal with Islamist terrorists who’ve kidnapped their loved ones.
But allow me to let you in on a secret: Life is negotiation.
The majority of the interactions we have at work and at home are negotiations that boil down to the expression of a simple, animalistic urge: I want.
“I want you to free the hostages,” is a very relevant one to this book, of course.
But so is:
“I want you to accept that $1 million contract.”
“I want to pay $20,000 for that car.”
“I want you to give me a 10 percent raise.”
“I want you to go to sleep at 9 p.m.”
Negotiation serves two distinct, vital life functions—information gathering and behavior influencing—and includes almost any interaction where each party wants something from the other side. Your career, your finances, your reputation, your love life, even the fate of your kids—at some point all of these hinge on your ability to negotiate.
Negotiation as you’ll learn it here is nothing more than communication with results. Getting what you want out of life is all about getting what you want from—and with—other people. Conflict between two parties is inevitable in all relationships. So it’s useful—crucial, even—to know how to engage in that conflict to get what you want without inflicting damage.
To that end, this post contains some resources on negotiation that I’ve found useful.
The above excerpt is from the book Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator. I’ve found its teachings broadly applicable: the book has helped me with securing better compensation in jobs/internship offers, improved the way I approach people (even strangers) for help, and changed the way I attempt to convince people. It’s even made me a better listener, and a more empathetic individual. I can’t recommend it enough.
Since Never Split the Difference is like a cookbook 1, i.e you actually need to implement what’s in it to absorb the content, I suggest either finding ways to apply the techniques in your daily life, or reading it with other people. I personally read it with a friend, and we met every week to simulate scenarios and practice what we had read.
There are also a number of great blog posts on the subject of negotiation. Here are some that I’ve used in the past for job/internship offer negotiations, and which I continue to refer to. A bit of a disclaimer: these resources are mostly geared towards software engineers negotiating job offers with technology companies. The rules of the game might be different for your specific case.
What are some resources you’ve found useful for sharpening your negotiation skills? Feel free to add them in the comments or email me with them! I’d love to add them to this post.