Book Review

Finding The Black Swan | Never Split The Difference

I highly recommend Never Split the Difference for anyone in any walk of life. While undoubtedly and primarily a great book on negotiation, it does an exceptional job drilling into the crux of getting what you want out of life but addressing fundamental human psychological dispositions.  

Just finished re-reading on of my favorite business/leadership books “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss and with every read, I’m continually humbled and simultaneously inspired.

I highly recommend the book for anyone, in any walk of life. While undoubtedly and primarily a great book on negotiation, it has so much more than typical preachy hoo-ray motivational fluff pieces. Contrarily it does an exceptional job drilling into the crux of getting what you want out of life but addressing fundamental human psychological dispositions.  

Humans have an innate desire to be liked and accepted by the tribe (this was an instinctual characteristic needed to survive and propagate future generations in prehistoric times). However, those natural traits that drove survival, ironically makes the potential for conflict feel uncomfortable for many people, especially those not experienced or trained on dealing with it. Chris Voss and his team does exemplary job going into specifics of how to improve these aversions with tactics that can aid in our development etc. I won’t belabor those points as any comprehensive summary for be grossly oversimplified and completely insufficient. Check out the book!

The key elements that stood out to me this reading cycle seem to drill on:

  1. Understanding your worth and value
  2. Being more comfortable in the uncomfortable
  3. Separating conflict situations (negotiations) from the individual(s)

Anyone who knows me personally, know these are concepts that drive my life in every capacity, especially #1 and 2.

When we know our value and worth, and hold ourselves to our true standards, we’re less inclined (and capable) of accepting less; whether in a romantic partnership, a salary, or even a hostage negotiation. There is simply no splitting the difference as a win-win outcome when life or death is in play. That same life or death disposition should be taken in other areas of life not just in the most extreme cases.

People who expect more, get more.

Obviously, we must do our due diligence in research and preparations when dealing with negations or potentially contentious conversations/environments. (“When the pressure is on, you don’t rise to the occasion; you fall to the highest level of your preparations”); Yet equally, if not more important, is definitively knowing your value, worth and true non-negotiables, then sticking to them. You can (and should) be more than able to simply walk away if a situation is not for you – “No deal is better than a bad deal”.

Interestingly, many people have an aversion to conflict, yet conflict is natural and inevitable. We are all different people with often competing interests and goals. Regardless of this false idealistic “kumbyay” world where everyone lives perfect harmony without any problems, the reality is that we are in constant competition with each other in some facet or another. Fundamentally we’re constantly competing for resources (air, food, water, land), partners, a place in the tribe (modern day jobs) etc. This is not to say we’re constantly out to “get one another” either.  In fact, I believe society works best when we’re all independently working towards our own goals that are simultaneously aligned and serve the larger collective groups as well. Regardless of the goals or processes, these journeys will inevitably create conflict.

When we become more comfortable recognizing the fact the conflict is inevitable (and healthy), the better we can begin to separate conflict from the individuals/groups. This is when the fun can begin! A negotiation truly begins at No.

Personal Aside:

Merriam-Webster Dictionary | Conflict – competitive or opposing action of incompatibles: antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons)

I am very fortunate to have grown up with three men, Arvell Harris, Tyron Shaw and Luis Soto, who have continually pushed and challenged me for nearly 30 years in becoming the best version of myself in myriad of ways. We have had innumerable debates, arguments, negations etc. (at times, more aggressive and contested than ideal), but all of these bouts have made me more comfortable dealing with conflict, especially when the sandbox was doing it with people I love most. This has made dealing with conflict with others and in other areas of life much more comfortable and natural than not. It’s a continual work in progress and I’m by no means exceptional at different tactics and strategies, I’m just not afraid to negotiate, debate or seek the best outcomes. We’ve unintentionally, yet seamlessly given each other the ability to recognize and separate the conflict(s) from the person(s).  I’m eternally grateful for having learned that earlier in life which continually pays dividends today.

0 comments on “Finding The Black Swan | Never Split The Difference

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: