It's easy to tell people to ask for more: Demand what you deserve. Push until the other person gives you what you are due.
And there is wisdom in some of that — you rarely get what you don't ask for. But in practical terms, it's incredibly difficult to do. I don't see myself as a natural negotiator or someone who can comfortably push others until they bend. In my mind, a great negotiator is something of a bully. A strong person who intimidates and shoves their way into a "yes" is the person who excels in these scenarios. Since I'm not that person, I assume I'm at a natural disadvantage.
So, when I heard about Chris Voss, the former lead hostage negotiator for the FBI, who had a method that challenged all of my stereotypes about what "good negotiation" looked like, I suspected there might be a different path forward for me. Voss' book, Never Split The Difference, is a manual for getting your way through empathy rather than aggression.
I invited Voss to R29 to speak to the team about his negotiation tactics, and he shared that in the seminars he teaches, women almost always take to his method faster and better than men do. His theory about why: "Women are socialised — quote socialised — to be a little more emotional-intelligence aware, and also to lean a little more towards sympathy. And it’s a shorter step to empathy from sympathy if you’ve already got a little bit of a grounding in emotional intelligence than if you haven’t."
There are some generalisations underlying that idea, but it certainly ran true to my own experience. So, I asked Voss to break down the 10 easiest way for anyone to put his method to work. Some of what he suggests seems counterintuitive — and some of it, like the mirror technique, is surprisingly difficult to get right at first — but having seen it all in action now, I'm eager to master this method. It's likely not a fit for every personality, but it appeals to mine. And even if the whole method doesn't work for you, his controversial approach to saying sorry and his idea about seeking out a "no" rather than a "yes" are universally interesting — and certainly worth considering.