Never Split the Difference – Leadership Questions


The third book in our the Leadership Book Club (2019) was Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if your life depended on it by Chris Voss. This is likely my favorite of the series so far – for it’s counter-intuitive yet practical strategies, not only to win at negotiations but to manage conflict better (both at work, and in personal relationships).

Would love to know your thoughts on the following questions in the comments below (and/or use them with your own book club group) :

  1. We learn that when individuals feel heard – they tend to become less defensive and more willing to listen to others, getting them to a calm and logical problem solving mindset. Are there areas in your life currently, where you can implement tactical empathy and active listening to resolve conflict?
  2. What do you think of the concept that humans “act and react first and foremost from deeply held (but mostly invisible and inchoate) fears, needs, perceptions and desires” rather than logic?
  3. Have there been times in your career where you could identify loss aversion (the greater likelihood to act to avert a loss than to achieve an equal gain) – in your own actions, your teams behavior, or leadership decisions?
  4. Are there situations you are currently experiencing in which there may be another hypotheses about your counterparts wants than your current assumptions? How can you be more curious about your hypothesis?
  5. How we are is the most immediately effective mode of influence. What do you think your typical demeanor and delivery styles are communicating to others? Ready for play or fight? Dominance? Aggression? Warmth? Safety?
  6. Do you think that performing a counter-intuitive Accusation Audit (listing the worst things the other person could say about you, before they do) could prove to be a good strategy? In which scenarios might you try this?
  7. What do you think of the tactic of seeking out “No” in order to create feelings of safety, security and control in your counterpart? How difficult do you think it will be for you to see their expression of “No” as something other than rejection?
  8. What tactics have you implemented in salary negotiations? What worked? What didn’t? (anchoring emotions, letting the other go first, establishing a range, pivoting to non-monetary terms, using odd numbers, surprising with a gift)
  9. Would you like to share an example from your career where you or someone you observed experienced the “Paradox of power” (ie. the harder we push the more likely we are to be met with resistance)?
  10. Have you ever uncovered a Black Swan (an event or pieces of knowledge that sit outside our regular expectations – therefore can’t be predicted – that changes everything)?


<Thank you for being late by Thomas Friedman. I hope you join us!>>

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5 thoughts on “Never Split the Difference – Leadership Questions

    1. Great question – there were so many. I’d say the biggest one was that ultimately people want to be understood, and when someone feels understood it ceases to be an us-them scenario and opens the possibility of win-win outcomes (rather than compromise, in which both people feel like they lost in some ways). A great book – highly recommend!


  1. Hey Laura, I picked you out of my list of followers & decided to engage with your blog today. “We learn that when individuals feel heard.” This is how I think my blog on autism will make a positive difference. If I am understood by means of a Socialist Autistic blog, then I will help others to learn & make my world better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jennifer – there are a couple groups in Ottawa, I know the group I organize already met, however I’ll email you connecting you with another group which may or may not have gotten together yet!


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