Never Split the Difference is probably the best book I've ever read on negotiation and I highly recommend you pick it up. And yes, it's even better than Getting to Yes (and even has a few useful-and I believe correct-criticisms of that book).
The book is written by former FBI negotiator and current negotiating coach Chris Voss. He goes back and forth between his various hostage negotiations as well as stories about his clients negotiating in a business environment. Many of the stories are quite entertaining. Such as a string of kidnapping in Haiti that they soon figured out weren't by some criminal cartel, but just hoodlums who wanted drinking money on the weekend. Once they figured this out, they knew if they stalled the negotiation until closer to Friday, they would have a huge advantage and usually be able to free the hostage with a paltry payment.
I won't go over all the many different ideas the book offers, but I will settle on one; Using how instead of why. Normally, when we are given an offer, request or demand, we ask something like "why would I do that?" This, however, puts the other party on the defensive. Now they have to explain their reasoning.
Instead, while it sounds a bit awkward at first, ask the other person "how can I do that?" Again, this might seem weird. If the other person says they need $250,000 to sell their house, the "how" would seem simple. Just pay it. But it implies that you can't get that high. Now you've thrown the ball in their court to explain their reasoning, but to help figure out a way for you to do the deal. How can that person help you make this deal. They are now on your side.
So in the above example, maybe the seller could lower the price, or offer seller financing, or offer a second, or sell on a lease option or contract for deed, or leave the appliances or do some improvements or whatever. Let them brainstorm for you a bit.
There are many other helpful tips like this and it is well worth checking out.
For further information, check out Voss' book or the three articles I wrote about this on BiggerPockets:
- Mastering the Mindset for Negotiation
- Beware "Yes," Master "No"
- Investors: Use "How," NOT "Why"
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