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Negotiation As If Your Life Depended On It
For Example here I provide some words from chapter Two of this book.
CHAPTER 2: BE A MIRROR, September 30, 1993
A brisk autumn morning, around eight-thirty. Two masked bank robbers trigger an alarm as they storm into the Chase Manhattan Bank at Seventh Avenue and Carroll Street in Brooklyn.
There are only two female tellers and a male security guard inside. The robbers cracked the unarmed sixty-year-old security guard across the skull with a, dragged him to the men’s room, and locked him inside.
One of the tellers gets the same pistol-whipping treatment. Then one of the robbers turns to the other teller, puts the barrel in her mouth, and pulls the trigger-click, goes into the empty chamber.
“The next one is real,” says the robber. “Now open the vault.” A bank robbery, with hostages.
Happens all the time in the movies, but it had been almost twenty years since there’d been one of these standoffs in New York, the city with more hostage negotiation jobs than any other jurisdiction in the country.
And this happened to be my very first feet-to-the-fire, in-your-face hostage job.
I had been training for about a year and a half in hostage negotiations, but I hadn’t had a chance to use my new skills. For me, 1993 had already been a very busy and incredible ride.
Working on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, I had been the co-case agent in an investigation that thwarted a plot to set off bombs in the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, the United Nations, and 26 Federal Plaza, the home of the FBI in New York City. We broke it up just as terrorists were mixing bombs in a safe house.
The plotters were associated with an Egyptian cell that had ties to the “Blind Sheikh,” who later would be found guilty of masterminding the plot that we uncovered.
You might think a bank robbery would be small potatoes after we busted up a terrorist plot, but by then I had already come to realize that negotiation would be my lifelong passion.
ASSUMPTIONS BLIND, HYPOTHESES GUIDE
Good negotiators, going in, know they have to be ready for possible surprises; great negotiators aim to use their skills to reveal the surprises they are certain to exist.
Experience will have taught them that they are best served by holding multiple hypotheses about the situation, the counterpart’s wants, and a whole array of variables in their mind at the same time.
Present and alert at the moment, they use all the new information that comes their way to test and winnow true hypotheses from false ones.
In negotiation, each new psychological insight or additional piece of information revealed heralds a step forward and allows one to discard one hypothesis in favor of another.
You should engage the process with a mindset of discovery. Your goal at the outset is to extract and observe as much information as possible.
This, by the way, is one of the reasons that really smart people often have trouble being negotiators-they’re so smart they think they don’t have anything to discover.
Too often people find it easier just to stick with what they believe. Using what they’ve heard or their own biases, they often make assumptions about others even before meeting them.
They even ignore their own perceptions to make them conform to foregone conclusions.
CALM THE SCHIZOPHRENIC
Our Negotiation Operation Center (NOC) was set up in an office in a bank immediately across a narrow street from the Chase branch.
We were way too close to the hostage site, so right away we were at a disadvantage.
We were less than thirty yards from the crisis point, where ideally you want to have a little more of a buffer than that.
You want to put some distance between you and whatever worst-case scenario might be waiting at the other end of the deal.
When my partner and I arrived, I was immediately assigned to coach the police department negotiator on the phone.
His name was Joe, and he was doing fine but in these types of situations, nobody worked alone. We always. worked in teams.
The thinking behind this policy was that all these extra sets of ears would pick up extra information.
In some standoffs, we had as many as five people on the line, analyzing the information as it came in, offering. behind-the-scenes input and guidance to our man on the phone and that is how we were set up here.
We had Joe taking the lead on the phone, and another three or four of us were listening in, passing notes back and forth, trying to make sense of a confusing situation.
One of us was trying to gauge the mood of the bad guy taking the lead on the other end, and another was listening in for clues or “tells”.
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