Slow It Down: A Book Review of “Never Split the Difference”

“When you slow the process down, you also calm it down.” -Chris Voss, Never Split The Difference

In his bestselling book on negotiation, hostage negotiator Chris Voss writes that one of the first rules of dealing with a crisis situation is to slow it down. In his example two bank robbers have taken hostages while the FBI is speeding through the process quickly to fix the situation, mostly because the press is watching. But in speeding through the process the FBI hasn’t thoroughly analyzed all aspects of the situation. After slowing down the process Voss learns that one of the robbers didn’t want to be there. In fact, he had no idea they were robbing a bank and taking hostages. He thought the job was to rob an ATM. By slowing down the process and seeing all angles of the situation, Voss and his colleagues were able to talk one robber into coming out which led the lead robber to also come out. Speeding through the process could have resulted in many people losing their lives.

Crisis is uncomfortable and we often want to fix it immediately. Sometimes a crisis must, in fact, be remedied quickly. However, I’ve found that most of the time slowing it down is the key to finding the best solution. It gives you the ability to calmly think through all aspects of the crisis. So take a deep breath before you move. Look at the whole board. See the move you may not have first seen in the midst of chaos.

Never Split The Difference has many more tips and tricks to dealing with crisis and negotiation. It’s not just for business, even marriage and parenting is often a negotiation. So, next time you find yourself faced with a negotiation—small or large—slow it down.