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The key points of 'Rompe la barrera del no: 9 principios para negociar como si te fuera la vida en ello By Chris Voss

In 'Rompe la barrera del no,' former FBI negotiator Chris Voss shares groundbreaking insights into the art of negotiation. Drawing from his high-stakes experiences, Voss offers a fresh perspective on how to approach negotiations, emphasizing the psychological aspects and the importance of tactical empathy. The book outlines nine core principles that aim to equip readers with the skills to negotiate effectively in any situation, whether it's a business deal, a hostage crisis, or everyday interpersonal conflicts. Here, we distill the essence of Voss's strategies into key takeaways that can transform your approach to negotiation.

Key Takeaways

  • Embrace the new rules of negotiation by focusing on emotional intelligence and understanding the power dynamics at play.

  • Use mirroring as a technique to build rapport and encourage your counterpart to reveal more information.

  • Instead of sympathizing, identify and verbalize the emotions of your counterpart to create a connection and foster trust.

  • Learn to recognize the true meaning behind 'yes,' and strive to get to 'no' as it often reveals the other party's concerns and boundaries.

  • Discover the two words that can change the course of a negotiation and how to elicit them to establish agreement and collaboration.

1. The New Rules of Negotiation

In the realm of negotiation, the traditional playbook has been thrown out the window. The new rules are about human psychology, not just the numbers. It's about understanding the person across the table and leveraging that insight to reach a beneficial agreement.

One key aspect is the shift from power dynamics to collaborative problem-solving. Instead of entering negotiations as adversaries, parties should see each other as partners in finding a solution that works for everyone involved.

  • Recognize the emotions at play

  • Listen more than you talk

  • Aim for a win-win outcome

By adopting these new principles, negotiators can navigate complex interactions with greater success and create agreements that are more satisfying for all parties involved.

2. Be a Mirror

In the realm of negotiation, being a mirror means reflecting back to your counterpart what they are saying. This technique is not about mimicry, but about understanding and then validating the other person's perspective. Mirroring is a powerful tool that can encourage your counterpart to elaborate on their thoughts and feelings.

Empathy is at the core of this principle. By repeating the last three words (or the critical one to three words) of what someone has just said, you show that you are listening and engaged. This simple act can build rapport and trust.

  • Listen attentively to your counterpart.

  • Repeat the last few words they've said.

  • Observe their reaction and adapt accordingly.

3. Don't Feel Their Pain, Label It

In the realm of negotiation, empathy is a powerful tool. However, Chris Voss suggests a nuanced approach: don't get swept up in their emotions; instead, recognize and verbalize them. By labeling the counterpart's feelings, you not only show understanding but also defuse potential tension.

Labeling is not about agreeing, it's about acknowledging. It's a technique that allows you to validate the other person's perspective without committing to it. This can be done by using phrases like 'It seems like...', 'It sounds like...', or 'You look like...'.

The process of labeling emotions can be broken down into simple steps:

  • Listen carefully to the counterpart.

  • Observe emotional cues and body language.

  • Reflect back the emotion you've identified with a label.

  • Allow the counterpart to confirm or correct your perception.

This approach not only helps to clarify the emotional landscape of the negotiation but also paves the way for a more collaborative problem-solving process.

4. Beware 'Yes,' Master 'No'

In the realm of negotiation, a premature 'yes' can often be a trap, while 'no' can provide a sense of security and control. Chris Voss emphasizes the power of 'no' in negotiations, suggesting that it can be more beneficial than a hasty agreement. Mastering the use of no allows you to keep the discussion open and uncover the other party's true concerns and needs.

  • 'Yes' might signal compliance, but it's often non-committal or a soft way to avoid confrontation.

  • 'No' creates a pause in the conversation, prompting further inquiry and deeper understanding.

  • Embracing 'no' can lead to more honest and productive negotiations.

5. Trigger the Two Words That Immediately Transform Any Negotiation

In the realm of negotiation, the two words 'That's right' stand as a powerful tool to achieve breakthroughs. When your counterpart acknowledges your understanding of their perspective with a 'That's right,' it signifies a moment of rapport and agreement. This is not to be confused with the simple affirmation 'You're right,' which can often signal a polite end to the discussion without true agreement.

Empathy is the key to triggering this response. By actively listening and echoing the other party's emotions and desires, you create a connection that encourages them to affirm your comprehension of their stance.

  • Summarize their point of view

  • Validate their feelings

  • Encourage them to elaborate

6. Bend Their Reality

In the realm of negotiation, bending their reality is about altering the counterpart's perception of what's possible. Anchor their emotions to a scenario much worse than the one you're offering, and the relief they feel with your proposal will seem like a win to them. This psychological maneuver is a powerful tool in the negotiator's arsenal.

Anchoring is not just about the initial offer, but about managing expectations throughout the negotiation process. By controlling the narrative, you can steer the conversation towards a more favorable outcome for yourself.

  • Establish the worst-case scenario for your counterpart.

  • Present your offer as a significant improvement.

  • Continuously adjust their expectations as the negotiation progresses.

7. Create the Illusion of Control

In negotiation, the feeling of control is often more important than control itself. Allowing the other party to feel in charge can lead to more favorable outcomes for you. By asking open-ended questions and using tactical empathy, you guide them while they believe they are leading the conversation.

  • Use calibrated questions to make them think about your problems as their own.

  • Summarize their points to show understanding and encourage them to keep talking.

  • Let them offer solutions first, which gives you valuable insight into their priorities and concerns.

By mastering this principle, you not only steer the negotiation subtly but also create a collaborative atmosphere where the other party is more likely to work with you rather than against you.

8. Guarantee Execution

Ensuring that agreements are not only reached but also implemented is crucial in any negotiation. Guaranteeing execution means taking steps to make sure that the other party sticks to their commitments. This can involve establishing clear terms, setting deadlines, and creating accountability mechanisms.

One effective strategy is to break down the agreement into actionable steps. This helps both parties to understand what is expected of them and when. For example:

  • Define specific tasks and responsibilities

  • Set realistic timelines for each task

  • Establish checkpoints to review progress

  • Agree on consequences for non-compliance

Remember, a deal is only as good as its enforcement. Therefore, it's essential to anticipate potential obstacles and plan for them accordingly. This foresight can be the difference between a successful negotiation and a failed one.

9. Bargain Hard

Bargaining hard is a critical skill in any negotiation. Never settle for less than what you believe is fair value. It's not just about the final number, but also about the respect you command through the process. To effectively bargain hard, one must be prepared to walk away, a powerful tactic that can shift the balance in your favor.

  • Understand your bottom line

  • Know your counterpart's pressure points

  • Use tactical empathy

  • Be willing to say no

Remember, the essence of bargaining is not to defeat the opponent but to win them over. 'El negociador' by Arturo Elías Ayub echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of relationships and communication in achieving successful outcomes.


In conclusion, 'Never Split the Difference' by Chris Voss offers a transformative approach to negotiation, drawing from his extensive experience as an FBI hostage negotiator. The nine core principles outlined in the book provide readers with practical strategies to enhance their negotiation skills in both personal and professional contexts. Voss's emphasis on emotional intelligence, tactical empathy, and assertive communication serves as a powerful toolkit for overcoming the 'no' barrier and achieving desired outcomes. By internalizing these principles, readers can navigate high-stakes negotiations with confidence and poise, turning potential confrontations into opportunities for collaboration and agreement. This book is not just about negotiation; it's about improving human interaction and understanding the psychology behind decision-making, making it a valuable read for anyone looking to influence and persuade effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the new rules of negotiation according to Chris Voss?

Chris Voss emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence and the use of tactical empathy in negotiations, rather than relying on traditional logic-based tactics.

How can 'being a mirror' help in negotiations?

By mirroring the counterpart's behavior and language, negotiators can build rapport and encourage the other party to open up and reveal more information.

Why is it important to label the other party's emotions during a negotiation?

Labeling emotions helps to validate the other party's feelings, defuse potential tension, and create a connection, making them more open to collaboration.

What does 'Beware of Yes, Master No' mean?

It means that 'yes' can be deceptive and non-committal, while 'no' provides a sense of safety and control to the other party, leading to more honest and productive discussions.

What are the two words that can transform any negotiation?

The two words 'That's right' signify that you have understood and acknowledged the other party's perspective, leading to a breakthrough in negotiations.

What does it mean to 'bargain hard' in the context of Voss's principles?

Bargaining hard involves being assertive and knowing your value, using calibrated questions and strategic pauses, and being willing to walk away if necessary to achieve the best outcome.

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