Graduate 2019 / by Chris Ruminski

Have you ever been overjoyed when someone asked, “Well, what about socialization?” when discussing homeschooling with you?

While you, the research community, and I all know that homeschooled children are usually better socialized than any child in traditional schools, it is a part of our children’s lives for which we are responsible. Fortunately, I have a new tool for you to read, enjoy, use, and even suggest to your teens.

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss is worth a read by everyone. Mr. Voss spent years as a police officer, FBI hostage negotiator, and even became the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator before taking his skills to the private sector. Simply by talking, he saved the lives of police officers, hostages, and kidnappers alike. Using these same methods, he closed business deals worth more than I will earn in my entire life.

In his book, he shares the lessons he has learned and how to negotiate your way in life. He covers many tough topics: from asking for raises, to getting a stubborn child to go to bed, and to talking with your partner to have a successful marriage.

The best part of this book is that it does not teach you to force your counterpart into submission but to talk with them to understand them. With that understanding, you can help them get what they really need, while you also get what you need. It is “emotional intelligence” and “communication skills” at their best.

In the first part of the book, Voss teaches how to become the best conversationalist in any room. I have been practicing the steps below, feeling more confident in my own conversation skills, and have received thanks for taking the time to talk with someone. It has been so much fun! Please let me share four steps to an easy, fun, magnetic conversation.

Step 1: Open a conversation with a statement about the other person that might be true. Use the phrase “It seems” or “It looks like” to start it.

To the host of a party: “It looks like you put a lot of work into getting ready for the party.”

Step 2: If you get a “Yes, thank-you,” then ask a question starting with “how” or “what.” If you get a “no,” then the person will usually correct you. This is just as good—go on to the next step or ask a “how” or “what” question anyway.

To the host of a party: “What was the most challenging part?”

Step 3: Reflect the most important part of their answer back to the speaker to show you are listening and to get them to add more details.

Host of a party: “It was pretty easy except for getting the balloons hung.”

You: “Balloons hung?” and wait.

Host of a party: Adds details and more information.

You: Repeat the process or switch it up to ask a new “how” or “what” question.

Step 4: Label the new information you have received, aiming to get a “That’s right.” back in return.

You: “Sounds like working with the helium balloons put you through some adventures!”

Host: “That’s right! I love the effect but might not do it again.”

You might be thinking that this is too simple and easy to be true, especially if you are an introvert like me. There is one more thing you need to know. Mr. Voss lays out the 7, 35, 55 rule that makes this set of interactions work or fall apart every time. The 7, 35, 55 rule simply says that only seven percent of what we communicate comes from our words. Thirty-five percent is in our tone, and a whopping fifty-five percent is in our body language. So, the best way to talk with someone is to get interested in what they are saying or in the person himself! If you do this, all your body language will match up, and you will be an instant hit.

If you enjoyed this small taste of Chris Voss’ book, Never Split the Difference, you may want to get a copy. You can share it with teens to help supercharge their socialization skills, or with anyone who wants to learn how to negotiate better. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I hope you will as well.



Chris Ruminski serves NCHE on the board in the IT position. He and his family live in Fayetteville. In addition to being the primary teacher in the homeschool, Chris also helps businesses that want to reach clients local to them get “Customers Now and Customers Later” using the internet. If you own a small business and you want it to grow, find out more at