Trader or Negotiator

What are you, a trader or a negotiator? Is there a difference?

Trading is the exchanging of comparably valued items, not negotiating. To trade is the exchange of commodities, assets or services on a par value. Negotiating contemplates the exchange of disproportionately valued commodities.

2_hands_holding_up_cash.jpgTraders focus on the intrinsic cost basis. Negotiators look to minimize cost or maximize their return. There are times when it may be better to trade then negotiate. Consider these examples.

Power or control over a situation often makes a transaction a simple trade. The person with the power establishes the rules and the rate of return. Those who find the terms acceptable participate. If not, they will seek another venue.

four_hands_holding_up_cash.jpg Limited availability of a commodity also creates a demand driven market. Sellers who hold such a commodity have the power to demand a high rate of return. Buyers who must have the commodity, oil comes to mind, have little choice but to pay the high rate while they develop alternative sources.

Hospitals and doctors enjoy another hedge against having to negotiate with you. Because you have insurance, you are not paying the bill (other than a small co-payment). That means you have little control over what is paid for the service rendered. More important, the provider has little incentive to negotiate with you or remain competitive. Bag_of_groceries.jpg And the insurance company has little incentive to negotiate a unique rate for you as they spread their risk over all the people they are covering.

Simple trading is also appropriate in many situations where time and convenience are more important than price. At the grocery, for example, you simply exchange money for a loaf of bread. There is no negotiation because you are too busy to try and the amount you might save is negligible. But no one says you could not negotiate with the manager if you wanted to do so. In fact, if you are contemplating a very large purchase for a party or office event there is absolutely no reason not to contact the manager, explain the situation, and inquire about wholesale pricing or other possible discounts he or she might offer to avoid risking that you might go to a competitor.

To answer the question, are you a trader or negotiator, the answer is 'both' depending on the situation, your time, and the balance of power.

Related Content
Six Basic Negotiating Tips
What is Negotiating
How We Negotiate
Ten Persuasion Techniques
What to Avoid When Negotiating
When to Accept an Offer
The Art of Persuasion

How to Negotiate

How to Make Up After a Fight

Just how bad was the fight? Do you have any idea what you said in the heat of the moment? Knowing how to make up after a fight is an important part of arguing. Relationships are precious things in life. Knowing how to fight and make up is an important aspect of keeping the relationship healthy.

Making up can be easy or hard. A lot of what makes it hard is trying to undo what was said when you were both really mad. Like it or not, those comments have a habit of being remembered. They hurt. At the time you meant them to hurt but now you can't imagine ever saying them.

Everyone negotiates. It is part of socializing, working, marriage, virtually all aspects of our lives. But some negotiations are more important than others such as those with a friend, spouse, parent or child.

Arguing on a social or personal level impacts our personal lives beyond the immediate debate. The same applies to how we handle negotiations in the workplace or school. We should be aware of the potential of the lasting damage that can be caused by what we do or say when arguing which is just a form of power negotiations.

To ensure you will be able to make up after the fight there are some things you should avoid when negotiating.

Don't Antagonize
If you want to get someone to do something they don't want to do, does it make sense to irritate or antagonize them when negotiating the matter? Unless you have a strong power advantage over the other person or maximum leverage, it is better to seek their support rather than use ridicule or anger to force the issue. This is especially true when the relationship with the other person is expected to survive the immediate situation.

Don't Bluff
Bluffing carries significant risk. As poker players know, if you are repeatedly caught bluffing your effectiveness will be undermined and you will be left with the reputation of being a liar or at least less than fully truthful. Bluffing can be perceived as a pattern of lying and you run the risk eroding trust with those you care about. Loss of trust is very damaging to any relationship.

Don't Corner
No one likes to feel helpless. Avoid forcing someone into a corner when negotiating or in an argument. You are asking them to strike out, hit back or otherwise hurt you to get out of the 'corner'. Even if they acquiesce at the time and let you have their way, they will harbor resentment at being forced to do what you want. if you continually corner someone their resentment overtime until they find a way to sever the relationship.

Don't Win the Battle and Risk Losing the War
It is fun to win. Most of us are programmed to do so. The problem arises is when we seek to always win and let our passion for winning damage the relationships we value. It is important to maintain your perspective when discussions get heated and pick the right arguments to fight, much less win.

Some arguments are meant to be lost strategically to preserve relationships. Make sure the issue causing the argument is worth winning. The best way to do this is to assess what you will gain by winning and what the other person will lose. Avoid those situations where the other person will damage to his or her ego over something trivial to you.
Be sensitive to the needs of the other person by keeping your perspective about the big picture, the relationship, as compared to the immediate situation.

Don't Forget to Mend Fences
Everyone loves a winner; few like braggarts. Avoid inadvertently abusing the other person when you prevail. When you come out on top take the time to shore up the relationship with the other person. Whether it is a spouse, child, parent, friend, boss or business associate, you seldom want to jeopardize a relationship by not taking a little time to ease the other person's pain of losing.

This investment in the relationship will pay dividends down the road and makes making up much easier.

How to Negotiate Taxes with the IRS

Are you behind on your taxes, worried that the letters are getting more threatening and the penalties are mounting, paying more attention to the tax relief ads on TV, losing sleep at night? It may be time to talk with the IRS.

A taxpayer must meet one of two basic requirements to be able to negotiate with the IRS. To qualify you must be able to prove financial conditions such that you cannot pay your obligations in full or that you have a reasonable reason for not filing or filing late.

If you qualify under either of these scenarios consider the following insights on what to expect when negotiating with the IRS.

Poor Financial Situation
If you believe you qualify under the poor financial situation qualification there are two common strategies to consider when making a proposal to settle your account:

1. Compromise Settlement - Formally called an Offer in Compromise this is a filing that allows the taxpayer to make an offer to the IRS for an amount that approximates what IRS could reasonably anticipate collecting from you. This is rarely accepted by the IRS except from people who truly cannot pay.

2. Full Payment Under An Installment Agreement - If you can get your penalties and interest waived, you may be able to reach an agreement by which you would repay the actual tax liability in monthly installments. This makes catching up with the IRS financial more bearable but does not actually reduce the liability.

Reasonable or Legitimate Reason
If you were out of the country, incapacitated or otherwise prevented from filing promptly you may have a reasonable argument as to why you were late and can request consideration. Penalties and interest for not filing promptly or failure to pay your taxes on time are substantial. If you have a legitimate excuse for not filing on time or being unable to pay your taxes when due you may be able to get waivers of the penalties and taxes.

These penalties are a scare tactic to encourage prompt payment. The penalties and interest can be waived if you have a legitimate reason. If so, you may request either or both be waived.

Be Proactive - Don't Ignore the Problem
What you do not want to do is ignore the situation. You will eventually have to work things out with the IRS. The longer you wait the greater the penalties, the more the interest, and the less likely you will find an auditor or IRS agent willing to consider your pleas.

Get Help
Once you decide to file either a reduction in taxes or request for waiver of penalties and/or interest make sure you find out precisely what you have to do to file. Errors in the filings are probably the biggest reason for rejection of the requests.

There are times when getting help makes sense. Negotiating with the IRS may be one of those times. The intent of the penalties, process, and forms is to intimidate you, the taxpayer. Enlisting someone to help you through the process is a good idea to lower your anxiety and accelerate the process if for no other reason than the fact that they know the process.

If your problem is large enough to warrant getting help make sure you get a qualified professional to assist you.

When to Barter - The Difference from Negotiating

Bartering is a tactic, not negotiating. To barter is to effect trade by the exchange of commodities, assets or services on a par value. Negotiating is an endeavor designed to add value by the exchange of disproportionately valued commodities.

Barterers focus on the exchange of specific commodities based on their intrinsic value. Negotiators look at all of the aspects of a negotiation and seek to identify potential ancillary incentives or concessions that can be combined with the primary commodities to leverage perceived value and thereby create incremental value.

It is important to know when to barter and when to negotiate. Consider the differences.

By creating perceived value negotiators are able to motivate others to do what they otherwise would be reluctant to do. Introducing other incentives is also a viable negotiating tactic to counter a power play. Without ancillary issues to thwart a frontal attack there will be little reason for the party with the most power or strength to compromise, AKA negotiate.

Bartering exposes one to power plays. Everyone knows that he who has the gold makes the rules. The basic concept of negotiation is to expand the conversation from a direct exchange of two commodities, assets or services by offering something of modest value to you which may be perceived as very valuable to the other person. In return for obtaining this ancillary commodity or service the other person should devalue their position on the original item. In agreement, both parties come away with more value than expected thus creating incremental value.

Rule #1 of Negotiating: The objective of negotiating is NOT to win the negotiation. It is to achieve your goal or objective. Giving something of marginal value to achieve a important objective is prudent use of your assets.

Rule #1 of Bartering: The objective of bartering is NOT to win the exchange. It is to exchange your commodity, asset or service for something of comparable value with a minimum of effort and time. Getting a needed commodity or service without having to expend your time and effort is prudent management of your calendar.

In most negotiations we assume that the prime motivators are avarice and greed. It is the use of other, less obvious motivators that makes the difference between those who barter and those who negotiate. Negotiating has the potential of creating value from the process. It is like making 1+1=11 rather than 2. In your discussions you should always be on the lookout for what might be of value to the other person. This is best accomplished by taking the time to understand the needs and wants of the other party in addition to your own goals and objectives.

Simple bartering is appropriate in many situations where time and convenience trump the effort to try to negotiate a better price. At the grocery, for example, you simply exchange money for a can of asparagus. There is no negotiation because you are dealing with an intermediary who gains his or her benefit from very slim margins. They value you as a customer but only marginally. They hope to keep you as a customer by providing reasonable service, good products, competitive pricing and convenience. Your decision to purchase from them depends on how you rate the grocery compared to the competition; not based on how much you hope to negotiate off the price of a can of asparagus.

How to Negotiate the National Deficit and Debt Ceiling

We are all watching as our representatives in Washington struggle over their negotiations.

Much can be learned watching this political theater.

The most important negotiating tip to take away from this is:

Do not go to Washington to learn how to negotiate!
It is obvious that most people in Congress regardless of their political affiliation forgot long ago the basic tenants of negotiating.

Integrity is definitely lacking when bending the truth on national television is the norm. Double-speak and falsehoods are now an accepted part of the national dialogue.

Honesty is lost when terms are changed after agreements are struck or proposals are rejected before being considered. Honesty is more than not lying. In negotiations it includes having the honor to respect one another and consider fully each proposal.

The desire to get things done, an essential characteristic of an effective negotiator, seems lacking on the part of all involved. It appears most of our elected representatives are content with worrying more about the next election than the Country.

If we are to believe what we hear, we are out of time to get things done . Those in Washington have had ample time to negotiate the debt ceiling or address the national debt but the political posturing and antics have taken away that luxury. When rushed negotiators make mistakes. We can expect a very big mistake to be made in Washington!

Being informed is essential to a negotiator. In Washington so much time appears spent on spinning the message that there is little time to actually understand the fullness of the problem and evaluate proposed solutions. The general consensus is that none of the current plans do anything to solve the underlying problem; our deficit spending. Effective negotiators do not waste time. Posturing and bluffing in negotiations takes time which is rapidly running out. An able negotiator knows when to settle down and work on the problem. Our collective representatives seem to have lost that perspective.

A final observation. In this negotiation between power players there seems to be little power wielded. These reputed power players have been left with the sole strategy of merely blocking each other rather than actually moving the discussion forward. The President has been cut out of the actual fray. The Senate killed the House bill without considering it. And the House killed the Senate bill before it formally arrived.

The result is a stalled negotiation with time running out. This appears to be the perfect setting to see the negotiators forced into making a big mistake in terms of solving the problem. They may reach an agreement but it will likely fall short of solving anything.

How to Negotiate a Commercial Lease

Are you in business or want to go into business? Need a space to sell your product or meet potential clients? Then you will need to know how to negotiate a commercial lease. Commercial leases are different than residential leases as the parties to the lease have different interests, needs and expectations.

Here's how to negotiate a commercial lease.

Understand the Bigger Picture
To effectively negotiate a commercial lease you need to know and understand the bigger picture of how the lease terms impact the business. A lease is a large, fixed, monthly expense that will impact the bottom line. That means it can add or detract from your income. Before you should negotiate a commercial lease you should have a profit and loss statement for at least the anticipated first year's business. More typically you will want to have several prepared based on the best case, worst case and most likely performance. With this you can see how your occupancy costs impact your profit margins. Do not fall into the trap of basing what you can afford on the performance three year's out. This projecting future potential is a method designed to justify bad business decisions. Things can and do happen and you must be able to weather prolonged weak performance.

Improve Your Communication Skills
Filters are the impediments to clear understanding of the spoken word. Every individual has his or her own filters that change what someone else says. When dealing with a company or corporation which may own a commercial property each person within that organization has their own set of filters. The owner of the commercial property is likely not the person you are dealing with when negotiating a commercial lease. Assuming that you are dealing with the landlord's broker or property manager or leasing agent your verbal proposal will never get to the actual owner or decision maker without a change in the message. The best way to avoid misunderstanding or intentional misdirection is to always put your proposals in writing. And require a response to include the original offer as an attachment. This is your best chance of making sure the decision maker has had the opportunity to hear your message first hand.

Establish the Value You Have to Offer
When negotiating a commercial lease the monetary aspect of the the transaction are far less important than in a residential negotiation. Too often prospective tenants approach landlords focused on the rent when the landlord is more interested in the financial stability of the tenant and the tenant's contribution too the shopping center. Landlords will willingly extract as much money as possible if the tenant is not knowledgable enough to know the other attributes he or she may have to offer. To properly negotiate a commercial lease the tenant must appreciate the available commodities that enhance the tenant's occupancy to the landlord. These possible commoditis may include a unique or complimentary use, a strong balance sheet, a large personal guarantee, the prospect of multiple transactions with the tenant, a strong advertising campaign that will bring more traffic to the shopping center, and the potential of increasing the rent value of the adjacent spaces. This value oriented approach, also considered the whole pie negotiating strategy, may help keep the rent below market even though others are offering more.

Develop Your Power Base When Negotiating a Commercial Lease
Landlords like to think they have the best site in the area. Prospective tenants can balance the power in the negotiation by:

  • Demonstrating knowledge of the city and its approval process by sharing prior experiences with the city and noting the professionals available to expedite the permitting process.
  • Revealing the investment the tenant will be making in the premises and how the improvements may benefit the landlord.
  • Discussing alternate locations you are considering and demonstrating you have choices when it comes down to picking a site.
  • Selling yourself as the right person with whom the other person should be negotiating. Indicate that it is you, not a cororate flunbky, who will do everything possible to gain city approval and follow through on the buildout of the premises.

Sell Yourself
The most important commodity you bring to the table is you. Assure the landlord that you consider success in the location as important to your reputation and that you are committed to making the business a success whatever it takes. Your conviction, passion and vision will translate as a compelling argument to give your proposal more merit with the landlord.

Negotiating - A Contact Sport

In our lives we have two basic choices, to take control or follow.

Negotiating is a contact sport. To be effective you must be able to persuade others to listen to your arguments, consider the arguments, and decide that they want to help you in some way achieve your goals.

They do not need to decide that you are right. They do need to want to help you or allow you to proceed toward your goal. In fact, they will try almost anything to win including making personal attacks.

To handle the conflict common t negotiations consider the following approach.

This is simple leadership. Managers must motivate employees to do their jobs allowing the manager to succeed. Teachers must motivate students to study and produce homework and learn. Parents must convince their children not to play in the street, do drugs or otherwise step in harm's way recklessly.

Whenever two or more people come in contact there will be some level of conflict. It may be as simple as passing on a narrow mountain path next to a sheer canyon wall or as complex as working out a peace accord between vying nations.

Resolving the disparate interests is a matter of establishing a commonality of interests. Leaders are adept at forging such realignment of individual interests. Individuals do the same when resolving conflict. They persuade others to consider alternatives in the hopes of reaching a mutually agreeable solution.

Trust: An Essential Aspect of a Negotiation

No matter the conflict venue every instance of human interaction requires a basis of trust upon which commitments can be built. Conflict resolution, alternate dispute resolution, negotiations, mediation, settlement discussions, debt restructuring, salary and performance reviews are all examples of human interaction. Whenever our species interacts, the discussions are colored by the natural inclination of each person involved to trust or distrust the others.

Those who establish credibility and an honorable reputation develop, over time, a personal power advantage at any negotiating table.

The need to trust each other is essential for groups of people to function well together. This grouping can be in the form of friends, family, business, church, communities, governments, and even at the global level in forums such as NATO or the United Nations. If the trust of the members is tested the ability of the group to function is challenged. The more diverse the group the greater the level of mistrust and the harder it is to get the group to function together.

As an example, we are seeing trust erode as the Administration pursues seemingly unpopular programs and uses questionable means to secure the votes necessary to get them passed.

The American people are watching brokered deals, weekend debates, and late night votes to get the current version of the health care bill passed through the senate. One must ask why, if the bill is a good bill, such antics are required.

The culture of backroom negotiations and payoffs is not the hope and change promised by this Administration. They are the same old political practices common to both political parties that the American people have come to distrust.

This distrust, if left unchecked, will grow into resentment and ultimately a loss of support for those in government. If that occurs, a populist change to restore confidence and trust becomes a possibility and may empower third party movements to gain tangible footing.


No matter the conflict venue any form of human interaction requires a basis of trust from which accords can be reached and commitments relied upon. Conflict resolution, alternate dispute resolution, negotiations, mediation, settlement discussion, debt restructuring, salary and performance reviews, whenever humans interact are colored by the inclination of each party to trust or distrust the other. Those who establish credibility and an honorable reputation possess a personal power advantage at any negotiating table.

Honesty and integrity is what makes a negotiation between two people meaningful. Unless they can rely on the word of the other, the pledges are meaningless. In the business environment, all agreements are reduced to contracts and the law is fairly clear that most agreements are confined to the written word once signed.

- How do the parties get to the point that a document can be prepared and signed? By trusting each other.
- How does a couple reach an agreement that will never be documented? By building a relationship based on trust. Without it, the agreement and potentially the relationship will falter.
- How do friends resolve an argument? They rely on the bond of their friendship which is based on mutual respect and trust.

The power of being respected as a person of integrity, no matter the venue, is strong. If you have a reputation as a straight shooter when you agree, when you say No!, or when you bluff the other person is likely to be inclined to take you at your word. That is personal power.

Proactively protect your reputation and diligently seek to establish your credibility not only with those you care about but even casual acquaintances. It is your reputation that others learn of from common co-workers, business associates or friends. This indirect referendum on your integrity is what establishes your personal power in a negotiation or simple discussion.

How to Renegotiate a Christmas Gift Bought Before the Great Retail Sales

Are you frustrated because you bought items for yourself or others before the big, last minute retail discounts went into effect? Do you wish you had a gift card instead of a the gift from the big mall retailer?

This year you can consider renegotiating those pre-discount purchases. That's right. Just because you have the gift in hand and paid retail for it is no reason you are stuck with the pre-discount price.

Why not try to renegotiate the price?

What you need and, this year, have is leverage.

Because the stores allow you to return items with a receipt for the price paid, you can use that policy to renegotiate a price closer to the heavily discounted post-holiday sales prices. And this is a year when you want to use that leverage to your advantage. The retail chains are hurting and the last thing they want to do is take back an item. You know this and they know it.

There are "facts" you need to be armed with to accomplish this:

1. You must have the sales reciept.

2. The store must have the item in stock.

3. You must have the patience and motivation to wait in line and then press your case.

The strategy is simple. Take the item to the return desk and say you want to return it. When asked why, say that it is now significantly discounted and you intend to buy it with the refund you will be granted. Then simply offer to keep it if they will refund the difference in the price.

Be prepared to take the matter up to a supervisor but prevail in your quest. There is no reason you can't take the item back. Once you have returned it you can then go buy it again at the lower price.

Your leverage is increased because by offering to keep the item at the reduced price you are actually helping the store.

Be sure to point out that:

1. They will not have the paperwork to handle.

2. They will not have the returned item to re-inventory in an opened box and possibly have to return to their supplier.

3. They will have a happy and possibly more loyal customer.

The negotiating power is on your side this year. It is your choice to use it or lose it.

Conviction is Contagious

There is great negotiating strength in having the right attitude. To win it helps to expect to win. Attitude counts! Like any sport or other competitive venue, attitude has a direct bearing on the outcome of a negotiation.

Any negotiation, no matter how insignificant, is based in conflict. Those involved are competing to protect or advance their respective interests by depriving another of his or her expectations. Negotiation is the settlement of conflicting interests without resorting to force.

If you are convinced that you are right, if you think you deserve to win, if you know that you are in the right, your passion colors your arguments and strengthens your statements. Conviction is contagious. Others will be persuaded to at least consider your position if your passion is obvious and sincere.

If you have doubts, you will be less than convincing. Self-doubt will undermine your arguments and encourage others to resist and fight back. Before getting involved in a settlement session resolve your doubts and mentally prepare to win. If necessary, adjust your position to be more realistic and, thereby, increase your own expectation of prevailing.

Positive attitude does not come to everyone naturally. There are ways to reset your mindset to be positive and create a positive demeanor:

• Visualize Winning. When considering strategies and tactics before a meeting envision winning with each tactic. Actually imagine and savor the moment of victory. This mental exercise sets in your mind the feeling or the gestalt of deploying the strategy or tactic successfully. When the time comes to actually use it, your actions will be more natural.

• Deserve to win. When setting your objectives and primary goal, test the terms against what you know to be reasonable. If they are reasonable you can set aside doubts that you will be rejected on the facts or "found out". Before the meeting mentally contemplate the other person acknowledging the reasonableness of your argument and amending his position towards yours. Focus on actually convincing the other person. This form of mental preparation serves to establish your expectation that you deserve to prevail, that you should prevail. You are empowering yourself to prevail.

• Prepare to Win. As the start of the meeting approaches, plan how you will enter the room. Remind yourself to stand tall, make direct eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and emit confidence. Dress for the meeting. Pick your clothes to reflect this confident demeanor. Remember, you can always dress down during a meeting but you can't dress up. Typically I over dress to insure I am the power figure in the room. I can always take off my coat and loosen my tie to make others comfortable.

The power of persuasion comes from within.

Silence - A Negotiating Tactic

Silence can be used as a power tactic. If you resist the compulsion to fill every void with the sound of your voice you will be able to actually hear the other person and, more important, impact how they react to you.

If you studiously avoid filling the lapses in a conversation or discussion you will notice something interesting. Others will nervously try to fill the verbal void. It is these comments that provide interesting factoids and give you power.

Take a day to demonstrate this to yourself.

Spend the day not making small talk with anyone outside of your family. When you go to get you cup of coffee and pastry don’t respond verbally when the clerk asks how you are. They don’t really care. They are programmed to ask. Simply nod and observe how they react.

Typically if you answer, they have already looked away and are preparing to ask what you would like. If you don’t verbally respond they will likely hesitate and look at you intently waiting for a response.

They are actually seeing you for the first time; really looking. They will also likely be notching up their respect for you. The unknown or unpredictable is always note worthy. This simple change in the typical protocol of social interaction has elevated you with the power of mystery. Do this all day long and observe how differentially you are treated by clerks, peers and even your supervisors.

Your silence denotes confidence, control and focus. It can be very intimidating.

In a negotiation you can and should use silence the same way. When entering the room and everyone is shaking hands and discussing the weather try stand slightly apart and silent. When people greet you, simply nod. Take a seat while others are still standing and shuffle through your papers.

Note how the others begin to react to you. Typically your opponents will become more wary having taken note of your serious demeanor, your sense of purpose, and your self confidence. They may even try to reach out to you to break the silence.

You are having an impact on them. That is the genesis of informal leadership power.

Power Negotiation has a Price

The reason they say to keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer is that power negotiators have no friends. They have no one they can trust. The first rule of power negotiating is trust no one. That is a sad state of affairs when negotiating is simply the process of interacting with others. It is a requisite of social survival.

To be a power negotiator limits your ability to openly communicate with others. The school yard bully has the respect of a small group of peers but the ire of the rest of the student body and faculty. When the time comes to matriculate and join the adult world, the bully will find few friends from school he can call on to open doors or otherwise help him.

The second rule of power negotiations is to not reveal your needs, wants, objectives and goals; to keep your foe guessing. The bully cannot reveal his real feelings, even to his peers. So he becomes isolated and ill informed. When corporate CEOs, intoxicated with their power, become bullies around the office they quickly cut the lines of communication that served to get them to the top. These short-lived tours of duty are excellent examples of the Peter Principle.

Power negotiators have limited potential. While they may succeed in one or two aspects of their lives, they will likely fail in others. Too many hard driving business negotiators are deemed effective around the deal table but later are seen alone in a dimly lit bar wondering what happened to their families.

The effective negotiator views power negotiations as a tactic, not even a strategy. They use it to amplify an argument or capture a concession. They do not abuse it to the extent that it damages the relationship or jeopardizes future opportunities.

Fear - the Negotiator's Tool or Nemesis

Fear is what terrorists use against large, organized, powerful foes. In earlier times in Chicago a mafia underling would walk into a local bar or restaurant and observe, "This place could have a fire." The owner would logically say, "No way, never had one." The next day, after a fire broke out in the kitchen, the underling would return and say, "See, I could have helped you avoid that. A little insurance goes a long way."

This intimidation forced many law abiding citizens to pay for protection from the Mafia.

In the 21st Century Muslim extremists are using the same concept. They are trying to invoke fear into the western population to advance their cause. They cannot hope to confront most of the world's military power or even their own countries head on, so they resort to attacking the mass population in the name of Allah and their cause. If the masses become too fearful they will either promote aggressive retaliation or elect acquiescence candidates to avoid personal harm. Either way, the terrorist gains strength and power by usurping control of the population.

The best defense against a terrorist is to not change dramatically our daily routine, our perspective on life, and our willingness to do what we want to do. Add to this a little caution, some extra vigilance in being aware of what is going on around us, and not changing our basic beliefs will declaw the attempt of the terrorists to control us.

In a negotiation fear plays a large, strategic role in the outcome. Fear of failing, fear of the unknown, fear of not being helpful, there are many fears that can be used to advance a negotiator's cause. One of the most powerful tactics that few think to use is the fear of not being helpful.

Everyone wants to think that they care about others and want to be liked. A professional and adept negotiator will take the time to build a strong relationship with his or her adversary before really getting to the task at hand. In today's fast paced world, too little time is spent in this fashion. As a result, many negotiating successes are lost because people are too impatient, to hurried and dismissive of the value of building relationships.

How does fear serve the negotiator in this context? By becoming a silent motivator to get the other person to do something that he or she does not want to do. A sociopath has no regard for the feelings of others. He does not relate to others. The rest of us do. In the business environment, many try to be non-emotional. They get away with this sociopathic approach if the other person does not build a personal "bridge". Bank lending officers, credit managers, retail clerks all fit this mold. But who gets the best service at a store? Not the dour patron but the person who reaches out with a smile or kind remark. That is the person the clerk relates to and gives just a little extra. Why? Not because they have to but because they want to. This is a basic demonstration of the application of fear in a negotiation. The customer who has made the effort to build a personal bridge to the clerk has subliminally made that person concerned that they do not want to offend the person in some way. So they try to accommodate the patron.

Power Balancing in Negotiations

Power in negotiations must be recognized and, if you are on the short end of the equation, balanced.

Other people presume to have power over us. Be they attorneys, accountants, doctors, clerks, teachers, or spouses who can make our lives miserable the power they presume to hold over us is based solely on the power we allow them to have.

Most power held by negotiators is illusory but powerful until it is challenged. Fear of everyday conflict, confrontation avoidance, can be overcome by understanding the process of any negotiation and learning how to garner enough power to impact the outcome of the situation in a positive fashion.

Surviving is getting along and accepting the status quo. Conquering is overcoming and prevailing. When we negotiate, the goal is to reach an agreement that meets our needs and advances our cause by satisfying some of our wants. As conflict is a constant part of our lives, it should be conquered rather than merely survived.

Conquering conflict does not necessarily mean crushing the other person. It means dispatching the negative connotation of conflict in your mind, the fear if you will, so that you can focus on resolving issues to advance your interests rather than merely preserving them.

The reality is that fear makes us act defensively, being defensive shuts down our ability to communicate. Lack of communication stymies negotiations.

Do personality traits affect negotiation skills?

There are four primary negotiating styles. They are similar to management styles or personalities.

We learn to negotiate from birth through our experiences, education, and from the people around us. From our first cries when hungry, the reactions of others reinforce our predominant negotiating behavior. We learn based on what we find works with others. We also learn that different approaches work on different people and, as a result, we develop additional styles.

Each is a blend of the four primary styles. Our predominant negotiating style is the manner in which we are most comfortable when interacting with others.

Consider how you act with other people; especially strangers in a stressful situation. You can probably identify your predominant negotiating style pretty accurately as long as you listen to what others think of your style at home or around the office. We constantly negotiate with them. Their perceptions are a mirror available to you if you are willing to look.

We also have a natural style. This is the style that emerges when we are physically threatened or under severe stress. My natural style is much less collaborative! Understanding your predominant and natural styles will help you will understand how you react with others. Now comes the difficult part.

One's predominant style is a learned style. That means we can learn and develop different styles.

Now comes the difficult part.

Each negotiating situation deserves its unique style. One does not negotiate the same way with his wife as he would a business adversary, boss, or even the children. There are differing power bases and interests to be considered and respected. A negotiator is most effective when able to deploy a complimentary negotiating style to each situation.

Effective negotiators are like chameleons. They adapt to each situation. The benefit of being comfortable with a number of negotiating styles is that the appropriate style can be strategically used at will. In any negotiation one might use several different styles depending on the reaction of the other person.

Feelings Matter in a Negotiation

No one can win every negotiation. Many suggest making each negotiation a "Win/Win" situation. The reality is that there is always a winner and a loser.

It seems to be a more realistic strategy to seek a solution that allows both parties to come away with acceptable terms. Doing this provides each person enough incentive, positive or negative, to support and live up to any agreement that is reached.

Noteworthy is the mention of positive or negative incentives. Pain and fear are strong incentives. So is deprivation. The result of a negotiation need not be mutually beneficial. It just must result in mutual motivation to live up to the agreement.

This mutual incentive is the basis of every relationship whether it is in a marriage, friendship, or business setting. If you remove the incentive for either, the agreement may fail, and survival of the relationship may be jeopardized.

The feelings of losers must be considered. Over and above the incentive they may have to keep the agreement, the fact that they lost can breed feelings of resentment and ill will. In a close, personal relationship you do not want to win the battle but lose the war.

The practiced negotiator will always seek ways to make the other side feel good at the end of the negotiation. They know the relationship is often more important than the issue at hand.

Rules and Negotiations

A Great White has no known predator. He is unique in that he can and does make his own rules. They are simple as they are based solely on the concept that might does make right in their world. Machiavelli would have liked the great white shark.

Every situation has rules. Whether it is playing baseball on the corner lot or submitting an appeal to the Supreme Court. Knowing the applicable rules enables us to compete more effectively.

In school, legal situations, dealing with any governmental agent and other structured settings, rules must be followed to stay in the game and make progress. As an example, failure to adhere to specifics of state contract law can invalidate contracts.

Depending on your goal and the importance of the negotiation, it may be wise to hire professionals to assist in the documentation to insure what you sign is what was agreed to in the first place. A note of caution: Use these professionals as tools to help you. Do not rely on them to solve your problem.

Rules are essential to order but they are not sacrosanct. If you find the rules to be too restrictive it is your right to challenge them.

Far too often I have heard negotiators say they didn't ask for a concession because it was simply not “done” or the "rule" could not be challenged. All to frequently these are rules established by the other person (landlord or developer as an example). Other than having something you want, these individuals hold no power over you; they have no authority to which you must succumb. Also once firm rules may change over time.

Don't assume that rules of others necessarily apply to you or are still in effect. Rules are subject to time and circumstances. They are not always in effect. Good negotiators challenge rules to avoid missing an opportunity.

The Power of Persuasion

If you want to win a negotiation you must expect to win. Attitude counts! Like any sport or other competitive venue, attitude has a direct bearing on the outcome of a negotiation.

Each negotiation, no matter how insignificant, by definition is based in conflict. The people involved are each competing to protect their respective rights by depriving another of his or her expectations. It is a negotiation over conflicting interests.

The secret of winning lies in the passion one brings to the event. If you are convinced that you are right, if you think you deserve to win, if you know that you are in the right, then your passion will color each argument, strengthen each statement, and lead you to victory. If you have doubts, you will be less than effective. Get rid of your doubts before getting involved.

Positive Attitude Tips:

Plan to win. When you are considering strategies and tactics before a meeting envision using each tactic and prevailing with it. This mental exercise sets in your mind the feeling or the gestalt of deploying the strategy or tactic successfully. When the time comes to actually use it, your actions will be more natural and more effective.

Expect to win. When setting your objectives and goal, test them against what you know to be reality. If they are reasonable expectations, visualize achieving the objective. Do this repeatedly to set the image in your mind that the objective and goal is achieved. Don’t focus on the process of achieving it during this mental exercise but on actually achieving it. This is a form of programming yourself to not only want the objective but feel entitled to it. You are aligning your inner being to expecting to walk in and win. You are empowering yourself to prevail.

Act like a winner. When you enter a room, stand tall, make direct eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and be confident in why you are there. Take the time to get comfortable at the table, lay out material you may need, then settle back, ready to begin. Your statements should be brief, pithy and authoritative. Concise, targeted proposals convey clarity of purpose and conviction on your part. As you deliver them, assume they will be accepted. The power of a positive delivery is immeasurable. If the other person has doubts about their position, it may show in their reaction. Be alert for signs of their doubt. If they question you proposal, ask them why. Never accept on face value an objection. If you are confident of your position, the other person should be placed on the defensive unless they can prove you wrong.

The power of persuasion is based in your personal conviction of being right and entitled to prevail.

Learn to Communicate

Babies Must Forget to Communicate

Gorillas beat their chests and roar to establish their supremacy in the jungle. This simple approach to communicating can be very daunting if you happen to be cornered at the time!
For millions of sleep-deprived mothers around the world, the findings of a mom from Australia with a special gift could be a miracle! Priscilla Dunstan says she's unlocked the secret language of babies. When Priscilla was a toddler, her parents discovered she had a photographic memory for sound. At age 4, she could hear a Mozart concert on the piano and play it back note for note.

Persuasion Techniques
Priscilla says "Other people might hear a note but I sort of get the whole symphony," She goes on saying. "So when someone's speaking, I get all this information that other people might not pick up." That mysterious second language took on an astounding new meaning when Priscilla became a mother to her baby, Tom. "Because of my gift for sound, I was able to pick out certain patterns in his cries and then remember what those patterns were later on when he cried again," Priscilla says. "I realized that other babies were saying the same words."

After testing her baby language theory on more than 1,000 infants around the world, Priscilla says there are five words that all babies old utter regardless of race and culture. These are Neh="I'm hungry", Owh="I'm sleepy". Heh="I'm experiencing discomfort", Eair="I have lower gas", and Eh="I need to burp".

Evidently all babies have the same basic 'vocabulary' at birth. When parents don't respond to those reflexes, the baby learns to stop using them. When parents don't respond they must learn how to make their needs understood.

What are these babies doing? They are learning how to negotiate. The first rule of negotiation is that one must be able to -communicate and hear the wants and needs of the situation.

When we enter into a negotiation, any negotiation, we need to communicate. We need to learn how to do this in that specific situation. Each situation, because there are different personalities and issues involved, present differing communication challenges.

In a family dispute yelling or screaming is very likely going to block effective communications rather than make your point. The best way to resolve an emotionally charged discussion is to learn how to diffuse anger to allow both sides to be heard and to try work out their difficulties.

In the business environment negotiators who are demanding and use aggressive tactics often win small skirmishes but lose battles when the other person walks away from the table or declines to negotiate further. They may also miss opportunities to build the relationships that may later have been the bridge necessary to succeed.

Parents, struggling to communicate with their teenaged son will find that a ratio of calm logic may be far more effective that harsh criticism and grounding for sneaking out at night. Even though he is grounded there is little to do once you are asleep and he has your car keys. Rebellion is a strategy to test limits. By having their teenagers balance responsibility and performance in setting their own limits parents will fare far better than trying to enforce an autocratic approach.

By shutting down communication one loses the opportunity to learn from the exchange. As long as you possess absolute power this may work for you, Beware, typically power is fleeting and revenge is sweet!

How does one learn to communicate in a given situation? Much like the babies discussed above, we need to listen and observe the reactions to what we are saying. Verbal, non-verbal, overt, discreet responses need to be studiously considered during initial conversations the lead up to the actual negotiation so that you are prepared to understand what the other person is trying to say. Style, mannerisms, dialect, diction, education, background, knowledge, expertise are all exposed when one speaks. The question is if you are able to 'hear' the subtle messages that are being sent and aware that they will help you to learn how best to communicate with the individual once the discussion becomes serious and focused.

Negotiating is a natural process but by no means is being effect at negotiating easy. It takes hard work and discipline to be more than a casual negotiator. Take the time and make the investment to be come good. The efforts will return huge benefits throughout all aspects of your life.

Related Content
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Six Basic Negotiating Tips
What to Avoid When Negotiating
How We Negotiate

How to Negotiate

Handling Bullies in a Negotiation

Elephants, gorillas and lions all posture as though they think they are all powerful. All it takes is one retort from your trusty elephant gun to shake their confidence!

Bullies are not just kids on the playground or lurking after school. Unchecked they grow up developing the interpersonal traits of the habitual bully. As grown-ups, bullying is often a characteristic of those not in power but close to it. Often powerful managers will have excellent hatchet men as assistants. These alter ego manifestations wield school yard bullying tactics in the name of their patron. Often the assistant is so afraid of failure that they exceed their authority. Such behavior, while effective much of the time, can be a buffered situation that hinders effective negotiations. If you are being 'handled' by such an assistant, find a way to deal directly with the principal.

Large developers are well known for training their leasing managers to negotiate from a "my way or the highway" perspective. This aggressive posturing is viewed as bullying by the many tenants who have to try to deal with them. Many tenant reps put up with this attitude because they are afraid not to make the deal. But it is necessary to be bullied. If the tenant rep takes the time to learn the facts surrounding the developer's financing, the vacancy rate in the center, and what other tenants are talking to the developer, they can determine whether the demands of the leasing manager are real or feigned. If feigned, tenants should be able to back the bully down and negotiate reasonable terms. If not, they should try to go around the leasing manager to someone willing to discuss the merits of the situation.

Some developers are bullies with power. That is, their developments are so strong that they are able to make the rules of the game. They should remember that when the time comes that they lose their power, and it almost always does, then they can expect retribution from the tenants they have abused in the past.

If you possess the power to dictate terms in a negotiation, do so in a way that does not appear to be bullying, autocratic or dictatorial. You want to structure an agreement that both parties want to keep. It is always good to have everyone leave the table with some self-esteem intact. In business, people change positions and companies a lot. You never know if the person you abused last week will be sitting across the table from you when the power equation is reversed. Build relationships as you meet and deal with people. The relationships you develop along the way will pay dividends in the future.

If the bullying is habitual in a personal or family relationship, you have the problem of not being able to get away to let things cool down or avoid future incidents. You need to consider your options. Determine if it is a real physical threat, in which case you need to get out and try to work things out after you are safe. Assess if the behavior can realistically be modified. Sometimes mediation and negotiation cannot change a situation and different professionals are needed. Sometimes there simply is no solution.

Assume and Fail!

The difference between man and beast is that man assumes he is better than the beast. In the wild a man is only a match if he has the right equipment, is well trained, and knows the jungle. A camera on safari is no defense against a charging rhino!

In every dispute resolution one must assume certain things about the other person in order to make progress. As an example, you may be trying to measure when the other person has reached his limit in the discussion before you make your final concession. How you come to this conclusion must be based in part on an assumption on your part.

To assume is to presume or presuppose. Assume also means to imagine. This is dangerous territory in a negotiation. You need to limit your imagination as much as possible by turning to your communication skills and validating your assumptions. But, better still, you need to minimize your assumptions.

Assume less, listen more:

-Identify what you are assuming before a meeting, and when the meeting starts, ask questions to validate your assumptions.

-Seek third party input to validate an assumption. Don't make an assumption about something that can be researched.

-If you don't know, ask. You may be surprised at how open the other person is.

If the assumption is about a significant issue, don't rely on your gut. Investigate, question, brainstorm, network and research until you can assess the approximate accurateness of your assumption. No one said negotiating is easy.

Flash Negotiations

Running into a angry grizzly requires swift, deliberate action. It is often best to aim and shoot rather than think and plan how to react.

Flash Negotiations is a tactic used to quickly resolve an issue. The proper use of this tactic relies on the sixth sense a negotiator gets that a resolution is at hand. This can happen when meeting the other person for the first time. Usually such meetings are tactical opportunities to gather and validate information upon which future strategies are developed. But the experienced negotiator will, on occasion, get a flash opportunity to open resolution discussions while the other person is off guard. Take advantage of these situations to save time and money. Flash Negotiations often yield the best possible deal available.

How does flash negotiating work?

To be able to deploy Flash Negotiations one must be able to draw upon his or her experience reading people, understanding the specific situation, knowing the background facts and understanding what they are prepared to do to make the deal. Armed with a strong base of experience and people skills, an aware negotiator commences the research interview. As the discussion develops, the other person may signal that he or she is receptive to an offer, is caught off guard, wants quick resolution, or is up to speed and prepared to discuss the matter.

Any of these signals presents an opportunity for Flash Negotiations.

If you are prepared to open negotiations, take the initiative and make a low but realistic offer. Tender as low an offer as you think will be received without shutting off the dialogue.

If the other person counters the offer or asks for more information you will know that the opportunity exists for a Flash Negotiation. His counter will set the parameter of the bid / ask and you can typically assume that the negotiation will end up at the median of the bid and ask. In a flash negotiation I often move quickly to that median point and use the swift pace of the negotiation as a reason to acknowledge the other person's professionalism, insight and forthrightness.

If you are ready to deploy Flash Negotiations as a tactic you will typically find that you will secure better terms and save time by doing so. As you have initiated the dialogue, you should be in control of the facts, be better prepared, and have the negotiating advantage while the other person has had little time to assess the situation.

When to use Flash Negotiations:

-When more time benefits the other person.
-When time is critical to your cause.
-When you know what you are willing to spend.

When Flash Negotiations may not be appropriate:

-When you aren't sure what your initial offer should be.
-When you do not know what you are willing to spend.
-When time is critical to the other person.
-When you are not prepared.
-When you do not have the authority to commit to the terms.

Develop the discipline to be alert and ready to deploy Flash Negotiations and you will be more effective as a negotiator or mediator.

Negotiating Tactics

Everyone talks about negotiating tactics. I prefer to think of tactics as tools to resolve problems. The term "tactics" often connotes efforts to manipulate another into agreeing to something they don't want to agree to do. That may be shortsighted as agreements forged on reluctance have a habit of falling apart as soon as the oppressed side has an opportunity to go back on a prior agreement.

The best agreement is a lasting agreement.

Tactics that coerce compliance are best reserved for last ditch efforts to save a deal that has all but failed.

The tools of negotiation are those tactics and strategies that work to bring the parties together. Such tactics serve to:


Tactics that tend to be coercive attempt to:


Consider the tenor of the negotiation and your tactical intent before employing any negotiating tactic.

Bluffing is a dangerous negotiation tactic.

A pack of wolves can smell your fear. Yelling and shouting is better than running, but not as good as firing your rifle if only you had remembered to bring it!

Do not employ bluffing as a tactic unless you are prepared to have it called. Bluffing can be a strategic mistake if you can't back it up.

A bluff is a venture into the unknown. You are calculating the other side will back down or not take the challenge. If you are wrong, you will have to perform or be caught in a bluff. Once you are caught bluffing, the other side will tend to assume you are always bluffing. It is essentially being caught in a lie.

Strategically it is safest to bluff when you have nothing to lose. Sometimes last ditch bluffing pays off. Sometimes it doesn't. The odds, obviously, are in your favor of improving your position as compared to doing nothing and accepting defeat.

There are times when you know you have cornered the other person. If the person then proffers an obvious bluff, you may want to consider it. It can be strategically prudent to grant a minor, ancillary concession to shore up the transaction rather than see the deal collapse and try to make the deal again.

Overcoming Barriers to Negotiations

When embarking on a hike in the woods don't expect it to be a walk in the park. Anticipating challenges and obstacles is the best insurance to winning a negotiation. Barriers to a settlement are the reasons negotiating is necessary in human interaction. Without them life really would be walk in the park!

It is not if, but where, barriers exist. I say where rather than when. If you view the negotiation process as a journey, you will find your path littered with obstacles challenging your progress. Seeking each out and resolving them is the only way to make it to the end of your journey.

Understanding that they exist is the first step. Uncovering them is the second. Resolving them is the third.

To better understand where the another person is coming from in a negotiation, take time to get to learn about the person. Visit his or her office. Get a feel for the person's personal life including family, interests and hobbies. Talk with mutual friends. In short, learn what you can before settling into the actual negotiation. Football coaches video the competition and then review the tapes with their players to identify and anticipate likely offensive and defensive barriers they will face. Negotiations should be no different. It is an adversarial sport.

When you are stymied by a barrier, find a way around it. If it is a personal prejudice, you may want to call in a co-negotiator to counter-act the image you represent. If it is a technical matter, you may want to enlist the help of an expert. Your role as a negotiator or mediator is to identify and resolve barriers.

In family situations the barrier can be generational. A father often filters the statements of his thirty-something son as though he was still an adolescent. And the son still looks at his father as a stern, judging parent. Changing this engrained perception is difficult because both are relying on years of first hand observation.

Barriers are the crux of human interaction. Rather than trying to avoid them, embrace them as natural challenges to be overcome. A positive attitude toward resolution is ninety percent of the battle.

Anxiety is Normal in Negotiations

Sharks never show anxiety, as predators they sense it. Then they go for blood. Make sure you have plenty of deodorant when 'swimming with a shark'. Power negotiators train to be able to observe, detect and capitalize on the anxiety of their opponents.

It is natural to start any negotiation with some anxiety. Whether in a family setting or the business environment, conflict is not comfortable for most people and a negotiation is a step we take to resolve conflict. Conflict by nature is stressful. Anxiety comes from not being fully prepared or experienced in any endeavor. People are anxious on their first date, before speaking in front of others and when meeting the in-laws. Why should they not be anxious before starting a negotiation with strangers?

Mediators know the root of the anxiety is typically the fear of the unknown. That is why they start mediation sessions with clear, understandable instructions to the parties explaining how mediation is structured, what they can expect, and what the rules of engagement are. The mediator is working at removing the anxiety from the room and opening the way for productive discussions. A seasoned negotiator will take similar steps in a negotiation to set up an environment that is conducive to reaching an accord.

Negotiators can create anxiety as a tactic by introducing new facts, raising embarrassing questions and challenging assumptions to unsettle the other person. Creating doubt may help to bring a recalcitrant opponent back to the negotiating table by undercutting his confidence. It may also create a defensive atmosphere that is counter productive.

Antagonism as a Negotiating Tactic

Don't feed the sharks if you want to go swimming! Intentionally irritating another person is usually counter-productive to settling a dispute. The goal is to build relationships upon which agreements can be forged. That being said, the parties to any dispute are essentially antagonists.

When a negotiation is stalemated and no one is really trying to make progress, shifting styles from that of a polite mediator to that of an antagonist can evoke a reaction. Such reactions cause some form of movement in the discussions. Then the parties on one side begin to bicker. They may be called into a caucus session by their attorney and told to quell the internal fighting in public as it undermines their cause. Similarly, a mediator stymied between two parties may become antagonistic toward one of the parties in private by implying that they are wasting his time by not trying to reach a settlement or not considering facts when they are presented. A healthy tongue lashing in private may serve as a reality check for the obstinate party and evoke a counter proposal.

When one party does not like a proposal and does not need to make the deal, he may simply harden his position and become antagonistic. If he is willing to walk away, being abrupt will either save time or cause the other side to improve their offer to keep the dialogue going. Either way, the antagonistic approach has used the power of indifference or negativism to change the outcome of the meeting.

Antagonistic tactics can backfire. Egos are fragile things and anger can rage uncontrollably when a person is provoked. Use an antagonistic style or tactic only if you are prepared to walk away from the meeting if things fall apart.

Eventually Negotiators Must Agree

For a negotiation to be successful, it must end in agreement. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. He has to want to take a drink.

The parties to any agreement both have to be willing to sign. This is different than wanting to sign. An agreement does not necessarily need to be equally satisfying. It just needs to be agreed to. Negotiators and mediators know that disparity of satisfaction has little to do with getting the parties to agree.

What is important is that both sides, individually, feel that they have gotten something out of the agreement.

Timing is everything. Agreements shouldn't be rushed. But a negotiator can prepare the way to reach an accord. Effective mediators and negotiators know this and use the negotiating process as a means to building an environment that promotes agreement.

Practice makes perfect. Actually, we all learn by practicing. Getting the parties comfortable with committing is part of achieving a global accord. All too often a negotiator tries to rush to an agreement only to be frustrated when the other person pulls back at the last minute. The problem is that the other person is psychologically not prepared to agree. This may well be an unconscious reaction to being pressed too hard to do something that he knows, in the end, he will agree to do. But undue or ill-timed pressure may cause him to rethink, and often change his mind.

One can pave the way to reach a global accord by making it a point to recognize each sub-agreement the parties make during the conversation or negotiation. These agreement opportunities can be as simple as deciding where to meet, to selecting a restaurant for a lunch break. They will also apply to small issues within the context of the discussion. These small achievements of collaboration establish a pattern of cooperation that prepares the parties mentally to accept the final terms.

Unless you have pre-emptive power and intend to use it, realize that you have the power to do everything but make the other party sign the agreement.

Few negotiations are concluded through invoking absolute power. Those that do would be better referred to as mugging the other person. In such situations, one side is out to decimate the other with little regard to the damage done in the process. This is an abusive situation, and after the dust settles, the oppressed party will be laying in wait for any excuse to break the contract or simply leave.
Power driven agreements are typically short-lived. Given the chance, the other person will renig as soon as possible.

Data Can Impact a Negotiation

Identification of edible plants in a survival situation can be the difference between living and dying. Knowing the poisonous plants is essential!

Data is any information available about a given topic, person, commodity or situation. Having the discipline to gather, assess and use this data makes the difference between negotiating and begging. Preparedness is the key to a successful negotiation.

Typically information is readily available if you know how to seek it out.

If the information you are seeking is fact-based and in the public domain, the information may be available at the library, newspaper archives, from a title company, or off the Internet. If it concerns a payment that is in question, records from your accounting group or a copy of your personal check from your bank may be what you need. It may be troublesome to get the hard data, but it is difficult to refute and worth the extra effort.

Knowing the facts that help you is a good thing. Knowing those that hurt your cause is much better. When you conduct your fact-based research, don't narrow your search to the specific item. Be on the alert for related information that may be used against you or undermine your position. The search for data should be broad-based and inclusive to allow you to properly prepare for the moment of confrontation.

If your research is about the personality of the person you are confronting, seek the counsel of others who know the person, study previous negotiation results with the person or his company, casually discuss the person with his or her secretary, or read up on the person's activities. With a little sleuthing, there are usually some valuable insights available. As with data-based research, cast a wide net and collect as much information about the other person's interests, nature, and reputation as possible. You can use this collective pool of data to talk about his hobbies and interests to build a relationship or use it to be on the alert for his known stylistic tactics.

Take the time to fully prepare. If you do this, often as not you will be better prepared than the other person. As a result, you may be able to control the conversation and impact the outcome of the negotiation.

Power in Negotiations

Everyone possesses some form of power. It is not a unique or rare commodity. It exists within each of us. Power is an integral aspect of all negotiations. Those who have it flaunt it. Those who don't, crave it. Power is the fulcrum from which one seeks to leverage his or her position. The ability to reach within and draw upon it in time of crisis is another matter.

Knowledge is power. Similarly the lack of knowledge gives the other person power. Because you have not reviewed your material, your options, the facts, or your opponent's strengths and weaknesses you can not know just how much power the other person possesses in a given situation. Doing your homework before a negotiation expands your power base and diminishes any advantage the other person may have.

Everyone has the power to say "no". Knowing when to do so is essential. Knowing how much you can afford to spend on a purchase gives you the power of knowing when to walk away from the transaction. Saying "No" is very powerful in any negotiation. It is an unequivocal statement. Saying, "No, that is my highest and best offer. Take it or leave it!" is the ultimate power move. At this point in the negotiation you have decided that you have nothing to lose. It forces the other side to make a hard decision. Accept your terms or forego the transaction. Either way you have regained control of the situation.

Never enter a negotiation assuming you have no power. That is predisposing failure. If it is a situation where you have to meet and you are powerless, make the meeting worthwhile by cross-channeling the conversation to open other doors of opportunity. Don't waste your time or the other person's posturing when you know that you will concede. Move swiftly to the final agreed terms and then make the most of the balance of the meeting.

Power is an interesting commodity. It can be fact based or an illusion. Factual power has to do with money, options and time. The more you have of these three items, the more negotiating strength you have. Illusionary power, on the other hand, is often based on how the other person "sees" or perceives you. Your image is based in part on the assumptions the others make about you. You can impact those opinions by the way you act, your dress, your surroundings, your mannerisms, and how you address the others. Power is a state of mind; both yours and those around you.

Examples of Leadership Skills

Leaders emerge from the ranks of men. Why they become leaders when others do not probably has been studied and observed since men and women began to merge into tribes and clans.

Newsweek ran a story about George Washington in the May, 23, 2005 issue. They observed, "What was the hold he (George Washington) had over men? There was nothing foreordained about george Washington's success a general. But he saw things as they were, and he saw himself as he was. As subject as any man to moments of doubt and uncertainty, he managed to summon the self-confidence necessary to persevere amid diseaster. He was committed heart and soul to the cause, resilient, open to new ideas and seldom failed to learn from his mistakes. Through the often dark year of 1776, he would not only overcome his own fears but help his countrymen conquer theirs, too - a supreme act of providential leadership."

To negotiate well one must lead those involved, especially their opponents, to reach a mutually viabable agreement.

Being passionate about the negotiation establishes one's conviction and commitment to the process. No argument is properly delivered without conviction and passion. If you are not prepared or if you do not believe in what you are asking it will be evident unless you are very, very fortunate. Don't rely on luck to see you through.

When you enter the room do so with zest. This energy is contagious. It is a positive force. It shows that you are confident, focused, and passionate about what you are about to do; fight for your cause. It bgins to set the attitude of the small group thay will have ot work together.

Develop ways to telegraph this personal attitude:

- Check your tiredness or personal problems at the door. Actually take a personal moment before entering the room to consciously do this. If you are with a team, step aside to make sure you are mentally ready to enter. If you are leading the group, you should do this before even meeting up with your teammates.

- Enter the room boldly. Make an entrance, don't just enter.

- Make it a big deal to meet someone foe the first time. Recognize personally each of the people in the room. Pause when shaking hands and mentally register the person's name and facial features. Make good, firm, direct, in-control eye contact with each person observing how they react.

- Make it a point to see if everyone has everything they need, even if it is not your office. Take control of the environment. Be assertive in seeing to the needs of others.

When everyone is ready to start the negotiaitons, reinforce your positive attitude with a positive statement. Something a simple as "I'm ready to do this!" sends a very clear message across the table.

Understanding the dynamics of influence or leadership will help you to initiate and maintain control over the discussions. Resolving conflict requires garnering the support of two or more opposing forces to move forward together. Leadership can play a large part in this process.

Iran's Stalling Tactic May Have Backfired

Dafna Linzer of the Washington Post on Monday, September 19, 2005 wrote an article, "Iran's President Does What U.S. Diplomacy Could Not" showing how Iran's new president bought his country some time. She wrote, "Facing mounting criticism after walking away from negotiations with Europe and restarting part of Iran's nuclear program, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked the world to withhold diplomatic pressure while he put together new proposals."">Iran's President Does What U.S. Diplomacy Could Not" showing how Iran's new president bought his country some time. She wrote, "Facing mounting criticism after walking away from negotiations with Europe and restarting part of Iran's nuclear program, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked the world to withhold diplomatic pressure while he put together new proposals."
We live in a fast-paced society. Between faxes, email, pagers and mobile telephones, there is precious little time taken to reflect on the negotiation once it begins. But the pace of the discussions is something that you can and should manage. Just because the other party is in a hurry is no reason for you to rush a response or even respond. Take your time, assess your options, and set your strategy carefully. Then respond. You gain power and authority by setting the pace of the negotiations.

Keeping the other person in the dark can also be useful. When you use delay as a tactic, you do not need to tell everyone. Sometimes the unknown can forestall an action that jeopardizes your position while you regain your composure. When you are fully prepared, go on the offensive.

Linzer postulates that when the Iranian president contined, "Ahmadinejad appeared to threaten as much when he warned from the General Assembly podium that in the face of U.S. provocation, 'we will reconsider our entire approach to the nuclear issue'."

But such tactics can backfire. "The effect of that speech will likely be a toughening of the international response to Iran because it was seen by so many countries as overly harsh, negative and uncompromising," Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns said in an interview Sunday. "The strategic aim of a great many countries is to see Iran suspend its nuclear program and return to peaceful negotiations with the Europeans."

Is an Enemy Required in a Negotiation?

In the September 17, 2005 edition of the Epoch Times there is an article about Sino-U.S. relations, the Storm Clouds That Cancelled the Sino-U.S. Summit Were Not from Katrina, by He Qinglian. In that article he explains the need for an adversarial relationship between the U.S. and China. "China's ever-growing military power requires that China have an "enemy" so that the military can greatly enhance its political status and increase its budget."

The Chinese government appears to need to make an enemy of the U.S. to keep control of its population. In normal life we tend to make our opponents our enemies. This is usually not the case. They just want something different than we do. Like the opportunity to make a profit or to win a point. An enemy is out to do you physical or fiscal harm. In most business negotiations that is not the intent of the parties. Divorce settlements may be different. The parties want to do damage!

It is not always productive to view your opponent as an enemy. One makes enemies and friends through their actions. Both your enemies and friends will talk behind your back. Realize just as you seek background information on others before a meeting, they will likely do the same. If the feedback they get about you is too adverse, you may never be able to have an open, productive dialogue.

Dangers of being viewed as an Enemy:

-You may be prejudged.

-You may lose opportunities if viewed as an enemy or staunch adversary.

-You may have to overcome fear and hostility from a perfect stranger.

-It will take twice the effort to convert that enemy to be a friendly associate.

He Qinglian goes on to say, "A short while ago, General Zhu Chenghu announced the intention of using nuclear weapons against the U.S. The explanation offered by the Chinese government, that Zhu's speech only expressed his own personal opinions and does not represent the Chinese military, is not convincing. Looking at the changes in the relationship between the two countries, whether a state of military neutrality will last depends on whether or not the Chinese civil system is strong enough to manage the military."

Beware of letting your prejudice block your ability to negotiate. Yes, you have to watch your enemies to see the strike coming before it hits; forewarned is forearmed. Don't let an impression of your enemy hinder communications. Through a dialogue you may find he is not the enemy but a potential ally.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Does Little to Advance Negotiations

Visiting Washington this week Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad introduced himself to the U.S. media showing defiance at U.S. charges over Iran's nuclear program. Ahmadinejad went on to address the subject of Katrina and poke at the Bush administration's response. He compared the delivery of aid to victims in the Gulf Coast unfavorably with the response to natural disasters in the Islamic republic.

Whether you are negotiating, telling a joke or simply discussing a topic, you are partially responsible to make sure others are listening. The best way to stymie communication is to:

-Irritate the other person so he or she stops listening.
- Pepper your comments with blatant falsehoods.
- Intentionally put the other person on the defensive.
- Seek to raise issues that are sure to bring stress to the conversation.

Some people enter a negotiation with the intent to demonstrate their power and control. Unfortunately, in doing so they may actually undermine any chance of reaching an accord. But if your intent is not to negotiate at the moment, then such behavior becomes a justified stalling tactic.

Continuing he added, "We thought Americans would act more quickly and help their fellow Americans. We expected more." He added: "During the very first day of the hurricane, people could have brought more and limited the extent of the tragedy."

Ahmadinejad obviously has no intent of negotiating with the US about Iran’s nuclear program. His style and remarks are designed to thwart any productive conversation. Knowing that we are embroiled in Iraq and distracted by Katrina, this is a logical posture for him to take. He has little to lose and much to gain by pressing forward.

Read the news article "Iran's Leader Critical in First US Visit," by Glenn Kessler (at the UN) - the Washington Post, 16 Sept 2005 (registration required)

Team Negotiations

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown was recalled to Washington to oversee national hurricane Katrina relief efforts. His replacement is Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts.

Team negotiations are often essential in today's business environment. They function like any other team and become dynamic entities in their own rights. By expanding a group, additional talents and perspectives are added. Additional members also increase communications and focus challenges. This can be beneficial to the process, or detrimental.

Like any other aspect of negotiations or management, teams need to be well managed.

If you are heading a negotiating team, you need to manage the people on your team. Even if they are "professionals" you are responsible for their preparation, research, and the role they will play. This is especially important if they are "professionals". Too often clients delegate the preparation and research aspects of a settlement conference to their legal staff. This would be fine if the issues were going to be resolved by simply applying legal principles. When it comes to other issues and overall strategy, the responsibility is ultimately vested solely with the lead negotiator. You need to insure that everyone on your team knows their role, is prepared, and most importantly, that you have set the global strategy for the session and the parameters for settlement.

If you find you have a weak team member, replace that person quickly. If they have been engaged in the fray, do so in a fashion that does not impair the progress you have made. Negotiations is little more than small group management.

In the case of Michael Brown, he had to be removed because he had become a liability. Michael Chertoff tried to smooth over the impact of his removal by saying it was part of a larger need: "The effort to respond and recover from hurricane Katrina is moving forward. We are preparing to move from the immediate emergency response phase to the next phase of operations," Chertoff said during a press conference. "Importantly, we must have seamless interaction with military forces as we move forward with our critical work in New Orleans and the surrounding parishes. At the same time, we are still in hurricane season and need to be prepared to deal effectively with the possibility of future hurricanes and other disasters."

Collateral Damage Assessment.

Michael Scheuer, one of the CIA's foremost authorities on Bin Laden, says his agents provided U.S. government officials with about ten opportunities to capture Bin Laden. All of them were rejected. One of the last proposals, which he described to the 9/11 Commission in a closed-door session, involved a cruise missile attack against a remote hunting camp in the Afghan desert. Bin Laden was believed to be socializing with members of the royal family from the United Arab Emirates.

Collateral damage is a seemingly unique human concern. It comes from living within social structure and being concerned about how one's actions might impact those around the targeted objective. In war, collateral damage pertains to loss of civilian life when taking a military objective and the potential of losing support at home or from one's allies. In negotiations, collateral damage can mean damage to one's reputation or the company's reputation if unilateral actions are taken.

Often the easy victory is foregone in favor of the collective good of a grander plan. But if you lose enough skirmishes, the war might become hard to survive.

The best way to manage collateral damage is to maintain a proper perspective as to the importance of the issues being discussed. If they are related to other issues, make sure you are addressing the big issues before you bring in your really big guns. Don't waste too much of your power base on minor issues. If you win the major battles, the small issues will likely fall into place in time.

When to Use Power

"The use of force is the last option for any president. ... You know we have used force in the recent past to secure our country." -- --U.S. President George W. Bush, on the possible use of military force against Iran.


Power is a constant in all negotiations. Understanding the dynamics of power in conflict settings is essential to mastering its potential. Skilled poker players know that for a bluff to be effective you must first establish yourself as being a competent player with a tendancy to back up your bets with good hands. The public remarks made by President Bush certainly deliver that message loud and clear. As he has done in Afganistan and Iraq, he has used our military when negotiations fail. By rattling his saber, President Bush is pressing Iran to soften their resolute posture before he is forced to act. This does not mean he wants to act. Only that he might act and is not afraid to do so.

Power can complicate negotiations. Viable deals are often missed because one side assumes the other will not negotiate or will take undue advantage of their strength. This false assumption can result in an acceptable offer never being tendered. In fact, were a proposal made, there is always a chance that it could lead to a satisfactory result.

Everyone has power in a negotiation if they have the ability to walk away from the "table". A powerful person or company does not always hold all the cards. No matter your net worth, company size or investment in the situation, if you can get up and walk away, you have a degree of power. You have the power, and it is absolute, to say "No!".

In today's world, every nation appears to be vying for their own power base to remain significant on the national stage. Iran and North Korea are using the threat of obtaining nulclear status to grab the center stage while the rest of the world is trying to diminish the nulclear threat. America is very aware of the growing threat and is putting them on notice. We may just have to use the power we have to thwart their efforts as we have done in the past. His statements are to be taken seriously as he has the track record of doing what he says he is going to do. Saddam did not listen or believe. Hopefully others will.