Thursday, January 12, 2017

Negotiations: Can't top this

"[You] can't top this" is a line I used to attain an advantage in countless negotiations. I'd set out my agenda, escalating point-by-point. You can't top this. I let it set so they have the last word.

Sometimes I throw my counter-parties a bone [no sweetener] to see if they bite.  If they don't bite I go back to square one. What's the difference between a bone and a sweetener ? A sweetener is something you cannot take back. A bone, if not accepted, leaves you under no obligation than you were before you offered it.

Case in point of a brilliant negotiator: Rex Tillerson, ex-Exxon CEO known to employ "temper tantrums and silent stare-offs" {WSJ) "Anger is a strategy, not an emotion." Tillerson avoided "projecting American superiority" when negotiating in far-flung places, he was "keeping it real" avoiding the emotional factor that would erode fair dealing.

"Keep your eyes on the prize", "Negotiating is a lot like dating", you often hear. In dating, women make the man prove himself.  Is that what you need to do when making deals ? Make the other party prove themselves ? It depends. If you want an emotional decision, make them prove themselves, but if you do not, stay away like hell. Patriotism or nationalism are not emotional motives to be triggered lightly. If you deal with the Russians or the Chinese and evoke nationalism, you quite possibly pulled the wrong lever. The host is always right in the host country.

At the negotiating table, everyone needs to be able to tap into their resources. If where [they] are right now is a pain point, I encourage them to let it out. "I'm here to help." I make it sure my counter-party knows that. If I'm dealing with a party that's so white-shoed they're sparkling, stick a fork in it and you're done. People "dry as a dead dingos donger" are not my favs.  I like to build people up. If someone looks like they're helpful but unsure of themselves, I want to see them empowered. In negotiations, if you empower people, you may have already won.


  1. The video you got there made me wonder, what does he have that I don't have ?

    Why does he get paid X12 what I do ?

    Small or smaller does not mean weak or weaker !

    Thanks, Max

  2. Hands down, this is the best and most entertaining blog I've read.

    Liked your video.


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