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The Value of Understanding It Yourself

2018-11-02T22:15:45+00:00 Tags: |

"Our tech guys took a look at the deal and they don't think it's good enough value for money. You'll have to drop the price a bit for us to consider it." What kind of reaction do you think the above sentences would receive? An immediate apology and drop in price, or confusion and defensiveness? In our experience, it is difficult enough to challenge anybody's beliefs while maintaining a positive relationship... let alone making it more difficult by challenging them using only somebody else's authority to back you up. If you want to be the best negotiator possible, you should have at least a basic understanding of the concepts and language being used for each component of the deal you are currently working on. You might never be a field-leading expert, but you should be able to coherently discuss any of the factors of the field without risk of being [...]

The Deal of Theseus

2018-11-02T22:15:05+00:00 Tags: , |

When deciding between two or more competing solutions that each have their own strengths, it can be valuable to repeatedly and hypothetically modify each solution, reconsidering their merit each time, until the choice becomes clearer. Imagine you are deciding to live in the Central Business District of a major city, close to work and entertaininment, or on a gorgeous rural property with sweeping vistas and unique flora and fauna all around. The difference between the two lifestyles offered up by these choices can be so overwhelming that you simply may not know where to begin in evaluating them. One mental tool you can use to assist you in this process is a "slight modification" exercise, where you modify each deal (keeping only its core features intact) and then reconsider how they stack up against each other. This can reveal important factors or decision-making processes that you could not see previously, [...]

Polarise Your Options

2018-11-05T18:11:39+00:00 Tags: |

Would you rather be stuck at home, at a beautiful national park, or on the highway in between the two? Unless you're a rare breed that enjoys peak hour traffic and being surrounded by other frustrated drivers, you'd much prefer to be either at home or the national park. Home offers the obvious advantages of comfort and freedom, whereas the national park likely offers nicer scenery and prospects of adventure. 1-mile-an-hour traffic flow in between offers neither. Remember that the same concept applies to negotiation and deal-making. If each party to the negotiation is directly opposed on five separate issues, it may satisfy neither party to just meet in the middle on every single one. You may be better off giving the opposition everything they want on Issue X, just so you can get everything you need on Issue Y in return. Balanced deals absolutely have their place, and are [...]

Are You Double Counting Issues?

2018-11-05T18:58:25+00:00 Tags: , |

If one of your priorities in a negotiation also impacts a second priority, chances are that you are currently overvaluing the first priority without knowing it. Let's look at how this might arise through an example — imagine you are a politician, weighing up whether or not you should accept a renegotiated bill on healthcare. You have a long list of issues to concern yourself with, but among those are: Cost to Taxpayers, Effective Coverage for the Poor, and Voter Popularity. When evaluating how the deal scores along each of those criteria, it can be extremely easy to fall into the subtle trap of letting the Cost to Taxpayers and Effective Coverage for the Poor scores heavily influence the score you give to Voter Popularity. After all, voters won't love footing an expensive bill, and they surely won't want a bill that only helps the rich... right? This train of [...]

Dream Big… Carefully

2018-10-30T01:29:33+00:00 Tags: , |

“In trying to find a language that wasn't culturally specific, the framers of the [Universal Declaration of Human Rights] eventually settled on a style that assumed, rather than reflected, universal acceptance. The end result, says Associate Professor Reinbold, was an avowedly secular document that carried a curiously religious tone and logic, [which] limited the appeal of universal freedoms during much of the Cold War/post-colonial period.” The language you use when negotiating with others matters, and it must vary based on who you are talking to and what you want to achieve. To some, extremely friendly or cooperative language may signal weakness or overinvestment in the relationship. For others, it is a simple prerequisite of any healthy partnership, and an insistence on aloof professionalism will strike them as suspicious or strange. Aspirational language that seeks to philosophically and morally unite everyone engaged in the agreement can sometimes produce greater happiness or [...]

60-40 Doesn’t Mean 60-40

2018-10-30T01:28:00+00:00 Tags: , |

Why is it that even small polling differences nationwide can lead to a massive difference in political representation? The answer is that polling percentages don’t get automatically reflected — or, more accurately, balanced out — across an entire nation. If Republicans are favored 60-40 in every single individual race across the USA, then Republicans will win every one of those races, and the actual representation will end up 100-0 in Republican favor. Spend some time thinking about how this applies to your negotiated agreements, and to the structure of your organisations and work groups more generally. For example, it doesn’t take a room full of antagonistic negotiators to leave a possible deal in ruins. It may only take a simple majority, or even a single, vindictive negotiator who has undue influence over everyone else’s attitudes and modes of thinking. And if every component of a negotiated deal leans just a [...]

Aspirational Lockout

2018-10-30T01:25:06+00:00 Tags: , |

"Indeed, as the renegotiations of NAFTA and KORUS suggest, the US is pursuing a “20th century” approach to trade, using its considerable leverage to force markets open and increase its advantages at all costs. Any potential American re-engagement with the TPP thus seems likely to undermine its “21st century” provisions and increase the unilateral benefits to Washington." Not all negotiated agreements are purely transactional or pragmatic in nature. Some agreements also try to be aspirational — they set lofty goals and values for all involved, and the principles behind the agreement may be considered vastly more important than any individual outcome. If you gain a reputation as a self-interested actor, you may find yourself locked out of these aspirational deals. Even if you could contribute value to the agreement, and even if every single other party would be better off with your involvement... the simple suspicion that you will undermine [...]

New Data, New Senses

2018-10-29T01:20:03+00:00 Tags: |

"For example, the app could link to your morning alarm to get the day started with the smell of coffee, or could add fragrances to texts so that messages from different friends come with distinct aromas." It might sound bizarre, but international researchers are now working hard to find ways to transmit tastes and smells through smartphones. If the technology pans out, humanity will almost certainly adjust to it within a matter of years, just as we have adapted to the existence of person-specific ringtones, or even the use of the Internet generally. In today’s world, it is no longer sufficient to simply be on the lookout for new data. We also have to keep watch for entirely new data channels — new senses — that are being established all the time. When negotiating with others, listening to what they say and reading what they write may be only half [...]

Everyone Has A Place

2018-10-29T01:19:24+00:00 Tags: |

"Spinifex grass: it’s spiky, dominates a quarter of Australia, and has no recognised grazing value. To top it all off, people have reportedly experienced anaphylactic shock from being pricked by its sharp leaf tips." Nature is full of creatures that are highly evolved to cause harm to others, but beautiful nevertheless — think of the majesty of a proud lion, or the silent efficiency of a great white shark. We might not like these creatures, but we inherently recognise their value and role in the world. We should also remember, though, that even nature’s more minor annoyances have their place too, and can even be far more vital or impactful for local ecosystems. Spiny spinifex grass might annoy us when we walk through it, but hopping mice and mallee emu wrens use it as a “fortress of safety”, using it to forage and dine in peace from larger predators. Similarly, [...]

More Than Meets The Eye

2018-10-30T01:51:03+00:00 Tags: , |

"Both sides had said they hoped to avoid a legal battle. Given that Samsung is one of Apple’s biggest suppliers, the companies had a strong incentive to move beyond their dispute and build on their ongoing partnership. Yet the two-day mediated talks between the CEOs in late May ended in impasse, with both sides refusing to back down from their arguments." The 2011 legal battle between Apple and Samsung just keeps on giving to those learning negotiation. Two key thoughts for today: If you asked 100 people about the relationship between Apple and Samsung, probably all 100 would describe them as technological competitors. This is certainly true, and yet Samsung is also a major supplier to Apple, and they have a vested interest in working together. Even seemingly clear-cut negotiations or relationships very often have more to them than meets the eye. Incredibly strong relationships and incentives to work together [...]

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