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 [...]

Don’t Be Bernie Sanders

2018-06-09T18:48:24+00:00 Tags: , |

"Notably, Sanders has downplayed his willingness to compromise and accommodate. His gruff image is more in keeping with his portrayal of himself as someone bucking against Washington corruption and cronyism." Political candidates in head-to-head races often divide themselves into two categories: the "insiders" who can work across the bench and get things done, and the "outsiders" with a revolutionary plan to shake up the establishment. Realistically, both compromise and resolution are necessary in any field — whether you're representing millions or buying your first car. Great negotiators possess the flexibility and self-awareness to switch styles when necessary... regardless of what signals they try to send about their personality. With thanks to: The Harvard Program on Negotiation

Bad Cop Donald

2018-06-09T18:37:01+00:00 Tags: , |

"The world is getting a good look at the two faces of the Trump administration: One is that of a team of government officials working hard to find common ground with like-minded nations... while the other is that of a president who seems bent on taking a hammer to the whole process." Even world leaders aren't above the occasional good cop, bad cop routine! Whether you believe Trump's unpredictability and antagonism are deliberate negotiating strategies or simply character flaws, one thing is certain — they give massive plausible deniability to US negotiators, who can safely push extreme requests under the guise of merely trying to satisfy a bad boss. This can only ever be an opening move in negotiations with other world leaders, who have formed strong coalitions to resist this tactic, and likely even use the exact "good cop, bad cop" phrasing behind closed doors. Pressure now falls on [...]

How China Frames Taiwan

2018-06-09T08:04:17+00:00 Tags: , |

"Recent events might suggest that Beijing has the upper hand. Taiwan now has 18 diplomatic allies – the lowest number in its history." Applying pressure across the world, from Carribean weapons deals to local air travel... the Chinese government is ramping up its demands for powerful actors to withdraw diplomatic recognition of Taiwan as a rival government. With the world's most populous military and second-largest economy, why does China care so much about these semantics? Very simply, framing matters. Even as Taiwain flips the PRC's game to strengthen ties with the US and Japan in response, the Politubro know that words have power. Unless you're careful, the more media you consume that refers to Taiwan as China's property, the more legitimate that belief will become, deep in your subconscious mind. Even if international attitudes only shift to become 0.1% more favorable towards China as a result, that still translates into [...]

Kim Jong-Un and Signalling

2018-06-09T08:29:21+00:00 Tags: , |

"Even if it fails... meeting a serving US president would still be hugely beneficial to Pyongyang as a means of strengthening Kim’s domestic and international position..." Not all negotiations are meant to succeed — and not every negotiator's goal is to get the best deal possible from the person across the table. Savvy leaders also use negotiations to send signals, gather information, or provoke emotional reactions from third parties. With thanks to: The Lowy Institute

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