Negotiation Skills Company, Inc.
Negotiation Skills Company, Inc.

The Negotiation Skills Company -- Newsletter November 2008

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The occasional newsletter of
The Negotiation Skills Company, Inc. (TNSC)

Number 42, November 2008

The occasional newsletter of The Negotiation Skills Company, Inc. (TNSC)

Special Edition


There's a myth in the United States - and some other countries - that in Chinese culture, there's one curse that is supposed to be particularly threatening: "May you live in interesting times." Chinese friends of mine claim the 'curse' is apocryphal - but perhaps it deserves attention by itself no matter where it comes from.

We are living in interesting times. What seemed normal to most of us in August 2008 ceased to be normal in mid-September. There are many elements of life we can no longer predict with the same assurance that most of us felt in August. We can no longer count on the value of investments, jobs, houses, pensions, or the dependability of financial institutions.

Do the changes in our economic situation mean we have to change the rules as we negotiate both professional and personal business deals? If a crisis means we should adopt the approach of 'every man for himself', many would argue that our negotiation practices should be based on never giving an inch to another party. By that analysis, the entire philosophy of negotiation as collaborative decision-making would appear to need to be dumped overboard.

Actually the contrary is true. In times of reduced resources, it is crucial to negotiate using a philosophy based on demonstrated good sense:

  • Negotiation is not a competitive sport. Viewing the process as a zero-sum game in which there are winners and losers means that parties who see themselves as losers will be grumpy and unwilling to fulfill deals.
  • Cooperation or collaboration is far more likely to yield durable, wise results.
  • Recognizing that money is not an interest in itself, but merely a tool for achieving interests frees one's mind to consider creative approaches that may cost less money yet achieve more favorable results.
  • Being self-confident enough to analyze your own interests, to understand what really drives your decisions will help you devise and implement negotiation strategies aimed at serving your interests - rather than simply overpowering other stakeholders. Serving your interests should be your number one goal.
  • Figure out how you can add value to others - and thus encourage them to seek you out for transactions.
  • Recognize that the value others add is why you negotiate with them in the first place.
  • Successful negotiation is a process that leads to an agreement each party will willingly fulfill. Unless you achieve that result, you have wasted your time - and the time of your negotiation counter-party. And time is a precious resource.
  • Think for the long-term. Short-term thinking is what got us into the global financial crisis.

When times are tough, smaller numbers of people have to accomplish more to achieve their business objectives. Enhanced competencies and business skills mean individuals have more tools to accomplish those goals more efficiently, with a better use of their time and other resources. Now is the time to invest in people to increase their productivity and bring about favorable results at less cost and yet arrive at better solutions.


We are adding new members to our team to strengthen our presence in the Baltics and Western Europe. More information to follow.

TNSC's clients include some of the largest companies in the world - as well as smaller organizations in a broad range of business sectors. We continue to learn from every participant in our programs - which is wonderful because when a person stops learning, they stop growing.

Final Word

"The things you don't expect are likely to provide the greatest opportunity for you to succeed."
USA Vice-President Elect Joseph Biden

Good luck and good negotiating,
Steven P. Cohen, President
The Negotiation Skills Company, Inc.

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