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

The Negotiation Skills Company -- Newsletter July 2000

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


Quite often we feel we have a good thing going. Our business is meeting or even exceeding its objectives and we may rely on the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The same kind of reasoning may apply to our lives as consumers, parents, or friends.

Sometimes an idea comes to us either from our own imaginations or as a suggestion or sales pitch from someone else. Do we conclude that our BATNA, our Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement is to leave things alone, or is it worth investigating different choices.

One might argue this is a crucial question faced by "old economy" businesses as the "new economy" appears to be changing from the wave of the future to the wave of the present. Deciding to consider change can be a momentous choice.

When we have an idea to sell, we need to convince other parties to reach agreement with us. If they are not initially motivated to take that step, we have to find a way to influence their thinking.

The fundamental question is: what brings parties together to negotiate an agreement? In many cases, agreements appear simply to result from trading bargaining chips: "If you will do this, then I will do that." What we should be looking for is how what each party has to bring to the deal creates more value than the sum of the parts that each contributes. Negotiation should bring about added value; it should yield synergy.

One of the participants in a recent TNSC workshop summed things up with a terrific insight: "It is not a matter of simply creating an agreement to bring parties together. The negotiation process should be compared to weaving. The parties work together to produce a solution that is stronger than the individual threads that make up a woven textile."

While it is possible that parties have different levels of power or strength, the combination of their contributions can create a solution with greater durability than either can contribute by himself or herself.


Many of our clients and workshop participants complain they have a very difficult time justifying the price they want to charge. This is a particular problem when it comes to asking for a raise. How do you justify your value to your boss or the price of a commodity to a customer? If you think in terms of value, rather than price, you have a better chance of reaching a mutually rewarding solution. And one of the most important things to do is to ask other parties how much they value a given item or result. After all, it is their belief about value that will motivate them; your determination of value is far less convincing.

There's an interesting story (found on our website) to illustrate value:

Many years ago a woman was in a restaurant in Paris when she noticed that Pablo Picasso was sitting at a nearby table. She was extremely excited and finally got up her courage to walk over to the great artist with a pen and piece of paper in hand.

"Oh, Monsieur Picasso, I have admired your work all my life. Is there any way you might be willing to make some kind of mark on this paper?"

Picasso took the pen and quickly scribbled something on the scrap of paper.

The woman asked, "Oh, thank you so much. What can I do in return, how can I thank you?"

Picasso said, "That will be $75,000."

The woman was dumfounded. "But that little scribble only took you a second to do. How can it possibly be worth $75,000?"

Picasso had a very simple reply: "That 'scribble' may have taken a second. But it took me 60 years to get to this point."


In the last issue of this sporadic newsletter, we mentioned that Steve Cohen has been doing an increasing amount of executive coaching and mentoring work. We have a special website devoted to these activities and you are invited to visit. The address is Let us know if we can be of service.


At the beginning of June we checked the list of subscribers to this newsletter and the quotations TNSC sends out every ten days. Approximately 3000 people from 78 countries subscribe at present. You are in good company.


"Great talkers should be cropp'd for they have no need of ears."
-- Poor Richard (Benjamin Franklin)

Good Luck and Good Negotiating


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The Negotiation Skills Company, Inc.   P O Box 172   Pride's Crossing, MA 01965, USA   
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