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

The Negotiation Skills Company -- Newsletter December 2001

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

Number 19, December 2001


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


Don't let the headlines fool you into thinking that the world has changed so much that negotiation has to be undertaken in a whole new light. Geopolitical events, economic conditions, and terrorist acts that give individuals reason to feel paranoid may reflect something new - but none of these circumstances has transformed the basic elements of human nature.

Our number one obligation as negotiators is to pursue outcomes that serve our interests. While the 'world situation' - whether it be political or economic - may influence our choices of people with whom to negotiate or the resources that are available, the process of negotiating wisely still rests on sensible process decisions. We need to prioritize among process elements that TNSC refers to as The Seven Pillars of Negotiational Wisdom(c):

  • Relationship - what impact will this negotiation have on our business or personal relationship with other negotiators or our constituents, the parties who stand to gain or lose depending on the negotiation's outcome?

  • Interests - what are the reasons that drive our pursuit of particular objectives - and can another party's ideas or resources help serve our interests better than what we bring to the table?

  • BATNA - our Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement may be derived from resources we control or influence. We may have choices of parties with whom to negotiate or may be better off relying on ourselves. BATNAs can change during negotiation each time we learn a new piece of information.

  • Creativity - are we to be governed by standard operating procedure, or can our interests be better served by thinking out of the box? If our ideas are the only ones worth taking seriously, it is hard to justify bringing additional parties into a negotiation -- the decision-making process.

  • Fairness - do we feel as if we are being treated fairly? How do other parties feel? If a negotiator feels she or he is not being dealt with in a fair manner, he or she may agree for purposes of bringing the bargaining to a close, but may walk away without having bought into the agreement.

  • Commitment - negotiations can only be called successful if they lead to agreements the parties are committed to fulfill. Learn whether the people at the bargaining table have the capacity to keep the promises they make. Use the negotiation process to build in long-term mechanisms for assuring the agreement will be honored.

  • Communication - information is the fundamental asset in negotiation. We communicate best by listening. Using questions and listening is the best approach for making sure negotiators are on the same page. We should keep asking ourselves whether the negotiation process is being used as a successful way of communicating information.

    By considering which of these deserves more attention in a given negotiation before the negotiation process begins, we are likely to do a better job. The recent past may have presented some shocks, but to be a good negotiator, you have to accept that things may not always go the way you expect. Keep the Seven Pillars in mind, and you should be able to respond wisely to the circumstances you face.

    Within the past several months TNSC has been mentioned or featured in publications ranging from Newsweek to Cosmopolitan in the United States as well as in both print and web publications in Canada, India, Korea, Poland - and in other places about which we haven't been notified. We've presented courses for clients across the United States and Europe, in business sectors including energy trading, computer dating, insurance, finance, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals.

    Steve Cohen has just finished writing a book scheduled to be published by an imprint of McGraw Hill in early 2002. We'll let you know when it is available.

    Adlai Stevenson said, "Man is a strange animal. He doesn't like to read the handwriting on the wall until his back is up against it."

    Good luck and good negotiating,

    Steven P. Cohen

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