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

The Negotiation Skills Company -- Newsletter June 2002

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

Number 21, June 2002


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


When we ask people what qualities they expect to find in a good negotiator, one of the top choices is virtually always 'honesty'. Liars may be able to convince people with whom they are negotiating, but generally parties who've been on the receiving end of a lie do their best to get out of the dishonestly-reached agreement. There's an old expression: "If you cheat me once, shame on you. If you cheat me twice, shame on me."

Telling the truth is not the only aspect of honesty in negotiation that needs to be examined. The question often arises, "Should I put all my cards on the table when the negotiation begins?" Revealing everything up front reduces your capacity to implement strategic choices as the negotiation goes forward. Unless someone asks you for information it is not fair to them for you to assume they want every single detail. Doing what computer folks call an 'information dump' makes it appear that everything you present is of equal value or significance and it places a burden on other parties to sort through it all, looking for information they actually want.

Sales people have a saying, "When someone starts to agree with you, it's time to stop talking." If you prepare for your communication with an Interest Map(c), a tool listing the broad range of issues that might possibly be of interest to others, you can organize your communication strategy by trying to learn what facts or issues other folks need to have explained in order to comprehend your highest-priority points.

As you prepare for negotiation, put your thoughts together in bullet-point format or an outline rather than paragraphs. This is obviously directly applicable to written communication, but even someone who is well-organized enough to think and speak in paragraphs can do a better job of getting directly to the most important points by arranging thoughts in bullet-point form, reducing each idea to its skeletal form rather than a more elaborate coverage of every last detail.

Your negotiation strategy should be aimed at learning what information other parties need to make their decisions - as well as what you need to learn from them in order to further your interests.

Making sure that you are honest in presenting information is crucial for your credibility. Limiting the information you present and organizing the order in which it is presented will increase the efficiency of the negotiation, give other negotiators the opportunity to give you a clearer picture of what's on their mind, and keep you from boring them with irrelevancies.

Since its publication by McGraw-Hill in March, the book has received favorable comment from readers in the United States, Great Britain, Belgium, and Spain. It is being translated into Spanish under the direction of Professor Ricardo Altimira-Vega of Madrid, into Chinese by McGraw-Hill (with a significant contribution from a former student of mine from China), and will be published in India.

If you haven't already got your copy, the book is in bookstores along with others in McGraw-Hill's Briefcase Books series. You can also order the book online on our website at Those copies will be shipped by,, or The book has been the subject of radio and television interviews and newspaper and magazine articles in the US and UK.

In the post-September 11th world, many new clients have come to TNSC for training to increase productivity, reduce corporate inter-tribal conflict, and help overcome the stress of a changed world. Our website's Advice column has received question from an increasing variety of people from almost every continent looking for civilized ways to solve problems. TNSC's mission statement remains the same: Advance The Cause of Civility.

"You will do better in the give-and-take of negotiation if your expectations are aimed high enough to give you more room for concessions."
-- Steven P. Cohen

Good luck and good negotiating,

Steven P. Cohen

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