Art of Negotiation

While it may seem like an intangible concept or, on the surface, appears to simply be common sense, the fine art of negotiation is a crucial set of skills that one needs in every aspect of life. In the process of developing these skills, I have encountered a few podcasts on the subject that I have found particularly poignant and beneficial to my understanding and interpretation of procedural negotiation.

The first is a show called Coffee Talk hosted by James Martell. The episode titled “Mastering the Art of Negotiation,” interviews Roy Weissman, a man with a great deal of successful negotiation experience with companies such as Time Warner and Amazon. In 35 minutes, he covered powerful topics such as the importance of preparation before a negotiation and separating what he calls emotion from the negotiation. He also discussed some of the differences between bargaining and effective negotiation. It was incredibly helpful to hear some of the same concepts that I encountered while reading Getting to Yes, interpreted and spoken from a fresh perspective. He sounded like a no-nonsense guy, with a very friendly and practical outlook and view of negotiation. A few of the quotes that really stuck with me, and that I will incorporate into my future negotiations, were “something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it,” and especially, “negotiation is like looking into a mirror” (Weissman, 2013). I interpreted the latter to mean two things. First, to always bring into a negotiation what you want to see from the other person, and also, that if you don’t like what you see in a negotiation, check yourself to make sure you are giving off the right impression.

 

Jake Desyllas hosts a podcast and blog called The Voluntary Life. In a series on entrepreneurship, one episode discussed negotiation and the Getting to Yes text directly. I learned again about forming and utilizing a BATNA, (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement), before and within a negotiation. He also discussed the significance of objective standards, meeting interests, and client empathy in forming win-win agreements. One thing I will absolutely always try to keep in mind is the piece of advice that the longer or more complicated a negotiation is, the worse it generally is to deal with.

 

The third podcast was slightly different in message. Titled “How to Use Game Theory for Negotiations and Strategic Decisions,” it is an hour presentation from three speakers with accompanying slides. The subject matter was incredibly interesting but the actual content was painfully dull. I dream of a fusion of visual creativity and enlightening information! Where this relates back to the fundamental concepts behind procedural, win-win negotiation is inherent, though filtered through the views of these “decision professionals.” Game theory attempts to create a chart of potential actions and outcomes between parties in a negotiation in order to formulate the best possible decision. One concept they discussed was the “non-zero sum” game. A zero-sum game contains directly conflicting interests like a sports game.

 

A non-zero sum game allows for both sides to gain, as their interests don’t conflict. This, to me, sounds like an example of procedural negotiation and an exercise in finding mutual gain. They also noted looking ahead to choose now, or referenced the planning stage of negotiation. Also, the speakers discouraged aggressive strategy in a game with repeated play. This again sounds like a direct description of an open, fair negotiation. These varying perspectives have all been invaluable in shaping my knowledge of effective negotiation techniques. I hope now to put into practice everything that I have gained in my future negotiations.