The Negotiator Magazine

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Timeless Principles To Steer You Through Negotiations

by Eric Garner

If you want a sure-fire way to succeed at negotiations – whether it’s with your partner over which TV program to watch tonight, or with a business partner in some high-powered negotiations — then learn these 7 principles of negotiations expressed through 7 timeless quotes:

1. Negotiating is an essentially human way of interacting. It is the way we progress. Adam Smith, the Scottish economist who wrote “The Wealth of Nations” put it this way: “Man is an animal that makes bargains. No other animal does this. One dog does not exchange a bone with another.”

2. Negotiating is not about dividing up a limited cake in ways that are divisive. It is about making a bigger and better cake. David Ghitelman says that the key to making negotiations work isn’t a scarcity mentality but an added value mentality: “Negotiating is about creating value, not dividing wealth.”

3. Conflict is at the heart of negotiation but only a positive view of conflict will result in a successful outcome. As Dean Tjosvold said: “Co-operative conflict builds people up, strengthens their relationships and gets things done.”

4. There is a time to speak and a time to shut up in negotiations. When you do more listening than speaking, you actually increase your power. Geoff Burch, the so-called “hell’s angel consultant”, put it this way: “If you’re talking, you’re giving information and therefore giving away power. If you’re listening and asking questions, you’re gaining information, the raw material of knowledge, and therefore gaining power.”

5. In power negotiations, when the stakes are high, let the other side believe what you want them to believe. But don’t lie or be dishonest. Sun Tzu, the writer of the oldest military treatise in the world, “The Art of War”, put it in these words: “All warfare is based on deception. Therefore when capable, feign incapability. When active, inactivity. When near, make it appear that you are far away. When far away, that you are to lure him. Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.”

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August 2007