Thoughts From the News About Negotiating/Martin Rosenfeld

Posted on September 18, 2013


Writing in, Victor Davis Hanson had this to say in a recent post on the Syrian situation:

Congress was and was not to be consulted; was to be on and off the hook; its vote no doubt supportive, no doubt obstructionist; its final say both binding and maybe not so binding. Killing tens of thousands with conventional weapons was awful, or rather not as awful as killing hundreds with WMD. Assad was to leave, or maybe not. WMD use was to be punished, or maybe WMD themselves destroyed. Insurgents were to be helped, or maybe just Assad was to be hurt. Russia was a partner or a conjurer of trouble, or now “owned” the Syrian mess. 

While you may agreement with this political assessment or may vigorously disagree, there is a lesson to be learned. When you negotiate your dispute, let it be known what it is you want to achieve. May it as clear as possible. Invite discussion. Respect that there may be an opposing view that needs to be considered.

In recent weeks our leadership has been called ‘feckless” “indecisive” comatose” and other terms of non-endearment. What can we learn to apply in our own lives? Be clear and confident in stating what you want, leave little to the imagination, and be consistent in your approach. If something is not important to you, don’t pretend it is. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Hopefully the other party will do the same, and your negotiation will yield positive results.

There is a cynical comment that we all hear about “When all else fails, tell the truth. The more helpful comment should be “You will get out of your negotiation what you put into it.” For every hour of negotiations, spend 2 or 3 times that time in an effort to prepare and articulate your case with precision and clarity. You first need to know what you want, and why you want, before you can convince somebody else of the same.