Negotiate like a Pro
SF: Sure. I'll give you two, then if you like we can get into more. One is that excellent negotiators think and talk a lot about common interests. That is, what is it that allows me to complete this sentence: "Look, we're not enemies here, we're on the same side. If we work together, we can ________." If you can come up with an answer that's specific, compelling and not self-serving, it can often turn adversaries into partners, sometimes shockingly so.
Another one is that excellent negotiators come up with many more creative options than mediocre negotiators. Typically, an excellent negotiator comes up with five creative options for each negotiable topic, which seems excessive when you're doing it at first, but I can't tell you how many times students have come to me and said, "You know if anything, I wish I've had more."
One more thing I'll share with you. Most naïve negotiators, if I can use the term, think only about "I-win-you-lose." And if you do that, you're often missing huge opportunities. Not just to create wealth, but also to create better relationships and improve your trustworthiness. There are a lot of ways you can make it better for both parties. ... It's true that if you do look beyond just "I-win-you-lose," there are specific things, and I've just mentioned two of them, that can really foster much more satisfaction.
PPRO: Do you have a favorite style of negotiation you prefer to teach your students? (always be aggressive, focus on amicability and diffusing tension, etc.)
SF: Well, it's an interesting question, what style means. Studies find that you can be aggressive and do well, you can be nice and do well, but if you're unprepared, you won't do well either way. So, I have a personality, I have my own preferences for approaching people, but I don't try to urge my students to be like me. I urge them to be like themselves, to use their training to make them more effective. So, I hope this is a helpful thing, that you can retain your natural character and style and personality, and be fine with whatever that is, but there are certain skills that make a difference.