The Tools of Negotiation

I spend a great deal of my time giving people tools for negotiation and showing them how to wield those tools most effectively. I’m speaking of tactics such as nibbling, swapping-out, ultimatums, using negotiation models and problem-solving formulas, reading other people and positioning oneself, effective use of silence, and so on.

It’s important to understand that knowledge of these tactics, in and of itself, is of very little value.

Tactics are just tools.

A trumpet, piano, or guitar is a tool for making music. In the hands of someone who has put in the time and effort in learning how best to use that tool, the result can be astoundingly elegant and beautiful.

Listen to Alison Balsom as she shows us what a practiced virtuoso can do with the musical tool called a trumpet:

Now listen to that same tool in the hands of someone who has not yet put forth the same effort.

And how, exactly, does all this relate to negotiation? An often-overlooked key component of negotiation is practice. When I’m preparing a team for an important negotiation, part of that preparation is role-play/practice. This ensures that when we reach the negotiating table, we perform more like the first clip and less like the second.

Good negotiating to you.

Bob