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Learning the Art of Negotiation

By January 6, 2022June 13th, 2023David Fein

The art of negotiation is something that has interested me my entire career. I have read several books and even attended the Karrass seminar on how to become a better negotiator. What I have come to learn is that most people don’t realize how much our lives rely on negotiation skills. Life is really a constant series of negotiations, not only in business but in every relationship we have. From our closest personal relationships to our relationship with the car salesperson when buying a car. And just think of how much negotiation there is in parenting and kids are expert negotiators! The better you are at it, the more successful you will be in business and life.

Calling in the experts

These a few of the best resources I have found for learning to be a better or even expert negotiator:

  • Book: You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen,
  • Book: Secrets of Power Negotiating by Roger Dawson,
  • Seminar: Karrass Negotiation Seminars,

You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen – I care…really care (but not that much)

Herb has been studying and teaching the art of negotiation for over 40-years and tells us that most things in life are negotiable. Many years ago, I attended one of his lectures in Colorado Springs and had the opportunity to finally meet him after reading his books for years. From his decades of personal experience, including consulting with presidents on negotiation strategy for US policy, he discovered some fundamental rules that will make you a better negotiator, including:

Rule #1: Don’t make negotiations a battle.  Look for win-win solutions, be unassuming, don’t be too smart and don’t intimidate the other side.

Rule #2: Win-win negotiations are possible when everyone’s needs are on the table and addressed.

Rule #3: Deadlines have a huge impact on negotiations.  Don’t get trapped by deadlines imposed by the other side.

Secrets of Power Negotiating by Roger Dawson – You will never make money faster than when you are negotiating!

Roger takes a different tack and says that thinking “win-win” where you look for that magical third solution in which everyone wins but nobody loses is naive and unsuccessful. He suggests that you can get what you need and want if the other side feels that the deal is fair and balanced.  However, it’s up to you to make sure the other side feels that way!

Roger covers every aspect of the negotiating process with practical, proven advice, from beginning steps to critical final moves. You’ll also learn different styles of negotiation and how to recognize unethical tactics, why money is not as important as everyone thinks, negotiating pressure points, understanding the other party and how to gain the upper hand.

A few specific things he teaches are:

Concept #1:  Always start by asking more than you expect, giving you room to negotiate.

Concept #2: Never say “yes” to their first offer, if you don’t accept at first, you’ll be surprised how much the other side will concede to get you to say “yes”.

Concept #3: Flinch at offers the other side makes, or in other words, look surprised and not pleased with the offer.  This gives the other side the impression that they would have to go a longer way to get you onboard, and that sets the context for their further discussion and counter offers. Very power technique!

Karrass Negotiation Seminars – You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate

Having attended a Karrass Negotiation Seminar many years ago, I can highly recommend his approach. The Karrass approach is different than most others who teach negotiation because Dr. Chester L. Karrass created the KARRASS seminars called Effective Negotiating® based on spending three years conducting advanced research and experimentation in negotiation techniques. His powerful, pioneering seminars are designed to help businesspeople master the strategies, tactics, and psychological insights of negotiating. He has seminars all over the country and I would highly recommend attending one.

Karrass has an entire negotiation system, but a few of his keys to effective negotiation are:

Key #1: You have much more power than you assume. If you assume you have low or little power in a negotiation, you don’t!  Karrass has eight power principles that help you shift power to your side, even when you think you don’t have any.

Key #2: Understand that anything the other side says or does is just a “tactic” which they are using to move the negotiation their way.  His #1 rule here is DO NOT react emotionally and realize it’s just a tactic. This is incredibly powerful and gives you the space to respond with your own tactics that can mitigate their position. These tactics are covered extensively in the seminar.

Key #3: You can negotiate aggressively without behaving aggressively.  This was a huge insight for me!  What this means is that you can work towards getting everything you really want in a situation by being pleasant, friendly, and cooperative, the exact the opposite of aggressive. If you find yourself being too assertive or even aggressive, take a breath, switch gears and become the oppositions friend.

Each of these negotiation giants has proven methods and offer a toolbox of things to use for successful negotiation. Just like learning to be good at anything, you can learn to be an expert negotiator in every aspect of your life. Set yourself up on the path to success by polishing your negotiation skills and I promise you; your goals will be much more attainable.