Ducking Punches

Reading an article online today (Nick Segal, The Personality of Negotiation: Don’t Buy the Bravado, Huffinton Post) reminded me how susceptible we are to the behaviours of others in a negotiation. It is one of the hardest things to teach – don’t give in or be intimidated by Red behavior –as, like the article suggests, a lot of people don’t like negotiating for themselves for fear of failure, and are nervous of bullying tactics.

The truth is though, most people who are Red (aggressive, confrontational, tricky, difficult, abusive, etc) negotiate that way for a reason. It’s not that they are bad people, but that they have found that behaving this way effects the outcome of their negotiations in a positive way. The other side will alter their stance, weaken or cave in under pressure, most of the time. This gives the Red player the advantage.

I liked the analogy in Mr Segal’s article: of a boxer swinging at you with a right hook. Instead of letting it knock you out, try ducking the aggressive behaviour and get to the heart of the matter. Mr Segal suggests:

“What do you want that I have and what are you willing to give me for it”?

This is exactly what negotiations should be based on – an exchange of wants. Negotiation is the process by which we obtain something from somebody who wants something from us.

Personality, behaviours and culture are just distractions from the crux of the matter. If you give me some of what I want, then I will give you some of what you want.