THE ART OF NEGOTIATION Claudia Esteve Cortés

In negotiation, the objective is to find a solution that satisfies all the parties. In spite of important differences, however, the dynamics of war and negotiation have much in common. Specifically, both involve the interaction of motivated agents with distinct interests, perceptions and values. There is a strong metaphor between war and negotiation. “Machines don’t fight wars. Terrain doesn’t fight wars. Humans fight wars. You must get into the minds of humans. That’s were battles are won”.

According to Rony Ross, founder and executive chairman of Panorama Software, a provider of business intelligence software to 1,600 customers in 30 countries, the secret to successful negotiating is to take the ego out of the equation.


  1. ESTABLISH THE RELATIONSHIP : The wise negotiator establishes the relationship before proceeding further. Doing so allows you to get a feeling for the person with whom you are dealing, and vice versa.
  2. CHOOSE 'HONEY OVER VINEGAR' : Never underestimate the natural ability of other people to sense who you really are. Disingenuous, manipulative and secretive are feelings that simply cannot be hidden. When negotiating, you too can sense if the other party's values are subpar or lack integrity altogether. No greater red flag exists in the entire arena of negotiation.
  3. FOCUS ON THE WIN-WIN : Win-wins are the only way to go. If you approach a negotiation thinking only of yourself, you are a terrible negotiator. Understanding what all parties need, and working for all concerned is vital. Keep in mind that seeing things in only black and white (win-lose) creates limited thinking; creativity is essential to good negotiation.
  4. EMBODY YOUR INNER ADULT: Never forget that everyone has an inner adult and an inner child. It is remarkable to witness how even high-level business deals break down because someone at the table starts thinking childishly, instigating that behavior in others. When you see this happening, keep in mind that everyone goes out of balance. Be the stable anchor, the respectful adult at the table. Helping people come back into balance is often best done by example. Take the high road, embodying your inner adult. Don’t argue; instead, understand.
  5. RESPECT THE RYTHM OF THE RELATIONSHIP : Always remember that there is a rhythm to everything. Don’t push it. Oftentimes, it is best to say nothing. Never forget that silent pauses can be a very powerful tool. Give yourself and others the time and space to reflect upon everything that has been said. Don’t rush it. Try to sense the natural and appropriate rhythm of all the people at the table, including yourself.

As the Warfighting manual warned...

"It is critical to keep in mind that the enemy is not an inanimate object but an independent and animate force with its own objectives and plans. While we try to impose our will on the enemy, he resists us and seeks to impose his will on us. Appreciating this dynamic interplay between opposing human wills is essential to understanding the fundamental nature of war." (1997: 4)

Uncertainty is a fact of life in war and in negotiation. In the face of ambiguity, imperfect information, and contradictory options, choices none- theless must be made and actions taken. According to Warfighting, perfect clarity and complete information are never possible in combat; therefore, decisions must be based on reasonable probabilities and calculated risks.

So it is for negotiators, as well. As we prepare to meet with other parties, we will seldom fully know their true interests, their no-deal alter- natives, or their willingness to compromise. (In fact, they may not know any of that very well themselves.) If we are persuasive, for example, they may end up agreeing on certain points that they would have rejected at first. As a consequence, it may be hard at the outset to know how much room there is for agreement, or what approach would maximize the chance of reaching it.


Created with images by ResoluteSupportMedia - "Shaking Hands" • Johnragai-Moment Catcher - "Negotiation Street Moment" • Studio Incendo - "Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution #umbrellarevolution #umbrellamovement #gm1 #lumix"

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